Home Is Where The Heart Is


https://youtu.be/a_B80AIQegE

Harking after a home: Officials have acknowledged that the lack of affordable housing is one of the issues that sparked the unrest in Hong Kong, which has been going on for months. — AFP

Owning a house is the standard ambition of any individual, however, getting there is increasingly becoming not only a local, but global struggle.

THERE’S a lesson to be learnt from the protests in Hong Kong – politics is about selling hope. So if the young people living in a depressing environment feel they have no future, then the alarm bells should ring loudly.

In the case of Hong Kong, the leaders – mostly technocrats and government officials – didn’t see it coming, or maybe they were just indifferent.

Many young people in Hong Kong feel they stand no chance of becoming a homeowner in their lifetime, and officials have acknow-ledged that the issue is one of the causes that sparked off the unrest.

The controversial Extradition Bill, which allows a Hong Kong resident to be sent to mainland China to face trial, was merely a catalyst. Those protesters couldn’t all possibly believe they’d fall on the wrong side of the law and face the consequences, could they?

Last week, former Hong Kong chief executive Leong Chun-ying was in Kuala Lumpur for appointments with businessmen, opinion leaders and officials, to update them on developments on the island.

I was among the lucky Malaysians picked to hear his thoughts and views on Hong Kong, while he, too, listened to our concerns during the two-hour closed-door meeting.

My co-host and meeting organiser, Datuk Seri Azman Ujang, and I both feel that of all the problems faced by any country in nation- building, none deserves greater priority than housing the people.

What expectation could be more basic than having a roof over our heads, and with it being a decent and affordable one at that? And when we talk about affordable, it should be truly attainable by the low-income people who form the bulk of the population in most countries.

Azman, the Bernama chairman, rightly outlined the consequences of the failure that stems from a lack of will in resolving the housing problem of the masses. And as he said, this could easily lead to people pouring into the streets protesting issues not even directly related to housing.

It’s a fact that many poor Hong Kong people live in a room less than 75sq ft, and millions live in deplorable conditions.

More recently, “nano” flats – tiny apartments less than 200sq ft – have fast become the norm in overcrowded Hong Kong.

According to a South China Morning Post report, the cost began at HK$2.85mil (RM1.52mil) for an apartment no bigger than an average Hong Kong car park space, but the lack of interest forced a rethink by the developer.

But what’s mind-boggling is that while there are plenty of poor people in Hong Kong, or many who feel poor, Hong Kong’s fiscal reserves stood at HK$1.16tril (RM620bil) as at the end of January.

In a report, Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau said there was a surplus of HK$86.8bil (RM46.2bil), bringing the cumulative year-to-date surplus up to HK$59bil (RM31bil).

All this wealth belongs to Hong Kong and not mainland China, so a lot can be done with that money for a population of just seven million people, especially low-cost housing!

In comparison, Malaysia’s official reserve assets amounted to US$102.03bil (RM425bil) as at end November 2018, while other foreign currency assets stood at US$51.6mil (RM215mil) for the same period, Bank Negara said. Malaysia has a population of 32 million.

It can’t be denied that Singapore has done well in housing its population, with over 90% of the seven million population reportedly living in homes of their own, and the home-ownership ratio is said to be the world’s highest.

The Singapore Housing Development Board (HDB) deserves global recognition for its feat in solving the housing problem of the people, especially the poor.

The middle-class and poor must be able to have a roof over their heads. That’s an essential human need. No country can have peace and stability if the poor are not able to own a home in their lifetime.

A prosperous and satisfied middle-class will lead to political stability. A huge middle class will also mean greater purchasing power, and this will lead to a better economy with spillover effects for everyone.

When there are angry citizens protesting everything from the escalating food prices to housing, then even the elite (including politicians and businessmen) will not feel safe. In South Africa, the rich live in houses with high walls and electric fences to protect themselves, but that’s not the best way to live. It’s living dangerously.

Malaysian politicians who still wield the race and religion card will realise that at some point, these will be “dead issues”.

With well-documented shrinking numbers, the Chinese and Indian population will no longer be the proverbial bogeymen in the future. Instead, it is class stratification that will be a matter of concern.

Last year, it was reported that the gap in income between the rich, middle class and poor in Malaysia had widened since 2008, according to a study by Khazanah Research Institute (KRI).

In its “The State of Households 2018” report, the research outfit of sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional Bhd noted that the gap in the real average income between the top 20% households (T20) and the middle 40% (M40) and bottom 40% (B40) households had almost doubled, compared to two decades ago.

The report, titled Different Realities, pointed out that while previous economic crises, in 1987 and the 1997/98 Asian Financial Crisis, saw a reduction in the income gap between the T20 and B40/M40, post-2008/09 Global Financial Crisis (GFC), those disparities had not reduced.

But the Gini coefficient, which measures income inequality in the country, had declined from 0.513 in 1970 to 0.399 in 2016, denoting improvement in income inequality in Malaysia over the past 46 years.

