Help for first-time house buy­ers?

> Higher EPF with­drawal, stamp duty waiver among good­ies hoped for in bud­get

The Sun (Malaysia) - - NEWS WITHOUT BORDERS - BY EVA YEONG AND KAREN ARUKESAMY

PETAL­ING JAYA: Higher with­drawal from re­tire­ment fund and stamp duty ex­emp­tions are among mea­sures for first-time home buy­ers likely to be an­nounced in Bud­get 2017.

CH Williams Tal­har & Wong man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Foo Gee Jen said a 100% stamp duty ex­emp­tion would help first-time home buy­ers as it could re­sult in a RM2,000 to RM3,000 sav­ing.

“That is some­thing that would help. The other op­tion avail­able is to give grants to first- time home buy­ers. It will be def­i­nitely a good thing. At the end of the day, we do not want to give the im­pres­sion that you must rush into buy­ing houses, even for first-time home buy­ers. You must be able to af­ford be­fore you jump into this big ticket item,” he said.

VPC Al­liance (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd man­ag­ing di­rec­tor James Wong said the stamp duty par­tial ex­emp­tion, which is cur­rently 50%, could be en­hanced to 100% for first-time home buy­ers and ex­panded to houses below RM750,000 from the cur­rent RM500,000 limit to al­low more first-time home buy­ers to qual­ify.

How­ever, Malaysian In­sti­tute of Es­tate Agents (MIEA) im­me­di­ate past pres­i­dent Siva Shanker warned that the sys­tem could be abused, if it is un­able to de­ter­mine whether the buy­ers are gen­uinely first- time home buy­ers.

“I think you must also dif­fer­en­ti­ate a first­time buyer from a first-time home buyer. There are some peo­ple who never bought res­i­den­tial but have in­vested in com­mer­cial prop­er­ties and made their money. When they de­cide to buy a house, they also en­joy all sorts of ex­emp­tions which is not fair,” he said.

Na­tional House Buy­ers Association of Malaysia (HBA) sec­re­tary-gen­eral Chang Kim Loong con­curred, adding that en­force­ment against false dec­la­ra­tions are as im­por­tant as the statu­tory dec­la­ra­tion it­self.

“I would sup­port it (100% stamp duty ex­emp­tion) as it helps the new gen­er­a­tion of home buy­ers but the se­lec­tion cri­te­ria is very im­por­tant. Mak­ing them swear a statu­tory dec­la­ra­tion is im­por­tant. How­ever, pros­e­cut­ing on false dec­la­ra­tion is equally im­por­tant as there are a lot of cases where there’s been a lot of de­vi­a­tion,” he said.

Chang said in the past, there have been buy­ers who claimed that they are first-time home buy­ers when pur­chas­ing low-cost homes but it was dis­cov­ered later that these buy­ers own sev­eral low-cost units.

“That’s where the leak­ages are. The prob­lem in Malaysia is that we don’t have a con­sol­i­dated sys­tem on own­er­ship. We don’t have data on whether they are first­time buy­ers or not,” he said.

Mean­while, the an­nounce­ment by Se­cond Fi­nance Min­is­ter Datuk Jo­hari Ab­dul Ghani on al­low­ing higher with­drawal from the Em­ploy­ees Prov­i­dent Fund (EPF) Ac­count 2 for first-time home buy­ers has been well­re­ceived.

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