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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Rehda Penang seeks aid for first-time house buyers

A RM10,000 grant for first-time buyers of affordable homes is being proposed by Penang property players to the government for consideration in Budget 2010.

Real Estate and Housing Developers' Association, Penang Chapter (Rehda Penang) chairman Datuk Jerry Chan said the grant can be considered for properties which fall below a certain price range.

"The hard-core poor can also be helped in owning houses via the setting up of a revolving fund," he told Business Times.

He said the fund can be tapped by those who qualify to pay nominal rental on properties which can later be converted as payment for the said houses.
Chan said these proposals would be incorporated into a master-list of requests which the national-level Rehda will submit to the federal government.

The Penang chapter of the association is made up of some 70 over property players, some of whom are the country's top developers.

Chan said also on Rehda Penang's wish list for Budget 2010 is a request for the waiver of stamp duty.

"We are also asking the federal government to consider taking over the provision of low-cost housing," he added, saying that just like healthcare and education, the provision of housing for the poor should also be assumed by the government.

"The private sector," Chan noted, "should not be asked to build low-cost housing and this social responsibility should be taken over by the government."

Meanwhile, commenting on a recent annoucement by the Penang government of its decision to revise the plot ratio for high-rise developments on certain parts of the island, Chan said:

"This move will now allow for a different pricing structure which will fill the gap between very expensive landed property, very expensive super condominiums and low-medium cost accomodation."

The Penang government two weeks ago announced the plot ratio revision during a Rehda Penang event.

Chan said that previously, a ratio of less than 1.0 time was applied (to medium-cost housing of between 700 and 1,400 sq feet) will now be revised to 2.8 times for certain areas.

This will place Penang on par with Singapore where a 2.8-time plot ratio policy applies. In the Klang Valley the plot ratio for certain high-rises stands at between 4 and 6 times, while the Kuala Lumpur City Centre boasts a plot ratio in excess of 6 times.

Chan said the request to review the outdated policy was made by Rehda Penang earlier this year, and the association is now awaiting official notification from the state government.

On whether the revision of plot ratios would also apply to landed property, Chan said the state is willing to consider the removal of backlanes for terrace-houses (which sometimes make up 15 per cent of the total build-up area) on a case-by-case basis.

By Business Times (by Marina Emmanuel)

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