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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Plenty of land for affordable housing

JOHOR BARU: Johor still has large tracts of lands in the suburban areas of the Johor Baru City for My First Home Scheme’s residential property development.

This will enable developers to build residential properties with decent built-up area to cater for first-time house buyers.

Unlike in Penang and the Klang Valley, developers in Johor are not hampered by the excessively high prices of land.

My First Home Scheme allows buyers earning less than RM3,000 monthly income to secure 100% financing from banks to buy houses costing between RM110,000 and RM220,000 to be repaid over 30 years.

Developers here agreed that while Iskandar Malaysia would continue to be the driving factor to boost demand for high-end residential properties in southern Johor, there is a big market for first-time house buyers.

“In fact, we have started the affordable housing scheme for first-time house buyers ahead of the Government’s initiative,’’ Seri Alam Properties Sdn Bhd acting head of subsidiary Frankie Tan Kiat How told StarBiz.

He said the company had allocated Phase 4A of Bandar Seri Alam township to develop 1,280-units of four-storey walk-up apartments, each of 1,000 sq ft and priced at RM130,000. It has sold 1,112 units.

Tan said the company would be launching 78 new four-storey walk-up apartment units in September with similar built up area but selling at RM140,000 each.

He said the higher price was due to escalating costs of building materials and labour. However, he claimed that the price was still attractive for those earning less than RM3,000 monthly.

Tan said the company chose to build four-storey walk-up apartment blocks as no lifts were required under the building by-laws for this type of building.

“We are able to sell the units at affordable prices as no extra money is needed to install lifts and to maintain them.’’

However, Tan said Seri Alam would be launching its seven-storey apartment blocks in the first quarter of 2012. Each unit has a built-up area of 1,100 sq ft and an indicative selling price of RM180,000.

Tan said the integrated transportation hub for the Eastern Gate Development Zone would improve connectivity from the zone to other parts of Iskandar Malaysia and a possible link-up with Singapore’s mass rapid transit system.

Seri Alam, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of United Malayan Land Bhd.

To date, 60% of the 1,348ha Bandar Seri Alam project has been developed with 10,000 residential and commercial properties. Launched in 1992, the township now has 50,000 residents.

Meanwhile, KGV-Lambert Smith Hampton director Samuel Tan Wee Cheng said the State Economic Planning Unit was supposed to come out with the new housing policy for first-time buyers in Johor two years ago.

He said among others, the new policy entailed the development of affordable houses priced between RM190,000 and RM220,000.

Wee Cheng said he did not understand why the policy was not implemented.

He said areas outside the district of Johor Baru suitable for the My First Home Scheme included Gelang Patah, Kulai, Pasir Gudang, Senai and Ulu Tiram where the demand for houses within that price range was strong.

He said the majority of house owners in these areas were either working class or entrepreneurs.

Furthermore, the children of these buyers who left home for work or marriage also preferred to live nearto their parents, he said.

“Building more houses here will create economic spillover effects to the other areas and they will eventually be developed in the long run,’’ he said.

Apart from houses, developers would also build shop offices, commercial centres or hypermarket-cum-shopping complex to complement the project.

He said if developers were to build houses for buyers under the scheme, they should go for single or double-storey link houses and not high-rise apartments.

Wee Cheng said although Kulai, Pasir Gudang and Senai were components of Iskandar Malaysia, prices of high-end houses in these areas were lower than those in Nusajaya, the administrative city of Iskandar Malaysia.

For instance, the selling price for new double-storey link houses in Nusajaya starts from RM450,000, and up to several million ringgit for semi-detached and bungalow houses.

SP Setia executive vice-president Datuk Chang Khim Wah said the company would be launching houses for buyers under the scheme towards the end of the year.

He said the scheme would be carried out at its ongoing Bukit Indah township due to its close proximity to the Malaysia-Singapore Second Link, which will cater for Malaysians working in the republic.

“We are going for high-rise apartment blocks with good security and landscaping as we believed that even first-time house buyers deserve good things in life,’’ he said.

Chang said SP Setia’s four ongoing projects in Johor – Bukit Indah, Setia Indah, Setia Tropika and Setia Eco Gardens – would keep the company busy for at least eight years. It will continue to look for new lands for future projects.

By The Star

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