“Build and Sell” could be win-win for homebuyers and developers

Media Statement
by Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew

(Petaling Jaya, Thursday): The recent call by the Prime Minister for the “build and sell” policy in the housing industry is timely and should be implemented as soon as possible.

We were taken aback by the negative attitude taken by the Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting on the matter. He should study the call made by the PM carefully before shooting from his hip.

Some have argued that such policy would shoot up the prices of new houses to an unaffordable level which in turn works against the interest of the homebuyers.

But the “build and sell” could be a win-win situation for both the homebuyers and developers if we care to adopt some changes in our approach.

We can, for instance, create a “book and pay later” method of sales and purchase. Under such a scheme, the homebuyers need to book the unit they like before the completion of the project. They have to pay a substantial amount as booking fee/ down payment for the chosen unit before building started or completed. This would take away the risk of “no buyers” considerably on the part of the developers. And the buyers only need to start paying the developers with the bank loan obtained earlier upon completion of their units.

Under such a scheme, the developers would have no choice but to ensure quality for the homebuyers, or risk cancellation by them.

If other countries country like Thailand could succeed with the” build and sell” policy, we do not see why we could not do it in this “Bolehland” of ours.

The Ministry of Housing and Local Government must also do their part by cutting red tapes to speed up the process of approval. We must not allow corruption to seep in at different stages, adding high cost to the properties inevitably.

The homebuyers in this country have been shortchanged for a long time. It’s time for meaningful reform in the housing industry for the benefits of homebuyers. The housing ministry must not be seen protecting only the interest of the developers. Ong must always bear in mind that he is a minister of housing, not a minister for housing developer as claimed by many.

The EPF board can also play a role in the proposed “book and pay later” sales and purchase method by allowing its members to withdraw EPF savings for booking fee. Many a homebuyers in the past could not buy their own homes simply because they do not have sufficient fund to pay for down payment.

Such a new policy would certainly enable more EPF members to purchase their own homes, giving the housing industry a new boost.


* Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew, DAP national publicity secretary