MOHD Azlin Razali would qualify for one of the federal government’s affordable housing schemes, but he is not applying anytime soon,
Even as hundreds of thousands of working adults like him get on the waiting list for the 1Malaysia People’s Housing Programme (PR1MA), the 35-year-old car salesman is holding back.
“I am afraid that if I were to get a housing loan I won’t be able to afford anything else, like food, utilities, and diapers,” said the father of a year-old daughter.
Azlin’s situation demonstrates what the experts have warned about house prices are out of sync with the income of a majority of Malaysians.
The mismatch is a reason why even residential units in PR1MA, the federal government’s vaunted housing scheme to help middle income Malaysians, is out of reach for many.
Veteran property analyst and valuer Ernest Cheong said that these days, only those who earned RM10,000 a month were able to afford property priced above RM250,000.
Cheong said the rise in prices of groceries and household items left the average income earner with little money at the end of the month for much else, especially repayments for a housing loan.
“Those earning RM5,000 two years ago could save RM1,000, but today they can only save a few hundred ringgit. Malaysians are being squeezed for money to live.”
The Employees’ Provident Fund’s said last year that 89% of the working population earned less than RM5,000.
This problem was echoed by Mohd Azlin, who earns between RM4,000 and RM5,000 a month. He and his wife stay in USJ with her parents in a low-medium cost flat.
“Right now, things are so expensive and they keep going up. If you don’t have RM5,000 a month you can barely make it. I am still able to cover our expenses. But if I get a housing loan I don’t know how I’ll cope.”
Hard to get in
On its website, PR1MA states that those applying for houses must have a household income of between RM2,500 and RM15,000 a month.
PR1MA’s website showed 31 projects that are “Re-open Limited Units” and 18 other projects that are “Open for application”.
Fifteen of the “Re-open limited units” projects offered houses priced between RM100,000 and RM200,000, nine projects offered houses priced between RM201,000 and RM250,000, and seven projects that offered houses between RM251,000 and RM300,000.
For the projects that are “Open for application”, only the Changlun project in Kedah offered prices starting from RM187,000.
Six projects elsewhere offered houses priced between RM201,000 and RM250,000 and another six projects offered houses priced between RM251,000 and RM300,000.
Besides PR1MA, the government also has other schemes such as the low cost People’s Housing Project (PPR), low-medium cost Mesra Houses scheme both of which are under the National Housing Corporation (SPNB).
Aside from PR1MA, the other two schemes offer houses priced between RM42,000 and RM165,000.
But the schemes are still difficult to get into even for those who qualify.
Malinda Jamal, 31, said she and about 10 of her cousins and friends had applied for PR1MA schemes in the Klang valley months ago.
“I’ve heard about many of my other friends applying but so far I’ve only seen one of us getting into the programme,” said the sales executive who earns about RM3,000 a month.
Factory supervisor Zuliza Zulkifli, 33, had also applied for housing loan when she tried to buy a RM80,000 flat built by City Hall in Pantai Dalam a year ago.
“But I didn’t qualify because I think the bank saw all the deductions I had for my car and previous personal loans.”
Moving out is hard to do
Even those who have qualified for subsidised housing schemes are not confident of the offers.
Saiful Hassan qualified for two federal government programmes but he is holding out to ensure that he get the best value that matches his family’s income.
The 33-year-old building contractor qualified for a Rumah WIP, a programme for Kuala Lumpur residents run by the Federal Territories Ministry.
Another scheme was where SPNB builds houses for owners who already have empty plots of land.
The RM300,000 Rumah WIP unit needed a RM36,000 payment for two parking bays along with the RM30,000 down payment for his 90% housing loan, Saiful said.
“So I had to let that offer go because I could not afford to pay for the parking bays. The SPNB offer is about RM85,000 but I have to pay about RM60,000 and provide the land,” said the father of a one-year old daughter.
“But even then, SPNB has to determine whether a house can be built on my land. After I looked at the offer and the quality of the house they are building, I am not sure about accepting their offer.”
Saiful said he is waiting to apply for programmes run by the Pakatan Rakyat Selangor government called SelangorKu before deciding.
Those such as S Mohan, 33, who are fortunate enough to have bought a low-medium cost house five years ago, want to move out to something better.
“The neighbourhood that I am in is getting worse. I want my kids to grow up somewhere safer,” said the engineer from Taman Kinrara who bought his apartment for RM165,000.
“Last year me and my wife budgeted for RM500,000. Then we realised we can’t get anything for that price anymore so we had to increase to RM600,000. Now the ceiling is RM700,000.”
But even with a household income of RM9,000 Mohan doesn’t think he’ll be moving out soon.
“Even if we refinance the old house, we will barely make enough with the cost of living these days. And we won’t have any savings for an emergency.”