Explaining the phenomenon, Allen Ng, who is the lead author of the KRI report, said income of the T20 households had continued to grow, albeit at a slower pace than that of the M40 and B40 since 2010.

“However, because they (the T20) started at a higher base, the income gap between the T20 and M40/B40 had continued to grow despite the fact that the relative (income growth) is actually narrowing post-GFC, ” Ng explained at a press conference after the launch of the report yesterday.

In his bestselling book The Colour Of Inequality: Ethnicity, Class, Income And Wealth In Malaysia (2014), economist Dr Muhammed Abdul Khalid wrote that “the future does not look rosy for Malaysia; the current policies are encouraging wealth disparity between rich and poor, and between ethnicities.

“Unless bold and drastic actions are taken urgently, a harmonious future for Malaysia is uncertain. There must be an urgency to give every Malaysian economic security, a better and sustainable future.”

Muhammed, the managing director of the research and consulting firm DM Analytics Malaysia, said last year that contrary to popular belief, most Chinese (70%) are wage-earners, as are most Malays (72%). In fact, the poverty gap between races has dropped compared to 40 years ago, though the disparity remains.

And what about Malaysia? We have a disastrous, if not scandalous, record, particularly the pathetic business activities, dealings and performance of the 1Malaysia People’s Housing Programme’s (PR1MA) set up to build affordable homes.

More than RM8bil has gone up in smoke because PR1MA’s management failed to meet its targets, despite all the assistance and facilities accorded to their projects by the previous federal government and most state governments.

PR1MA reportedly built only 11,000 homes, compared with its target of half a million residential units to be delivered by the end of 2018. That’s less than 5% of the original plan.

PR1MA Malaysia was set up to plan, develop, construct and maintain high-quality housing with lifestyle concepts for middle-income households in key urban centres. Its homes are priced between RM100,000 and RM400,000.

PR1MA is open to all Malaysians with a monthly household income of RM2,500 to RM15,000.

A total of 1.42 million people registered for PR1MA, a promise of one million homes by 2020, but only 16,682 units, or 1.6%, of the target, were completed between 2013 and 2018, costing the government billions in public funds.

Poor management, exorbitant land acquisition costs and unsuitable sites have turned the people’s housing project into a major financial flop. PR1MA’s failure, which could cost the new government billions, is apparently already saddled with ballooning debts, rendering the loss-making company untenable.

It’s the responsibility of the government to build affordable homes – not the private developers. Private developers, especially those who helm public listed companies, have profits and dividends to answer for to shareholders. They are in the business of making money, and with the expensive land bank they have acquired, they need to build expensive homes, too.

Even if there are requirements with the obligated mixed homes for social housing needs, it still won’t resolve the problems.

Our politicians shouldn’t pass their responsibilities to them. They just need to have qualified and competent professionals with integrity to run a set-up like HDB. Obviously, the people who ran PR1MA didn’t do their jobs. We can help Malaysians own homes, or at least rent them at affordable rates, if we’re truly committed. The question is, are we?

As for Hong Kong, there is another lesson the young protesters need to learn: a full democracy doesn’t guarantee you a home and a decent job. Just ask the homeless in the United States and Britain.

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Penang’s LRT project gets conditional approval from Transport Minister


GEORGE TOWN: Waves of excitement swept through Penang when the Transport Minister announced that the Bayan Lepas light rail transit (LRT) has received conditional approval.

It is seen as a move to reduce traffic congestion in the city and create a next wave of growth for the state.

The approved 29.9km Bayan Lepas LRT will bring convenience not only to the local folk but also tourists and investors, said Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers Penang chairman Datuk Dr Ooi Eng Hock.

Ooi, who is positive that the project will spur growth on the island, believes the LRT will bring in another wave of development into the state.

“The LRT will divert traffic congestion. It will attract new investments, make life easier for our workforce.

“I believe it will boost the state’s economy with another wave of growth,” he said yesterday.

Following the Transport Ministry’s conditional approval of the project, Ooi added that it is the first step for a change in landscape and behaviour of transport mode in Penang.

Yesterday, the Transport Ministry gave conditional approval to the Bayan Lepas LRT project.

Transport Minister Anthony Loke in a statement said that after a detailed study of the application by Penang Economic Planning Unit (BPEN) to develop the Bayan Lepas LRT project, approval with 30 conditions for the state to comply was given on Tuesday.

Loke said the conditions included a detailed environmental impact assessment (DEIA) approval including traffic, social and heritage assess­ments.

The state must now exhibit documents on the project for three months, and the final go ahead will only be decided after the public responses are evaluated, said Loke.

“I welcome public participation from the people, NGOs and all stakeholders in this public review.

“The relevant documents are to be exhibited in public places including government offices.

“The state government must also upload a copy of these documents on a website for online viewing.

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow thanked the Federal Govern­ment and said the state is committed to fulfilling all requirements.

