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Jamaica Mortgage Bank developing housing starts database

Published:Saturday | December 13, 2014 | 3:23 PM


Jamaicans will soon be able to benefit from a database of housing starts that is being developed by the Jamaica Mortgage Bank (JMB).

The Housing Starts Metrics will be used to provide information on, monitor and measure islandwide performance of housing starts.

Housing starts are an economic indicator that reflects the number of privately owned housing units on which construction has been started in a given period.

This data is divided into three types: single family houses, town houses or small condos, and apartment buildings with five or more units.

Speaking at a JIS ‘Think Tank’ on December 9, Director of Business Operations at JMB, Hecton Hemans, explained the rationale for the project.

“The organisation recognised that the database could be a useful business, economic and social planning tool for us as a bank, the Government, as well as for industry players,” he said.

Hemans noted that in many developed countries, release of monthly or other periodic data on housing starts is highly anticipated news, as the information provides an indication of how well the economy is performing.

Areas covered by the reports include number and types of housing starts (apartments, town houses or single family), the level of employment and the number of units completed.

“We don’t have similar statistics here. Although the Economic and Social Survey puts out a report each year that tells you how many housing starts are done, the information comes in after the fact. It is aged by the time it becomes public,” he said.

The Director said that in becoming a little more proactive, the JMB would be gathering real time information and making it accessible online to relevant stakeholders.

“The Housing Starts Metrics will outline information on where developments are taking place in the island, the number of developments, the type, the cost, the timelines, the number of employees and the developer involved,” he pointed out.

He added that some of the information would be proprietary and as such would be held in confidence, but the portion that is useful to the public would be made available online.

Hemans said the bank is in dialogue with a number of organisations through which the information would be sourced, such as the Jamaica Developers Association, the Ministry of Local Government, the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation and the Parish Councils.

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