The recent Covid-19 pandemic has sent stock markets across the world reeling. US futures and Asian stocks tanked as policymakers worldwide took dramatic steps to cushion the economic blow caused by the outbreak.
The US Federal Reserve and Bank of England slashed interest rates to a historic low of near-zero, with the former launching a massive $700 billion quantitative easing program to shelter the economy from the effects of the virus.
Investors are having concerns over the volatility of the property markets, as many countries go into full or partial lockdown to deal with the spread of the coronavirus.
But how much of an impact could current health fears actually have on house prices? The stock markets have fallen dramatically, but compared to property, stocks are largely driven by sentiment.
What to look out for when you invest in UK property this year.
Brexit has happened. How rosy — or bleak — is the outlook for the UK in 2020? As the UK braces itself for change, we take a look at several fundamentals: population, the economy, and the housing market.
UPDATED 12 MARCH 2020
The UK has had quite an eventful start to the year. Fresh out of a General Election that saw the Conservatives’ win by a clear majority in Dec 2019 (its second in 2.5 years!), the country finally saw Brexit “get done” once and for all — at least, somewhat**.
After three years of Brexit-related hubbub, the crossover from Brexit Day on 31 Jan to 1 Feb was, paradoxically, quite undramatic. Henceforth, what’s left is for the UK to chart new territories while transitioning out of the EU.
Foreign Currency Can Be Your Aide with UK Property Investment
Hedge foreign currency wisely and make more returns on your investment, not just in stocks, but also in property such as Australia and UK property investment.
With 2019’s mediocre outlook for the local property market, Malaysian investors are turning to other avenues for growth. One area that has come to the forefront is the international property market.
Institutional investors are typically the biggest players in the international property investment space. Of late, however, more individual investors looking for rewarding returns, have been buying into foreign real estate.
As an investor, the key to making a profit is to understand your investments.
International investments differ in some ways from domestic investments. An important thing to note in international investments is that one of the largest impacts on your returns will be from currency fluctuation.
Investing internationally also means that you are actually making two separate investments — you are not only investing in the currency, but also the investment itself.
Let’s say you bought RM1,000 worth of Apple shares in the US last year. This turned out to be a bad move, as Apple’s new phone sales were disappointing and the stock price dropped by 10%. You might think that your investment is only worth RM900 now.
You have an urgent need for cash and decide to sell your shares, even though the stock price went down. Strangely enough, you get back RM1,000, instead of the RM900 you were expecting to receive.
It turns out that the reason you were able to recoup your RM1,000 was because the US dollar appreciated against the ringgit by 10% over the period of your investment.
From the American investors’ point of view, this would have been a bad investment, as they would only have received 90% of what they put in. But, as a Malaysian investor, you benefited from the currency which hedged your investment.
You also bought RM1,000 worth of Amazon shares in the US, which was a better investment because their stock price increased by 10%. Now, since the US dollar appreciated against the ringgit by 10% during the same period, you made a total gain of 20%, making your investment now worth RM1,200.
The above example illustrates how currency effects help in portfolio diversification. Foreign exchange rate exposure doesn’t necessarily lead to higher risk.
Hedging the Currency & UK Property Investment: When & How
Stronger and more mature economies like the US and the UK tend to bounce back quickly after a recession. Developing countries, however, are more likely to take longer to recover economically from risks such as ongoing political instability.
It’s a good time to invest while your target currency is low because appreciation will multiply your returns. The following chart illustrates how the British pound and the US and Australian dollars performed against the ringgit over the past 24 years:
In the above chart you will see that these currencies achieved a similar peak growth historically, with the British pound having a poorer showing right now due to Brexit, as in the table below:
An analysis of the pound sterling shows a large drop after 2007, correlating with the 2007 global financial crisis (which wiped out the infamous Lehman Brothers). The pound went on to recover after 2013, but declined again after the Brexit announcement in 2016.