“We will wait for the official letter from Transport Ministry to proceed and initiate public viewing of the documents,” he said.

The RM8.4bil Bayan Lepas LRT together with a monorail, cable cars and water taxis, is part of the state government’s RM46bil Penang Trans­port Master Plan (PTMP).

This LRT will begin at Komtar in the northeast corner of the island and head south through Jelutong, Gelugor, Bayan Lepas and Penang Interna­tional Airport, ending at the Penang South Reclamation (PSR) development.

It is expected to provide a fast route to the airport and will traverse densely populated residential, commercial and industrial areas.

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Housing woes: death spiral or virtuous cycle?


THE World Economic Forum estimates that the global cost of corruption annually is at least US$2.6 trillion (RM10.9 trillion) or 5% of global gross domestic product (GDP).

According to the World Bank, businesses and individuals pay over US$1 trillion (RM4.2 trillion) in bribes each year.

Corruption adds up to 10% of the total cost of doing business globally and up to 25% of the cost of procurement contracts in developing countries.

I gathered these shocking facts at a conference. There are other alarming statistics that shed light on the damage brought about by corruption and its dreadful impact on the economy.

Corruption leads to further impoverishment of the poor and other issues in many countries. The average income in countries with a high level of corruption is about one-third of those countries with a low level of corruption. In addition, corrupt countries have a literacy rate that is 25% lower.

The Corruption Perception Index 2018 released by Transparency International shows that on the scale of 0 to 100, where 0 is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean, over two-thirds of 180 countries score below 50, with the average score of 43.

In the index, Denmark ranked first in the world followed by New Zealand second. Finland and Singapore were tied for third with a score of 85. Malaysia was ranked 61st in the world, scoring only 47.

We were ranked the third highest in the Asean region, after Singapore and Brunei. Our country is doing better now with the ongoing investigation of the 1Malaysia Development Bhd scandal and other prominent cases.

In TI’s report, Malaysia is one of the countries on the watch with promising political developments against corruption. However, more solid action is needed in combatting all elusive forms of corruption.

According to Transparency International Malaysia, corruption had cost our country about 4% of its GDP value each year since 2013. Added together, this amounts to a high figure of some RM212.3bil since 2013. For 2017 alone, that figure was a whopping RM46.9bil!

As a comparison, our development expenditure in 2017 was RM48bil. If the value of corruption above was accurate, our development fund was almost “wiped out” because of corruption.

Transparency International Malaysia president Datuk Akhbar Satar said: “This is our estimate. It is likely to be higher in reality (on the value of corruption).”

No country can eliminate corruption completely. However, we can learn from good practices shown in some developed countries, such as the Scandinavian countries which all scored high on the Corruption Perception Index.

Corruption leads to poverty as money collected is not used for the welfare of the nation. As a result, the people end up suffering and paying for the leakage in the system.

If a country is corrupt-free, it will reduce the need for non-governmental organisations (NGOs). NGOs advocate for the rights of marginalised groups. The government can take care of those group when it has a surplus in the budget.

A clean government and system will have a positive impact on many aspects including affordable housing, one of the prominent needs of the people.

Whenever there is corruption, there is a compromise in the delivery of goods and services. The same situation applies to affordable housing.

Someone mentioned to me in the past that “the government isn’t interested in affordable housing as there is literally ‘no money’ to be made in it”!

Things have made a dramatic change for the better since May last year. Our new government is working on a platform of clean government and improving transparency. It plans to build one million affordable homes within two terms of its administration. To make this a reality, the government needs to put in real money to make it happen.

Corruption causes a death spiral that leads to various problems. Without it, a virtuous cycle grows that ensures every part runs smoothly and the marginalised in society are looked after.

With a promise of a cleaner government, we hope we will soon see a virtuous cycle that makes the one million affordable homes an achievable target.

By Datuk Alan Tong, who has over 50 years of experience in property development. He is group chairman of Bukit Kiara Properties. For feedback, please email bkp@bukitkiara.com. The views expressed here are solely that of his own.

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Penang State to study Airbnb woes before legalising operations; Using Airbnb to settle mortgages?


Airbnb, Why the New Logo?

HOW other cities worldwide tackle their Airbnb problems are being studied to see if the home-sharing business could be legalised or regulated in Penang.

The office of the Penang State Exco for Tourism Development, Arts, Culture and Heritage (Petach) is studying their policies to tackle the issue of residential home owners who rent out their units as if they were running a hotel or serviced apartment.

Its exco member Yeoh Soon Hin (pic) said the global home-sharing business was quite established in Penang now that when people buy a house or condominium unit, someone might approach them and offer to guide them to sign up with Airbnb and make money from their new property.

He told the assembly that Penang Global Tourism had met with Airbnb’s management team to discuss how to regulate the business.

“Airbnb told us that they are ready to cooperate and register Airbnb units in Penang with the local authority, but we have no laws or policies for this yet,” he said.

