Could financialisation explain why developers are building more expensive houses? Evidence for Malaysia

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Abstract

Purpose
The purpose of this paper is to examine the effects of financialisation on the changing structure of housing supply in Malaysia. The share of newly launched sub-MYR250,000 houses has been decreasing continuously in the past decade. This implies that housing developers are launching more expensive houses. The greater focus on higher cost housing could be attributed to inflation. But while input cost is rising, the housing sector has also become increasingly financialised. This claim can be supported by the rising share of mortgage and real estate loans in gross domestic product. Financialisation is a process in which the financial sector becomes more dominant relative to the real sector. The extent to which this process is responsible for the changing structure of housing supply in Malaysia is investigated.

Design/methodology/approach
A survey of the literature suggested that the decreasing the proportion of newly launched sub-MYR250,000 housing could be result of rising input cost, greater degree of financialisation and changing market concentration. Thus, long-run cointegrating equations were formulated and estimated. These equations linked housing share with financialisation, market structure and input cost. The quantitative and qualitative impact of financialisation on the structure of housing supply is of interest.

Findings
The analyses of secondary data suggested that financialisation and input cost did indeed contribute to the decrease in proportion of newly launched sub-MYR250,000 housing. However, the impact of market concentration on housing share was ambiguous. This conclusion survived several robustness checks.

Practical implications
The financialisation of the housing sector implies that developers are increasingly building for profits instead of accommodating the social objective of providing shelter. This result is unsettling because access to adequate housing is a human right. The transformation of housing from the concept of a shelter to a tradable, money-making asset could be a major contributor to the declining housing affordability in the country. Thus, efforts to improve affordability must take account of the effects of financialisation.

Originality/value
An empirical framework for assessing the changes in the structure of housing supply was developed. Existing studies tended to focus only on the volume of housing supply. It is a comprehensive study on changes in the structure of housing supply. Second, while existing studies on the financialisation of housing are mostly qualitative in methodology, this paper offers a quantitative assessment of the financialisation in the housing sector.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Housing Markets and Analysis
Early online date1 Mar 2024
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Mar 2024

Keywords

  • Financialisation
  • affordability
  • housing supply

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)

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