Watch the Pound for UK Property Investment
Presently, the pound remains weak due to the uncertainty of the UK’s future relationship with the EU. However, experts predict the pound will rise significantly following the confirmation of a trade deal.
Going back to our earlier examples of how currency exchange affects investments, this is a great opportunity for investors to take advantage of the pound’s weak state. If you buy UK property investment now when the pound is low, the subsequent rise in the value of the sterling can increase your returns greatly.
The fundamentals of the UK residential property market are strong — due to the critical shortage of housing supply in the face of rapidly rising demand — which will ensure continued steady capital and rental growth.
As an example, let’s consider a £240,000 house in Manchester, which achieves a conservative 5% rental yield and 5% capital growth per year. In 5 years’ time, the house would be worth £306,308 and you, as a landlord, would have collected £69,623 in rents. This gives an impressive 57% ROI, without taking into account currency fluctuations. If the pound rises by 10% during that period, your total ROI would shoot up to an amazing 72% after conversion.
We urge budding UK property investors to look at developing cities, especially those in the Northern Powerhouse region where large amounts of Government money has been invested into infrastructure and commercial development. These regional cities have showed strong growth recently, with room to move upwards. This means UK property investment provides good potential for high yields with lower risk.
Article by Ian ChoongEdits by Vivienne Pal & Jagdeep Kaur
The British pound is set to rise quickly, which means property investors can get better returns by buying now. Don’t miss out! If you are looking for UK property investment in the cities of London, Manchester, Birmingham and more — give us a call at (+65) 3163 8343 (Singapore), 03-2162 2260 (Malaysia), or email us at email@example.com!
If you would like to read more on UK property investment, check out our Investment Guide here.
On behalf of the developer, we provide you with the latest images and information as of January 2019 from The Residence construction site in Manchester, a UK property investment opportunity. Kindly click on the image below to access and flip through the update.
FLASHBACK: The Residence – UK Property Investment Opportunity
The Residence is only a few minutes’ walk from Manchester City Centre. It sits at the doorstep of Spinningfields (The Canary Wharf of the North), Manchester’s main shopping and commercial district and Deansgate, the financial district of the city. The Residence occupies a prominent position within the stunning new £400 million Greengate Masterplan Project and, upon completion, will be one of the tallest residential buildings in the city, making it highly desirable for tenants. The regeneration of Greengate is expected to unlock £400 million of investment over the next 15 years.
CSI Prop proudly promotes international investment property with high yields at low risk. Our portfolio comprises residential property in cities across the United Kingdom (London, Luton, Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle, York, Glasgow, Scotland; Sheffield, etc); Australia (Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane) and Thailand (Bangkok). Our projects are concentrated in high-growth areas with great educational, infrastructural and job growth potentials. We aspire to make a difference in the lives of our clients by helping them achieve their investment goals through strong market research backed by third party experts.
Disclaimer: CSI Prop does not provide tax & legal advice and accepts no liability. Readers are encouraged to consult a qualified tax or legal advisor for a thorough review.
Need advice or clarification? Call us for more information and/or to find out about our projects / UK Property Investment Opportunities! Hotline: 03-2162 2260 (MY); +65 3163 8343 (SG)
The UK Autumn Budget proved that despite the government’s latest initiatives in addressing housing affordability for firsthome buyers, landlords remain pivotal to the supply of housing in the UK.
At a glance, the Autumn Budget (Oct 29) had good news for first-time house buyers in the reduction of stamp duty on jointly-owned property. The relief applies to homes of up to £500,000 and is in addition to the first-time buyer stamp duty exemption announced last year.
The Chancellor also declared that the government would allocate £500m for the Housing Infrastructure Fund to enable a further 650,000 homes to be built. This is on top of the previous pledge of 300,000 homes per year, on average, to raise housing supply by the mid-2020s.
Alongside the newly announced stamp duty relief for first home buyers, this is a laudable measure to alleviate housing unaffordability, yet there remains a lack in optimism where the issue of housing supply is concerned.
