(File pix) The year 2017 had not been kind to the property market. Pix by Iqmal Haqim Rosman

WE are now in the first week of 2018. The year 2017 had not been kind to the property market. It had unnecessary bad publicity that could not be supported by facts and figures - publicity that was based on speculation and wild betting.

We need to understand that the property market, like everything else, must be supported by facts and figures. Data is king. But in the absence of comprehensive, up-to-date data, speculation is sure to rule the roost.

What we need for a stable, mature property market is the availability of up-to-date data. It must be available to anyone who needs it. It must be easily obtained and researched, even by the ordinary man on the street and the first time investor. When comprehensive data is easily available, speculation will be reduced.

The other thing the market badly needs is for unabated speculation to reduce. I understand that we will never have the ideal situation of completely eliminating speculation, but we must at least try and reduce this to a minimum.

Much of the trouble we find ourselves in now had been caused by the massive speculation between 2009 and 2015. The fallout would be felt in the property market for many years to come. Let’s hope the punters who got burnt by their own folly will henceforth learn to be guided by firm principles rather than gut feel and hearsay.

For those who purchased properties during the upmarket years, with the intention of flipping them upon completion, it might not be an easy task in the current market situation.

Those who had placed their property in the market for some time now, might not, unfortunately, have met with any success. In fact, many might have found that in all these months there had not been anyone interested in the property.

Forget about trying to close a deal, they might not even have found anyone interested in viewing them.

This may add financial pressure on those with mortgages to pay. If one hadn’t taken into account the monthly mortgage payments, he or she is probably living by the skin of the teeth now. The Malay proverb “kais pagi makan pagi, kais petang makan petang” comes to mind.

However, all is not lost. Learn the market, understand its movements, recognise that it’s a cycle, and you may yet survive this storm in a tea cup.

Check if you have placed your property at the right price. And by the right price, I don’t mean the price someone projected for you at the point of sale. You may have been guided by a so-called “property guru” who provided you with fancy projections that gave huge gains.

Let me tell you something, forget fancy advice. It’s time to be more grounded. Find out the real value of your property in its current state, and place it in the market at a reasonable price. You may not be able to make the kind of gains you were promised, but a small gain is better than nothing. In fact, if you are financially hard-pressed to just pay bills, no gain may be better than making a loss later when you get more desperate.

Consider holding on to your property until the market improves. If you are able to manage this financially, then this would be your best bet yet.

Believe me, the market will eventually recover. The down cycle will not last forever.

Place the property in the market for rent. Again, be reasonable with your asking rent. Remember, you will be competing for a small pool of tenants with many others who are in exactly the same position as you are. The more reasonable your asking rent is, the better your chances of landing a tenant.

Good luck, happy hunting, and may the force be with you.

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