Houses become unaffordable as salary remains flat, says Rehda

By FARA AISYAH / Pic By MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

The almost unchanged salary over the years is the reason why many are deprived of the luxury to own a house, said a national association for developers.

The Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association Malaysia (Rehda), which represents the interests of about 1,400 property developers, said there is a need to revisit key fundamentals related to housing unaffordability.

Rehda president Datuk Seri Fateh Iskandar Mohamed Mansor said it is important to look at the structural issues related to the country’s economy.

“It is said that the maximum affordable price for a house in Malaysia is RM282,000. But the World Bank said Malaysia is one of the affordable places to own a home. So, we have two conflicting views.

“The RM282,000 figure is because the salary has not gone up,” Fateh Iskandar said in Petaling Jaya (PJ) yesterday.

Developers have been blamed for jacking house prices, overbuilding and constructing properties which are not suitable for the salary brackets of most Malaysians.

Data released last year showed houses in Kuala Lumpur (KL), PJ, Johor Baru and Georgetown are the “most unaffordable” in comparison to the average household income levels.

Georgetown tops the list with the highest median house price at RM600,000 when the maximum housing-cost burden (HCB) is only RM256,000. KL is second with an average house price of RM580,000 when the maximum HCB is RM385,000.

Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) in its annual report said houses continue to be unaffordable, especially in key employment centres.

The central bank said unsold housing units reached 129,052 as at end-September 2017. More than 80% of the unsold units are priced at RM250,000 and above.

Total unsold residential properties rose to a decade high of 146,497 units in the second quarter of 2017 (2Q17).

The central bank’s annual report 2017 also underlined that the bottom 40% of households by income only grew from RM2,537 to RM2,848, about a RM150 increase annually between 2014 and 2016.

BNM’s report also outlined a living wage for a single adult in KL would be RM2,700, a couple without child (RM4,500) and a couple with two children (RM6,500).

But the living wage for the three categories would be sufficient to rent one room (adult single), a one-bedroom apartment (a couple without child) and a three-bedroom apartment (a couple with two children).

Fateh Iskandar hopes the association will be given the avenue to discuss its views with the authorities.

He suggested more efforts to build units for rental to resolve the house affordability issue.