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Monday, October 22, 2007

How to sell a property development

By The Star

PROPERTY developers must conceptualise their projects into attractive developments so that they can have a special edge, according to Twins Realty senior partners Wilson Saw.

“The property market is a blend of science and art and having the right products and strategic marketing techniques will work wonders to ensure a project's success,” Saw said, adding that modern and contemporary designs were in vogue these days.

With its team of experienced professionals and strategic alliances that include town planners, architect, interior designers, advertising agency, scale model makers and perspective artists, Twins Realty has improved on the designs, concepts and marketability of its clients' projects, he said.

The company is partnering with TSI Sdn Bhd to market City Tower, which is phase 2 of D’ Alamanda in Pudu Impian, Kuala Lumpur.

The RM180mil, 4.69-acre project comprises 710 serviced condominiums with built-up from 682 sq ft to 1,483 sq ft and priced from RM138,000 to RM350,000. All the units in phase one have been sold while phase two has achieved a take up of more than 80% .

In Melaka, Twins Realty has been engage by Asiatic Land Development as the exclusive marketing agent cum consultant for the Asiatic Cheng Perdana project.

The contract involves project pre-planning that covers market feasibility studies, planning product differentiation, market studies and surveys, product pricing and packaging.


The development comprises single- and double-storey terrace houses, semi detached houses and bungalows.

The project is in its last two phases with 70% of the units launched so far sold.

Twins Realty is also the project consultant and marketing agent for Bina Puri Holdings' Jesselton Condominiums.

Located just five minutes drive to the Kota Kinabalu central business district, the RM67mil, 15-storey, 133-unit high-end condominium is located on a hillock overlooking the Likas Bay and the Sabah Golf & Country Club.

With built-up from 1,527 sq ft to 4,950 sq ft, the residences are priced from RM350,000 to RM1.3mil. Some 90% of the units have been sold.

Projects that will be exclusively marketed by Twins these two years include Asiatic Pura Kencana by Asiatic Land Development Sdn Bhd and two condominium projects in Kuala Lumpur.

Phase 1A of Asiatic Pura Kencana comprising 122 double-storey shops has achieved sales of 77% since its launch early this year. Phase 1B offering single- and double-storey terrace and semi-detached houses will be launch at the end of this year.

Anggun set to captivate

By The Star

The Anggun @ Kota Emerald in Rawang that was launched recently will further enhance the image of the neighbourhood.

This is one freehold housing project that will add value not only to the purchasers but also reflect the growing affluence of Rawang.

Currently several projects in the vicinity such as the Emerald Rawang, Greenwood Park in Bandar Country Homes, Saujana Rawang and Bandar Tasik Puteri (where 100 villas would be built for its golf resort end of the year) would all help to transform this part of Rawang into a nice neighbourhood.

Anggun is the first phase of 500 acres owned by Pura Development Sdn Bhd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hong Bee Land Sdn Bhd (HBL), in Rawang. It is a mere 2km from the Rawang toll.

Founded in 1933, Hong Bee Group Malaysia is an established company with a commendable track record in the textile business.

Established in 1994, HBL is an investment holding company with a land bank of about 2,900 acres in Malaysia (1,600 acres in Rawang and 1,300 acres in Pulai, Johor), which was acquired in the early days by the Gan family.

HBL is targeting a gross development value (GDV) of RM100mil for its first phase of 30 acres of residential development, with future plans for a self-contained township comprising a commercial centre, hypermarket and another 40 acres for residential units.


Anggun's entrance statement with its water features.

Anggun, HBL's maiden project, is an exclusive, freehold resort-like development where its houses are planned with a North-South orientation. Prices range from as low as RM368,000 for cluster semi-detached and from RM418,000 for semi-detached houses.

Purchasers were offered an early bird discount of RM15,000 for semi-detached bookings and RM10,000 for cluster semi-detached houses. Other attractive promotions announced during the launch included the Wheel of Fortune for confirmed buyers on Sept 23, with a grand price of RM20,000 worth of travel vouchers.

Hong Bee Property Management Sdn Bhd (project manager) managing director Tan Ming Huat said Anggun Phase 1 would have 78 semi-detached units, 20 cluster semi-detached units and five bungalows with RM46.5mil GDV while Phase 2 would comprise 60 semi-detached units, 56 cluster semi-detached units and six bungalows with RM52.6mil GDV.

“We achieved RM22.5mil sales from our sales launch in just two weeks which translates to 48% of our Phase 1 total sales. We are very pleased with the result and are overwhelmed by this response,” he said.

