Private sector urged to take on bigger role in affordable housing

Private sector urged to take on bigger role in affordable housing

PETALING JAYA: The private sector should step up and take on a bigger role in affordable housing as the government’s initiatives are not enough to meet pent-up demand, said Axis REIT Managers Bhd head of investments Siva Shanker (pix).

“I think the government initiatives are good but they are not enough and are not coming fast enough. I’ve spoken to one or two developers who have told me that this year, they intend to focus on the affordable housing sector. That is the right thing to do.

“Why bother to flog a dead horse? All the high-end units are not going to sell at least for the next one to two years,” he told reporters in an interview.
Siva, who is also past president of the Malaysian Institute of Estate Agents (MIEA), said the affordable housing sector needs a big boost to get going in order to meet demand.

“A lot of people still want to buy houses. The pent-up demand is still huge but transactions are not taking place because they are unable to afford it. It is over their price range but if you start building properties in that are in the lower price range, I can virtually guarantee you whether in good times or bad times those properties will fly off the shelves,” he said.

Siva said savvy developers will now start scaling down on the frills and build simple, basic units that are cheaper.

“Will your profit be affected? Perhaps. Is your bottom line going to be affected? For sure. But at least, the transactions are going, the market is buoyant and things are happening,” he added.

Siva advised home buyers to accept the trend of living further away from the city centre and to consider buying smaller units to hedge against inflation.
“There’s another trend. I think people are accepting it. Kuala Lumpur is unaffordable. Accept it, stop complaining. Start changing your mindset, move further away.

“Of course, it is a bit more troublesome because we don’t have good public transport … I know it is tough but it is better than having no house, so just buy first, it is okay. The public transport will come.

“It is a bit of trouble but it is better than sitting here and waiting and saying you cannot afford it.”

Siva advised buyers to buy smaller and cheaper units first to hedge against inflation and “trade up” at a later stage when the property value appreciates.

Commenting on the possibility of the Developer Interest Bearing Scheme (DIBS) returning, Siva said if it makes a comeback, it should be legalised in order to avoid abuse and offered to first-time property buyers only.

“Legalise it. Legalise DIBS, stamp duty and legal fees being free or given to you and amortised back into the loan for 30 years. Make it transparent,” he said.

Siva said it should only be offered to first-time property buyers who do not own any other property – including commercial and industrial. However, he acknowledged that it would not be easy for the government to monitor the implementation and a proper system would have to be put in place to address any loopholes and avoid abuse.

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