Yeoh said in San Francisco, Airbnb operators are limited to renting their homes to a maximum of 90 days a year.

“In Catalonia, Spain, Airbnb operators can be fined up to 30,000 Euros (RM140,000) and the unit owners fined up to 90,000 Euros (RM420,000) if there are complaints.

“In Singapore, the Urban Redevelopment Authority is proposing to limit Airbnb units to only allow up to six people each time to rent them and for only up to 90 days a year.

“For strata units, Singapore plans to allow it only if at least 80% of all unit owners in the building give consent.

“Japan enacted a law to allow home-sharing of units for only up to 180 days a year,” he said when replying a question from Daniel Gooi Zi Sen (PH-Pengkalan Kota).

Gooi said he was concerned because despite strong enforcement from Penang Island City Council since 2017 to stop residential property owners from using their units commercially, the Airbnb portal lists thousands of units in Penang.

“We cannot deny property owners from benefitting from their assets, but we also cannot let them continue to operate without paying their dues such as commercial assessment rates or the hotel fee,” he said.

Yeoh said Petach was studying how Airbnb operators are regulated while waiting for the federal government to draft laws on home-sharing.

“We raised the issue and were told that the Housing and Local Government Ministry and the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry are studying possible laws on this.”

Yeoh said the business was unfair to neighbours, the hotel industry and local authorities.

“They are paying assessments and utility rates for residential units but are using those units commercially while legal hotels that comply with all laws such as safety and traffic provisions pay much more.

“The peace and privacy of their neighbours are being intruded upon,” Yeoh said.

He said his team in Petach was also considering the possibility of recommending that Airbnb operators be charged double or triple the current residential assessment rates that they are paying now after they are legalised.

By arnold loh and r. sekaran at the penang state assembly

 

Should Airbnb be regulated?

MUCH has been said about Airbnb in the news of late. The Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) Penang branch has claimed that the emergence of Airbnb and illegal accommodation are among the main causes for Penang hotel occupancy rate to decline.

Another news report indicated that Airbnb operators are required to register with Kuala Lumpur City Hall. At this point in time, it is vital to see the concept of Airbnb. The platform was started to connect people who were looking to rent their homes to those who wanted hotel-free stay accommodation for short periods. The reason for the registration must be for the purpose of regulation by the authorities.

The claim by MAH that the emergence of Airbnb has caused hotel occupancy rates to drop must also be examined.

In terms of cleanliness and hospitality, although hotels do fit the bill, not all hotels are in that category. All hotels must be refurbished and kept clean at all times. It may be a bit too much to ask for luxury bedding or first class service, but cleanliness and pleasant service is not too difficult.

Airbnb hosts are conscious about their guests and the reviews that are given on the website. They go the extra mile, and it is not always accurate to say that Airbnb is cheaper and therefore people choose them over hotels. It is the space, the home away from home concept, and being looked after, the occasional bottle of wine left for guests, the fruit basket, the bottles of fruit juice and mineral water in the fridge — all of these go a long way in wooing guests.

In terms of protection for the hosts and the guests, Airbnb has enough protection in place. It is up to the renter to choose who they want to rent out to. Those who want to rent and those who are renting out their properties have their profiles. Reviews as to the safety of the place and its convenience — all can be seen from the website. It is a very transparent website and no one can complain that they were not aware that there was a danger or that they did not get their money’s worth. There are times that unfortunate Airbnb hosts unwittingly allow roguish guests and their premises are wrecked. The Airbnb hosts too, have a risk to take.

From the reports, it is unclear of the need for Airbnb to be registered or regulated. Hotel operators are required to register as it is a business. Airbnb is a service platform and not a business. For hosts, it is an additional income — especially for the elder population whose children have left, or even for those with university fees to pay, this additional income will be a good supplement. Unlike hotels and motels, Airbnb operators are there on a temporary basis. Sometimes, the owner may get a long-term tenant, and may not want to continue with the Airbnb concept.

Maybe we can take a leaf from countries where Airbnb has been regulated. In Los Angeles, United States, a regulation was passed for short-term rentals (vacation) with an initial cap on rentals for up to 120 days with flexibility to increase that number of days.

In New York, it is illegal to rent out an entire residence for less than 30 days. Short-term rentals are permitted if the homeowner is also staying there throughout the rental period and there are no more than two renters. This would be ideal for an elderly couple who would enjoy the company of young tourists who would in turn enjoy being in a home environment.

In Japan, anyone wanting to list their property on Airbnb will need to register with the local government, who will conduct fire and safety checks on the premises. The new regulations also limit rentals to 180 days per year.

Singapore has prohibited public housing rentals that are under six months, or three months in the case of private housing without the approval of the Urban Redevelopment Authority. In London and Paris, new laws have limited short-term rentals up to 90 days per year, and Liverpool City Council has pushed for national regulations to ensure that landlords register short-term rental properties.