“We are bringing to Rawang what many reputable developers are giving in Shah Alam, KL and PJ, such as gated and guarded community living, a grand and imposing entrance statement with water features surrounding it, green street concept and lush greeneries.”

“We feel that Rawang is ready for this kind of development. Gated and guarded community living is here to stay as more and more people are looking forward to come home to a secured environment,” he added.

Tan said HBL envisioned bringing a different kind of lifestyle for the Rawang community and developing Anggun into a New Rawang 2 complete with good facilities and amenities.

He said Rawang was becoming more accessible through the linking of the North South Expressway and the Outer Ring Road. It is also the northern gateway of Klang Valley.

Hong Bee Group has two joint ventures with GuocoLand (M) Bhd and SP Setia Bhd. The on-going joint venture with GuocoLand with a RM1.5bil GDV, is on 1,000 acres of mixed development in Emerald Enclave at Kota Emerald.

The partnership with SP Setia is within the Iskandar Development Region in Johor Baru, and promises to produce an RM2bil eco-themed township, known as Setia Eco Gardens.

Meanwhile property prices in Emerald Rawang have risen although those in the nearby 17-year-old Bandar Country Homes are still quite flat despite the township having a new RM5.1mil market, a big mosque and a shopping mall in the pipeline.

Many houses in Bandar Country Homes are being renovated and extended as new owners attracted by the affordable prices snap up the bungalows there.

However, some residents of Bandar Country Homes are optimistic that given the many amenities in their township, property prices would eventually rise.

A recent uproar is by residents of Jalan Desa 3/7 who have protested against being asked to pay 20% of a proposed RM3.2mil slope mitigation work behind their houses arguing that the slope is not part of their bungalow land.

“The Selayang Municipal Council should do more for this township like widening the Jalan Batang Berjuntai and preventing flooding there instead of asking us the victims of the landslide to foot the bill which is exorbitant and unfair,” said an irate resident.

Bolton set to regain its former glory

By The Star

Bolton Bhd is targeting to achieve total gross development value (GDV) of RM5bil (GDV) in the next two years, via land acquisitions and joint ventures.

Currently the property developer has on going projects worth GDV RM674mil.

Executive chairman Datuk Mohamed Azman Yahya said Bolton expects to build up its GDV by another RM2.345bil in the next 24 months.

“We are ready to move into fifth gear as a full-fledged property developer,” he told StarBiz recently.

In 2005, the former head of national asset management company Danaharta Nasional Bhd, accepted the invitation of the Lim family (then Bolton's majority shareholder) to consolidate Bolton's resources and to impact the company positively in the interest of stakeholders.

As a result, Azman emerged as Bolton's executive chairman and the single largest individual shareholder with a 16.3% equity stake.

Under his stewardship, Bolton had embarked on a course to reposition the company back to its former glory as a premier property developer in Malaysia.

Azman said for the past 1½ years Bolton had been adhering to an execution map, which entailed:


Chan Wing Kwong (left) and Datuk Mohamed Azman Yahya

  • Cleaning up the balance sheet and reducing gearing
  • Setting up a more efficient resource and capital management system
  • Disposing non-core assets
  • Increasing the number of proposed projects.
  • Streamlining Bolton's board and making it more professionally run
  • Improving investor relations

The results of Bolton's efforts can be seen in the company's latest audited financial report.

For Bolton's financial year ended March 31, 2007 (FY07) the company posted RM63.62 mil net profit compared with a net loss of RM216.3mil previously.

In the process of consolidating the company it generated RM133mil cash from its operating and investment activities, which included the disposal of some properties that were non-core and low yielding assets worth RM318.5mil


Some of the assets disposed were Hotel Midah (RM26mil), Prince Kaswira (RM2.5mil), D'Mayang (3.5mil), Rampai-Niaga (RM80mil) and M-Plant shares (RM79.7mil).

The company also conducted several share-buy-back exercises since FY04 including one in Sept 30, FY07 for 13.376 million shares at 87 sen and made an unrealised gain of RM4.7mil (based on closing price RM1.23).

Moreover, Bolton pared down its borrowings from a high of RM523mil in September 2006 to RM289mil in March this year.

Azman said the restructuring exercise was at the tail end and the company was ready to be more aggressive in the market again.

There are still some assets to be disposed off such as Symphony House Bhd, Langkawi Fair and Campbell Complex, which was one of Bolton's earlier properties.

“Some people might be sentimental about selling assets like Campbell Complex but I'm not,” he said, adding that it was important to remain focussed and objective in the interest of shareholder value creation.

