[Hakim is Judging] Streamlining the way forward for affordable housing

The column reflects the view of the writer

By Hakim Hassan hakim@thestar.com.my

The recent announcement made by Housing and Local Government (KPKT) minister Datuk Zuraida Kamarudin to combine all of the existing government agencies that develop affordable housing for the rakyat is commendable due it being a pertinent issue that has plagued the house buyers, especially the first-timers.
The many different agencies and different stipulations have created confusion amongst budding house buyers as the requirements vary for each scheme and not all are created equal.
For instance, PR1MA, according to their website, for a buyer to be eligible, he or she must be a Malaysian, either married or single and has passed the age of 21. Buyers are also expected to earn a household income ranging from RM2,500 to RM15,000 and be either single or married. It is also only eligible for buyers looking to buy their first or second home.
Meanwhile, the requirements for My First Home Scheme is for buyers up to the age of 35, according to their website. Also, to be eligible, applicants must have a gross income of not more than RM5,000 per month and joint borrowers not exceeding RM10,000 per month (based on the gross maximum income of RM5,000 per borrower). It is for properties valued between RM100,000 and RM400,000 with a financing tenure of not exceeding 40 years. The government will provide full financing without the need for 10% down payment.
These are not the only two schemes in town. There are many more such as SPNB, Rumahwip, PP1M, to name a few, who also have their different requirements. As a first-time homebuyer, the process of identifying and meeting the prerequisite for each scheme is often cumbersome.
With the announcement, it is hoped that there would be a clear, concise and unified scheme in the future which is easily accessible for new homebuyers, especially millennials and budding families.
The ministry has also announced that it would be working with Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) on relaxing current lending guidelines to enable the bottom 40 (B40) and middle 40 (M40) groups the opportunity to purchase a new house.
These new initiatives set by the present government to improve the housing situation is a positive one, and although the solution would only be seen in the long term, it seems that initial step indicates that we might be heading in the right direction.

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