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There's hope yet...
17/09/07 NST-PROP By G. Umakanthan

The National House Buyers Association (HBA) feels disappointed that Budget 2008 did not consider helping buyers who have to pay off bank loans for houses in projects that have been abandoned.

Nevertheless, the association is not giving up hope, considering that even the official body representing developers, the Real Estate and Housing Developers' Association (Rehda), has expressed its concern over the plight of such buyers.

"We at the HBA are hopeful that we can work with Rehda on this issue," said its secretary-general Chang Kim Loong.

"We are pleased with a recent statement from Rehda, which called on Bank Negara to step in and help buyers of houses in projects that have been abandoned.

"We believe that this is a good start, that Rehda's call to Bank Negara to encourage financial institutions to waive the interest and capital repayment for victims of abandoned housing projects is timely."

In making the call recently, Rehda president Ng Seing Liong said: �We appeal to Bank Negara to get commercial banks to temporarily waive interest and instalment payments on properties affected by abandonment.

"We ask that the affected purchasers be required to continue payment only after the project has been resumed."

Said HBA's Chang: "This move by Rehda is most timely and our association fully supports the proposal... we believe Rehda is taking the right path."

He said representatives of HBA have often been in communication, directly as well as indirectly, with Rehda leaders and have had friendly interactions � and also not so friendly ones.

"Ng's call to the central bank shows he is sincere about efforts to help house buyers; that he indeed has the welfare of buyers at heart.

"This is indeed refreshing, in view of our past experiences. We are glad he shares our views on the issue; that buyers in projects that have been abandoned should not be left to fend for themselves."

Chang believes that both HBA and Rehda should work out how both parties can take up this matter with the relevant authorities, especially the financial institutions.

Rehda's Ng also reiterated his call that the authorities should go after developers who have abandoned their projects.

"Purchasers should not be left to suffer by paying for a house they are not able to occupy. Some affected purchasers are not even able to get car loans because their housing loans have been classified as non-performing loans," he said.

The current estimate is that at least 60,000 housing units have been abandoned in projects around the peninsula.


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