Ease loan rules to overcome housing glut, says Penang housing developers body

Penang Rehda members at the announcement of the Mapex 2019 at Pulau Tikus today.

GEORGE TOWN: A housing developers’ group here today urged the government to ease lending rules and introduce measures to boost sales to overcome the rising housing glut nationwide.

Two top leaders of the Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association (Rehda) Penang chapter said there was particularly a rise in unsold units priced below RM300,000 as potential buyers were met with high loan rejections.

Penang Rehda’s immediate past chairman Jerry Chan said the situation today was starting to look worse than the property bubble experienced in 1999 after the Asian financial crisis.

He said at least in 1999, there had been no “severe overbuilding” and the unsold units were much lower than the current numbers.

Chan said the key problem was difficulty in obtaining home loans. He also lamented that it was easier to obtain credit cards, car financing and personal loans, but home loans were hard to come by.

He said while the unsold total units in Penang were at a manageable level at about 4,000 units, the levels in Johor and Kuala Lumpur/Selangor were more serious and ought to be looked into.

As of October last year, it was reported that there were 29,227 units of unsold residential properties in the country, according to a government housing monitor.

Johor leads at 5,988 unsold units (with most of it in Johor Bahru), followed by Selangor (4,694 units) and Penang, (3,958 units).

The biggest unsold numbers in the country were found in the RM500,000 to RM1 million range of properties at 7,525 units valued at RM5.17 billion.

Jerry Chan.

Chan was speaking at a press conference with Penang Rehda chairman Toh Chin Leong at Pulau Tikus here today.

Meanwhile, Toh hoped the government would extend its stamp duty exemption for a longer period, from the present six months for properties priced between RM300,001 and RM1 million.

He said Penang Rehda had written to Putrajaya to also raise the RM1 million threshold to RM2 million to boost sales.

Toh said the Penang government’s 3% waiver of foreign purchases of homes for the month of February alone was good but not long enough.

He said the exemption should be extended up to the end of June to allow promotion to foreigners.

Penang has imposed a minimum price for foreigners to purchase properties and they are subjected to a 3% approval levy. Yesterday, the state government said it would lift the levy to reduce a glut of high-end properties.

Currently, foreigners can only purchase landed properties on the island priced from RM2 million to RM3 million.

As for the mainland, foreigners can only purchase apartments priced above RM500,000, and above RM1 million for landed properties.

Separately, Toh announced that the Malaysia Property Expo 2019 (Mapex) would be held from Feb 7 to 10 at the Udini Square (near e-Gate) in Gelugor.

He said prospective buyers would get 10% discounts on homes, with waivers on stamp duties, ownership transfer and loan agreements for properties up to RM300,000 up to Dec 31, 2020. He said the offer was valid for first-time buyers only at Mapex.