Small overhang in Sarawak property market, high housing prices may not be to blame

Dato Sim Kiang Chiok

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KUCHING, Feb 24: The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a slowdown in the Malaysian property market but in Sarawak, the amount of overhang is still small, standing at 2,100 units of various types.

This was revealed by Sarawak Housing and Real Estate Developers’ Association (Sheda) Kuching branch chairman Datuk Sim Kiang Chiok. He pointed out that high housing prices may not be the factor causing the overhang but rather poor location, unsuitable housing type and design.

“In Sarawak, we don’t have much of (Bumiputra) reserved units forming part of the overhang like in West Malaysia,” said Sim in a press statement yesterday.

He said Sarawakians are enjoying Housing Ownership Campaign (HOC) and there are about 132 registered properties by 89 developers in Sarawak.

In Kuching, there are about 417 registered properties by 55 developers and to date, there are 417 certified units of such property valued at RM233 million.

“We know the market is very active now with HOC minimum 10 per cent discount and low bank interest. It is cheap to buy now and the market is responding accordingly.

“I know of a new launch in a good location and (with) amenities and they doing very well and some other established projects in further locations from the city are doing well but not as well as the new launch.

“We developers also compete on location apart from pricing, supply and demand etc,” said Sim.

On the 2021 economic outlook for Sarawak, Sim was optimistic as “Sarawak can’t get as low as Mar last year during the first Movement Control Order (MCO) period where Sarawak GDP (Gross Domestic Product) dropped by 17.5 per cent.”

“My belief is that what goes down must come up as in most business cycles. Our government is finetuning the lockdown so that we are not to experience such a slowdown again in our economy as we have learned that certain sectors can still function without causing further spikes in (Covid-19) infection.”

Another factor behind his optimism is the availability of Covid-19 vaccines.

“My guess is that we can have herd immunity by end of this year and the border will reopen by third quarter of this year. This is good news.”

Sim said what the economy and business sector need is a clear, transparent exit plan or road map.

“Until today, we only see piecemeal information and it is difficult for any investor or business to do much now.”

He believed that the Sarawak and federal government are doing their best to provide all the assistance for the people and the business community. However, he opined, they can do more to ensure that the pandemic would not destroy many businesses by increasing and providing longer wage subsidy periods and automatic moratoriums on bank loans.

To him, this would save the economy and with a good exit plan, Malaysia and Sarawak can resume and restart the economy at a faster pace than countries which have not shielded and assisted in their businesses.

“In Sarawak, we have extra income from the State Sales Tax on petroleum, Pan Borneo Highway, and ART (Autonomous Rapid Transit) public transport in Kuching to look forward to. We are much (sic) optimistic for Sarawak’s economy and its recovery from this unprecedented pandemic,” said Sim. — DayakDaily