Regulation is of critical importance in shaping the welfare of economies and society. Any form of regulation must work effectively and serve the public interest. Government agencies, in this case, the local councils are responsible for implementing regulatory policies and must be aimed towards protecting the consumer. When imposing such regulations on individuals, such as Airbnb hosts, there must be a goal that will help the government to achieve its purpose. The objective of a government or regulatory body is to ensure better and cheaper services and goods, and to provide a fair competition to any particular industry without encouraging a monopoly. Airbnb may be regulated and the town and city councils may want to draw up guidelines following from the examples cited above.

By GRACE XAVIER

Grace Xavier is research fellow at the Faculty of Law, Universiti Malaya and she can be reached at gracem@um.edu.my

Using Airbnb to settle mortgages

Survey: Hosting helps to repay loans, provide extra income

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https://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2019/07/03/md-the-cost-and-security-issue-of-airbnb/?jwsource=cl

PETALING JAYA: More Malaysians are relying on Airbnb to settle their mortgages given the property overhang that is engulfing the sector.

According to an Airbnb survey of more than 2,000 Malaysian hosts and guests, half of the Airbnb hosts said it had helped them pay for their homes while 40% said Airbnb provided a supplementary income for them to make ends meet.Malaysia is Airbnb’s fastest growing country in South-East Asia for the second consecutive year.

It saw more than 3.25 million guests in Malaysia over the past 12 months ended July 1, which translated to a 73% increase from the previous period.There are more than 53,000 Airbnb listings in the country.

Axis REIT Managers Bhd investment head and former Malaysian Institute of Estate Agents president Siva Shanker said many of the Airbnb hosts were investors and speculators who purchased the properties during the upturn, with the intention of selling them at a higher price.

“However, when the property market started to make a turn for the worse, many of these speculators found it difficult to sell or rent out their units but at the same time they needed income to service their loans,” he told StarBiz.

Siva said many of the buyers and investors had bought the units on the advice of some people with questionable skills and credentials.

“Many of the people, who claimed to be experts, gave false assurances that the properties could be sold at a premium of up to 40% within a couple of years, or that they would be able to get high rental yields.

“This is essentially a get rich quick scheme and many people believed in them. But then the market crashed and many of the buyers are saddled with a property that they can’t sell or rent out.”

Siva said many of the so-called “advisers” had rebranded themselves as Airbnb consultants when the property market slumped.

Airbnb is an online booking platform that allows people to rent out their properties or spare rooms to guests.

PPC International managing director Datuk Siders Sittampalam said the concept of Airbnb needs to be regulated.

“It’s never been regulated in the past, especially in terms of taxes. How do you determine things such as cost and security?”

Siva concurred that proper regulation need to be put in place to for Airbnb operators.

“You don’t know who’s going into your apartment. Every other day, your occupants are changing.

“They could be illegal immigrants, running criminal activities, being a nuisance and disturbing the neighbours.

“How is the unit considered ‘gated and guarded’ when the owner is the one that opens the door to these strangers?”

With no proper regulation in place, Siva said the value of the apartment will deteriorate.

“The owner is running it like a hotel, except he doesn’t have the upkeep skills of a hotelier. Within a year, the apartment will look run down. By then, new properties will be up in the market and new owners will be looking to rent them out.

“The owner of the run down apartment is going to have difficulties finding tenants, but he still needs to fulfil his monthly mortgage. Eventually, it becomes a vicious cycle. To stop this, we need to educate the public and get rid of the self-proclaimed property gurus.”

Another concern is the Airbnb having a huge impact on the local hotel industry.

According to Impiana Hotels Bhd executive director Azrin Kamaluddin, hotels that havemore than four stars will face limited to no impact from the rising popularity of Airbnb.

“The hotels offer distinct product differentiation as they provide experience and service to guests.

“What Airbnb does is offer accommodation as a commodity.

“I believe that owners of four and five star serviced residences that do not lease back their units to operators as well as hotels that are three stars and below would be disrupted by Airbnb.

“It is imperative for hotels that have three stars and below to reinvent themselves to stand out from the competition posed by Airbnb,” he said.

On the potential launch of Airbnb Luxe, Azrin said it would not have an impact on four to five-star hotels, given the relatively small volume and higher price tag of US$1,000 per night.

Siders concurred that Airbnb would only have an adverse impact on budget hotels.

“The four-star and five-star hotels offer different types of services and amenities.”

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Five challenges young Malaysians face with home ownership


For many young Malaysians, the road to owning a home is riddled with speed bumps. — Pexels

 

PETALING JAYA, Feb 26 — Most would agree that you truly reach adulthood the moment you own your own property.

Just like any other major milestone in life, getting there comes with its own set of challenges that many young Malaysians have to overcome before they can successfully purchase a home.

