New Bank Negara rules will dent housing market

KUALA LUMPUR: New property rules unveiled by Bank Negara Malaysia to curb rising household debt could adversely affect the housing market, industry players said.

They said any new measures other than those already announced in the 2014 Budget would dent the market in the Klang Valley, Johor, Penang and Sabah, particularly.

“Put it simply, the local housing market would have a hard time handling even a small interest rate hike now after all the cooling measures announced by the government.

“We expect the housing market to achieve a slower growth rate next year. House buyers and investors are already looking at Singapore, London and Australia,” said an industry player.

Bank Negara sent out a circular to banks last Friday, imposing a ban on the developers interest bearing scheme and the interest capitalisation scheme.

It also announced an unexpected rule for all banks to fix their loan-to-value ratio based on the net selling price rather than gross selling price.

Zerin Properties chief executive officer Previndran Singhe welcomed the move, although he felt a softer landing would be better.

He expects the primary property market to slow down and more attention be given to the secondary market in the short-term.

“Bank Negara’s ruling is prudent. I think asset-based loans should always be based on asset value. Notwithstanding, there should be a caveat for first-time buyers.

“However, I don’t think these cooling-off measures are addressing the right issues, one of which is incoming supply that is slow and expensive due to the long approval process (which means longer holding period, higher cost and slower supply),” he told Business Times.

Real Estate and Housing Developers Association Malaysia spokesperson said first-time home buyers are expected to be the most affected by the new rules.

It will be “shattering” for them as they may now need to put in more upfront money. For developers, the spokesperson said they are expected to slow the launch of new projects.

“This will result in a slowdown in sales but they believe that genuine buyers will remain undeterred.”

The spokesperson believes that major developers have the resources to comply with the new rules. Small and medium developers, however, will wait and see how the market reacts before following suit.

The spokesperson said there will still be robust demand for properties because of the country’s strong fundamentals and liquidity.

Fundamentals have driven the property market’s growth in recent years and this has not changed, the spokesperson added.