Imagine your average 25-something Malaysian suburban millennial.
They’d likely have a degree, be in their first or second job, and if they’re like many in their generation, they’re still searching for their purpose and meaning.
Another key feature they’d have is that they’re likely still living with the parents, because they don’t own their own homes.
In fact, according to a report by the Khazanah Research Institute in 2016, home ownership rates in Malaysia are low, at around 43%—not including informal housing stocks like rumah kampung.
That’s a statistic that founder of Hartabumi.com, Radzi Tajuddin has had on his mind for a long time.
Since 2015, his company has had more than 1,000 first time home buyers in Malaysia, and about 100,000 active users per month.
“In terms of property transacted the value is about RM244 million,” he shared at a recent press conference.
But after 3 years in operation, he knew that he wanted to do something more, and so he and his team embarked on an ambitious project.
“One thing I realised when it comes to home ownership, it’s not about price alone. It’s beyond that. And I think the whole concept of home ownership needs to be relooked at, and needs to be rethought,” he said.
On the 25th of July, Radzi plans to launch a new product and solution to how we think of home ownership, Hi HOME.
“We are talking about addressing the biggest challenge when it comes to personal needs and basic needs of humans, which is housing,” said Radzi.
He envisions the property conference as a platform for all stakeholders in the property industry to air their views and share critical analysis on home ownership issues.
Panelists will include top figures in the government, private sector, research institutes as well as youth personalities. Confirmed names include Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, the CEO of AirAsia; YM Tengku Zafrul Aziz, the CEO of CIMB Group, Dr Suraya Ismail, the Research Director at Khazanah Research Institute and Dr Daniele Gambero, the Founder of Propenomy Academy.
“Concepts like coliving and new financing models will be discussed, it’s not a property conference of ‘where to buy your property’ or ‘where are the hotspots for investments’. Those topics are already covered a lot by other property conferences, ours wants to look at new ideas and new solutions,” said Radzi.
The online property expo on the other hand will run for 3 months from July 25 to October 31, 2019.
They’re planning on listing 100 property projects nationwide, and 50% will be affordable housing projects priced below RM300,000. The estimated value of properties offered on the expo is RM3.4 billion, and the team is targeting over half a billion worth of property transacted online.
“The [property expo] is another high tech technique to getting home buyers to go through the online system which makes it easier and simpler for application,” said YB Puan Hajjah Zuraida Kamaruddin, Minister of Housing and Local Government, at the press conference announcing Hi HOME’s launch.
“There will be a matching [tool] where you can gauge your financial capability and match where is the house you should be going for. If you think the house isn’t good, you can target what sort of money or investment you’re looking for, for your dream home,” she added.
Besides the financial profile calculator, the website will have location-based transactional data and a smart chat box.
“In the past 3 years, we have encountered a lot of challenges, a lot of problems, which I think everyone is aware of,” said Radzi.
“First we’re talking about housing prices. Many complain that the houses are great for ‘window shoppers’, but most cannot afford to make a purchase. Then we have a problem when it comes to loan financing; banks are strict but banks have their own SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures), and then of course we are witnessing the new trend, some segments of youth would rather rent than buy their house.”
He described it as a paradigm shift that needs to be relooked at and he knows that it can’t be done alone.
“The solution must come from the private sector, from everyone, from every stakeholder, researcher, people, and of course the government.”
A few of the main factors that he believes needs focus include: access to financing, progressive policies from the government and state government, new technologies, and new ideas to make the whole process a more seamless experience.
He sees the property conference as a first step to bring these topics to the light. That’s why although it’s organised by a Bumiputera-focused property portal, the conference is open to all.
Radzi’s final ambitions haven’t changed since day 1, when he started Hartabumi.com to help list all the unsold Bumiputera properties on the market.
“I want more and more developers—regardless whether from state, government, and also private developers—to build the right product for the right market at the right price. That’s always my mission. In order to achieve that, the thinking must be right.”
“Hi HOME is my biggest gambit and the key for me to reach out to every first-time homebuyer. It is intended to capture a wider market segment. If this works, we will expand regionally as housing is a basic need for everyone.”