By Alan Ting
Speculation continues to do its damage at a time when the increasing population and diminishing sites are pushing prices of houses beyond the reach of the working class, especially in the Klang Valley.
Even as low and medium income earners struggle to pay the rent, speculators are buying a third or even fourth house which they don’t need but want to own to resell at a higher price.
That is why real estate professionals are asking the government to extend the requirement of 30 per cent down payment to include the purchase of a second house.
Bank Negara made the 30 per cent down payment obligatory for third and subsequent purchases last November, but this is not enough, they said.
They also want the government to reintroduce the real property gains tax on a sliding scale, and to require sellers, and not just buyers, to pay stamp duty.
The generally accepted maximum price of houses regarded as affordable is already high at RM220,000.
With increasing prices of goods to contend with as well, people who do not already have a house cannot be blamed if they think they will never own a home.
Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said recently that the government would over the coming months undertake a programme in concert with the private sector to offer quality homes to be fast tracked via the industrial building system.
“The government will provide the site, and the developer will implement the project based on the industrial building system. I?ve also said that if possible, they (the private sector) turn this into a corporate social responsibility project and not for profit,” the Prime Minister said.
Najib launched the “My First Home” scheme on March 8, under which people aged 35 and below, with a monthly salary of less than RM3,000, are eligible to buy a house priced at RM220,000 and below with 100 per cent financing.
Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Chor Chee Heung has meanwhile assured the public that the government is monitoring the spike in house prices, and said that it will not hesitate to implement measures to keep them under control.
“My First Home” is only a part of the affordable housing scheme.
Another segment is the low-cost housing scheme, but many feel that the specifications for each unit should be clear and ensure that it is liveable if not comfortable.
The political will is there, but the other players must do their part, including the speculators who must stifle their greed, or be forced to do so, and the corporations, which must demonstrate all their talk on caring.