High-priced property market calls for smaller units, Malaysian Institute of Architects says

PAM president Ar Chan Seong Aun said that although developers have already begun shifting their focus to one-bedroom units and studio apartments, government affordable housing schemes should follow suit and do the same. — Picture by Mayuri Mei Lin
PAM president Ar Chan Seong Aun said that although developers have already begun shifting their focus to one-bedroom units and studio apartments, government affordable housing schemes should follow suit and do the same. — Picture by Mayuri Mei Lin

SERDANG, April 10 — Family-style housing schemes are no longer feasible in today’s high-priced property market as developers and social housing should move towards smaller, more affordable units, the Malaysian Institute of Architects (PAM) said today.

PAM president Ar Chan Seong Aun added that although developers have already begun shifting their focus to one-bedroom units and studio apartments, government affordable housing schemes should follow suit and do the same.

“Property prices are becoming too expensive so they (developers) make smaller units available. But in the social housing market, we’re still not approaching that way of doing things, so I think that is one thing maybe the JPN and PR1MA should start looking at because that’s the starting point for most people,” he said on the sidelines of a forum titled “Re-look at Living”, referring to the National Housing Department by its acronym JPN.

“You got to build cheaper houses. The way to build cheaper houses is to reduce the size or build on top of what is already existing,” he added.

Chan explained that with today’s high cost of living and increased property prices, most millennials could only afford smaller and cheaper units which double as an investment when they eventually trade-up to larger units.

“If you buy a small house first and let it grow in value, by the time you want to start a family, at different a stage in your life, you can sell that one-bedroom house to somebody else and move on to upgrade your house,” he said.

“In non-social housing, which is open market housing, that is very available. You can buy single housing units and that’s very popular among the younger people with no families. It’s affordable for them and they have shared facilities,” he added.

JPN Policy and Strategic Planning Division Gurdev Singh echoed Chan’s sentiment, insisting that the government was looking at providing a wider range of houses under affordable housing schemes.

“Maybe, there are single people who get married later. They also need housing so we’re going to have a mix, not only standard, but for everybody,” he said, but stopped short of providing a timeline for implementation.

The high-cost climate in Malaysia also calls for a change in mindset, Chan said, by moving away from the traditional large, landed properties and into high-rise apartments with shared facilities.

“The approach to housing right now in Malaysia is everyone wants a terrace house, three bedrooms, 1,500 square feet, it’s not the typology that’s going to survive anymore,

“We’ve got to look at high-rise apartments small square feet, individual units and big shared facilities. So everyone shares the facilities and the cost will go down,” he said.

On Tuesday, Malay Mail Online reported that millennials have resorted to taking numerous loans to purchase houses that they cannot afford.

While there are no figures on how many millennials are taking up personal loans on top of housing loans for their first property purchase, real estate agents say it is common for young adults in their 20s or 30s to borrow from their parents too, while some even use credit cards to pay part of the down payment.