BNM: Rejection rate of housing loan application drops below average
The rejection rate of housing applications has declined to below the average rate of about a quarter of all cases, said Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) in its Financial Stability and Payment Systems Report 2017. The report stated that the rejection rate of housing applications currently stands at 23.1%, below the 2012-2016 average of 26.1%. Among the reasons cited for the housing loan rejection include insufficient income to support debt repayment, adverse credit history, and inadequate income or financial documentation. (The Edge Markets)

Housing loans make up half of household debt, reflects affordability issues
Loans for the purchase of residential properties remain the largest component of household debt, representing 52% of total household loans, according to Bank Negara Malaysia’s (BNM) latest report. The significant contribution of housing loans towards household debt raises two key issues – housing affordability and the necessity of owning a home. Proposals to address the shortfall in the supply of affordable houses include the setting up of a centralised authority mandated to re-balance the supply towards the affordable segment; and to have affordable homes locates in areas with good public transport connectivity. (The Edge Markets)

Knight Frank sees retail’s vital role in commercial property market
The retail industry will continue to play a formidable role in Malaysia’s commercial property market, said Knight Frank Malaysia. Despite the unfavourable sentiment surrounding the retail market, the sector would continue to attract investments as developers are expected to collaborate with experienced mall managers to enhance the attractiveness of their assets and remain competitive in the challenging operating environment. Mall operators need to focus beyond the occupancy rate of malls as high occupancy rates no longer constitute high profitability. Mall operators should place more emphasis towards developing technologies and marketing tools to attract customers, in the form of social media marketing, campaigns or workshops. Malls should also balance their tenant mix by not letting food and beverage shops occupy more than 35% of the nett lettable area. (The Star Online)

Titijaya acquires Ampang land owner for RM1.5bil project
Titijaya Land Bhd is buying a 99% stake in BJ Properties Sdn Bhd, which owns 6.8 acres of leasehold land in Ampang that it plans to develop into a RM1.5 billion GDV project. The land is expected to be used as mixed development with a focus on the residential component, complemented by some commercial elements. The group said its purchase is in line with its growth strategy in expanding its land bank and investing in strategic property development projects in the Klang Valley. (The Sun Daily)

Sime Darby Property launches Serenia City
Sime Darby Property Bhd has launched Serenia City, its first township offering in five years, located within Kuala Lumpur’s southern growth corridor which is also touted as “the first Digital Free Trade Zone hub in the world”. The township will be directly linked to the ELITE (North-South Expressway Central Link) Highway through the Bandar Serenia interchange, which is targeted for completion by October 2018. The development is poised to be the next shopping destination with the Horizon Village Outlets expected to be open by next year. The township’s first residential development, Serenia Amani, will be made available for reservations during the official launch at the Serenia City Sales Gallery, Sepang, on March 31. (The Malaysian Reserve)

Serenia City by Sime Darby Property (Image from NST)

Mah Sing to build 15,000 homes in Southville City
Mah Sing Group Bhd plans to build 15,000 homes within its Southville City development in Bangi – the company’s largest township within the Klang Valley. 3,192 units of its Savanna Executive Suites were handed over to buyers at the recent soft launch of the Southville City Interchange. With the completion of the new interchange, Southville City is 19km from Kuala Lumpur city compared with 25km previously. Savanna Executive Suites is part of the first phase of Southville City. The development comprises eight 28 and 30-storey towers. The company is optimistic of surpassing the total sales achieved last year, and is targeting RM1.8bil in sales this year. (The Star Online)

Bank Negara: Unsold housing units increase, unaffordable
The number of unsold housing units increased in 2017 while houses also remained unaffordable especially in key employment centres, according to Bank Negara Malaysia. There was an uptick in housing market activities, despite the high number of unsold residential properties priced at RM250,000 and above. Unsold housing units increased on an annual basis by 22.7% in 2017. More than 80% of the unsold units were priced at RM250,000 and above. Many of these units were high-rise residential properties and were mainly in areas located far from major economic centres and with limited public transport facilities. “The high number of unsold housing units also reflects the persistent mismatch between the selling price of houses being built and what most households can afford,” according to its report. (The Star Online)

HDC to build affordable houses using modular system
Housing Development Corporation (HDC) has come up with a modular system to build houses priced between RM250,000 to RM300,000. The system is the result of the signing of the Heads of Agreement (HoA) held at Conceiving Board Manufacturing (CBM) Co Ltd plant in Foshan, Guanding in China a year ago between Ministry of Housing and Urbanisation and Sarawak Housing and Real Estate Developers, Association (Sheda) Kuching branch. The modular system was among the initiatives of the government to reduce the prices of houses. Besides houses, the modular panelling products could also be used in the construction of schools and government clinics. (The Borneo Post)

SP Setia hit with second tax bill in 4 months
S P Setia Bhd has been hit with a tax bill for the second time in less than four months by the Inland Revenue Board (IRB), albeit at a smaller one of RM32.54 million for the years of assessment of 2009 to 2015. In November last year, it was slapped with additional income taxes and penalties amounting to RM75.38 million for the years of assessment of 2008 to 2013. S P Setia said it is of the view that there are reasonable grounds to challenge the basis and validity of the disputed notices of additional assessment raised by the IRB and the penalty imposed. (The Edge Markets)