Landlords & Private Rental Sector: A Necessity to Solve UK Housing Woes
Historically, the UK has been plagued by a chronic shortage of housing. Not only had the government failed to meet its previous target of building 240,000 homes by 2016 (a target set in 2007), it had also changed Housing Ministers 16 times — more than 20 times faster than the average UK homeowner moves houses!
A research by Heriot-Watt University shows that the undersupply has become even more critical: England alone faces a backlog of 4 million houses.
More houses are needed to address homelessness as well as skyrocketing house prices and rents. And this is where the private rental sector comes in. Not only are landlords pivotal in ensuring the supply of rental housing for the growing number of young people unable to afford their own homes, they also provide flexibility for millennials who prefer to rent.
New research has shown that UK property remains a lucrative investment with 88% of landlords able to gain a profit, as the imbalance in supply and demand continue to drive rental prices.
Updated Incentives/Exemptions for Landlords
Investors and landlords can look forward to the following updates moving forward:
(a) PERSONAL ALLOWANCE
Landlords can claim an increased personal allowance amount of £12,500 off their taxes in 2019/20. The personal allowance is currently at £11,850.
(b) CGT ANNUAL EXEMPTION
The Capital Gains Tax (CGT) annual exemption will be increased from £11,700 in 2018/19 to £12,000in 2019/20.
Potential SDLT surcharge
Some weeks ago, Prime Minister Theresa May announced the possibility of a Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) surcharge of 1% – 3% to be imposed on overseas landlords/ property buyers from Jan 2019.
The government has now revealed that it will propose a surcharge amounting to only 1% during the Budget, and that a consultation on the surcharge will be published in January. Stay tuned as we continue to monitor the news and provide updates in due course.
Interested to invest in UK property and be a landlord? Invest before the foreigner SDLT surcharge kicks in in 2019! Call us and make that smart choice today at (+65) 3163 8343 (Singapore), 03-2162 2260 (Malaysia). Or, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Find out more about Arden Gate, our latest Birmingham residential investment property in the Midlands. Birmingham has been voted one of the UK’s fastest-growing city by PwC. Come meet our developer rep and learn about Birmingham’s bullish property market.
By Lydia Devadas
Edits & additions by Vivienne Pal
Few can truly grasp the magnitude of that sum of money. But we could try and give you a rough idea in property terms!
With $1 billion, you can get 4585 homes in Manchester at a cost of £166,000* per home. With a rental yield of 5.90% p.a.** and annual capital growth of 7.4% p.a.*, that $1 billion can get you total returns of £2 billion*** in 7.5 years!
*Hometrack, June 2018
***Total value of asset + 7.4% capital growth + 5.90% annual rental yields over 7.5 years.
Now that’s a whale of an investment! Why just blow it all away when you can put it into a growth asset and double your investment!
Got $1 billion to spare and fancy blowing it on some property? Give us a shout! Or let us know in the comment box below what you would spend your money on!
Investors have the option of purchasing property as an individual or via an investment vehicle, such as through a company. Different taxes apply at different stages of owning a property — when you buy it, whilst you own it, and when you dispose of it.
In Part 1, we covered the taxes that are applicable at the purchase stage of the investment. Part 2 covered the next stage of investment, ie when you have already taken possession of the property. Here in Part 3, we talk about what entails when you dispose of your UK property.
Capital Gains Tax (CGT)
When you sell your home, you may need to pay Capital Gains Tax (CGT) on any gains you make when you dispose of your property.
CGT is currently only applicable to residential property. Commercial property such as student property and care homes will be subject to CGT from April 2019.
Your taxable gain is the difference in price between the purchase and sale of your property, after taking away any allowable expenses and your personal allowance (if selling as an individual).
SELLING AS AN INDIVIDUAL
All non-UK residents get an annual personal allowance of £11,700 for CGT.
Allowable expenses include the stamp duty paid upon the purchase of the property, agent fees and legal fees incurred during the purchase or sale, and payments for valuations made on the property.
