Malaysia’s property market is expected to grow at a slower pace in the first half of the year before picking up again, the Malaysian Institute of Estate Agents (MIEA) predicted. The government introduced measures including a hike in property gains tax and caps on the length of mortgages in order to curb speculation in the property market. “I think the second two quarters will see the market finding its level, people getting used to the negative publicity.

The kneejerk reaction will be over,” MIEA president Siva Shanker told reporters as MIEA released its outlook on the property market. By 2015, prices could even rise by 10 to 15 per cent, he said but added that the number of property transactions may be dented when the new Goods and Services Tax (GST) starts in April. “The only problem there being the hiccup which may be caused by the imposition of GST on April 1 (2015),” he said, saying that it was hard to say if the public would react badly to it. Alex Ting, a committee member of Sarawak MIEA who was also present at the news conference, believes property prices will rise when the GST rolls out in April next year. Despite residential properties being exempt from the new consumption tax, Ting said the prices of building materials would rise and force developers to pass on the cost to buyers, noting that cement and bricks’ prices had recently gone up in Sarawak.