Housing affordability remains a serious issue as there are still many Malaysians who cannot afford to buy a home. To solve this, Malaysia can take a cue from Singapore's public housing scheme which houses 80 per cent of its population.
By Khalil Adis
Ask any young Malaysians and chances are many are still unsure if they can buy their first home.
Their lack of knowledge, financial literacy, inability to get a loan and the lack of supply of such homes across Malaysia are further exacerbating the Malaysian housing issue.
From Johor to Kuala Lumpur, there is currently a demand-supply mismatch whereby most new launches in the market are priced above RM500,000.
This is far beyond what the average Malaysian can afford.
According to the first quarter of 2018 data from the National Property and Information Centre (NAPIC), Selangor has the highest number of existing stock of residential units followed by Johor and Kuala Lumpur at 1,516,960, 795,363 and 471,475 units respectively.
With Budget 2019 to be announced in November, perhaps the Malaysian government can take a cue from Singapore how the city-state is able to house 80 per cent of its population.
Step 1: Have a single affordable housing agency
In Singapore, there is only one government agency called the Housing & Development Board (HDB) which is tasked to provide affordable housing for every Singaporean.
In comparison, in Malaysia, there are so many affordable housing programmes being rolled out by the state and federal governments such as Rumah Milik Mampu, Rumah Selangorku, PR1MA, My First Home, Program Perumaha Rakyat and the list goes on.
This confuses the public.
The government should consolidate the affordable housing segment under one single government agency much like the HDB model.
Recently, Zuraida Kamaruddin, the Minister of Housing and Local Government, was in Singapore to study the HDB model.
By having it under one government agency umbrella, this will enable the federal government to better gauge demand from the public.
This leads to the next point.
Step 2: Build demand-driven homes
In Singapore, the HDB builds homes that are demand-driven called the Built-to-Order (BT0) scheme.
The public is then invited to apply for the various homes that are on offer in different parts of Singapore.
By doing so, this enables the HDB to gauge demand from the public and allocate homes using a balloting system.
The balloting system will then inform applicants of the status of their application.
If Malaysia were to follow such a system, this will help to solve the current demand-supply mismatch in the market and build homes according to demand.
Step 3: Introduce grants and subsidies
In Singapore, a first-time applicant can enjoy a housing grant called the Additional CPF Housing Grant (AHG) and Special CPF Housing Grant (SHG) of up to S$40,000 depending on one's household income.
To qualify for the AHG, applicants must apply for a 2-room flat or larger with an income ceiling of S$5,000 per month,
Applicants must also be employed at the time of application and be at least in employment for the past one year during the housing application.
On top of that applicants must not be an owner of any other properties in Singapore or overseas.
Applicants can also qualify for additional grants under the SHG here or if they live close to their parents.
By introducing such grants, it lowers the entry price to buy a home.
Likewise, if similar grants are introduced in Malaysia, it will mean more Malaysians can afford to buy their first home.
You can read more about the scheme here:
Think about it.
Step 4: Introduce housing loans direct from the housing ministry
In Singapore, most Singaporeans will opt to get a loan directly from the HDB which gives a concessionary interest rate at 2.6 per cent.
This means, regardless of the economy, the interest rate will remain the same unlike taking a bank loan.
In addition, the HDB is more compassionate if say, one is unable to service their loans.
The HDB will still require you to pay your monthly mortgage but will work out a plan that will ensure you will still have a roof over your head.
However, banks are less forgiving when you take a bank loan and will not hesitate to repossess your flat if you do not pay your mortgages on time.
In Malaysia, applicants must apply for a bank loan.
However, due to non-payment of PTPTN as well as bad credit, some applicants find their loans being rejected.
Perhaps, a way to get around it is to have a housing loan disbursed by the housing ministry with its own set of rules similar to the HDB.
Step 5: Introduce a rent-to-own scheme (for those who can't afford downpayment)
While there is no rent-to-own scheme in Singapore, this mode of housing ownership is getting popular in Malaysia.
For example, Ayer Holding introduced a ‘Stay & Own' scheme for their Epic Residence and Foreston projects whereby part of the rent will be converted to the downpayment.
This not only provides a temporary solution for those who urgently need a home but also a form of security
You can read more about the scheme here:
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An independent analysis from yours truly