CGT is taxed at 18% if your taxable gain is £46,350 or less, or 28% if more:
Jason sold his apartment for £275,000. He had previously bought it for £200,000, giving him a total cash gain of £75,000.
Jason must report the sale to HMRC, complete a full CGT computation and pay any CGT within 30 days of transfer.
Jason’s expenses come up to £30,400, and after deducting his personal allowance, he has a total taxable gain of £32,900.
Jason’s taxable gain is less than £46,350, so his CGT rate is 18%, and this will come up to a tax of £5,922, or 2.15% of the apartment’s sale price.
SELLING THROUGH A COMPANY
INHERITANCE TAX Leaving your property to your heirs
If you are leaving your house to your heirs, you may want to take note of the taxes involved in bequeathing it.
Inheritance Tax will need to be paid on any UK assets you pass on. Currently the tax is at 40% for any amount above £325,000 per individual (what is called the ‘nil-band’ allowance).
Andrew owns a house worth £350,000, which is his only UK asset. He leaves the house to his son.
The house’s value exceeds the allowance threshold by £25,000, and the Inheritance Tax on that amount would be £10,000.
The tax is paid by Andrew’s son who inherits the house.
You can put estate-planning in place to significantly reduce the tax your heirs will need to pay.
This could be something simple like bringing on a spouse or re-mortgaging your house.
Spouses can inherit their partner’s allowance, effectively doubling their tax-free allowance to £650,000.
Barry owns a house worth £500,000, which is his only UK asset. He leaves the house to his wife.
There is no IHT for passing on the house to a spouse, so Barry’s wife will not pay any tax. However, Barry’s wife also inherits Barry’s allowance.
When Barry’s wife dies, the son inherits the house. Barry and his wife’s joint allowance is £650,000, which is more than the value of the house, and the son will not need to pay any IHT.
An outstanding mortgage can also be tax-deductible against your estate, and will lower the amount of Inheritance Tax charged.
Here are some other ways of estate planning:
Using a trust
Using a UK company
Taking out a life assurance policy not based in the UK
A good tax planner will advise you on your best options, ensuring that your heirs will get the maximum benefit out of what you leave to them.
Click here for more guides on property investment, and please subscribe to our website notifications to get the latest updates! Do leave us a comment below if you have any thoughts on our article.
If you are interested to explore UK Property’s potential for high returns, or if you need us to refer you to a good tax firm in the UK, don’t hesitate to give us a call at 3163 8343 (Singapore), 03-2162 2260 (Malaysia), or email us at email@example.com!
Disclaimer: This article serves as a guide to investors. Kindly note that CSI Prop is not a licensed tax advisor. Accordingly, you should seek advice based on your particular circumstances from independent advisors and planners.
CRYPTOCURRENCY: BANE OR BOON? Despite being declared legal tender in many countries across the globe, cryptocurrency continues to draw an equal measure of flak and fealty.
BREAKING NEWS: Yesterday, Bithumb, a South Korea-based cryptocurrency exchange announced the suspension of its deposit and withdrawal services after $35m worth of cryptocurrencies were stolen by hackers.
Bithumb is one of the busiest exchanges for virtual coins in the world and the second local exchange targeted by hackers in just over a week. The news sent ripples through the market with Bitcoin and Ethereum recording price falls, according to CoinDesk, a news site specialising in digital currencies.
Cryptocurrency: A Precarious Medium
This is not the first nosedive in the cryptocurrency world. Digital currencies — like the stock market — are highly reactive, recording multiple tumbles in recent history.
The price of Bitcoin, the world’s best known digital currency, has been tracking a downward spiral since the start of 2018, plummeting heavily from the Dec 2017 price of $18,960 to $6,762 at time of publication.
Still, cryptocurrency has risen from obscurity and is now legal tender in many countries across the globe. And, it continues to draw flak and fealty in equal measure.
