PETALING JAYA (Dec 6): A ministry-level committee will be set up to review appeals by developers to build luxury properties priced from RM1 million in selected locations across major cities, said Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Noh Omar.

The appeals will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, he said in a report by Bernama.

The minister said the approvals will be subjected to the following criteria — the existing housing condition, the number of houses in a particular area, house prices of RM1 million and above, how many houses have not been sold, as well as existing requirements.

This measure follows stakeholders such as the Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association Malaysia urging the government to reconsider its directive to temporarily halt approvals for shopping complexes, office buildings, serviced apartments and condominiums priced from RM1 million, effective Nov 1.

“The Cabinet has appointed five ministers including me to discuss and handle issues related to the freeze,” he said.

The other ministers are Federal Territories Minister Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan and Works Minister Datuk Fadillah Yusof to sit on the committee.

“We met last week and relayed the decision to consider the developers’ appeals to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak for his consent. The prime minister agreed and asked me to disclose this to the media today,” Noh added.

Likewise, developers may proceed to build office buildings and malls if they are able to provide ample justification for their projects, said Johari in a separate report.

In a report by The Edge Financial Daily, he said developers may approach the relevant ministries with their plans, should they find places where supply of such properties is lacking.

This option for developers to plead their case comes after Johari said on Nov 19 that the temporary ban applied to the four types of developments mentioned, owing to a surplus in stock highlighted by Bank Negara Malaysia.

The central bank said there were 130,690 unsold residential property units in 1Q17, with 83% of that priced above RM250,000, reflecting a demand-supply imbalance.

Meanwhile, the central bank said office vacancy rates in the Klang Valley have hit 23.6% in 1Q17 and could reach 32% by 2021.

It also predicted that one in three offices will be vacant by 2021 whereas 140 new malls will enter the market across the Klang Valley, Penang and Johor.

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