By Farah Wahida:

Owning a house has become an elusive dream for middle-income wage earners as property prices in major cities such as Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu and Johor Bahru rose well above their grasp, according to Property Market Report 2012.

“What we have now is a middle-income trap for the average wage earner where they can’t qualify for low-cost housing and yet they can’t afford a comfortable home within city limits,” said Michael Geh, a real estate agent and member of the International Real Estate Federation (Fiabci) committee.

In concurring, property auctioneer M. Shanmughananthan noted that it is now very hard for mid-income earners to acquire properties, particularly in newly launched projects within the city.

“There is now a growing phenomenon of investors clubs and they are snapping up these new projects even before they are launched so genuine home buyers will not have a chance to get these properties at the launch price,” he said.

The country’s bullish property sector has made it worth investing in, boosting the growth of investors club, which advice members on property investments and project launches.

Although prices continue to increase in urban areas, they remain at an affordable level in the outskirts.

For instance, a single storey terrace house in mainland Penang could cost above RM500,000, but would only cost RM90,000 in Seberang Perai.

To address this problem, Shanmughananthan advises house buyers “to move away from high demand urban areas and look towards the more rural areas such as Juru or other parts of the mainland where property prices are not as high yet.”

Farah Wahida, Editor of PropertyGuru, wrote this story. To contact her about this or other stories email

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