Azman said Bolton now had a decent land bank of about 900 acres and a good team that could deliver the targets set.

Asked what were Bolton's plans going forward, he said the company would initially look at developing several high-end projects using its existing land sited mainly in the Klang Valley.

“There's still a lot that we can do to enhance our existing and on-going properties projects,” he said, adding that the company also wanted to have more projects.

Bolton chief operating officer Chan Wing Kwong said some of the on-going projects were Tijani in Bukit Tinggi, Taman Tasik Prima in Puchong under a joint venture, and mixed development projects Lavender Heights in Senawang, and Bandar Amanjaya in Sungai Petani.

He said other upcoming property development projects include Mayang near KLCC (GDV RM1bil), The Surin in Penang (GDV RM150mil) and Bolton Court in Kuala Lumpur (GDV RM85mil).

Chan pointed out that Bolton's turnaround phase was almost completed and the company planned to focus purely on property development.

Asked if Bolton would stick solely to property development in Malaysia, he said while the bulk of property development projects were still in the country the company would want to look at those within the region and beyond.

“We feel there are still opportunities here for good property developers but Bolton would not want to depend on one market. But we are constantly on the look out for commercially viable property projects overseas,” he said.

On Dubai Investment Group's (DIG) recent acquisition of 20 million shares for a 6.5% stake in Bolton, Chan said it reflected DIG’s confidence that Bolton would be a strong property developer in time.

DIG, which has extended its scope of business from managing infrastructure and capital projects within Dubai to investing in international stocks and real estate, is the financial and global real estate arm of conglomerate Dubai Holding.

“We are please that DIG can see the value in Bolton,” he said, adding that the strategic alliance could bring about other opportunities.

Bolton would like to have more quality institutional investors like DIG to further strengthen the company as a leading property developer locally and possibly abroad in time.

Projects in the pipeline

  • Kejora Harta Bhd privatisation

  • A 688-acre high-end residential project on 4.3 acre freehold near Jalan Mayang near KLCC in Kuala Lumpur

  • Redevelopment of 100 high rise condominium units (Bolton Court) on one acre freehold land in Jalan Ceylon in Kuala Lumpur

  • Buyout of minority shareholders in BCom Holdings Bhd and Kenneison Brothers Sdn Bhd

  • Acquisition of 3.4 acres of ready development land in Tanjung Bungah, Penang (The Surin) for the development of 396 units of sea-view condos.

Tapping into style

By New Straits Times

pix

Taps as dispensers of design? Why not indeed. Italian company Faucet Ritmonio certainly has no qualms about wearing its heart on its sleeve, judging from its range of innovative products that is bound to strike a chord with design enthusiasts everywhere.

"Taps don't only have to dispense water," said its senior export manager Antonella Bicelli. "They can also discharge emotion... that's what makes our creations so different."

Bicelli was in town recently to unveil the brand, which is carried exclusively in Malaysia by DeBath Sdn Bhd.

pix

"The popularity of Ritmonio taps," she elaborated, "comes from the fact that people not only like the story behind its creation, but also the forms."

In the case of the Paolo e Francesca collection designed by Alberto Rizzi and Rossano Didaglio, she said it expresses "the meeting of two bodies" and that the materials and technology behind it allow the designs to be shaped into "curved profiles with sections that are elliptical and rectangular" and either "united or suspended".

Another range called Serif resonates to a different tune and finds expression through the outline of letters.

"Inspired by the curves of the Times New Roman lettering, this range designed by Peter Jamieson speaks the language of sophistication," said Bicelli.

"It marries classic lines with contemporary styles to such an extent that it can suit either traditional or modern settings and even become a furniture element."

For a thoroughly avantgarde look, she pointed to the Waterblade collection, also designed by Jamieson.

"Its rectangular design in stainless steel exalts the natural movement of the water," Bicelli gushed, adding that this piece won the Good Design 2005 award given by The Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design.

Ritmonio also has designs that play with fantasy, one which is its Bianconiglio Espositore - or white rabbit - collection.

Inspired from the tale of Alice in Wonderland, Bicelli said "just as the rabbit brought Alice into Wonderland, what this range does is introduce users to a whole new way of thinking about the world of taps".

Its uniqueness, she said, is that hot and cold water are channelled into a box and then mixed to the desired temperature via a touchscreen control.

Touch sensors are also deployed in the o.o.t.d. (One of These Days) range of mixers as well as the Di.Ta. (Digital Tap), which comes with volume and temperature controls to help monitor water and energy costs.

Other Ritmonio pieces carried by DeBath include the quirky "Dumbo steel" collection; the Frame bath tap collection; and the Diametrotrentacinque range for bath and shower areas.

