Convert native land to mixed zone

KUCHING: The Sarawak Housing and Real Estate Developers’ Association (Sheda) is advocating to increase the supply of land by converting native land within a 20km radius of cities and 10km within towns into mixed zone land.

Christopher Ngui

“One of the most influential factors on housing prices is the escalating land costs due to scarce mixed zone land in the urban areas of Sarawak,” said Sheda president Dr Christopher Ngui at the Sheda Property Expo 2019 held at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching here, Friday.

He added that the increasing number of policies, planning requirements, infrastructure requirements and other compliance conditions have contributed to the overall development costs as well.

“The profit margins of developers and contractors are also dependent on international trade, particularly due to the usage of imported materials,” he pointed out, adding that the issue was exacerbated by uncertainty resulting from the US-China trade war coupled with the depreciation of the ringgit.

Commenting on houses of the same type being sold for ten per cent more than in Malaya, Ngui highlighted that the additional costs were incurred in the construction of houses in Sarawak due to a lack of ideal material choices locally, transportation costs and lower economies of scale.

“This contributes to the ten per cent or more in the price of houses here,” he explained.

On another note, he said Sheda hoped that banking institutions could make housing more affordable by relaxing home financing guidelines.

“Bank Negara Malaysia’s stringent lending guidelines have hindered many house buyers from successfully securing loans to purchase their homes,” Ngui noted.

He suggested that the state government consider bulk purchase of readily available residential units and leasing them to low-income (B40) group who are currently unable to purchase homes, with an option to purchase at a later date.

“The government could also review its taxation policies such as exempting real property gains tax (RPGT) for the next two years and repealing RPGT after five years for individuals and companies as well as reducing corporate and personal income tax,” Ngui said.

He believed that Sarawak’s efforts in expanding its infrastructure network would improve connectivity and thus attract more investors.

He lauded Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg’s initiative in enhancing public transport particularly in congested areas of the city.