The inherent nature of cryptocurrency and the world of blockchain ensures no possibility of double-spend as the system is built to be irreversible and transparent to the peers within its ecosystem. Cryptocurrency has also been touted as the hottest investment opportunity currently available. The potential rewards (and risks) are huge; its value can fluctuate by as much as a few hundred dollars in a single day and, potentially, one can either make (or lose) a lot of money in a short period of time. One can also trade in it, purchase goods with it, earn money from it (through mining), and it is recognised as a form of payment in some jurisdictions.
Cryptocurrencies are high-risk investments and, as such, their market value is highly volatile, fluctuating like no other asset’s. It’s easy to lose (or make) a tremendous amount of money in a day. Cryptocurrencies are not backed by a central bank/organisation, and are therefore unregulated to a certain extent. It is subject to price manipulation. Its security is questionable, as clearly demonstrated in yesterday’s Bithumb heist, as well as incidences of hacking in the past. Perhaps the biggest theft in the short history of cryptocurrency happened in 2014, when more than $450m in bitcoins disappeared from customers’ accounts in the Mt Gox exchange in Tokyo.
Rat Poison Squared
This year, Google, Facebook and Twitter announced a crackdown on cryptocurrency ads on their sites in a move to protect investors from fraud.
Bank of England Governor Mike Carney has been highly critical of cryptocurrency while Bill Gates has gone on record about betting against cryptocurrency, describing it as a “kind of pure ‘greater fool theory’ type of investment.”
More famously, Warren Buffet, in yet another rail against digital currency, described Bitcoin as “rat poison squared” and that it’s “creating nothing”.
“When you’re buying non-productive assets, all you’re counting on is the next person is going to pay you more because they’re even more excited about another next person coming along,” Buffet said in an interview with CNBC.
BitMex CEO Arthur Hayes, however, is unfazed by Bitcoin’s volatility, predicting that the cryptocurrency will hit $50,000 by the end of the year.
Cryptocurrency may well be the investment of the decade with incredible returns, agrees Virata Thaivasigamony of CSI Prop, a property investment consultancy with offices in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.
“But it needs to approached with a combination of care and sheer ballsiness,” he adds.
“Investment is a very personal matter. For me, cryptocurrency pales in comparison with something tangible like property investment. Real estate has more stability, proving time and again to be a hedge against inflation and a great asset for diversification. Investing in real estate traditionally outperforms most asset classes in risk-adjusted returns. When compared to bitcoin, it is unequivocally the safer investment.”
As inflation rises, so, too, do rents and housing values. In an inflationary environment, real estate assets react proportionally to inflation. And real estate has incredible tax benefits and cash flow incentives.
Ultimately, investing in cryptocurrency — as with all other investments — is a gamble. A question to ask yourself before embarking on any investment is: how risk-averse are you?
We are colossal fans of property investment (duh!) and we make no apologies for it. Still, we remain curious about the many other types of investments out there and would love to hear your thoughts in the comment box below. If you’re a die-hard property investment fan like us, and are thinking of expanding your UK and Australia property portfolio, hit us up: we’ve got some good stuff for you.
Conventional wisdom, especially among Asians, dictates that you should invest in property. CSI PROP takes a closer look at investing in the Singapore property market and compares it to property in other markets overseas.
Property in Singapore is prohibitively priced
Being a tiny island surrounded by water on all sides with not much space available for construction, the only way to build is up — creating the familiar high-rise skyline of Singapore.
With the severe lack of land, it is no surprise that property prices in Singapore are one of the highest in the region — the second highest in Asia after Hong Kong, according to S&P Global Ratings.
The prohibitively high prices of property raises the bar for investors, only allowing for the more affluent section of the population, with ample capital, to invest in the market.
The Prime Minister of Malaysia, Mahathir Mohamad had announced recently that the Kuala Lumpur to Singapore High Speed Rail development will be postponed until further notice.
Following this announcement, envisioned property price growth for the Jurong area in Singapore and the Iskandar region in Johor is unlikely to materialize, much to the dismay of investors.
