Perception versus the reality of affordable homes

Perception vs Reality

WE will soon know how the 11th Malaysian Plan which spans five years from 2016 to 2020 would bring Malaysia closer to achieving the status of a fully developed country. This is in line with the tagline titled “Closing the Gap”, in addressing the Malaysian housing affordability issue. Expectations are quite high but unfortunately, I have the feeling that not many doable solutions will be materialised.

Recently, I had the honour of jointly organising the First National Affordable Housing Summit 2015 with ASLI (Asian Strategic Leadership Institute) during which representatives from different government agencies, private industry and professionals alike discussed the possible solutions to this critical issue to complete the transformation of Malaysia into a fully developed country.

During the entire forum, private and public representatives have kept on discharging responsibilities to each other without really coming up with new ideas and innovative solutions. In my opinion, when we talk about affordable housing, we should find a proper definition for this rather misused word as what is affordable in Selangor might not be affordable in other parts of Malaysia.

Even more importantly, we should look at what generating affordability is all about. The first root of this issue is the wealth distribution which somehow defines the “property purchasing power” of the public. REI Group of Companies has recently carried out a survey on the real level of income per household throughout Malaysia.

By looking at the outcome of the study, it appears quite clear that the social housing problem of low-cost houses which is supposed to affect more or less six million Malaysians or, based on an average of 3.5 members per household, 1.7 million Malaysian families, remain an issue.

The low-cost housing issue, however, affects only the bottom 20% of the population while the middle-class made up of 60% of the total 30 million population count or 18 million Malaysians to be precise, still face huge problems in finding appropriate shelter at reasonable prices.

Perception versus the reality of affordable homes

I have recently written an article about the Southern Push that middle-earners are subject to and explained how we will witness a massive southern expansion of the Klang Valley due to the hunt for affordable housing. Land cost is one of the main issues causing the high price of properties in the Klang Valley but, in the southern region of Selangor, land is still being transacted at very reasonable values.

Both landed and high-rise residential units are rapidly mushrooming in South Puchong, Kajang, Bangi, Dengkil and Semenyih, with highly competitive and very affordable values recorded per sq ft.

Thus, families will be able to purchase their dream homes, all at liveable sizes ranging between 900 sq ft and 1,300 sq ft for less than RM500,000. The Government is currently constructing and planning to construct new infrastructure that will allow connectivity to be established as a strategic component of the Southern Push factor.

MRT (mass rapid transit) Line 1 and 2, LRT (light rail transit) Line 3 and several proposed BRT (bus rapid transit) lines will further generate positive and sustainable growth in the Southern Corridor.

Infrastructure is not only limited to highways and public transportation systems but also other social benefits that the city has to offer that are still lacking in the southern region, such as hospitals, schools and educational institutions, kindergartens, retail areas and so on.

All of these considerations make up the extremely important components in creating a sustainable and smart environment where families will be able to enjoy living in a safe place.

This expansion will surely also attract the interest of investors and unfortunately, speculators. Hopefully, developers will dedicate less effort and passion in responding to this unhealthy demand and concentrate more on genuine buyers and long-term investors instead.

REI Group of Companies CEO and co-founder Dr Daniele Gambero gives presentations on the property market and welcomes feedback at

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