Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian (centre) and Sheda president Joseph Wong (right) give their approval on Ibraco Bhds new development. At left is Ibracos managing director Datuk Chew Chiaw Han. - ZULAZHAR SHEBLEE / THE STAR
KUCHING: Double-storey terrace houses in the city can cost over RM1mil in the next five to 10 years if changes are not made to the planning requirement.
Sarawak Housing and Real Estate Developers’ Association (Sheda) president Joseph Wong predicted that the lack of affordable housing for the middle-income group would also contribute to the sky-rocketing price of houses.
He said Sarawak was in the severely unaffordable category of Malaysia’s housing affordability index, even beating Kuala Lumpur.
“Developers are facing challenges of high cost of labour, land, construction and other compliances.
“The rise in labour cost will double in the next decade as the weak ringgit may deter foreign workers from working here,” he said at the opening of the 20th Sheda Property Expo 2017 over the weekend, which saw over 100 booths and more than 70 exhibitors.
Wong said Government policy changes such as the proposed shift of foreign worker levies to employer, as well as prohibition of construction workers to live within the construction sites, could exaggerate the rate of increase in labour cost and house prices.
“Despite the ongoing hurdles, demand for affordable homes remains strong as seen in Property Guru’s Affordability Sentiment Index 2016, where 40% of respondents are looking at buying affordable homes priced between RM250,000 and RM350,000.
“In order to overcome the predicament, more affordable housing initiatives from the Government and developers need to be encouraged,” Wong said.
He said Sheda had proposed to the state government measures to stabilise housing prices in the state.
This included urging developers to use the Industrialised Building System (IBS) to build affordable housing, reduce cost and speed up constructions.
“While our high-end housing market is over-saturated, we have neglected a huge market – the middle-income group.
“Sheda estimates that about 100,000 houses within the price range of RM250,000 to RM350,000 will be in demand in Sarawak to service the middle-income group,” he added.
Sheda had proposed for amendments to the Strata Title Ordinance 1995 and Strata Title Management Act to resolve problems pertaining to issuance of strata title affecting the public and private housing developers.
Wong said the association also wanted more intervention from the state government to introduce eco-friendly houses, such as incorporating solar panels in future residential properties.
Meanwhile, Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian said about 60,000 units of affordable housing for the low-income group was needed in Sarawak.
In light of the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy in London, UK on June 14, Dr Sim said local councils in Kuching, Miri and Sibu had been instructed to carry out checks on all high-rise buildings in their area to ensure they meet Fire and Rescue requirements. These structures include commercial buildings and shopping malls.