HBA: Extend fund for affordable homes to wider group

PETALING JAYA: The National House Buyers Association (HBA) has urged the government to extend the reach of the RM1 billion Fund for Affordable Homes scheme to include a wider group of buyers.

HBA secretary-general Datuk Chang Kim Loong (pix), who applauded the scheme, suggested that the fund be made available for properties priced up to RM300,000 and to increase the monthly household income eligibility up to RM5,000 per month.

“Due to the rising cost of living, even the M40 find it very challenging to buy their dream homes and is in need of some form of assistance. The same conditions can be imposed or even tightened, for example limiting the scheme for only first-time house buyers and no sale for first 10 years after last disbursement,” he said in a statement.

Chang said the fund, launched by Bank Negara (), would help the lower income group in purchasing homes as this group often finds it challenging to do so, especially in coming up with the 10% down payment and qualifying for housing loans.

The fund is available for Malaysians with monthly household income of RM2,300 who want to buy houses priced RM150,000 and below. A key feature of the fund is the low interest rate, which has been capped at 3.5%, which would lower the monthly housing instalment by 23% compared with available financing options in the market.

“The lower interest rate will help to reduce the burden of the lower income segment and give them more disposable income for other urgent needs and also to have some savings for any unforeseen emergencies. BNM has claimed that this scheme can result in savings of up to 23% and this will certainly help these participants,” said Chang.

Chang also recommend that a Homeownership Education Programme be set up to raise overall financial literacy as a way to prepare low-medium income households to take on the responsibilities of owning a home.

“Foreclosures can devastate a family’s economic and social standing, leaving them poorer instead. Making sure lower income households have sufficient personal financial management skills is more than a supplementary issue. Financiers, local authorities and communities benefit from homeowners being better informed of their rights and responsibilities as homeowners and borrowers. Support for potential home buyers and owners is crucial,” he added.

He said homeownership education can be in the form of manuals to be handed out, advice and information given out by telephone, workshops or “face-to-face” counselling and these services should ideally be provided before potential buyers sign the purchase contract.

He said counselling should be provided to help households maintain their homes or to manage their finances and it is not enough to just provide homes as there are many aspects of homeownership.

“The success of any public housing programmes can be achieved by assisting the lower income group to acquire and remain homeowners. We recommend that potential buyers to be trained to take responsibility of ownership,” he added.

Source: The Sun Daily

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