Should I buy a house now or later?

If you are torn between the idea of purchasing a home now or to continue renting while you wait a bit longer to get on the property ladder, then this article is for you.

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You have heard this a million times before – buying your own house or residential property is one of your biggest life milestones. The idea of investing a huge sum into such an asset seems daunting, however, as the economy is not so rosy at the moment.

Factor in other external factors such as fluctuations in the property market and new government rulings such as the increase in real property gains tax (RPGT), you have a multitude of factors to consider.

But then again, just like most Malaysian millennials out there, you are probably tired of having a sizeable chunk of your salary go towards monthly rental payments.

However, the answer to the now VS later debate isn’t so cut and dried. Here we answer 8 questions you might have and by the end of this guide, you should have a clearer picture of which route to take:

What are the average prices of homes across Malaysia?

Your buying decision obviously depends on the price of the property and whether you have enough money to buy a house in your preferred location. Before we dive into the critical aspects of home ownership, let’s take a look at home prices across Malaysia.

According to the National Property Information Centre (NAPIC), the 2018 median price of a house in Malaysia was RM 296,944. However, this price varies between states, with Kuala Lumpur topping the list as the most expensive location to own a home at RM538,000.

As explained by Charles Tan of kopiandproperty.com, bear in mind that the median price depends on actual transactions and is not based on advertised selling price. This is why property prices would usually inch upwards even if transaction activity may not seem robust.

Also, transactions here refer to the transfer of both primary and sub-sale homes within the review period at all stages of construction – completed, under construction and planned.

Will property prices go down anytime soon?

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Well, we hate to be a party pooper, but historical data has shown that it is unlikely for property prices to fall in the near future. Regardless of economic slowdowns, property market fluctuations and changes in government policy, housing prices have been on an upward trend since 2010.

The 2018 Malaysian House Price Index (MHPI) stood at 193.3 points, up by 3.1% against 2017 MHPI of 187.6 points. 2016 MHPI was at 176.1, a 6.5% increase from the 2015 MHPI of 164.5….Well, you get the idea.

Admittedly the Y-O-Y growth in housing prices has tapered off quite a bit, thanks to preventative measures by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) circa 2014 to mitigate property speculation.

Even then, property prices have continued to climb each year. So, if you are waiting in anticipation of the next recession cycle for property prices to decline, then it is probably better to buy now rather than later.

How much is your income?

As per the latest figures from the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM), the median household income of a Malaysian family is RM 5,228 per month, but this figure fluctuates quite a bit from state to state.

For instance, the median income of a household in Kuala Lumpur is around RM9,073 whereas in a less urbanised state like Kelantan, a similar household may only be bringing home roughly RM3,079 monthly.

Household income is an important component in calculating your Debt-to-Service (DSR) ratio, which is the ratio of a person’s total debt to their household income. Your DSR helps you gauge whether you will be able to secure a home loan in the first place.

DSR = Debt/Net Income X 100

This is because the DSR is one of the main qualifying factors for a home loan application. A good DSR proves to the banks that you can afford to pay the monthly instalments throughout the loan tenure – Generally, financial institutions will not accept a DSR that exceeds 70%.

If you determine that your DSR is within a healthy range and you have enough savings for a 90% down payment, you can then proceed to the next step.

However, if you are already struggling with your financial obligations, it is best to put your home ownership dreams on the backburner and work on improving your finances first using the 50-20-30 rule, a simple budgeting guide which is suitable for all income brackets.

What are the lending rates if you buy now VS later?

interest-rate-home-loan

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If you’ve been sticking to the “wait and see” sentiment this past year or so, then now will be the perfect time to buy a house since BNM has lowered the Overnight Policy Rate (OPR) from 3.25% to 3% effective from 7th May 2019.

CHECK OUT: BNM reduces OPR to 3% – How will it affect your home loan?

OPR is the rate a borrower bank has to pay to the lending bank for the funds borrowed. A lower OPR has a declining impact on Base Lending Rate (BLR), Base Rate (BR) and the effective lending rate (ELR) of your home loan. Thus, home buyers now have a better chance of getting a loan at a lower interest rate.

Should you decide to leverage on this opportunity, you might want to shop around for the best rates offered by banks that suit your risk profile. Do take note that a lower BR offered by one bank does not necessarily mean that it has the lowest ELR.

How will your mortgage payments look like if you buy now VS later?

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It is safe to anticipate that property prices will only increase with time. But, how will this affect your mortgage payments?

Let’s say, you have decided to buy a 3+1-bedroom condominium unit in Bandar Sungai Long. To commit, you will have to pay an upfront 10% down payment as well as entry fees (legal fees, stamp duty and valuation fees, insurance and monthly mortgage payments).

We will be comparing the price differences for buying the house now and 3 years later, where the monthly instalment and entry fee calculations were made using our home loan calculator, utilising the following terms: a 35-year loan tenure at 4.5% interest and a 10% down payment.