Here are five hurdles Malaysian millennials might encounter on the path towards home ownership:

1. Worrying about making the wrong choice, when is the ‘right’ time to buy?

 Purchasing a home can be a major decision that many Malaysian youths feel overwhelmed by. — Pexels pic

Purchasing a home can be a major decision that many Malaysian youths feel overwhelmed by. — Pexels pic

Making the decision to buy a piece of property is a huge step that young locals aren’t quite brave enough to take yet.

Social news website SAYS’ 2019 Malaysian Home Survey among 8,568 Malaysians reports that one in five respondents had “(worries) about making the wrong decision”, especially since home ownership requires a hefty financial investment.

2. Unsure about loan application and loan rejections.

Do you have enough saved up for a home in the future? — Pexels pic

Do you have enough saved up for a home in the future? — Pexels pic

A difficult loan approval process is a huge factor that dampens many Malaysians’ prospects of owning a home.

PropertyGuru’s Consumer Sentiment Survey in 2017 states that 33 per cent of Malaysians reported a tough approval process for bank loan applications which presents a major roadblock on the path to home ownership.

3. Starter salaries, not enough money saved for a downpayment.

The average Malaysian needs to plan carefully if they want to own a house with their current salary. — Reuters pic

The average Malaysian needs to plan carefully if they want to own a house with their current salary. — Reuters pic

The thought of dealing with a mortgage on the salary of a fresh graduate is making many millenials think twice about owning a house.

The Employee’s Provident Fund statement in 2016 had said that 89 per cent of the working population in Malaysia earn less than RM5,000 monthly, making home ownership especially challenging.

Most millenials wouldn’t believe that they could own a house with that salary.

4. Renting or owning?

It’s not easy maintaining a modern lifestyle when you’ve got a mortgage weighing on your shoulders. — Unsplash pic

It’s not easy maintaining a modern lifestyle when you’ve got a mortgage weighing on your shoulders. — Unsplash pic

The hefty financial commitment to owning a home means young Malaysians will have to make some lifestyle changes if they want to stay afloat while having a house to their name.

This might mean foregoing luxuries such as weekend brunches and holidays overseas which have become staples for the modern generation.

Hence, a monthly instalment replacing these pleasures is the reason 33% of Malaysians in SAYS’ survey are saying ‘no’ to home ownership.

 

5. Lack of awareness on housing deals and promotions.

Housing deals and offers don’t seem to be showing up on the radars of young Malaysians. — Unsplash pic


Housing deals and offers don’t seem to be showing up on the radars of young Malaysians. — Unsplash pic

While initiatives are in place to help young potential homeowners, many do not even know about the resources available to them that can ease the burden of property ownership.

A shocking 65 per cent of Malaysians in SAYS’ survey said that they had no clue about current housing offers and promotions.

This means that many young adults are currently unequipped with knowledge about navigating the property market.

In light of this, property developers EcoWorld have launched HOPE (Home Ownership Programme with EcoWorld), a comprehensive solution that promises to aid young Malaysians in their journey towards owning their dream home.

HOPE aims to make the dream of home ownership a full-fledged reality for millennials with the STAY2OWN (S2O) and HELP2OWN (H2O) programmes.

S2O will allow those wanting to stay in an EcoWorld project to rent their ideal home first with the confidence that they can become homeowners in the future.

A low monthly payment similar to the market rental rate also makes it particularly attractive for first-time homebuyers.

The option to rent first before buying also gives customers ample time to get their finances in order before committing to a new mortgage.

To top it all off, the rental savings will be used to offset part of the purchase price of the home, making it even more affordable for young Malaysians.

The H2O had successfully helped approximately 1,800 young homeowners and upgraders own their choice EcoWorld home last year and you can be one of them too! For more information on owning your dream home, visit EcoWorld’s website  https://ecoworld.my/hope/) or Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/EcoWorldGroup/).

By Tan Mei Zi The MalayMail

* This article is brought to you by EcoWorld. https://ecoworld.my/hope/

A NEW HOPE FOR YOUR DREAM HOME


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Resilient values: Geh believes that both landed and high-rise units in prime locations will hold their values. Research house sa..





 

 

 

Flat property market seen for Penang


https://img3.penangpropertytalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/pptrends.jpg

 

Resilient values: Geh believes that both landed and high-rise units in prime locations will hold their values.

 

Research house says it will be buyers’ market over the short term

THE Penang property market is expected to remain flat yet resilient this year and could bottom out within the next two years.

CBRE|WTW Research in its Real Estate Market Outlook 2019 says it will be a buyers’ market over the short term, particularly for residential properties.

“Under the prevailing subdued market, launches of smaller, single phase developments would reduce in the short-term but larger integrated mixed developments or townships would carry on.

“The property market is anticipated to remain generally soft and flat in 2019. This is in consideration of the challenging global and domestic economy, rising cost of living, as well as supply-demand imbalances, particularly in the high-rise residential sector.”

The property consultancy however adds that Penang’s property market still demonstrates resilience, aided further by recovery in the economy.

“Meanwhile, the current excess in supply will effectively be absorbed by the market. Benefits of reforms undertaken by the new government could also trickle down to the local property market.”

