Is 2016 a buyer’s market? Amid glut, survey shows over 50pc Malaysians keen to sign S&P

More than half of Malaysians surveyed by online real estate firm PropertyGuru have expressed keenness to purchase homes in 2016. — File pic
More than half of Malaysians surveyed by online real estate firm PropertyGuru have expressed keenness to purchase homes in 2016. — File pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, March 21 — More than half of Malaysians surveyed by online real estate firm PropertyGuru have expressed keenness to purchase homes this year as developers, struggling with a glut, offer attractive prices to lure potential buyers.

The regional property portal said those in the poll of 326 respondents who felt properties were too pricey shrank from 55 per cent in the first quarter last year to 48 per cent, while 56 per cent expressed the intent to buy a house within the next six months amid stabilising prices.

“The unaffordability issue remains, but prices have somewhat moderated and realising this, more people are start to look at property again. In addition, property developers have also upped the ante by offering more value to push their units.

“Hence, buyers are expressing positivity as they realise that the current scenario of moderating prices and exciting offers is quite attractive and may not come again in the near future,” PropertyGuru Malaysia’s country manager Sheldon Fernandez was quoted saying in a statement today accompanying the release of PropertyGuru’s Property Market Sentiment Survey Report for the first half of 2016.

He added that this was in line with the firm’s Property Outlook Report 2016 that predicted a buyers’ market.

PropertyGuru attributed the positive sentiments among house buyers to favourable market conditions following state intervention and an oversupply in properties such as high-rises, which in turn has helped slow price hikes.

Among the measures introduced by the Malaysian government were tighter lending conditions that led to a higher property loan rejection rate in 2015 when compared to previous years, according to the PropertyGuru survey.

Although Fernandez cautioned that overall consumer sentiment was still low and may need up to six months to a year to recover, he said house buyers were adjusting their expectations about purchasing property.

“I think people are becoming more acceptable to living further from the city for lower house pricing or even to accept smaller homes in the city. As consumers change their perceptions, they are also starting to look at property again with more realistic expectations,” he said.

PropertyGuru said the Malaysian property market is going through its usual cycle, with prices expected to continue to slow down and reach stagnant levels this year-end and 2017, before picking up again to peak in 2018 or 2019.

It noted, however, that 33 per cent of its 326 survey respondents said they do not own residential properties and that many house buyers were choosing to use loans and their retirement savings.

“The desperate circumstances of the deteriorating Malaysian economy amidst political uncertainty have seen many home buyers opting to foot out the least amount of money possible when buying a new home,” it said.

Those who took out a full or 90 per cent housing loan stood at 12 per cent and 47 per cent respectively, while 25 per cent took a loan of between 70 per cent and 80 per cent, and the remaining 16 per cent took out loans to pay for less than 70 per cent of the housing price.

As for savings in the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), 47 per cent said they did not use it for house purchases, while 31 per cent have dipped in once and 11 per cent have withdrawn money from their EPF Account II more than once to help with their subsequent property buys.

PropertyGuru said 55 per cent of its 326 respondents think there is an oversupply of property in Malaysia, while 66 per cent of those polled said the Goods and Services Tax (GST) introduced last April would affect their house-buying decisions, compared to 24 per cent who said otherwise.

“Despite the fact that the effects of GST on property prices appear to be minimal, the full implications have yet to be felt by new buyers, while old buyers are already feeling the pinch when making the second part of their payments and are being forced to pay the additional 6 per cent even though they purchased their property before GST was implemented,” it said.

According to a separate report announced today by global property consultancy Knight Frank, its latest Global Price Index for the fourth quarter last year showed Asia as having the second lowest overall housing price rise out of eight regions at 1.9 per cent, while the Australasia region at the other end had an annual price growth of 12.4 per cent.

The index showed that annual housing prices rose in 43 of the 55 countries, including Malaysia where prices went up by 5.4 per cent compared to 2014’s fourth quarter figures.

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