Interview With Juan Emilio Hernandez Polanco, Managing Director of Zatem Investments

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ZambiaInvest had the pleasure to interview Juan Emilio Hernandez Polanco, Managing Director of Zatem Investments, the company behind Eagle View Estate, the luxury housing project in Roma Park in Lusaka. Mr Hernandez explains about his group and the reasons for investing in Zambia, and about the housing project and the opportunities available.

ZambiaInvest: Tell us more about Zatem Investments. Why did you decide to invest in Zambia, in real estate? What is your experience in this field?

Juan Hernandez: Zatem Investments Ltd is the Zambian venture of Zamar Investments SL, a group whose capital is 100% Spanish, with solid international experience in the field of civil engineering and construction, real estate, energy and environment in numerous projects around the globe: Spain, USA, Germany, France, Bolivia, Chile, Puerto Rico, Nigeria, Algeria, Saudi Arabia and now Zambia. This allows us to easily adapt in any socio-economic and cultural environment.

Our aim is to innovate via sustainable development and our projects are always characterized by innovation, highest quality and corporate social responsibility.

Real estate is our first step in Zambia because of the fast-paced growth this sector is experiencing, thanks to the strong demand for housing. Within such framework we identified a virgin field in the development of high quality, modern homes with a real added value.

ZI: What are the details of the Eagle View Estate housing project in Lusaka? What are the most attractive features of your homes and who are they aimed at?

JH: This first project in Zambia is our business card in this market. Eagle View Estate consists of 20 luxury modern double story stand alone houses, of 4 or 5 bedrooms, with swimming pool , barbecue and garden.

We use top quality construction materials of the best European brands like Porcelanosa tiles and sanitary ware, TEKA kitchen ware or Legrand electrical fittings, combined with energy efficient systems for low electrical consumption (solar hot water production, LED spot lights and heat pump hot-cold air condition system).

We use modern construction and design methods that comply with the most stringent regulations of the European Union and that have been used successfully in Europe and in the US for the last 30 years.

In addition to that, being located within Roma Park means reliable energy supply (both on grid with ZESCO and standalone with generator), access to drinkable water (Roma park pipeline and double well), street lightening and maximum security with armored doors, electric fence and 24/7 surveillance within both our compound and Roma Park.

Because of all the above, these luxury homes are aimed at the high-end segment of the Zambian population.

ZI: Why did you decide to invest within Roma Park?

JH: Roma Park is a very unique urbanization in the best spot in Lusaka, adjacent to several malls (Foxdale Shopping Center, East Mall, Arcades y Manda Hill), schools and hospital (Victoria Hospital).

Furthermore Roma Park boosts a number of inner services and amenities like restaurants, fitness center and sport clubs, offices together with paved and lightened roads and all the utilities.

All this is can’t be found anywhere else in Lusaka and it makes our offering unique.

ZI: What is the quality level of the houses and what are the guarantees in place?

JH: The quality of the houses we develop is top-notch. We apply only the very best, from design to building methods and materials.

Not only we comply with the most stringent Zambian and international building norms, we are in line with the most demanding quality standards for luxury housing in Europe.

Being this our first project in Zambia, we believe that offering the very best is key to succeed in this market.

Because we are a relatively new real estate developer here and because we are still finalizing construction of the first home, we provide guarantees that no other real estate developer is offering in Zambia: one year warranty for any construction defect and money-back guarantee.

We want buyers’ total peace of mind. When their house is completed, we want them to check all details and be totally happy with them.

Should buyers not be happy with their house for whatever reason, they will be reimbursed for the paid amount (-10% to cover for fees).

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EAGLE VIEW Estate at Roma Park In Lusaka

ZI: What are Eagle View Estate houses’ prices? Do you provide financing or payment plans?

JH: Prices for these luxury homes start at USD 550,000 (USD 467,000 with discount), for 4 bedrooms homes, and USD 650,000 (USD 552,000 with discount), for 5 bedrooms homes.

To accommodate this, we offer payment plans that are unmatched in Zambia: from 2 to 5 years without interests, and monthly/ quarterly/ annual payments according to the taste of the buyer.

Discounts up to 15% apply, depending on the payment plan chosen. Obviously we provide the greater discounts with larger down payments and shorter payment plans.

In addition to that, we have partnered with the Finance Building Society (FBS) of Zambia that provides mortgages up to 15 years to acquire homes with us.

ZI: How would you define the success of Eagle View Estate housing project so far? What has been the feedback you received?

JH: The project has been very well perceived and valued, thanks to the design, the location and the quality of the materials, all of which can be checked at our sales office within the Eagle View Estate at Roma Park.

So far we have sold few houses and received reservations for many more, but a number of houses are still available for sale.

We have a number of clients eager to see the completion of the first house and endless queries form interested prospects; unfortunately many do not have the buying capacity.

Being new to the Zambian market we encountered some challenges like finding the right skilled workforce and suppliers for this type of housing, and the recent depreciation of the kwacha that has made our homes more expensive, but all in all, the results we achieved so far have exceeded our expectations.

ZI: This is probably why you have a new housing project in Lusaka. Can you tell us more about it?

JH: We have started a new housing project in Woodlands, next to the President’s house, where we will develop 3 bedrooms stand-alone homes, as well as 1 and 2 bedroom apartments.

We have realized that there is great demand for quality design houses, located in prime locations, with all the utilities.

We are aware that pricing is an issue, but pricing is the direct result of the quality we provide. But by adapting our building methods and optimizing costs, we can achieve with this project more affordable prices.

Our aim with this new project is to be able to provide our high quality innovative housing to the Zambian middle-class; in a nutshell, to provide exclusive housing at affordable price.

We aim at finalizing the project by the end of 2015 and start construction works and sales by early 2016.

ZI: How would you define your investing experience in Zambia? What would be your piece of advise to investors looking at this market?

JH: Like in any new market, with different customs and traditions, beginnings are though, but thanks to our vast international experience we have learnt to quickly adapt and thrive in new environments.

At the same time Zambia presents a number of resemblances with Spain when it comes to culture, religion and society.

Zambia is a welcoming country, with great human and natural resources and plenty of room for development, which require companies able to adapt, learn and that bring improvements and quality.

Hence my piece of advise to investors interested in Zambia is to learn and adapt and most of all, innovate and add value.