PETALING JAYA: There is little respite for real estate developers as the construction industry continues to be assailed by the labour shortage, says the Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association Malaysia (Rehda).
Its president Datuk NK Tong said the problem is unlikely to abate as the country enters the last quarter of the year.
“The labour crunch is still a critical issue. While this is actually a problem for our contractors, it has a direct impact on the development industry and the timely delivery of affordable, quality homes,” Tong told The Star.
He said even if developers were willing to pay more for jobs to be completed, many contractors were still not willing to take up jobs out of fear of not being able to get enough workers for timely completion and to avoid penalties for late delivery.
Besides delays in the delivery of properties, developers will also be affected by the increased holding cost, which will be eventually passed on to buyers of new or proposed projects.
“In these global inflationary times, any delay will translate into real inflation, so this labour crunch also goes against the government’s efforts to control inflation and make housing more affordable,” he added.
Tong said the labour crunch is a huge obstacle in the government’s effort to revive the economy, as construction accounts for a significant share of the country’s gross domestic product.
“While efforts are being taken by the government to rectify the situation, we continue to hope that tangible results will finally appear, where work on construction sites can continue without the current delays, which sometimes bring things to a standstill,” he added.
Last month, several building industry associations said there was still a shortage of 550,000 to 600,000 construction workers, resulting in delays in the delivery of government and private projects.
Commenting on the outlook for the property market, Tong said Rehda members are optimistic about the second half of the year.
“With the opening up of the economy, the outlook for the property market continues to improve. This makes sense because people are starting to put the pandemic behind them. With greater certainty, they become more confident in investing for the longer term into properties.
“Properties are a bigger commitment, so the optimism to spend may lag a bit. The optimism that we see now will probably express itself in property sales towards the fourth quarter of 2022 and beyond,” he said, adding that while the interest rate hike will dampen sentiments a bit, this may be offset by the reopening of the economy.