KUALA LUMPUR: Sales in the primary market have fallen to a “worrying” 49% in the first six months of this year, according to the Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association’s (Rehda) property industry survey in the first half of 2014 (1H14).
While new launches picked up considerably with 10,189 units launched in 1H14 compared with 9,364 units in 2H13, developers had only managed to sell six more units in 1H14 from 4,983 units in 2H13.
“It’s the first time that the percentage of sales is below 50%,” said Rehda president Datuk Seri Fateh Iskandar Mohamed Mansor (FD Iskandar) at a media briefing yesterday.
About 85% of the 152 respondents — comprising Rehda members nationwide — said the cooling measures have affected their sales.
Developers said the cooling measure that has hit them hardest is the 70% loan-to-value ratio, followed by the impending goods and service tax (GST), higher real property gains tax, prohibition of the developer interest bearing scheme (DIBS), and the maximum loan tenure cap of 35 years.
Half of the respondents blamed slower sales on buyers facing difficulty in securing end-financing — specifically, a more favourable loan margin.
“End-financing issues are mostly caused by ineligibility due to buyers’ income and lower margin of financing,” it said.
Rehda found that other challenges to securing financing include banks requesting more documents, credit history and a limited quota of loans for low-cost and affordable housing.
“We are all for responsible lending, but there must be flexibility. [For example], please reintroduce the developers interest bearing scheme for first-time house buyers,” said FD Iskandar.
“Homes in the RM250,001 to RM500,000 price range [mainly affordable housing] are most vulnerable,” said the report.
According to the report, properties in this price range accounted for 41% of all launches in 1H14 with most of them in Johor and Pahang.
Homes in that price range were mostly launched in Kelantan, Johor, Kedah, Melaka, Pahang and Perak in 1H14, while commercial properties in that price range made up 67% of launches.
In 2H13, homes priced from RM250,001 to RM500,000 comprised 43% of new launches.
Meanwhile, houses in that price range were mostly launched in Selangor, Penang, Negeri Sembilan, Johor, Kedah, Melaka and Pahang, and commercial properties in that range accounted for 80% of launches.
While Rehda acknowledged a pressing need for affordable housing, only 38% of developers surveyed said they have up to 30% affordable housing components.
Their top five challenges, in order, are increased overall costs of doing business (by 20%), high land prices, cross-subsidy requirement from their more expensive products, inconsistency with surrounding property values, and a lack of incentive as only low densities are permitted.
According to FD Iskandar, the population in Greater Kuala Lumpur is expected to grow by 40% to 10 million in 2020, so there is a need for a million new homes in the next six years, or 166,000 new homes per annum.
Meanwhile, Rehda expects prices per sq ft of new launches to be stable over the next 12 months. “None of the areas have seen a drop in pricing. It’s only that the types and prices launched this quarter compared with the last quarter are different,” said Rehda deputy president Datuk Soam Heng Choon.
Some 45% of 152 Rehda members surveyed said they had a neutral outlook for 2H14 while 33% of them said they were pessimistic. Meanwhile, 20% of them said they were optimistic about the next six months’ prospects, while none was very optimistic.
“Based on the survey, the majority have a neutral outlook. What we can deduce is that demand will be flattish as there will be a mismatch of the loan margin required versus the percentage that is approved by the banks,” said Soam.
The percentage of pessimistic developers rose to 41% when surveyed about their outlook for 1H15, while the same number of developers held on to their neutral outlook.
In contrast, the number of developers who felt optimistic about 1H15 dropped to 13%.
Nonetheless, Rehda expects launches to gain momentum in 2H14 as developers seek to address the pent-up demand from buyers rushing to beat the imposition of the GST on April 1 next year.
Despite the lack of optimism, half of the developers surveyed said they planned to expand in the next one to two years.
At the top of their list is increasing their land bank, followed by increasing staff and operations, finding new joint-venture partners, venturing into other states and overseas.
Source: The Star