Penang homeowners may find it hard to sell their houses under new rules

Owners of affordable and low-cost homes in Penang will find it tougher to sell their properties as the state government plans to enforce strict rules to curb property speculation.

From Feb 1 next year, owners of affordable homes (bought for below RM400,000 on the island and RM250,000 on the mainland) would be barred from reselling their properties in the first five years of ownership.

Meanwhile, owners of public housing (low and low-medium cost units) bought for RM72,500 or less cannot sell their units for 10 years.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said affordable and public housing owners who wished to sell their units during the moratorium would have to appeal to the state government, and if given the green light, could only sell to qualified “listed buyers” who were registered with the state housing department.

Lim said in a statement that the new rulings would cover past and future purchases.

The new regulations also stipulate that foreigners can only buy property valued at RM1mil or more, and the threshold is increased to RM2mil if it is a landed property on the island.

A three per cent levy would be imposed on properties bought by foreigners, but an exemption would be made if the property is for industrial use, or “promotes employment, education and human talent”, said Lim.

“A two per cent levy will be imposed on the seller, for all properties sold within three years from the date of the Sales & Purchase Agree­ment signed from Feb 1, 2014. Property bought with the SPA signed before Feb 1, 2014, will not be subject to this levy.

“This two per cent levy is not app­licable to affordable housing,” he said.

He said the new housing rules were announced during the tabling of the 2014 state budget at the state assembly sitting but was refined for clarity and certainty during the last Penang state exco meeting.

Meanwhile, Penang Real Estate Housing Developers Association (Rehda) chairman Datuk Jerry Chan said the new rules would limit the pool of property buyers as owners could only sell their units to “qualified buyers” registered with the state housing department.

He said the state government should clarify if this new restriction applied to private property as the change was too drastic.

“It is also not right to impose the new rule on past purchases as these restrictions were not there when purchasers bought the property at that time.

“The new rule will have an impact on the selling price of the property because of the reduced number of purchasers. Changes will have to be undertaken progressively to see the impact,” he said. - By The Star

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