Ask for honest feedback


I REFER to the letter “Exempt all first-time house buyers from paying stamp duty” (The Star, Feb 23), highlighting the dissatisfaction with the policy on stamp duty exemption for first-time house buyers which will be in force until June 30 this year.

Though it is a wise move, it appears that there was a lack of clarity when it was announced by the Finance Minister during the 2019 Budget speech.

Apparently, the waiver is only applicable to residential properties purchased from the primary market (developers) and not those through the secondary market (sub sale/ second-hand units).

But why is the waiver only “exclusively” for developers and not for the thousands of ordinary Malaysian house owners who have put up their properties for sale for many years while dutifully paying their monthly loan instalments to the bank?

This raises further questions which the Finance Ministry and the Housing and Local Government Ministry need to look into and take immediate corrective action before the “no confidence” sentiment in the already beleaguered property industry hits rock bottom.

1. Are the relevant ministers and authorities aware that the property industry embodies a multi-layered and complex structure for which there can never be a one-size-fits-all solution?

2. In rolling out the policy on the stamp duty waiver for first-time house buyers, did the relevant ministries/authorities focus only on the overhang in the primary market and overlook the thousands of unsold residential properties in the secondary market segment ?

3. In trying to resolve the problems faced by developers nationwide who are burdened with an increasingly high holding cost, did the authorities concerned inadvertently omit the equally pitiful plight of the thousands of second-hand house owners who are trying to off-load their properties to generate some cash flow to cope with the spiralling cost of living, many to pay for their high medical costs and some even for their children’s education?

4. I believe the relevant ministers/authorities had rightly engaged with the Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association (Rehda) and other big-time developers who seem to be the most vocal in highlighting the overhang problem in the industry. But did they ever engage with other equally important stakeholders such as the Malaysian Institute of Estate Agents (MIEA), Malaysian Institute of Professional Estate Agents and Consultants (MIPEAC) and others who represent the tens of thousands involved in the secondary market ?

In short, one pivotal lesson that the relevant authorities and others can take away from this brief policy post-mortem is to never ever “generalise” the property industry.

One of the reasons why, until today, we are still nowhere near to solving the root problems affecting the industry (in spite of all the promising statistics released by the relevant authorities, including Bank Negara Malaysia) is because we have failed to grasp the very intricate and complex nature of the property industry, which demands close scrutiny from diverse angles so that there is a balanced representation of public, professional and business interests.

There is also the urgent need to seriously consider honest feedback from property practitioners from various segments and levels “on the ground” and not just from the big-time developers.

JEYAKUMAR JOSEPH

Melaka

Letters , housing and property , stamp duty