Report shows Malaysian homes more unaffordable than in Singapore, Japan and the US

File picture shows houses under construction in Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia has a ‘severely unaffordable’ residential homes market, according to researcher Demographia.— AFP pic
File picture shows houses under construction in Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia has a ‘severely unaffordable’ residential homes market, according to researcher Demographia.— AFP pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 13 — Malaysia has a “severely unaffordable” residential homes market, with housing even more out of reach for its residents than in Singapore, Japan and the United States, according to US-based urban development researcher Demographia.

Demographia’s report was cited today in a report in Singapore’s Straits Times newspaper to highlight how many Malaysians continue to be locked out of the residential housing market despite the federal government’s attempt at helping first-time house buyers.

According to the ST report, Demographia rates housing as severely unaffordable if it is 5.1 times median annual income. Malaysia clocks in at 5.5x, higher than Singapore’s 5.1x, while housing in the United States and Japan is “moderately unaffordable”.

Government data cited by the ST report shows that since 2012 median monthly household income has risen eight per cent annually to RM4,258, slower than the average housing price increase of 10 per cent to RM280,886.

The country’s consumer price index has risen by an average of 3.3 per cent this year and Putrajaya had warned it may spike by 5 per cent next year, tripling the 2013 average.

In presenting Budget 2015 last Friday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak introduced a Youth Housing Scheme that will waive down-payments and subsidise ownership by up to RM10,000 for 20,000 married couples under 40.

Najib also said the government would provide another 80,000 new homes priced at RM100,000 to RM400,000 under the 1Malaysia People’s Housing Programme (PR1MA).

Both schemes, including the existing My First Home (MFH) scheme are only for households with a combined monthly income of less than RM10,000.

According to Bank Negara only a third of My First Home applicants received loans in the first year, as banks refused to take risks.

And PR1MA has seen just 761 buyers for the 160,000 units launched since 2013.

“We earn just over that but it’s not enough for savings. We can convert rent into loan repayments but we can’t pay the 10 per cent deposit,” lawyer Puteri Mohamad told the Straits Times in commenting on the Budget proposal to help households earning less than RM10,000 monthly to buy homes.

Office administrator Mimie Azriene Mohd Zin, 32, has no children but she and her technician husband have applied for a PR1MA home.

But she told the Straits Times they have not figured out how to afford the down payment on their combined income of under RM4,000 a month that leaves them with little savings living in expensive Kuala Lumpur.

“We might not even be able to afford the repayment but we have to try before prices go up further,” she told the daily.