DeBath general manager and in-house designer Jimmy Wong said all the Ritmonio taps were created by designers, architects, interior designers and engineers, and that the company's Kota Damansara showroom in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, will carry the complete array, including fittings, faucets, shower mixers as well as new bathroom systems.

"Ritmonio taps are out of the ordinary and can amaze people by their designs," he said.

In the DeBath showroom, many of the fittings can be put to the test, including showers, mixers, taps and water closets.

"We feel the time has come for Malaysians to take their bathroom design to the next level," said Wong.

"We're confident our products will be wellreceived by high-end developers as well as those building their own homes.

"We're unique in the world of taps as we not only supply, but also provide consultancy to customers and designers on what is best suited for their bathrooms."

Environmentally friendly buildings

By THE EDGE

The current buzzword in the industry is sustainable architecture, also referred to as the concept of green buildings. More design firms are practising this type of architecture, championing the cause of greater environmental awareness.

What exactly is sustainable architecture? Speak to different people and you will get different responses. While some generalise sustainable architecture as any design that is driven by environmental goals, others argue that sustainable architecture is merely a focus on construction. Then there are critics who accuse practitioners of being opportunists preying on environmental concerns to gain profits.

David Nelson, partner and head of design of world-renowned architectural firm Foster & Partners, admits there is confusion and uncertainty when it comes to defining sustainable architecture. So, what is his definition? "Many people string a lot of words together and come up with descriptions," he says. "However, no matter how the concept is described, the only way to get to its core is to understand the reasons for sustainable architecture."

Nelson says that former US vice-president Al Gore's movie An Inconvenient Truth, on climate change and global warming, made people aware of the pressing environmental problems.

"Thus, from this aspect, sustainable architecture should be seen as a way to play down the negative impacts that a building can have on its landscape. To do so, it would require all parties involved to ensure that, above all, the building is energy efficient and uses environmental-friendly materials," says Nelson, who has over 30 years of experience with Foster & Partners.

Among the projects in Nelson's portfolio are The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts (UK), Century Tower (Tokyo), the New German Parliament in the Reichstag (Berlin) and Canary Wharf Underground station in London. Eco-friendly buildings designed by Foster & Partners include the Commerzbank headquarters in Germany, the Masdar Initiative's maiden project of the world's first zero carbon, zero waste city in Abu Dhabi, Free University Berlin, Germany, and wind turbines developed by German power company Enercon.

On the local front, Foster & Partners is involved in Bandaraya Development Bhd's The Troika. Together with GDP Architects, Foster & Partners designed Perak's Universiti Teknologi Petronas, which was among the nine winners of the latest Aga Khan Award for Architecture. The award was established in 1977 by Aga Khan, the 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, to enhance the understanding and appreciation of Islamic culture as expressed through architecture.

Nelson was in town recently to participate as a judge in YTL Land & Development Bhd's Bird Island Green Homes Competition. The winners (each firm can submit up to two entries) will get to design and build six villas on Bird Island, a feature of YTL's freehold 35-acre Sentul Park in Sentul. The six homes, each comprising three bedrooms, will sit on plots ranging from 4,144 sq ft to 5,554 sq ft. These will not be for sale.

Each of the firms will receive a US$20,000 (approximately RM67,511) participation fee and the construction budget of each home is capped at US$200,000 (approximately RM675,138).

The competition has attracted entries from eight international architectural, environmental engineering and landscape design firms. These are: UK's atelier ten, Grant Associates and Plasma Studio; Germany's GRAFT, Australia's innovarchi, Hong Kong's KplusK associates, China's MAD and America's Zoka Zula.

Designs are judged on their architectural vision, which covers innovation, new approaches to material and sustainability and also contemporary design in a sustainable community and landscape.

The competition, to promote the importance of green architecture, was launched in July.

It was held in association with Stephen Pimbley of SMC Alsop, one of UK's leading architectural firms and Australian-based Paul Sloman, principal of ARUP, a leading consulting firm providing engineering, design, planning and corporate advisory services.

The winning designs will be announced early December. Construction will start next year with completion slated within a year.

Besides Nelson, the other judges were YTL Land managing director Tan Sri Francis Yeoh, YTL Land executive director Datuk Victor Yeoh, Pimbley, Sloman, Institute of Architects Malaysia past president Tan Eng Keong, Tange Associates president Paul Tange and Seksan Design principal Ng Sek San.

