GEORGE TOWN – Developers in the state urged authorities to act on the oversupply of homes in the country, saying the issue was worsening especially in the affordable housing category.

Penang Real Estate and Housing Developers Association (Rehda) chairman Datuk Toh Chin Leong said this was also why the National Home Ownership Campaign was being conducted.

Expressing concern about properties in the sub-RM300,000 category, he said measures were urgently needed to alleviate the glut.

“In these lower priced ranges, most of the buyers could not get loans so there is an oversupply of these properties,” he said.

While saying the excess extends to other price categories as well, Toh said the problem was still not as severe.

“If we look at the middle range of between RM600,000 and RM800,000 that are in good locations, we can still sell these properties,” he said in a press conference at Rehda today.

He warned that the already softening property sector would have further deteriorated this year had the ownership campaign not been launched or measures not been introduced by the government.

Penang Rehda’s former chairman Datuk Jerry Chan went as far as saying that developers were expecting 2019 to be a worse year than 1999, when the Asian Financial Crisis had been in full swing.

“Back in 1999 it was an Asian situation, but back then, there was no severe overbuilding and the number of overhang units now is something we’ve never seen before,” he said.

However, he said the issue of overhang or unsold units was more serious in Kuala Lumpur and Johor compared to Penang.

Chan said there is genuine demand for properties as there are still buyers, but asserted that tight lending rules prevented sales from happening.

In 2013, Bank Negara Malaysia introduced guidelines that made banks evaluate borrowers on their aggregate monthly repayments instead of gauging each loan against gross income separately.

Since then, buyers and sellers have repeatedly complained of high loan rejection rates, which BNM consistently rejects as overstated.

“It was easier for buyers to buy property in 1999 as it was easier to get loans then compared to now,” Chan said, when adding that the complaints about lack of housing were no longer a supply issue.

Questioning the efficacy of such lending rule, he purported that consumers still have access to credit cards, hire-purchase and personal loans.

He then repeated the call for the government to revisit existing lending guidelines if it was serious about helping Malaysians own homes.

When asked for data to support their claims of a severe glut in the general market and the affordable home sector, however, neither could offer exact numbers.

Toh said there was not a unified database that collected and tracked property transactions or unsold units by all developers in the country.

“Rehda is now working together with the housing ministry to come up with a more comprehensive database on the property industry,” he said.

He said there is a need for a centralised database to properly gauge the housing industry as a whole.

The government recently introduced the National Home Ownership Campaign, which will be launched in March, to sell some 30,115 completed homes nationwide.

– Malay Mail