Selangor has to clear property
The Selangor government needs to consider the subprime crisis, which
resulted from the United States housing boom in the last two decades and
which has now triggered the global financial turmoil, and apply the lessons
learnt to avert similar problems in the state.
It needs to freeze new commercial and housing developments to mop up the
property overhang accumulated in the last 10 years since the 1997 Asian
There are thousands of unoccupied, untenanted and abandoned houses, shops
and factories which are a future time bomb for the banks and borrowers now
experiencing greater difficulty in recouping or repaying the loans due to
Thousands of property buyers are forced to pay for properties that are
almost useless to them. Billions of ringgit worth of houses and shops remain
unsold or not rented out while many projects have been abandoned.
With bank loan applications now under stricter processing and the price
increase of construction materials hiking up costs, the freeze will have a
salutary effect on the economy and possibly spare a crisis in the years
The government should not equate property development and construction
activities to symbolising economic growth and continue to approve projects.
Instead, investors could be encouraged with incentives to start industries
that can provide employment and income for the people, and which will also
spur multiplier effects in urban and rural areas.
The freeze will help the government take stock of the situation and enable
the population increase, the newly employed, investors, rural-urban migrants
and such to mop up the property overhang.
The freeze will also help revive abandoned projects, and a three- to
five-year freeze will be good for the construction industry and buyers to
prevent problems and losses.
To help buyers, the government needs to create a mechanism to cut through
the legal tangle and wrangle affecting abandoned projects to enable them to
restart. The longer the delay, the more problematic abandoned projects
become. It must be made an offence for developers who abandon projects,
which not only cause hardship to buyers but are also eyesores and health
Approve only projects deemed essential, such as low cost housing or where
development as a catalyst is necessary. Moreover, many developers are
slowing down due to the weaker demand.
The government also needs to come up with some reasonable guidelines on the
number of shops in proportion to residential units in housing estates. In
some areas, the ratio of shops to houses is so large that many shops remain
unoccupied even after years, which is a waste of economic resources. It will
be better to have limits to enable investors to reap reasonable returns from
their commercial properties.
The environment too will be spared by the freeze in the interim as
developers are known to clear large areas for earthworks to prepare the
sites for development, and this contributes to erosion, silting, warming and
The Pakatan Rakyat government acts on the principle that the people's
wellbeing comes first, and one of the best ways to do that is to mop up the
Another way is to ensure that people are not enticed by glossy brochures and
hyped up prospects into buying in these difficult times and regret later.