Making Housing Affordability

Guest Speaker:
Dr Suraya Ismail (Director of Research, Khazanah Research Institute, Malaysia)
Subject Area:
Built Environment
Date & Time:
Wed, 22. February 2017, 11:00 h - 12:00 h
N3.24, University of Reading Malaysia - EduCity@Iskandar​

The provision of affordable homes remains a major problem facing policymakers around the world, with Malaysia being no exception. Malaysian policy initiatives which focus on ensuring affordable housing have typically involved the transfer of physical or financial resources to low-income households who cannot house themselves adequately. The scarcity of such resources then forces government housing agencies to focus on a small and limited housing agenda and stymies efforts to understand or manage the housing sector as a whole. As Malaysia becomes more urbanized, the demand for affordable housing will only increase. Trends in Malaysia indicate that both the bottom 40% and middle 40% of income earners are likely to require some form of social housing if the relevant interventions are not made urgently.

Interventions in the housing market have largely been on the demand side, by making housing financing cheaper or providing subsidies for home-buyers. ‘Sophisticated/innovative’ financing packages and cash transfers are provided to home-buyers to buy houses they could not afford. The supply side interventions have been by direct provision of low-cost houses or subsidising housing costs. These measures are unsustainable as they can drive price increases, result in more household debt, and also incur opportunity costs on government finances that potentially could be used more productively.

The provision of adequate housing is critical for the growth and well-being of society. This presentation considers the problem of supplying affordable houses to the general public from the perspectives of both an institutional arrangement (national business system) and the firms (industry value chain analysis and the economics of governance). It provides an analysis of the supply of new houses to the market from firms that are within the production line that come together during the period of construction against the backdrop of contracts of association. 5 case studies in Malaysia and 1 case study from the Philippines are discussed.

This approach was taken based on the premise that improvements are needed at the level of construction projects and firms to increase the affordability of houses at the national level. Current policies have focused on controlling house prices once the consumer receives it at the end of the production process. This report proceeds differently because the evidence seems to suggest that it is far more efficient to enhance capacity in the supply side to develop a sustainable and responsive housing sector that caters for all sections of the population.


Dr. Suraya Ismail is one of the many distinguished alumna of University of Reading in the UK and currently is Director of Research at Khazanah Research Institute. Before joining the Institute, she was Program Director at Think City (a city-making initiative of Khazanah Nasional Berhad), where her role involved developing urban regeneration initiatives through a public grants program.

Prior to that, Dr Suraya was the Deputy Dean of the Faculty of the Built Environment at University Malaya as well as the Head of the Department of Quantity Surveying. She has served on a number of national committees, which included among others, the National Graduate Placement Programme, the Malaysian Quality Framework (MQF) Professional Education Committee, the National Accreditation Panel, and the Institute of Value Managers Malaysia, which she helped establish. Internationally, she provided consultancies in areas such as urban development and socio-economic studies for both public and private sectors. Her clients include academic institutions, venture capitalists, as well as the governments of the Netherlands, Australia, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Malaysia.

Dr Suraya holds a PhD in Institutional Economics and Governance from University Malaya and a MSc Architecture in Construction Economics and Management from University College London. Dr Suraya graduated from the University of Reading, United Kingdom with a BSc. in Quantity Surveying.

  • Admission is free.​
  • Tea break will be served at 2:00 pm.
  • UoRM staff RSVP by responding to the internal event invitation.
  • All are welcome, RSVP by 17 February 2017.

Student Enquiries

Toll free:
+1800 18 6867

+60 (7) 268 6205

+60 (16) 7725 400
(click the WhatsApp number to contact us immediately)


General Enquiries

University of Reading Malaysia
Persiaran Graduan Kota Ilmu, Educity 79200 Iskandar Puteri Johor, Malaysia.

Toll free:
+1800 18 6867

+ 60 (7) 268-6200

+60 (7) 268-6202


Social Media