Cheap transport to solve housing problems
PETALING JAYA: The government could solve the twin problem of real estate overcrowding and unaffordable housing by introducing cheap public transport, according to two academics.
Dr Rosli Said of the Real Estate Department of the Faculty of the Built Environment at Universiti Malaya pointed out that while houses far from urban centers are cheaper, people are reluctant to move into such houses because they are also very far from their place of work.
“People who can only afford the cheapest homes are also more than likely to be the lower paid ones who work in shifts,” he told The Sun.
However, he said, if cheap public transport is available to transport them to work, they are more likely to consider buying a home further from urban centers or their place of work.
To make these homes more attractive, Rosli said, the government could encourage broader business activities in their locality.
He noted that many homes in more remote areas remain unsold due to lack of access to public transport.
Sunway University economist Dr Yeah Kim Leng agrees.
“This is already the practice in developed countries. Account is taken of the availability of cheap and convenient public transport as well as property prices, ”he told The Sun. Unfortunately, he said, there is a mismatch between the availability and demand for affordable housing in Malaysia.
Yeah said that in developed countries, steps are being taken to ensure that the cost of housing is within the reach of those who move to those areas which are also remote from economic poles. “Here in Malaysia, the government can step in and make it easier for low-income people to access loans,” he said.
Rosli pointed out that even if a house cost only 100,000 RM, there would still be people who could not afford it. Officially, homes that cost RM300,000 and less are called “affordable” in Malaysia.
He said that a lower down payment and a smaller mortgage would help make these homes more accessible to low-income people.
He said it could be done if the banks could take into consideration the future value of the property and agree to consider it as a down payment as well as part of the repayment.
“This will then relieve the buyer of the need to find a large sum of money for the down payment and their monthly repayment will be reduced,” Rosli added.
National House Buyers Association Secretary General Datuk Chang Kim Loong stressed that for the bank, strict criteria are essential when processing loan applications in order to protect their bottom line. “I cannot disagree with these criteria. It could take 30 years or more, but it’s important that buyers are able to repay the loan, ”he told The Sun.
He pointed out that if the borrower does not repay the loan, the house should be auctioned off by the bank.
Chang said the concept of leasing with an option to buy was a more realistic option for securing home ownership. This, he said, is another way of approaching the problem of excess ownership.
“If people could rent and eventually own these houses, the unsold units would be taken back. This would be beneficial to both the developer and the buyer, ”he added.
Dr Hassanudin Mohd Thas Thaker of Sunway University Business School noted that the housing market has always been a key economic sector in Malaysia.
“With population growth, it is imperative that there is enough affordable housing for everyone. We need to build more of these houses in desirable locations, close to city centers or areas with easy access to public transport, ”he told The Sun.
He said houses could be made more affordable if building materials are prefabricated and developers use local materials instead of imported ones.