Raine & Horne Malaysia senior partner and FIABCI Malaysian chapter president Michael Geh says transactions and values will most likely remain flat, at best.

“As residential market activity, in terms of transacted units, has been falling over the last few consecutive quarters, at best the year-on-year levels will hold. In light of the overall soft market, property values are not expected to rise in 2019,” he tells StarBizweek.

Malaysian Institute of Estate Agents Penang chairman Mark Saw says the Penang residential market will see “some correction” this year.

“However, long-term planning on infrastructure improvements will go some way towards ensuring those locations currently only accessible by cars are better served with public transport.

“For those who have been holding back their launches the past few years, there may be a need to start selling, especially if land were bought on loans.”

He adds that measures taken by the state government will help to spur the Penang property market.

“With the waiver of the 3% approval fee for foreign purchasers starting from Feb 1, Penang must be seen to be investor friendly and foreign buyers should be encouraged to come.”

Meanwhile, Knight Frank Malaysia in its latest research report Real Estate Highlights for the Second Half of 2018 says the general outlook for the Penang property market “remains mixed without a dominant overall trend”.

“However, resulting from the interplay of supply and demand as well as the general economy, different sectors are performing differently. The residential sector, which is the leading sector in terms of total volume and value of transactions, has shown some improvement during the first half of 2018.

“It registered a 5.4% increase in the volume of transactions year–on-year. This trend is expected to continue.”

Saw says prices of landed property in Penang are unlikely to drop.

“However, the high-rise market will remain challenging and developers will need to continue to offer incentives as well as alternate options of home ownership.

“Developers with deeper pockets or less loans may look into rent-to-buy schemes in tandem with the recently-announced National Home Ownership Campaign by the government.”

Geh believes that both landed and high-rise units in prime locations will hold their values, while speculatively-purchased condominiums will be affected.

“Government announcements on transportation plans, infrastructure and stimulus plans are among actions that can help stimulate the Penang property market tremendously,” he says.


Easing overhang

CBRE|WTW Research says the overhang within the Penang residential property market is likely to ease over the next two to three years, with developers offering special packages and postponing launches, all of which would allow demand to catch up with supply.

“The medium to long-term outlook remains positive given that various policies and efforts are being undertaken by the government,” it says.

Citing data by the National Property Information Centre, CBRE|WTW Research says there are over 2,200 high-rise overhang units worth nearly RM1.6bil as at the second quarter of 2018.

“This is due to the abundant apartment and condominium units launched, constructed and completed within the past three-to-five years, coupled with the high rejection rate of end financing, unreleased bumiputra units and low demand for units in secondary locations.”

In terms of unsold residential units, CBRE|WTW Research says around 34% or 1,300 of the overhang units are in the RM500,001 to RM1mil per unit price range.

“On the other hand, units priced at RM1mil and above form the bulk (58%) of the total overhang valued at approximately RM1.75bil.

The property consultancy adds that high-rise projects, particularly, are experiencing increased sales pressure amidst an oversupply situation.

“Under the challenging market, developers have resorted to offering incentives such as rebates on selling prices, zero or low downpayment, easy instalment payment of up to 24 months, deferred payment of (say) 30% of the selling price over five years at 0% interest, free legal fees and one year’s maintenance fee.

“Complimentary packages include interior design package, kitchen and electrical appliance vouchers as well as referral and reward schemes.”

Office and retail markets

Knight Frank Malaysia says the office sector is still enjoying stable rents and high occupancies, pointing out however that the overall occupancy rates in some buildings have dropped marginally.

“This favourable state of affairs is expected to continue for the next few quarters as new supply is only expected to come on-stream beyond 2020.”

CBRE|WTW Research says pent-up demand for newer and prime offices persists in Penang.

“New supply of offices in Penang in the past ten years was limited. New prime purpose-built office buildings completed within the past three years such as HunzaTower and Straits Quay Commercial Suites are enjoying commendable occupancy rates, although charging new benchmark rentals.

“Newly set-up offices, as well as offices relocated from older office buildings, comprise the tenants in these new buildings. Office occupiers are seeking newer office buildings that serve their contemporary needs and enhance their corporate image.”

It adds that pent-up demand for newer and prime offices would continue in the short-term, as most of the upcoming purpose-built office buildings are scheduled for completion in year 2020 and beyond.

“Older buildings are likely to experience a slide in demand thus lower rentals and capital prices.”

CBRE|WTW Research says stable occupancy rates can be anticipated, adding that rentals will increase.

“As at mid-2018, the overall occupancy rate of purpose-built office buildings in Penang declined slightly to 77% from 82% year-on-year. Occupancy rates are anticipated to generally remain in the region of 80% in near future.

“Rentals of prime office space in Georgetown were between RM2.50 and RM3.50 per sq ft. Prime offices outside George Town, particularly newer buildings in Bayan Lepas/Bayan Baru and Tanjung Pinang (Tanjung Tokong), registered higher rentals of RM3.30 to RM4.50 per sq ft.”

