Sunday, 15 September 2013

Malaysia needs to produce more houses to achieve 20/20 by 2020


KL to rank 20th Most Competitive and 20th Most Livable City by 2020


AS I walked the streets in Melbourne, people are either taking pleasure in their daily activities or catching up with their friends. More importantly, they are enjoying an abundance of economic and lifestyle opportunities, supported by their affordable housing prices and convenient transportation. It comes as no surprise that the city has been ranked as the world most livable city by The Economist for years.

Melbourne tops the list as the most livable location, according to a survey of 140 cities conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

For Malaysians, the good news is, Kuala Lumpur ranked second in South-East Asia after Singapore on the same list, while the challenging part is we were at No. 77 in the world ranking, according to the survey last year.

In terms of competitiveness, the World Economic Forum (WEF) has ranked Malaysia as the 24th most competitive nation among 148 countries in its Global Competitiveness Report 2013-2014. Under the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP), the Government aspires to elevate Kuala Lumpur to be the top 20 most economically dynamic cities and top 20 most livable cities by 2020.

To realise these goals, we need to gear up our efforts in building both the hard and soft infrastructure of the country. And if we are to be a truly developed nation, one of the most critical criteria is to have more homes, as the nation’s housing needs must first be addressed to ensure quality living.

Let’s take a look at how developed nations house their people. Take Australia as an example, where four of its cities, i.e. Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney and Perth, ranked in the top 10 most livable cities as measured by the Global Liveability Survey in 2012. Australia has a population of around 22 million living in 9.1 million homes, according to its census in 2011, which means their average person per household is 2.5.

Another developed nation in Europe, United Kingdom, has a population of 62.7 million people and number of homes is approximately 25 million, which also works out to have an average of 2.5 persons per household.

In Malaysia, while our population is about 28 million, we only have about 4.6 million homes, according to National Property Information Centre. This is equal to 6.08 persons per household. For us to catch up with Australia and United Kingdom which have an average of 2.5 persons in a household, we would require a total of 11.3 million homes in our country, which is a 250% increase from what we have currently!

However, at our current housing production of about 100,000 homes a year, it would take us 67 years to catch up with the benchmark displayed by these developed nations, assuming there is no additional increase in population.

The statistic above paints a picture of the fundamental required for a developed nation. As a developing nation, the Government and the relevant private sectors need to find ways to grow the number of homes in Malaysia. We are in need of more housing especially when the Government aims to move our country towards developed nation, and to grow the population of Greater KL from 6 million people to 10 million by the year 2020, which would put further pressure on the housing market in urban areas.

Currently, production has not been able to keep up with demand and this has pushed up housing prices. Having ample supply is the only long-term sustainable way to keep housing affordable. The Government needs to streamline the delivery system to increase the number of homes built every year, instead of stifling the supply which also include the cooling off measures which may eventually lead to higher prices due to inadequate supply.

Imagine if we are having 11.6 million houses today instead of 4.6 million, our house prices would be more affordable due to ample supply. The bottom line is we need more houses, especially affordable houses. It will help in the long run if the authorities can find ways to encourage housing supply, and this include putting off cooling measures on the property industry which only work in the short run as shared in my last article “Cooling Off Measures Choke Supply”.

More production of houses will make prices more affordable. And, if the Government can further support the housing needs with infrastructure including having a good public transportation system, the aspirations of making Kuala Lumpur the top 20 most livable and most competitive cities in the world can become a reality by 2020.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT BY ALAN HONG KOK MAU
FIABCI Asia Pacific chairman DATUK ALAN TONG has over 50 years of experience in property development. He was FIABCI World president in 2005/06 and was named Property Man of The Year 2010. He is also the group chairman of Bukit Kiara Properties.

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