Oct 09, 2013

    Johor to levy higher fee on foreign home buyers

    MALAYSIA'S southern state of Johor, which neighbours Singapore, will impose a higher processing fee on foreigners who buy houses, as it looks to boost revenue and rein in speculative buying, state news agency Bernama reported.

    Bernama quoted the state executive councillor for housing and local government, Mr Abdul Latiff Bandi, as saying the state government will charge a fee of 4-5 per cent of the property value. Proceeds will go towards welfare projects in Johor, said Reuters.

    This compares with the current flat fee of RM10,000 (S$3,900) per property.

    Singaporeans have been buying houses in Johor, especially in Iskandar Malaysia, which is a 2,200 sq km zone three times the size of Singapore and just across a narrow strip of water.

    The strong interest stems from lower property prices and utility bills, compared with Singapore.

    The move comes ahead of potential new measures by the Malaysian government, such as raising the property- gains tax, in the upcoming budget on Oct 25, to rein in rising home prices.

    A Straits Times report last month said that Singaporean buyers made up 74 per cent of non-Malaysians who have bought properties in Iskandar developed by property firm UEM Sunrise.

    The high number of investors flocking to Iskandar has pushed prices up considerably, said UEM Sunrise chief executive Wan Abdullah Wan Ibrahim.

    Prices of bungalows at UEM's East Ledang development have surged 44 per cent on average in the resale market since 2011.