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Build more affordable housing [07-01-2013]  
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WHILE the overall property sector has stabilised last year, with further consolidation this year, Savills Rahim & co executive chairman Datuk Abdul Rahim Rahman says his main concern is the affordable housing sector.

“Instead of 30% low cost housing allocation, a policy from the 1980s imposed on developers, let us do 20% low-cost housing and 10% in affordable housing, or 15/15 with medium cost housing priced between RM100,000 and RM400,000, and within 10km of the developer’s development site.

“This provision of medium cost housing must be imposed on developers,” Rahim says.

Rahim says as a result of government policies in the early 1980s, Malaysia now has more than one million of low cost houses which were built at a cost ranging between RM25,000 and RM42,000 depending on the state, as land is a state matter.

But despite having built more than one milion low cost houses, the location and allocation of these houses has not been successful. There are some areas which have too many low-cost housing until there are no takers, while in other areas, there are not enough of them, says Rahim.

Another issue is the location of some of these houses. A developer, says Rahim, may be developing in a high-end area but the location of its low-cost housing are located far away in a place which lack public amenities and transportation.

Rahim says not only are low cost housing misplaced, but Malaysia’s young working population are also displaced as a result of the steep rises the past couple of years.

He says there are 3.5 million out of the country’s 28 million population who earn between RM1,500 and RM5,000 a month. But the number of houses priced between RM100,000 and RM400,000 are only 2.3 million.

“This means there is a shortage of more than one million units within this price range,” he says.

On a broader level, Rahim says assuming a household of about 4.3 per household, the country has more than 6.3 million households but the country only has 4.5 million of housing which he would defined as liveable and fit for habitation. This excludes squatters and houses with no proper access and no sewage systems and proper stairs.

He says there are about one million housing which are not fit for habitation and the government need to allocate funds to make these housing fit for habitation. Most of these are in the rural areas.

While making the one million houses fit for habitation, there is still a shortage of 1.8 million “habitable” houses,” he says.

But today’s pricing has made affordability an issue, which the government and the private sector need to address, and speedily.

“As for 2013, I expect the landed residential sector to continue to be stable, despite the cooling period in 2012,” he says.

“We desperately need more affordable housing,” he says.

The government has budgeted for RM1.9bil to build 123,000 affordable housing.

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