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HBA can play a positive role

Experts: Set up advertising watchdog

NST 26/02/2000 By Sheila Singam

THE House Buyers Association (HBA) can play a positive role in improving the industry.

However, it must have a clear understanding of property development and should address the root causes of the woes plaguing the industry, instead of merely highlighting the symptoms, said property industry professionals interviewed by the New Straits Times.

Property consultant C.Y.Wong said: "The HBA has an important role to play and this should be set out in its charter from the beginning.

"It should not just be an association which complains about problems facing the industry, but should take a pro-active stance towards addressing the root causes of these problems."

He added that the association could bring a balance to the development objectives of the industry.

"To do this, its members have to understand the mechanics of property development and see how their ideals fit into the real market scenario. "For example, the HBA probably supports the idea of build, then sell. However, in the current financial scenario, this is difficult to achieve as not many developers can self-finance their projects to completion.

"What the HBA can do is fight for a system where all money paid by purchasers for their properties are held by a stakeholder. This money can then be used by the developer as a collateral to obtain a bridging loan."

Wong said instead of pushing for the defect liability period to be extended by law, the HBA can look into another avenue to protect buyers’ interests by mooting for the introduction of "defect liability policies" by insurance companies.

"The HBA can propose that insurance companies set up renewable policies at a set premium to cover house defects after the expiration of the defect liability period," Wong suggested.

He said the HBA could also set up and "advertising watchdog" system to scrutinise all advertisements by developers to ascertain if what was delivered resembled what was promised.

"For example, an advertisement may give the impression of the project being in the upmarket Duta area by virtue of its name, but is actually n Segambut.

"The HBA can monitor this and create awareness among the house buying public," Wong said.

Secretary-general of the International Real Estate Federation’s Malaysian chapter Richard Fong said any organisation formed to look after house buyers’ interests could only have a positive impact on the housing industry.

Fong said if the HBA had a strong enough lobby, it could even blacklist shoddy developments and this would spur developments and this would spur developers towards providing better products.

Housing Developers Association Malaysia (HDAM) chairman Datuk Eddy Chen Lok Loi said the association welcomed any group that could offer constructive criticism and work to improve the industry.

"We admit that the housing industry is not perfect, and there is much room for improvement. Any criticism of the industry should be fair and objective and backed with facts and figures if it is to help the industry to mature." he said.

Meanwhile, the HBA’s role has been acknowledged by Ministry of Housing and Local Government Datuk Ong Ka Ting, who has been dialogues with the association.

HBA pro-tem president Datuk Zainuddin Bachik said: "We see the association playing a three-pronged role to assist housebuyers.

"We are looking at how to plug the loopholes in the existing laws pertaining to house purchase.

"In addition, we are also pushing for more stringent enforcement of the regulations governing property developers. The HBA is serious about educating buyers on their rights and we aim to become a centre of information for them."

Zainuddin said the association also provides legal advice to its members and has to date, registered several hundred complaints from disgruntled buyers.

Most of the complaints are about late delivery, shoddy workmanship, non-adherence to the Sale and Purchase Agreement, false promises and abandoned projects.

The association, which expects to be officially registered by next month, plans to set up a website in the near future. It will also be organising a national seminar in the second quarter of the year.


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