Steps to mend ‘broken housing market’

Slow market: Visitors at a property event. The development of UPESM was prompted by concerns over the steep rise in completed but unsold housing in 2016 totalling 14,792 units and 24,738 units in 2017.

KUALA LUMPUR: Discussions have been held between different departments to solve “a broken housing market”, which include “harmonising” a data collection system and the preparation of the National Housing Policy 2.0 for 2018-2022, both of which would integrate to help underpin the residential market, participants at the Rehda Institute conference were told.

National Housing Department deputy general for operations Yahya Ab Ghani said the latest round of discussions on April 27-28 between the National Property Information Centre (Napic), the National Housing Department and the Prime Minister’s Department concluded with Napic and the National Housing Department agreeing to “harmonise” two different systems of data collection.

Yahya was one of the panelists at the “Sales and Marketing Conference: Utilizing data to build demand driven real estate” yesterday.

Other panelists included Napic director Md Badrul Hisham Awang and Khazanah Research Insitute director for research Dr Suraya Ismail. Real Estate & Housing Developers Association (Rehda Malaysia) deputy president Datuk Soam Heng Choon was the moderator.

Soam is also IJM Corp Bhd’s group managing director.

Napic falls under the Valuation and Property Services Department which comes under the Finance Ministry, whereas the National Housing Department comes under the Urban Wellbeing Housing and Local Government Ministry.

Yahya said the methodologies used were also different.

“In order to organise this information, we need to use one standard system.

“During our discussion, data is collected when the advertising permit and developer’s licence are submitted, whereas Napic collects data from start to end when feasibility studies are being done by the developer right until the sale of the last unit.”

On the accuracy of data, Suraya related how her team asked different states on the pillars of demand and supply, household formation and how long owners keep their houses, among other questions.

A total of about 220 questions were asked in each state, but (many of the) questions were not answered because it was difficult to get the data.

Suraya also said it was important to think about how accurate and meaningful the data might be, but “we need to start from somewhere.”

The market in Cameron Highlands and Kedah will be different, but these differences do not mean the process of data collection should be abandoned.

This is because stakeholders need to know the state of demand and supply to move forward from the current predicament of “a broken housing market”, as epitomised by the top 20% with household income of at least RM13,148 still needing government assistance to buy their houses and the large unsold but completed housing of more than 24,700 units worth RM15.6bil at the end of 2017.

IJM’s Soam said other symptoms of “a broken residential market” include sliding yields which do not commensurate with the risk developers take.

Nawawi Tie Leung executive director Brian Koh said “low yields, declining developers’ margins and rising unused capacity” are symptoms of a broken market.

Earlier, Napic director Md Badrul said the Unsold Property Enquiry System Malaysia (UPESM) to provide information to market players was launched in April.

The development of UPESM was prompted by concerns over the steep rise in completed but unsold housing in 2016 totalling 14,792 units and 2017’s 24,738 units.

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