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Many look beyond the city for land

Yangyel Lhaden

Short of money to renovate her ancestral house in Punakha, a villager in Babesa sold 50 decimals of her wetland. With Nu 3,000 a decimal, it was a good deal in 1996 when construction  on wet land was not allowed. The land, which a Thimphu hotelier bought then had become a prime area today. Price for a decimal has reached Nu 1.5 million (M).

Land price in the capital city and on its outskirts are increasing amidst a pandemic, which has been blamed for disrupting the economy. There are no land for sale in the core city, most part of the city is filling up and in the extended towns like Babesa in the south and Taba in the North, price per decimal has touched the million mark.

At Changzamtog, Sonam’s 15 decimal vacant land is raising a lot of curiosity. “I keep getting calls asking if I would like to sell it,” said Sonam, who inherited the land.  Sonam is holding on to her land. She knows she will get a good price if she decides to sell.

Price of land above the old highway in Babesa, called  E4 zone, has almost quadrupled in five years. Nu 300,000 a decimal in 2015 was thought to be too high in an area where plot size has to be 25 decimal and number of floors of building is regulated.

Last week, on July 28, a landowner sold her land for Nu 900,000 a decimal, an amount a civil servant said would only fetch him a decimal after his 20 years in service.

The landowner wanted to construct a house and needed money. “Some landowners charge between Nu 1.1M and Nu 1.5M per decimal depending on location, “said the landowner.

With the valley filled up with buildings, those wanting to own a plot and build a house are going further away from the city. At the extreme end of Semtokha, Sonam Wangmo bought 25 decimals in 2011 for Nu 200,000 a decimal. She is confident she will fetch Nu 750,000 a decimal today. She  is planning to sell.

Sonam Wangmo said that with the delay in import of goods during the pandemic she had closed her shop and has loan to repay. “Without any source of income, selling the land to recover my loan is the only option.”

Further away in Chamgang, about 14.5 kilometers from the core city, landowners are happy the price of land is increasing every year, if not every month.

A Chamgang resident said people are visiting the village looking for land to construct houses or establish businesses. “ With the widening of road and prospect to connect the road to Wangdue will attract many more land buyers and land price will hike as well.”

Pema Lhamo from Trashigang settled in Chamgang 12 years ago. She bought the land for Nu 20,000 per decimal.  The price today is between Nu 200,000 and Nu 350,000.

Another resident is thanking her parents for buying land in Chamgang 10 years ago. “It was a wise decision. The price is only going to increase as the city is filled up and people are looking for land left and right,” she said.

In the south, beyond the Thromde’s borders, villagers are waiting if the policy of converting paddyland to dry land would be revised. There are vast paddy fields in the Namseling, Jamisa and Wang Simo area. Left to the villagers, they would want to sell some and build houses. “Villagers in Chang and Barp have become rich overnight by selling land and investing in real estate,” said a daughter of a farmer who lived and worked in Australia. “If we are allowed, we could make the best use of our paddyland,” she said.

A broker said selling land was not easy in Thimphu as the price of land was beyond what most Bhutanese could afford. He said he had been trying for the last two months to sell 13 decimal land in Changzamtog,  but in vain. He declined to share the price he was offering.

He said it was better to look for land beyond the city where it is still reasonable but land would become more expensive in the near future.




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