Build PR1MA homes where needed, urge property experts

KUALA LUMPUR: Perbadanan PR1MA Malaysia, a government body tasked to build affordable homes, should develop them in or near city centres where the demand is, say property consultants.

“At the end of the day, location matters. People want to stay near their workplaces,” JS Valuers Research & Consultancy Sdn Bhd executive director Chan Wai Seen told The Edge Financial Daily by telephone.

“Even though many seek to buy 1Malaysia Housing Programme (PR1MA) homes, they end up not buying them because the homes are not near where they work,” he said.

To date, PRIMA homes are in Nusantara Prima, Johor Baru and Alam Damai, Cheras.

Chan also said that the body needs to address the availability of loans to middle-class earners to buy PR1MA homes, among other issues.

As at August last year, out of the 20,519 units that were approved by Perbadanan PR1MA’s board of directors, 31.7% are in city centres, including 4,636 units in Kuala Lumpur and 1,877 units in Kuching, Sarawak.

However, Perbadanan PR1MA chief executive officer Datuk Mutalib Alias was reported as saying that the company is planning to launch more PR1MA housing projects in the Klang Valley as part of its 160,000-unit target by the end of this year.

These units form part of the 500,000 to be rolled out by the company by 2018.

To date, the company has approval from its board to build 45,000 homes across the country. To meet its 2013 target of building 80,000 homes by March this year, Mutalib said last Tuesday that the company hoped to get approval to build another 35,000 homes by the first quarter of this year.

A property consultant who declined to be named said the government should look into acquiring old abandoned buildings in city centres with low plot ratio for developing PR1MA homes.

He cited the proposed joint venture project between S P Setia Bhd and Tradewinds Corp Bhd on a 50:50 basis to build PR1MA homes in Cheras, which he deems “exciting”.

Under the project, S P Setia and Tradewinds will redevelop the low-cost public housing scheme in Cheras involving Flat Sri Johor, Flat Sri Melaka, Flat Sri Pulau Pinang and the Taman Ikan Emas longhouses.

“[Developers] can still make profits out of that [project] and benefit the middle-income earners instead of selling the tract of land to private developers,” he added.

Mutalib said his company plans to launch 1,349 new landed PR1MA homes in Sungai Petani, Kedah within one to two months at an indicative price of between RM150 per sq ft and RM250 per sq ft — 20% lower than the market price.

However, he noted that the company still needs to perform all the required due diligence before it can proceed with the development.

Last Friday, the company signed a memorandum of understanding with the Kedah State Development Corp to identify strategic land in the state, and develop with SP Baiduri Sdn Bhd the construction of the PR1MA homes in Sungai Petani.

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on January 27, 2014.


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