Due to increasing maintenance cost, CBRE|WTW Research says rentals of office space in most buildings are expected to increase in the short term.

“The overall average rental of prime offices would also increase, pulled-up by new entrants with higher asking rentals.”

As for the retail sub-sector in Penang, Knight Frank Malaysia says the current supply remains unchanged, adding that a more challenging scenario is anticipated for this sector with new supply to come on-stream with the expected opening of IKEA in Batu Kawan in the current quarter and the extension of Penang Times Square.

“Other retail centres/expansion of retail centres will be adding on the supply in 2020 and 2022.”

CBRE|WTW Research says the retail sector in Penang is likely to be flat, buffered by cautious optimism.

“Mixed performances will be more evident between the better and under-performing retail complexes, of which the latter is likely to drag down the overall occupancy and average rental rates.

“With abundant supply in the pipeline, shoppers can look forward to exciting shopping experiences.”

It says the overall occupancy rate stood at 72% as at mid-2018, with 79% for Penang island and 63% for Seberang Prai.

“Retail lots on the ground floor of selected prime retail complexes on the island commanded higher gross rental rates of up to RM45 per sq ft.”

Meanwhile, Geh says better-managed malls in prime locations are sustainable.

“These malls have sustained rental rates but vacancy factors have certainly increased by 5% to 10%.

“There is no oversupply but a rise in vacancy factors. Going forward, the general population’s purchasing trend remains cautious and wary of big-ticket items.”

Saw is less optimistic about the Penang retail sector, saying “this sector has been saturated for a few years and there is no end in sight”.

By Wugene Mahalingam, The Star

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Real Estate Market Outlook 2019 – CBRE | WTW – C H Williams Talhar …

 

 

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MANY international experts and organisations have expressed concern about the global economic outlook this year.

Tighter monetary policy, weaker earnings growth and political challenges are confronting major economies.

The long-running US-China trade war and uncertainty around the UK’s
exit from the European Union have soured business and consumer sentiment
in recent months. However, the risk of a recession remains small, say
economists.

Better to buy a car or a house first?


Given a choice, would you prefer to get a loan to buy an item that depreciates over a short period which is deemed as “bad debt” or commit on a “good debt”, which is to purchase a house or asset that will appreciate in the long term?

A car used to be a symbol of freedom and ease of mobility. I could understand the dilemma of having to choose between a house and a car a decade ago.

Even then, we should still have chosen a car within our means to manage our financial position.

Today, with public transportation and the availability of ride-sharing services such as Grab Car, we can now really have the option of buying a house first. This gives us both shelter and value appreciation.

This choice has just been made easier with Budget 2019 and the recent announcement by the Finance Ministry.

The government has rolled out several measures to assist homebuyers, including stamp duty exemptions.

Homebuyers will get a stamp duty waiver for memorandum of transfer (MoT) for the purchase of houses priced up to RM1mil, during the six-month Home Ownership Campaign (HOC) from January to June 2019. In addition, the stamp duty on loan documentation is fully waived up to RM2.5mil.

Besides that, the Real Estate and Housing Developers Association (Rehda) has also agreed to cut the prices of its completed and incoming units by at least 10%.

When I talk to potential homebuyers, they always ask about the right time to own property.

There is no perfect time to buy a house on foresight. If the price is within your means, and you plan to buy it for own stay or as a long-term investment, then anytime is a good time.

However, with the property market at the bottom half of the cycle now, this could be a good time to commit to a house with the attractive tax incentives rolled out by the government.

Homebuyers can grab the “duty-free” opportunity now to explore the property market. Those living in the Klang Valley will be able to find their dream home during the Homeownership Campaign Expo at the KLCC Convention Centre from March 1-3.

The campaign is jointly organised by Rehda and the Housing and Local Government Ministry. Besides having all developers under one roof, the ministry will also be featuring homes under RM300,000 by PR1MA, SPNB, PNB and others.

The Homeownership Campaign was first held in 1998 to lessen the burden of homebuyers and to encourage homeownership. It is re-introduced after two decades now with the same objective.

For homebuyers who don’t like the risk of buying a house under construction, there are plenty of completed units for sale in the campaign.

Buying a house can be emotional and uncertain for many homebuyers. However, in the long run, we can rest assured that we are buying an asset that will appreciate.

For homebuyers, always buy within your means as you can upgrade your house in the later stage of your life.

In this auspicious Chinese New Year, I hope you decide to prioritise a new house over a new car. Gong Xi Fa Cai!

By Alan Tong . . . Food for Thought

Datuk Alan Tong has over 50 years of experience in property development. He was the World President of FIABCI International for 2005/2006 and awarded the Property Man of the Year 2010 at FIABCI Malaysia Property Award. He is also the group chairman of Bukit Kiara Properties. For feedback, please email bkp@bukitkiara.com
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