Government intervention has, so far, kept housing price growth in Singapore in check. A report by S&P Global Ratings found that cooling measures and an accommodative monetary policy have helped to control house price inflation.
Until recently, that is. Despite warnings from the government, house prices in Singapore surged by 9.1% over the past year, after nearly four years of price declines.
This led the government to pull the brakes on the property market yet again. Its most recent cooling measures — possibly the 12th, to date — have been the strongest seen in the island nation in five years.
The government has now slapped an additional 5% stamp duty on property purchases for individual home buyers and tightened limits for housing loans.
First-time buyers who are Singaporeans or permanent residents are exempt from the increase.
Foreigners/foreign investors now pay 20% on stamp duty compared to 15% previously, whilst entities will have to pay 20%, an addition of 10% to previous rates. An extra 5% acquisition tax has also been imposed on developers buying land to build residential properties, which can only translate to an increase in property prices for the buyer in the end.
The government also tightened loan-to-value (LTV) limits by 5% for all housing loans, ostensibly in a move to make property-flipping more prohibitive
Following the government’s drastic measures, new private home sales are expected to reduce by 15% to 20% year-on-year for the whole of 2018, reported Singapore Business Review.
As it stands, developers have already sold 41.7% less private residential units (654) than the previous month, according to the Urban Redevelopment Authority.
Developers volumes were 20.2% below the year before.
The recent action by the Government to control inflation may be good news to home buyers, but from an investment perspective, capital gains from investing in Singapore property may be lacking compared to investments elsewhere.
Poor rental yields
Singapore’s rental market remains in the doldrums, despite signs of a property market recovery from last year.
Property prices do not always have a direct relationship with rentals. Singapore’s rental market is very much driven by foreign demand, given that over 80% of Singaporeans own a HDB flat.
Overall gross rental yields for non-landed private homes from January 2017 to January 2018 hovered just around 3.2% — the lowest in a decade.
The weak rental market deflates returns on investment in Singapore property, lessening its attraction for investors. Stamp duties, property tax, legal fees and agent commissions further cut into profits.
In Singapore, residential property that you own, but are not physically living in (whether rented out or vacant) is taxed from 10% to 20% depending on the house value. Commercial properties have a flat tax rate of 10%.
In June, rentals for private condos and apartments in Singapore fell 0.2% per cent, while HDB rents fell 0.8% per cent in June from the previous month, with volumes continuing to decline as well, according to real estate portal SRX Property.
The rental income that you are able to earn from local property will be impacted by the high property tax, putting a damper on returns.
The United Kingdom
With less-than-stellar returns in Singapore property, it is no wonder that many investors are looking beyond its shores to overseas markets like the United Kingdom and Australia, which can be far more lucrative.
The UK currently faces a severe shortage of homes — in England itself, there is a backlog of 3.91 million homes, according to research by Heriot-Watt University.
The high demand and low supply for housing in the United Kingdom has driven capital growth. Local economies in the regional cities are booming due to initiatives like the Northern Powerhouse, which bring regeneration and infrastructure improvements to England’s North.
Cities in the Northern Powerhouse like Manchester have recorded price growth of an amazing 12.7% last year, with Liverpool following closely behind at 10.8%. This is an indication of the potential that these cities have to offer for the savvy investor.
Singapore currently holds the title of being one of the largest institutional investors in student property in UK and beyond, in recent years. Mapletree and GIC had spent a combined S$2.15 billion on student housing in the UK in 2016, in cities like Leicester, Birmingham, Nottingham, Oxford, Edinburgh, Manchester and Lincoln.
Just this month, Centurion Corp bought a student housing property in the British city of Manchester for S$33.66 million.
Australia faces a similar dilemma to the UK, with the last decade of construction failing to keep up with the country’s record population growth.
Melbourne, in particular, is one of the fastest growing cities Down Under. This city is slated to overtake Sydney as Australia’s most populous city according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
The Urban Development Institute of Australia warned last year that Melbourne could have a shortfall of 50,000 houses by 2020.
