RM500,000 homes are not affordable, Rehda told

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PETALING JAYA: The National House Buyers Association (HBA) has accused a property developers’ group of misleading the public into believing that its members have built an adequate number of houses that are priced for the average Malaysian.

Speaking to FMT, HBA secretary-general Chang Kim Loong said the Real Estate and Housing Developers Association (Rehda) had falsely assumed that the average Malaysian could afford a house selling for as high as RM500,000.

He was referring to remarks made on Thursday by Rehda president Soam Heng Choon. Speaking at a press conference, Soam said developers launched more affordable houses in the first half of this year than they did last year but added that a large number of them, priced below RM500,000, remained unsold.

“We can speculate that the bulk of Rehda’s unsold properties are those priced close to RM500,000,” said Chang.

HBA defines an affordable house as one that is priced between RM150,000 and RM300,000, contains at least two bedrooms and has a built-up area of at least 800 square feet, excluding a balcony.

Chang also said affordable houses should be in areas accessible to public transportation and amenities such as schools, hospitals and hypermarkets.

He claimed it was the international practice to place a piece of property in the “affordable” category only if it was offered at a price lower than thrice the annual household income.

According to the Statistics Department, the median monthly household income in 2016 was RM9,033 in Kuala Lumpur and RM5,228 outside the city.

“Applying the factor of three times, RM325,188 is the maximum property price deemed affordable in Kuala Lumpur and RM188,208 is the maximum in the rest of Malaysia,” Chang noted.

He challenged Rehda to disclose how many of the houses built by its members, excluding studio units, were priced between RM150,000 and RM300,000.

“Developers must build the right products at the right places with the right pricing and in the right numbers in order to be well received by the general public,” he added.