Parliament: Developers urged to do more to clear 30,000 unsold residential units

Deputy Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Abdul Mutalib said the government has taken various measures to help people under the lower category of income with their housing woes, including lower rentals.

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 23 – There is an overhang of housing units in the country, the Parliament was informed here today.

A total of 30,290 completed residential properties developed at a cost of RM19.75 billion nationwide were not sold as of the third quarter period this year, Deputy Housing And Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Abdul Mutalib said during the Question and Answer session at the Dewan Rakyat.

This was a slight reduction in the number of unsold housing units compared with 31,112 unsold properties worth RM20.1 billion in the second quarter.

Top housing developers are unaffected by unsold properties with their huge profits, said Kulim Bandar-Baharu MP Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution, who wanted to know the status of a proposed plan to impose vacant property tax.

He said there was a 0.7 percent drop seen in the Housing Price Index of 198.6 points for the third quarter of 2021 compared with 199.9 points recorded in the corresponding quarter of 2020.

Ismail, who attributed the slight drop in unsold housing units to developers who either brought down the prices or gave discounts to sell off the ready units under the prevailing uncertain economic conditions, also hoped more developers will do the same to tackle the residential property overhang.

Ismail was replying to a question from Datuk Ahmad Jazlan Yaakub (BN-Machang) who wanted to know the number of unsold housing units as of September this year.

He said the states with high number of unsold residential properties included Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Perak and Penang while the majority of property types unsold were condominiums and apartments totalling more than 18,000.

Other property types were terrace units, both double-storey and triple-storey as well as semi-detached units.

Ahmad Jazlan also wanted to know the number of properties sold through the Housing Ownership Campaign (HOC), and whether there were plans to extend the campaign.

Ismail said the government had taken several initiatives including the HOC to help developers sell their properties.

He said buyers also gained through the discounts provided under the HOC and it will go on until December 31st this year, adding that the government hoped to review any extension plan beyond the date in view of the benefits from it.

He also added the government lost a revenue of RM400 to RM500 million from the stamp duty exemption exercise.

To another question from Kulim Bandar-Baharu MP (PKR) Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail on the status of a plan to impose tax on developers for vacant properties, Ismail said it was still under discussion.

Saifuddin said big developers were not affected monetarily by unsold properties based on the huge annual profits they report. One effect is the units are now cheaper, he said (from whose perspective, he did not say).

He said while profits made by top developers like IOI Properties, Sime Darby Properties, SP Setia, UOA Development and Mah Sing run into billions, there have been talks of incentives for developers for properties sold.

Nevertheless, he said his question was on what happened to the plan for vacant property tax for developers.

Apart from saying that the vacant tax plan was still under discussion, Ismail added that the types of houses unsold comprised condominiums and apartments meant for those in the higher income bracket.

Ismail too did not specify exactly what groups of people could afford the unsold condominiums and apartments.

He said the government had taken various measures to help those from the lower income categories such as the B40 and those affected by Covid-19 with their housing woes through its six housing schemes. These include a six-month free rental scheme as well as lower rental rates for houses under the government’s various housing schemes.