FOR a newly married couple or a young family, nothing spells security like purchasing your very own home to live in. But with property prices rising and a recession deepening in Malaysia, prospects for first-home buyers with a budget can appear to be bleak.
The common dilemma for home-buyers is to choose between buying a decent-sized house in the outskirts of the city thus compromising daily travel time, or to invest more money into central-locations and settle for smaller, more cramped units.
These decisions are largely based around your income and the monthly budget that you allocate to paying off your home.
What many aspiring home buyers may not be aware of is the option of affordable housing projects like PR1MA homes, which is aimed towards middle income earners.
In 2012, the government setup Perbadanan PR1MA Malaysia under the PR1MA act to plan, develop and maintain better affordable housing for the middle-class. These are not to be confused with low cost housing or public housing, which are both targeted to income groups nearer the poverty line.
With a price capped at RM400,000, homes by PR1MA are offered at a price that is 20 percent lower than the current market value, with area ranging between 1,250 to 1,600 sq ft for landed properties, and 850 to 1,200 sq ft for high-rise units.
Currently, to buy a high-rise unit in the city centre costs an average of RM1,000 per square foot, meaning that RM400,000 should be able to get you a 400 sq ft soho unit, suitable living space for one individual.
For a young married couple, adapting to this small area will prove to be a challenge, especially if you’re thinking of starting a family. Landed properties may be your preferred option, but for that, you’ll need to up your budget roughly double, if not more, for a location within town.
Of course, if you are okay with living further from town, then you will be able to find more decent square footage in the outskirts. For example, with a bit over RM500,000 budget you can purchase a double story terrace-linked home in Putra Heights, or a decent sized home in Putrajaya.
But for that, you must be willing to invest time and money into your daily commute. Many first-time homebuyers forget to factor in the highway tolls that will be incurred when traveling to and from their new homes.
Prepare for a lengthy daily commute should you purchase a home away from the city.
As if that isn’t bad enough, if you work in the city, traffic jams could double your usual traveling time daily.
With PR1MA on the other hand, not only are you able to get access to housing significantly below market value, these properties include developments that are located within town, giving homebuyers the luxury of living affordably in a central location.
Being in a central location also means higher accessibility to public transport, which can help reduce travel time among working folks.
Projects that are currently open for application with PR1MA include high rise developments in Kajang, Bukit Jalil and Brickfields, with future developments in line for Ampang and Wangsa Maju.
A PR1MA landed property in Kamunting, Perak.
PR1MA homes are sold at 20% below market rate, which means more-than-decent square footage with an affordable price tag.
Perks of affordable housing
Not only does this initiative take a step in resolving the location versus space dilemma within the buyer’s budget, PR1MA housing also aims to improve quality of life by emphasising on community building.
How does PR1MA do this?
One of the criteria to be eligible for their affordable housing is that all PR1MA homes must be owner-occupied with a 10-year moratorium period, which means that homeowners are not allowed to sell, rent out, or transfer ownership of their homes for the first 10 years.
If you’ve lived among renters before, you would know that irresponsible tenants can cause havoc in your residence (think vandals, late-night partying, etc.) sometimes devaluing your property. Therefore, this restriction is good news as it fosters an ownership mentality among residents to share the responsibility of caring for the amenities.
Also, all of PR1MA’s developments come equipped with a nursery, kindergarten, multipurpose hall, and surau, on top of the usual gym, swimming pool, etc. The childcare facilities are great for working parents who find themselves tight with time.
PR1MA developments are aimed at creating a community-friendly environment.
PR1MA will also take on the responsibility of building management for the first 10 years, to manage the upkeep of their residences.
To keep up with the promise of quality, stringent quality control is upheld during development, which is evaluated using the Construction Industry Development Board’s (CIDB) QLASSIC system. Audits are carried out quarterly during development with a minimum 60% passing mark on this evaluation, with a final audit carried out before the handover of keys.
How to qualify
To ensure that these quality affordable homes are reaching the right audiences, there are a few eligibility criteria that have to be fulfilled by applicants:
Applicants must be of Malaysian citizens
Aged 21 and above, single or married
Applicants must possess an individual or combined household of between RM2,500 to RM10,000
Applicants must hold no more than one property between the married couple
Once you apply to purchase one of its units, PR1MA will follow a transparent balloting process to finalise the list of applicants. The usual loan application will follow with banks of your choice. However, in the event you find difficulty securing a loan, PR1MA also has its own initiatives to help applicants finance their home.
With such a modus operandi to the affordable housing scheme, middle-income earners have no excuse to put off purchasing a home anymore. However, the challenge here will be for PR1MA to provide sufficient developments in the future to meet the demands of struggling middle-class homebuyers.
This article is brought to you by Perbadanan PR1MA Malaysia. Projects currently open for application include high rise developments in Kajang, Bukit Jalil and Brickfields. For more info or to apply, head to www.pr1ma.my