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PARIS: The Malaysian property market needs foreign buyers to return, and the sooner they do so, the better it will be for property players whose margins are being squeezed.
Gone are the days when it was easier for developers to hit their sales targets, and margins were more attractive.
A veteran property man said that domestic demand alone cannot fuel a sustained growth for the local developers, especially considering that the demand is increasingly skewed towards lower-margin houses priced below RM500,000.
S P Setia Bhd deputy president and chief operating officer Datuk Seri Koe Peng Kang said that the government should encourage foreign purchases of local properties, particularly in the high-end segment.
For this to happen, specially programmes such as the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) need to be made simpler and less stringent.
“The government must think about how to make Malaysia a better place to stay and retire (for foreigners).
“Then you have more rich people to spend (on real estate).
Domestic demand not enough to spur growth
“Look at the Melbourne property market. The demand wouldn’t be as robust if not for foreign buyers from Malaysia, Singapore and China.
“The government needs to make up its mind on what it wants. If it wants the property market to grow, you cannot depend on local buyers alone,” he said.
Koe pointed out that the current minimum monthly income threshold of RM40,000 for MM2H applicants is too high.
It is noteworthy that many quarters have also raised concerns about the RM40,000 threshold, which was merely RM10,000 prior to revision.
Last month, the Malaysia My Second Home Consultants Association said only 28 applications out of 44 submissions succeeded between October 2021 and April 8 this year.
Its president Anthony Liew said the number of applications had severely dropped following the Covid-19 pandemic and the government’s revision of the programme’s conditions.
“Prior to the current guidelines and pandemic, we had up to 6,000 successful applications yearly,” he said.
Acknowledging challenges in the market, Koe said it may take a while for the market to fully recover.
“Banks have also tightened the loan requirements so it is not as easy as last time.
“I think the market will adjust itself. Nowadays, there is lesser supply in the market, so it will slow down.
“The salaries of Malaysians have to catch up. The disparity between prices and salaries is big,” he said.
Koe, however, noted that such a disparity is not exclusive to Malaysia alone.
He said Australia, China and Hong Kong, among others, also struggle with the same problem.