Still a good hedge against inflation


Datuk Tong Nguen Khoong

PETALING JAYA: Factors, including higher interest rates and inflationary pressures, should not deter the public from pursuing home-ownership, says Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association (Rehda) Malaysia acting president Datuk Tong Nguen Khoong.

He said individuals should have a long-term view on property investments as the value would outweigh issues related to cost pressures.

“The main concern is about affordability. If looked over a time horizon of three to five years, you will find that properties are a good hedge against inflation.

“It is unfortunate that there are inflationary pressures now but in the long run, the property environment will improve,” he told a press conference yesterday.

National Housing Department director-general Datuk Jayaselan Navaratnam expected the lending rates of banks to go down eventually as this is not the first time that the economy had experienced turbulence.

“We generally look at interest rates with a short-term view but it is actually long-term. The graph of the overnight policy rate (OPR) is not stable and housing loans are 25-years or longer so fluctuations tend to happen.

“We also went through the crisis in 2008, where the interest rates went up high but then they went on a sliding scale later.

“We need to grab the opportunity at the right moment and right time to invest as well as create long-term benefits. That is the most important thing,” he said.

According to Tong, although lending rates are rising from a low base, they are still affordable to many people.

In line with the government’s initiative to encourage homeownership, Rehda and the Housing and Local Government Ministry are holding the “Karnival Jom Beli Rumah” event which is a one-stop centre for the public to purchase houses with loan assistance provided by financial institutions.

The three-day exhibition is timely as the demand for properties is expected to pick up given the recovery of the economy, according to Tong.

“In the last two years, we did not have a real market because everything was disrupted. Now that we are opening up, it is all coming back to an equilibrium.

“This exhibition will mitigate any concerns that people may have about the interest rate environment and give us the opportunity for a kick-start and go back to normal,” said Tong.

He added the public could also use the exhibition to educate themselves on the property sector.

“We will have talks given by property experts and financial tips from banks.

“We encourage the public to come and be educated, even if they are not necessarily looking to make a purchase now. It will be very useful for them to learn about the property market and know what is available out there,” he said.

Navaratnam added that the exhibition would provide a clearer picture on the state of the residential market in the country.

The exhibition will see the participation of 17 developers and six financial institutions offering a variety of properties priced from RM250,000.

“There will be affordable housing all the way up to premium units on offer but the focus of this exhibition will be on affordable housing,” said Tong.

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