BN pledges to solve housing woes, no more Bumi discount for homes above RM1mil
Barisan Nasional (BN) has promised several solutions for Malaysia’s increasing pricey housing problem, including creating a special bank to manage and distribute mortgages for homes costing RM300,000 and below. There were also promises to upgrade the homes of the Orang Asli community and estate workers in peninsular Malaysia, in addition to ending discount policy for Bumiputera owners for properties valued RM1 million and above. BN also pledged to build more affordable homes on Malay reserved lands, lands donated for Muslims purposes, and unused buildings owned by Baitulamal, or Islamic welfare institutions. Public housing and low-cost homes over 20 years old would also be rebuilt. Other pledges included PPA1M homes, extension on stamp duty exemption for failed projects, a special fund for IBS entrepreneurs, and revival of failed housing projects. (Malay Mail Online)

BNM: Loan approval rates for houses below RM500,000 stable
Housing loan approval rates for houses costing below RM500,000 have remained stable over the past few years at above 70%, said Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM). Meanwhile the approval rate for houses below RM250,000 was 72.7%, compared to 67% in 2012. As housing affordability remained a major issue for households in Malaysia, BNM said property developers should work to increase the supply of affordable houses for the people. In 2016, house prices in Malaysia were categorised as ‘seriously unaffordable’ by international standards with a median multiple of five times of annual household income. (Malay Mail Online)

Malaysia is the best retirement destination in Asia
Malaysia has come up tops as the ideal retirement destination in Asia in 2018, according to a new Retirement Index from International Malaysia ranked fifth globally, while Costa Rica was crowned the most preferred retirement destination in the world. Malaysia was chosen for its tropical climate and range of retirement locations to choose from – from bustling cities to mellow towns – all of which are surrounded by nature or beaches. retirees can live comfortably here on just US$2,500 a month, which is just a fraction of what they would need in many other countries. The site also placed a spotlight on Malaysia’s medical tourism industry, which offers quality healthcare at affordable prices; and its wide range of F&B outlets. The Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme was also lauded as one of the best in the world, making it easy for foreign retirees to move here. Other top ranking places were Mexico at second place, Panama (third), Ecuador (fourth), Colombia (sixth), Portugal (seventh), Nicaragua (eighth), Spain (ninth) and Peru (tenth). (NST Online)

Pulau Rawa, Johor (Photo from CARI forum)

Special bank for housing loans below RM300,000 if BN wins
A special bank to facilitate loans for houses priced RM300,000 and below would be established if Barisan Nasional wins the 14th General Election (GE14). Its manifesto also revealed that tax incentives or development funds would also be provided to encourage banks and housing developers to offer rent-to-own schemes. A single entity to synchronise all affordable housing initiatives would also be introduced and this would include the monitoring of construction works. A National Public Housing Management Corporation (3PAN) will also be launched, and be responsible with monitoring and in managing public housing issues involving housing quality and current needs, as well as determining fitness for occupation. (NST Online)

MBPJ introduces mobile app for parking payment
Motorists in Petaling Jaya will soon be able to pay for parking using the Smart Selangor Parking app. The first phase of the new system will be rolled out on May 1. The new system will be tested for a month in Dataran Sunway. The Smart Selangor Parking app can be downloaded beginning April 23 from Apple App Store and Google Play. Users need to create an account and top up a minimum credit of RM10. Users can pay and top up their parking fees via the app. Once this system starts, there will only be two ways to pay for parking, which is via the app or the scratch coupons. The app also allows MBPJ enforcement officers to issue compounds, which users can check and pay for via the app. (The Star Online)

TA Enterprise to sell Hong Kong office units for RM67mil
TA Enterprise Bhd’s subsidiary Winner Star Group Ltd has signed a provisional agreement with Champion Castle Ltd and Zeppelin Property Development Consultants Ltd for the disposal of two office units at Tower One Lippo Centre in Hong Kong for HK$137 million (RM67.48 million). The group had acquired the property for investment in July 2001 for HK$24.55 million. The estimated gain from the sale of this property is HK$110.22 million (RM54.31 million). The group expects to complete the disposal by June 2018. (The Edge Markets)