KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 7): Scientex Bhd is looking to accelerate its development of affordable housing units, and plans to build 32,500 units over the next 10 years to meet its 50,000 homes target by 2028.

Speaking at Scientex's 50th Anniversary celebration today, the group's executive director Alex Khaw said the target is achievable, and that its property division plans to build an average of 3,300 units a year.

These units will be priced below RM500,000, with units priced below RM300,000 making up the bulk of the total.

While some developers have voiced their grouses in developing affordable units, blaming high development costs and miniscule margins, Khaw said Scientex has been able to deliver affordable units by focusing on productivity, cost efficiency and quality.

"We usually get approval for our projects between six [and] 12 months and try to complete them within 15 months," he said, adding the shorter development period helps lower borrowing costs.

The group has also invested in industrialised building system (IBS), which translated to an overall construction cost savings of 10% to 15% per project, Khaw said.

While it was costly at first, Khaw said the high volume Scientex develops has provided economies of scale in such developments.

Khaw added that Scientex plans to expand its landbank with another five landbanks — focused in Peninsular Malaysia. However, Scientex declined to reveal details.

Going forward, the group hopes the authorities will provide further assistance to the property sector to tackle the affordable housing issue.

"We hope we can get support from the federal and local governments in speeding up the development approval process, as well as a review of the banks' loan approval criteria for buyers," said Khaw.

To date, Scientex has completed 17,500 units of affordable housing, which now enjoy a 99% occupancy rate, said managing director Lim Peng Jin.

"75% of these units were priced below RM300,000, while the remaining units were priced between RM300,000 [and] RM500,000," said Lim.

"With our bold vision to deliver 50,000 affordable homes by the year 2028, Scientex targets to put a roof over more than 300,000 Malaysians, or approximately 1% of the Malaysian population," he added. — theedgemarkets.com

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