Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Leong Hoy Kum, Group Managing Director of Mah Sing Group
We laude the Government’s continuous initiatives to encourage home ownership, especially for first time home buyers. We are also aware of the government’s concerns regarding the affordability of properties. The property industry has a larger multiplier effect than other industries, thus, stimulation of the property industry would have a larger impact on the overall economy.
As property developers work towards supporting the national vision, we hope that the Government will consider the following:
1. DIBS for First-Time Homebuyers
In line with the Government’s aspiration to assist first-time property buyers, we would like to request for the reinstatement of Developer Interest Bearing Scheme (DIBS) for first time homebuyers only. The scheme will assist genuine homebuyers who wish to purchase homes by allowing them to lock in properties at current market prices.
2. Review of RPGT to Encourage Property Investment
Total property transactions in Malaysia for the first half of 2015 declined by 3.5% in number and 6% in number and value respectively. In 2010, the government allowed a flat rate of 5% Real Property Gain Tax (RPGT) across the board and a minimum exemption of RM10,000 gain. Many lauded this move as it has greatly encouraged property transactions. Hence, we would like to suggest a review of the RPGT including a minimum exemption to revive property investments. There are minimal speculations in the market as the numbers of borrowers with three or more outstanding housing loans is only 3% of the total borrowers with housing loans.
3. Less Strict Lending Requirements
Home buyers have cited stringent bank lending standards as one of the reasons why they are unable to own a home as quickly as they would have liked. We urge Bank Negara Malaysia to relax the lending requirements, for both first-time home buyers as well as for second time home buyers who are looking to upgrade due to increment of family members. Easier access to end-financing and a supportive environment will assist genuine buyers who wish to purchase properties.
4. Increasing Housing Grants for Youths
The Youth Housing Scheme which was introduced in Budget 2015 was favourable for first-time homebuyers; where the Government provided RM200 monthly financial assistance to help first-time homebuyers with monthly instalments, 50% stamp duty exemption on transfer documents and loan agreements, as well as a 10% loan guarantee so that they could obtain 100% financing. With the implementation of Goods and Services Tax and the higher cost of living, we look forward to an increase in the monthly financial assistance to further assist the younger generation in coping with homeownership.
5. Affordable Housing Rather than Low-Cost Housing
As developers, we look to deliver quality homes which complement a quality lifestyle. We would like to suggest upgrading the status of low-cost housing to affordable housing to allow the lower income or middle income group to have access to homes with better amenities and facilities that supports the current market’s lifestyles.
6. Stamp Duty Exemption
To help reduce the transaction cost of home ownership, we hope that the Government would consider full exemption of stamp duty for the purchase of first residential properties instead of the current 50% exception. Adding on, we would also like to urge the Government to extend the exemption or lower the stamp duty rates for all types of property transactions.
7. Further Reduction of Personal Income Tax for Middle Income Earners
In view of the weakening economy, we hope that the Government will consider further reduction of personal income tax for the middle income group. We believe this will provide more disposal income for the rakyat to invest and thus stimulate the property market sentiment.