Commsec Senior Economist Ryan Felsman commented, “if you look at Melbourne there’s 120,000 people moving to it per annum, but only 75,000 houses being built.”
Whilst the 5 Australian capitals collectively experienced a 0.7% drop in capital growth for the 12 months leading up to May 2018, property in Melbourne performed beyond expectations, growing by 3.3%.
Singaporeans are putting money into Australia. Last year, Cushman & Wakefield reported that Singapore overtook China as the largest source of foreign capital for Australian commercial real estate, as the Chinese government tightened restrictions on overseas investments for its citizens.
Investments into Australia from Singapore quadrupled from about $1bn in 2010 to an excess of $4bn in 2017.
Alice Tan, Knight Frank Singapore director of consultancy and research commented, “Australia has been a popular overseas property destination for Singaporeans, especially for the recent two generations,”
“It continues to maintain its appeal as evident from recent survey findings from Knight Frank’s 2018 Wealth Report, where Australia ranked second on the list of top five destinations where Singapore Ultra High Net Worth Individuals (UHNWIs) plan to buy prime property in 2018,”
“Australia’s economic resilience, adaptability and 26-year record of steady growth provide a safe, low-risk environment in which to invest and do business,” she added.
Cushman & Wakefield regional director for capital markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Priyaranjan Kumar added: “Outside of Singapore, Australia and UK boast two of the most transparent and stable property markets globally for Singapore investors who are largely very institutional in their approach to investments.”
Savvy investors can jump on the foreign property investment bandwagon and take advantage of the supply-demand imbalance in countries like Australia and the UK for more rewarding returns on their investments.
What are your thoughts about investing in the Singapore property market? Drop us a comment below. If you’re interested to tap into the attractive potential that overseas markets have to offer, don’t hesitate to give us a call at 3163 8343 (Singapore), 03-2162 2260 (Malaysia), or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Houses in Malaysia are seriously unaffordable for the masses (Source: The Malaysian Insight)
Uncertainty has been reflected in the volatility of the stock market ever since the country voted in a new ruling coalition. In the past few weeks, steps have been seen to be taken to address corruption and debt in the country. A new Local Government and Housing minister has been elected and her first order of business is to discuss with the Finance Ministry and Bank Negara Malaysia, the difficulties faced by first-time house buyers to get loans. It’s a start, but can the Tun M and his merry men (and women) of the Cabinet take Malaysia through the housing crisis?
With the recent change in government, all eyes are on Pakatan Harapan to solve the housing supply-demand crisis in Malaysia. The current situation is dire with a severe lack of affordable housing, and a glut of expensive properties, and many Malaysians not being able to afford to purchase their own home.
The previous Najib administration had set a target of building 1.1 million affordable homes by 2018 to address the shortage, but after 5 years, only 23% (255,341) of the total was completed.
In November 2017, Tan Sri Noh Omar, the Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister blamed state governments for the delays, citing a lack of cooperation.
Addressing a question in the Dewan Rakyat, Noh said that 25.6% (285,097) of the houses were still under construction while 39% (432,415) was in various planning stages. He said the remaining 12.4% (138,775) had yet to make it to the planning stage.
At the same time, there was an overhang in the amount of PR1MA homes for sale nationwide. Slightly under half (12,492) of the total PR1MA homes (25,132) had yet to be sold.
The PR1MA Malaysia Corporation was established under the PR1MA Act 2012 to develop housing for middle-income households in key urban centres, with a target price range of between RM100,000 to RM400,000.
This programme that was initially meant to help the average Malaysian buy his or her first house was relaxed in 2013 to allow purchases of second homes, and eligibility was widened this year to include households with a monthly income of RM15,000.
The overhang showed that PR1MA homes were still priced out of reach for its target market. The maximum affordable house price in Malaysia is estimated by Bank Negara to be RM282,000.
Property expert Ernest Cheong has said PR1MA should stick to its objective of providing affordable homes to middle- and low-income earners instead of jumping on the high-end property bandwagon. In PR1MA’s Jalan Jubilee development in Kuala Lumpur, the largest unit, a 1,089 square foot unit with three bedrooms and two bathrooms, was going for RM445,000.
