2014 Malaysian Property Market Positive Prospects


Malaysia’s real estate sector is expected to remain vibrant next year, especially its middle and low-end segments, due to overwhelming demand amidst limited supply.

In fact, the country only has 4.6 million houses for its population of 28 million, or one home for every six Malaysians. According to experts, the ideal number is 2.5 persons per dwelling, just like in the UK and Australia. But with supply at 100,000 units per year, it is going to take a long time to reach this figure.

To make matters worse, Klang Valley’s current population of 7.2 million is expected to surge to 10 million by 2020 due to rapid urbanisation rate.

In addition, more international investors are projected to invest in Malaysia, particularly its real estate sector, due to the country’s robust economy and sound fiscal policies.

Due to the nation’s lower total deficit, Moody’s recently affirmed the government’s bond and issuer rating at A3, and changed its outlook from stable to positive. This means the country can easily get loans at lower interest rates and investors are assured that Malaysia can repay its debt obligations.

However, 2014 could also spell trouble for the property market due to a possible slowdown in China’s economy, a rise in global interest rates and the tapering of the third round of quantitative easing (QE3) in the United States by January.

Another worrying problem is the slowing demand for high-end properties despite their abundant supply. In fact, the percentage of unsold luxury houses in the primary market is climbing.

Nevertheless, Bank Negara Malaysia Governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz believes that the country’s real estate sector can weather the storm just like what happened in the 2008 Global Financial Crisis. While the US housing market went bust during that period, its Malaysian counterpart remained resilient.

But the measure that could significantly affect the property market will likely be the upcoming real property gains tax (RPGT). Effective January 2014, the tax for houses sold within three years of purchase will be doubled from 15 percent to 30 percent.

For foreigners and companies, the RPGT is pegged at 30 percent for sales within five years and five percent for any subsequent year. But for Malaysians who sell their property within four and five years, the rate is at 20 and 15 percent respectively, while transactions after that period are exempt from the levy.

The six percent goods and sales tax (GST) which takes effect on April 2015 is also expected to affect the real estate sector even though the sale, purchase and rental of residential properties are exempt from it. This is because the sale of construction materials and equipment were not exempted, likewise for services used in building houses.

Meanwhile, the government will also be spending more on residential projects meant for low- and middle-income households.

For instance, the National Housing Department (NHD) under the People’s Housing Programme (PHP) has allocated RM578 million for 16,473 new dwellings, while another RM146 million has been earmarked for building 600 rental units.

In peninsular Malaysia, houses under the PHP are priced between RM30,000 and RM35,000, while those in Sabah and Sarawak have been pegged at RM40,500 per unit.

The government has also committed another RM1 billion for the construction of 80,000 additional homes under the 1 Malaysia’s People Housing Programme (PR1MA). These homes are 20 percent cheaper than similar units available in the market.

The authorities will also launch a new Private Affordable Ownership Housing Scheme, (MyHome). Under this programme, RM300 million will be given to developers so that they can build low- and medium-cost houses, subsidised at RM30,000 per unit.

They will also create an agency that will oversee the overall planning, policy and strategy formulation, as well as coordination and monitoring of all issues affecting Malaysia’s housing market. Dubbed as the National Housing Council, its members will come from state governments, federal agencies, SPNB, NHD and PR1MA, along with private sector representatives.

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