Note: The interest rates of current home loan products vary between 4-5%, hence we will be taking the average of this (4.5%).

BUY NOW

Cost of House: RM 435,000
Total Home Loan (90%): RM 391,500

10% Deposit:  RM 43,500
Entry Fees: RM 17,263
Insurance: RM 11,745 (3% of total mortgage)
Total Initial Cost = RM 72,508

Monthly Instalment Payment: RM 1,852
Total Instalment Payment over 35 years = RM 778,840

TOTAL COST: RM 72,508 + RM 778,840 = RM 850,348

BUY IN 3 YEARS (Assuming a Y-O-Y 3.5% growth in MHPI

Cost of House: *RM 482,292
Total Home Loan (90%): RM 434,063

10% Deposit:  RM 48,229
Entry Fees: RM 19,145
Insurance: RM 13,021 (3% of total mortgage)
Total Initial Cost = RM 80,395

Monthly Instalment Payment: RM 2,054
Total Instalment Payment over 35 years = RM 862,680

TOTAL COST: RM 80,395 + RM 862,680 = RM 943,075

Cost savings if you buy now VS in 2022: RM 943,075 – 850,348 = RM92,727

*Cost of house in 2022 was calculated using the following formula:
Future Value = Future Growth [(1+annual rate)^years] X Current Value
= [(1+0.035)^3 years] X RM 435,000
= RM 482,292

As you can see, your property cost, payment and even your entry fees will appreciate over time. Assuming the variables above, you will be spending an additional RM92,272 should you decide to postpone your home purchase to 2022. You could play around with the formula above to estimate how much a property would cost X years down the road.

Couples or double-income families, in particular, would want to take a hard look at their current home rental expenditure. If you and your spouse (or partner) are already paying upwards of RM1,500 per month for your rental unit, then it would probably make sense to purchase your property now. You could be using the same amount of cash to start paying off for a property of your own that costs RM400,000 – RM450,000 today.

Are there any government incentives to buy now VS later?

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There are a number of schemes aspiring homebuyers could leverage on:

  • BNM has set up a RM 1 billion fund with low financing rate of 5.35% to help first-time homebuyers to buy houses ranging up to RM 150,000. You are eligible for this loan if your monthly income is RM 2,300 or below.
  • Youth Housing Scheme – This scheme was the result of the collaboration of 3 parties: Bank Simpanan Nasional (BSN), Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and National Mortgage Corporation of Malaysia (CAGAMAS). If you are single or newly married, you can use this scheme to take a 100% loan on your first home at prices ranging between RM 100,000 – RM 500,000.
  • First Home Deposit Funding Scheme (MyDeposit) – This will help pay 10% of your purchase price up to a maximum of RM 30,000 as a deposit to get you started on your first home. It is open to households earning up to RM10,000 per month. 
  • Residensi Wilayah (RUMAWIP) – This scheme is specially designed for first-time buyers who fall under the low-to-middle income groups. This program offers a variety of properties in the Federal Territories such as Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan at affordable prices.

Can you take advantage of unsold property units by buying now VS later?

As per NAPIC’s Malaysian Property Market 2018 report, there are many unsold/overhang properties in Malaysia especially in areas surrounding Kuala Lumpur and Perak. In fact, the number of overhang units in 2018 rose by 30.7% compared to the prior year.

An “overhang property” is defined as a completed residential unit which has remained unsold or been on the market for at least nine months. To help mitigate the overhang issue and to boost homeownership, the government has introduced a massive nation-wide housing campaign – the Home Ownership Campaign (HOC) 2019 from 1 January – 30 June 2019. 

Homebuyers will get to enjoy stamp duty exemptions and a further 10% discount on residential properties sold under the HOC banner – Due to overwhelming demand, the government has just announced that it will be extended to 31st December 2019. 

FIND OUT MORE: Home Ownership Campaign (HOC) 2019 extended by another 6 months! Here’s what homebuyers should know

Don’t forget to check – do you have enough cash to close the property deal?

Buying a house requires a number of payments at different phases. First, you have to fork out 10% of your purchase price as a deposit to lock in the property. Then, you have to pay the monthly loan instalments for the next 30 or 35 years.

Apart from that, there are also a number of fees you need to cover, known as the entry costs. These other costs to consider before buying a house can amount to 2-5% of your property value and comprise expenses such as legal fees, agents’ fees, valuation fees and stamp duties.

Buying a home involves a lot of research and personal assessments from your end, but this guide could help you navigate the process smoothly from the get-go. It won’t hurt to also look for and talk to a trusted real estate agent to help you think through the decision whether to purchase a residential property now VS later.

If you are thinking about buying a home, do ensure that you are ready for such a purchase. Use our home loan eligibility tool, LoanCare to find out if you will be able to secure a home loan from up to 17 banks across Malaysia for that property you have your eye on.

*Article was written in collaboration with Fahri Ahmed.

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