A nationwide housing expo was held in March this year entitled “Housing Sale Expo Towards a Million Dreams, Experience A Wholesome Lifestyle”. The expo was a joint initiative by the Ministry of Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government, the National Housing Department (NHD), PR1MA Malaysia Corporation, Syarikat Perumahan Negara Bhd (SPNB), 1Malaysia Housing Projects for Civil Servants (PPA1M) as well as state government agencies.
According to a report by The Malaysian Insight, hopeful buyers at the expo in Kuala Lumpur were disappointed with the severe lack of homes below RM250,000 for sale.
Pakatan’s pledges for the housing sector
Pakatan has pledged to institute a couple of reforms in the housing sector. One of those reforms is to ensure that developers under the PR1MA program do not merely build a small number of affordable houses, after obtaining land at discounted prices.
However, Pakatan’s manifesto has not addressed the pricing issue that PR1MA is currently facing. The reforms they undertake must include pricing homes within the means of the average Malaysian, otherwise the current overhang of PR1MA homes will continue.
Pakatan plans to establish a National Affordable Housing Council which will:
Build 1 million affordable houses within 2 terms of their administration, by 2028;
Coordinate an open database on unsold affordable housing;
Coordinate a national rent-to-own scheme for the B40 and M40 group, with a special scheme for young people;
Coordinate with the banking sector to expand access to financing for first-home buyers.
Building one million affordable homes by 2028 is a more realistic target versus the previous one set by the Barisan Nasional administration. Nevertheless, current house building efforts must be doubled to meet this target, judging from the rate of construction we have seen so far.
The open database on unsold affordable housing is a welcome one in the interests of transparency, allowing potential house buyers to find information on available affordable housing. This will prevent unscrupulous developers from hiding information from unwitting house buyers, and maximising their profit by marketing the premium market instead.
The expansion of financing for first-home buyers will allow more Malaysians to own their own homes, while the rent-to-own scheme acknowledges segments of the population that do not qualify for financing, or are otherwise unable to purchase an affordable home.
Other plans Pakatan has for the housing sector include raising the quota for affordable houses; to introduce a time limit for developers to complete constructions, so that land-hoarding can be avoided; and tax incentives for developers who focus on affordable housing, to encourage the use of efficient building technologies to reduce cost.
The new government’s manifesto appears to address many issues in relation to affordable housing shortage. Still, one hopes that the PR1MA reforms they take will fix the current lack of focus in the programme. The nascent Pakatan administration is yet untested, but under the experienced hand of Malaysia’s longest-serving prime minister, buyers and stakeholders alike can look forward to a comprehensive reform of the housing sector, with hope that the current crisis can be solved.
For a start, Housing and Local Government minister Zuraida Kamaruddin will meet the Finance Ministry and Bank Negara Malaysia to discuss difficulties faced by first-time house buyers to get loans. Zuraida promises that the ministry will find the best mechanism to ensure related issues can be resolved, namely involving applications for the purchase of affordable housing.
Investment prospects in the housing market
The current glut of higher-end housing, and undersupply of affordable housing is causing activity in the investor market to remain stagnant. If Pakatan can correct the supply-demand imbalance, property prices may start to rise again. Policies will take time to be implemented, and it will be some years before we see real change.
As we have said previously, the local market in 2018 is shrouded in uncertainty — a situation thrown into even sharper relief as the nation waits for the current Government’s plans to take effect.
With the recent fall of the UK and Australia currencies, properties in those markets are more attractive than ever, offering investors an opportunity to take advantage of the currency rate and get on to the overseas investment bandwagon.
Do you think Tun Mahathir and Pakatan can do better than BN in addressing housing affordability concerns in Malaysia? Share with us in the comment box below. If you think your money would be better spent on property investment overseas rather than the local market, give us a call at 03-2162 2260!