By Lee Wei Lian May 04, 2011
KUALA LUMPUR, May 4 — The National House Buyers Association (HBA) has criticised the apparent collusion between some developers, valuers and banks for pushing up property prices to levels which it called “exorbitant” and said that stronger measures are needed to deter speculation.
HBA said in a statement that in addition to low interest rates and easy credit which had fuelled speculative activity, greed had taken over the market.
“A ‘unholy alliance’ exists between certain developers, valuers and banks,” said HBA.“In an environment of hot demand, the banks work in cahoots with developers assisted by those wayward valuers. Our ‘teh tarik syndrome’ is also very relevant. When the price of condensed milk increases by 20 sen, the entire cost ‘teh tarik’ increases by 20 sen. Similarly, when the cost of construction increases by 20 per cent, the equivalent cost of housing increases.”
The association suggested that the government implement stronger measures to deter speculation as the 70 per cent loan-to-value ratio (LVR) mortgage cap introduced would be of limited effect.
“For those in the speculation business, the 20 per cent reduction in LVR will not really deter them,” said HBA.
It gave the example of a RM300,000 house, which would now require a 30 per cent downpayment, but this would be based on the subsequent progressive payments for a property under construction, after which the end-financing loan of 70 per cent kicks in.
“If he (the speculator) can flog the house off at a profit at this stage, he does not need to incur an additional sum to his housing loan,” HBA pointed out.
“Speculators or maybe ‘syndicates’ are also cash rich because of the roll-over system they are using. In other words, whatever profit they earned from the previous house, they put into the new house, thus the 30 per cent up-front is not a major deterrent factor. Those who buy en-bloc may feel the heat but when collaborating with their ‘friendly’ developers/ builders, terms and conditions may be ‘cushion off’.”
The association also called for the sliding scale Real Property Gains Tax (RPGT) rate to be reintroduced.
This would entail a one-time RPGT exemption after which the next two properties should be taxed starting at 30 per cent for properties disposed of within two years and a reduction to zero per cent for properties disposed after five years.
For third and subsequent properties, HBA is proposing that a 30 per cent flat rate RPGT would apply.
The association also proposed that a quota of low-medium and medium-cost houses priced between RM250,000 to RM550,000 be imposed on developers similar to the 30 per cent quota for low-cost houses.
“It has always been the Government’s aspiration for every citizen to have a roof over their head and the Government should continue to push this agenda,” said HBA.
The high prices of property in urban areas prompted the Najib administration to introduce a first-home ownership scheme in March in addition to the loan-to-value ratio cap in a bid to stave off discontent.
The measures pale in comparison, however, to efforts seen elsewhere in the region, such as China and Singapore.
The Chinese government last year introduced curbs on foreigners buying property and raised the minimum downpayment for first-time buyers to 30 per cent from 20 per cent and banks were ordered to suspend mortgages on third homes and above in some cases — in addition to hiking interest rates three times since October.
Singapore, meanwhile, raised stamp duty on new properties to as much as 16 per cent of the sale price to be paid by the seller if the house is offloaded within a year of purchase.
The amount that banks can lend for a second property has also been lowered to 60 per cent of the home’s value.