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Malaysia moves to avoid property bubble [04-04-2012]  
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Malaysia is taking "strict measures" to avoid a US-style subprime mortgage lending crisis, after reporting an average 6.6 per cent jump in home prices in the fourth quarter of last year, an official says.

"The government is worried about property prices causing a bubble, and we don't want banks to over-lend to the property sector," Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Donald Lim said here yesterday.

"We are seeing a lot of foreigners from Middle East and China keen to buy properties in Malaysia."

Housing loan applications jumped 46 per cent in February from a year earlier to RM14.96 billion, according to data on Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM)'s website.

BNM last tightened mortgage lending rules in November, limiting the loan-to-value ratio for people taking third mortgages to buy homes.

Hong Kong and Singapore have also taken steps to rein in the housing markets to tame inflation.

Malaysia has no plans to require banks to hold more capital to support housing loans to reduce risk, BNM governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz said on March 9, when the central bank left borrowing costs unchanged at 3 per cent.

BNM tightened credit card lending rules on March 18, capping limits for lower-income earners as a pre-emptive move to ensure household debts remain "resilient", its deputy governor Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus said at the time.

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