Malaysia to put $7.4b of homes on sale in March

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia is planning a sale for US5.5 billion (S$7.4 billion) of real estate to bridge the gap between property oversupply and lack of affordable homes, with developers asked to offer at least 10 per cent discount.

The numbers are staggering: About 180 developers will offer 22,000 units worth RM22.5 billion (S$7.4 billion) at the expo planned for March 1 to 3.

About a quarter of the property on offer will be priced at RM300,000 or less, said Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin, adding that the transactions will be exempt from stamp duty fee.

"We hope that better discounts will be given to the people, as high as possible," Ms Zuraida said in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

"We are trying to reduce the gap starting from the expo. From then on, we will try to clean up."

The average cost of a Malaysian home was five times the annual median household income in 2016, above the global standard of three times, Bank Negara Malaysia said in a quarterly bulletin posted in August.

Meanwhile, the number of residential units remaining unsold nine months after being completed rose 18 per cent from a year ago to 29,227 units in the first half of 2018, according to the National Property Information Centre.

That is before accounting for almost 100,000 uncompleted units that were coming to the market.

The problem may lie in a mismatch between the type of homes Malaysians are looking to buy and the luxury units that developers keep building.

The central bank estimated that RM282,000 was the maximum price achievable for the median Malaysian household, while actual median house prices were 11 per cent higher, it said in the report.

The ministry will consider affordability in approving future residential projects by accounting for the income level in the area, Ms Zuraida said.

The government will start drafting the Residential Rental Act this year to protect the rights of tenants and landlords, while addressing issues of racial discrimination and quotas for Malays, she said.

BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 29, 2019, with the headline 'Malaysia to put $7.4b of homes on sale in March'. Print Edition | Subscribe