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Urgent need for a government-led big data system, say industry experts

SERI KEMBANGAN (April 23): Industry experts have urged the government to come up with a big data system to provide timely data for industry players to make better decisions and to avoid any market “crisis”.

Speaking at the National Housing and Property Focus Summit 2019 today, Area Management Sdn Bhd executive chairman Datuk Stewart LaBrooy pointed out that the need for big data is “crucial” in the property industry, especially for housing demand information.

“Demand-side housing information is lacking. We have the supply-side – Napic (the National Property Information Centre) does a great job of what is being supplied, but we don’t know the demand. None of us in this room knows the demand and what the market wants,” he told the audience at the summit organised by Kingsley Strategic Institute held at the Palace of Golden Horses.

He added that demand-side data could include new household formation and millennials’ preferences. “These data are sorely needed by the industry,” said LaBrooy.

“Without data, we make bad decisions, so we need to pull up our socks. We need real time data of our real estate market. It is so critical… the major reason the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis happened was because of over-lending to the property sector without supporting real demand,” he shared.

However, the incorporation of a big data system has to be an initiative led by the government as it requires the cooperation of several agencies and the private sector, he opined.

“This has to be a government initiative and I believe the government is moving towards this direction,” he added.

LaBrooy was one of the speakers in the session entitled “Industry Outlook: How Does the Housing and Property Market Outlook Looks Like in 2019 & 2020? What are Key Trends and Major Issues? What’s New? What’s Hot?”.

Moderated by Savills Malaysia executive chairman Datuk Christopher Boyd, the session’s other speakers included Napic director Mohd Badrul Hisham Awang, Jones Lang Wotton (JLW) executive director and head of research and consultancy Malathi Thevendran and Ho Chin Soon Research Sdn Bhd CEO Ishmael Ho.

JLW’s Malathi noted that there is a lack of independent market research in the market.

“Statistics are available but people are just not analysing it. They are not bringing the fundamentals into play to understand what they read.

“Obviously, no one is undertaking independent market research. Everybody builds what they think they know but actually they do not know. And then they do not identify the shortfalls and the opportunities likewise how to maximise potential market share. Everybody is building the same,” she said.

Meanwhile, Ho Chin Soon Research’s Ho noted that there is also a need to improve the accessibility of information to the public.

“If we want to go forward, to improve the industry as a whole, why not improve the information that the public can access? For instance, Napic’s Unsold Property Enquiry System is fantastic but actually we can go further and make it more granular – why not name the projects [that have unsold units]?

“Of course, that will be very sensitive but look at our neighbour Singapore – they have done it. It is very sensitive but if we are talking about making information available and empowering consumers, we [should] go in that direction,” he said.

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