The government’s Budget 2015 announcement today is expected to help more low- and middle-income Malaysians own a roof above their heads amid rising property prices, industry players and observers said.

“The government is going all out to address the issue of house ownership by mobilising its housing agencies such as PR1MA Corp, the National Housing Department and Syarikat Perumahan Negara Bhd.

“It is to ensure that the low- to middle-income people are able to own a house amid their struggle with escalating living costs,” said Bina Darulaman Bhd Managing Director Datuk Izham Yusoff.

The Kedah-based developer will work together with the relevant agencies to assist first-time home buyers, he said.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced in the Budget that the government is extending the 50 per cent stamp duty exemption on instruments of transfer and loan agreements, as well as increasing the purchase limit from RM400,000 to RM500,000, through Dec 31, 2016.

“Raising the purchase limit to RM500,000 is more realistic because property prices had been increasing for the last few years,” said RHB Research Institute property analyst Loong Kok Wen.

More people will be able to enjoy savings from the 50 per cent stamp duty exemption, even if it is only a few thousand ringgit, she said.

Loong expected smaller property developers such as Hua Yang Bhd and Tambun Indah Land Bhd to gain from higher sales of mid-priced properties.

Mah Sing Group lauded the Budget, saying 70 per cent of its buyers are aged 40 years old and below, and 45 per cent of its residential launches this year are below RM500,000.

“The government is taking action to increase home ownership with the Youth Housing Scheme which is a smart partnership involving Bank Simpanan Rakyat, Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and Cagamas Bhd,” said Managing Director Tan Sri Datuk Seri Leong Hoy Kum.

The scheme offers a funding limit for a first home not exceeding RM500,000 for married youths aged between 25 and 40 years with a household income not exceeding RM10,000.

“First-time home owners are getting plenty of goodies in this Budget as the government is providing RM200 monthly financial assistance to help with monthly installments, 50 per cent stamp duty exemption, as well as a 10 per cent loan guarantee so that they could obtain 100 per cent financing.

“They can even withdraw from their EPF account 2 to top up their monthly installments, and we shall certainly communicate this to our potential buyers as so many of them fall in this category,” said Leong.

EPF Head of Economics and Capital Markets Nurhisham Hussein added: “The Budget 2015 shows a fine balance between delivering fiscal prudence with a sensitivity and responsiveness to the needs and aspirations of Malaysians.”

In view of the rapid increase in property prices, he said, middle- and low-income earners have had difficulty in obtaining affordable housing and home financing, adding the EPF thus welcomes the introduction of the Youth Housing Scheme for first-time home buyers.

“Since relying on EPF savings solely would not be enough to support the majority of members’ basic retirement needs, the EPF feels that the scheme would enable youths to diversify their investments and prepare for their retirement,” Nurhisham said.

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