A challenge faced by both the public and the private sectors of the housing industry in Malaysia is the provision of affordable housing. For the public sector, affordable housing serves as a primary means to improve people’s quality of life as well as better manage social issues. Developers who choose to address this segment enjoy the benefits of meeting the demands of a largely underserved market.
To clarify, housing affordability is defined as the number of times an average terraced house is priced to the average annual household income. According to Rahim & Co Chartered Surveyors Research’s Property Market Review 2014/2015, Malaysia’s average affordability index has worsened from 2009’s 3.4 to its current 3.6. Their data showed that the least affordable terraced house in Malaysia for 2014 was recorded by Sabah at 6.2 times followed by Penang at 5.9 times, Kuala Lumpur at 5.6 times and Sarawak at 4.4 times.
As ownership of affordable housing becomes less attainable for more and more Malaysians, the government has stepped up its efforts to address the problem. It has set up various agencies such as Perbadanan PR1MA Malaysia (PR1MA) and Syarikat Perumahan Negara Berhad (SPNB) as well introduced specific programmes, guidelines and policies to help ease the housing problem in the country.
Its most recent commitment is the announcement by Deputy Minister of Urban Wellbeing, Housing, and Local Government Datuk Halimah Saddique who in her opening address at the National Affordable Housing Summit 2015 organised by the Asian Strategy & Leadership Institute and REI Group pledged that the government would supply 1,000,000 affordable homes by 2018 through these agencies as well as private affordable ownership housing
PROJEK PERUMAHAN RAKYAT 1MALAYSIA (PRIMA)
PR1MA was established in 2012 “to plan, develop, construct and maintain high-quality housing with lifestyle concepts for middle-income households in key urban centres”. The scheme offers various house types of different sizes built within integrated communities and designed to suit different household needs.
These homes are sold at prices ranging from RM100,000 to RM400,000 and are open to all Malaysians earning a monthly household income, be it individual or combined of between RM2,500 and RM7,500. PR1MA homes are available in Johor, Perak, Perlis, Penang, Kedah, Kuala Lumpur, Labuan, Malacca, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Putrajaya, Sabah, Sarawak, Selangor and Terengganu.
SYARIKAT PERUMAHAN NEGARA BERHAD (SPNB)
SPNB was established in 1997 and is a wholly-owned subsidiary under the Ministry of Finance. It was set up to provide quality affordable homes for Malaysian families in line with the objectives of the National Housing Policy (NHP). Through this plan, the Rumah Mampu Milik Programme and Rumah Mesra Rakyat Programme were set up. Houses under this programme comprise low-cost, medium-low-cost and medium-cost houses. The criteria for the ownership of homes under this scheme are set by the state government.
MY FIRST HOME SCHEME
Another program by the Malaysian government is the My First Home Scheme (Skim Rumah Pertamaku) program which is aimed at helping young adults buy their own homes. The housing loan program is open to Malaysian citizens aged 35 and below who earn RM5,000 per month while the gross income of joint borrowers should not exceed RM10,000 per month. The eligible properties for this program have a maximum property value of RM400,000.
The lack of affordable housing in Malaysia has reached a critical state. Our population stands at over 30 million and is growing at a rate of 1.6% per year. Although there are several programmes underway aimed at addressing the shortage, the delivery of affordable homes is certainly not in tandem with the growth in demand. The government with its vast resources must rally the cooperation of the private sector in managing this issue or the country will have to suffer the serious economic and social implications of such an event.