On the competition, Nelson says: "It was a daunting task deciding the best entries and we spent the day looking at things from a number of different standpoints as the judging panel comprises architects and engineers. We had to take into consideration how the designs work as a house in this tropical landscape."

He notes that the US$200,000 construction budget given was a fair amount. "We cannot throw in a huge amount of money for green housing. How can it be sustainable when no one can afford it?"

New face for old landmark

By THE EDGE

It is a tired 34-year-old office building in the heart of Kuala Lumpur's Golden Triangle. But its owners knew its location made it the right piece of property to be tapped to its full potential.

With just a few more floors of the 22-storey building to be refurbished, Menara Hap Seng Sdn Bhd — the owners of Menara Hap Seng — is excited about unveiling the RM60-million makeover of the former MUI Plaza on Jalan P Ramlee by year-end.

Menara Hap Seng Sdn Bhd is a wholly owned subsidiary of Main Board-listed Hap Seng Consolidated Bhd, which had bought the building together with an adjacent piece of land in 2004.

Property development is one of Hap Seng Consolidated's core businesses. The group is among Sabah's largest developers of townships and mixed landed developments. Its current projects in East Malaysia include Taman Kingfisher Sulaman in Kota Kinabalu, Bandar Sri Perdana in Lahad Datu, Astana Heights in Sandakan, Taman Miramas in Semporna and Bandar Sri Indah in Tawau. Menara Hap Seng marks its entry into the Klang Valley property market.

The once-grey building now sports sleek contemporary features and fittings and is envisioned to become a landmark Grade A office building in the Golden Triangle. Located opposite Shangri-la Hotel and behind Menara Weld, it is within walking distance of KLCC.

Many, even KL-lites, may not know this but the building was originally designed as a hotel, reveals Datuk Paul Ng, the chief executive of Hap Seng Land's property division.

This inspired the new owners to leverage on the building's unique design in its refurbishment plans, giving the office building the feel of a modern city hotel.

"For an office building, the design is rather peculiar. You will notice the long driveway and the systematic window grid, which are characteristics of a hotel. While researching the building's history, I found out that it was originally designed to house the former KL Hilton but for some reason that did not work out," says Ng.

The first three floors of the building will now be the retail podium of Menara Hap Seng, comprising a grand lobby, lounge areas, caf├ęs and restaurants offering moderate to fine dining, and speciality stores. "This is where business meets leisure," says Ng.

To emphasise the "hotel" features of the building, the landlord will introduce services often found at a hotel lobby and entrance, such as valets and concierge service. There will even be a doorman to greet you as you walk in. About 75% of the building has already been leased out, with many of the tenants scheduled to come in once the refurbishment is completed. More offices will be open for lease then. The tenants include Maybank, CIMB, Mitsui-Sumitomo Insurance, The Korean Trade and Investment Agency and Borneo Oil & Gas Sdn Bhd. Those that were there before the new owners took over make up about 30% of present tenants.

"We are selective about our tenants because we want those who will utilise the facilities that we have here," Ng says, adding that the group wanted to offer Grade A offices in a prime location because "the demand is there, and also because we can keep them for investment".

One floor will be dedicated to serviced offices while the top five floors of the building will house the group's headquarters, which are currently in Petaling Jaya. Other facilities include high-speed elevators, spacious corridors and foyers, quality finishing, a modern building control system, 24-hour security and controlled access.


Chanced buy

According to Ng, Hap Seng acquired the building in 2004 by chance. "One of Hap Seng's businesses is selling Mercedes cars. (The group is the authorised dealer for Mercedes-Benz and Smart vehicles in Peninsular Malaysia).

"We were looking for a suitable site for our Mercedes showroom in KL and found this vacant lot. It so happened that the owner of the vacant lot owned the building (MUI Plaza) next door. So we thought, 'why not kill two birds with one stone and buy both the properties since it is under the same owner?' So we went knocking on the owners' door and persuaded them to sell the building as well. So we ended up buying two properties instead of one."

Hap Seng's impressive Mercedes-Benz Autohaus showroom is now located on a 31,000 sq ft site at the intersection of Jalan Sultan Ismail and Jalan P Ramlee, with Menara Hap Seng next door.

"At the time, we paid RM166 million for the building or around RM480 psf, a price one would have considered rather steep then. But we still went for it," says Ng.

Why? "As a property developer, one must have an eye for potential and visualise the opportunities. You must have the gut feel when it comes to investments and we had the gut feel for this property. And we believe it was the right decision and the money we paid for it has been worth it. It did not seem like a good buy at the time but on reflection, it is a good buy because today, the speculative pricing per sq ft, I would say, is almost RM800 psf," he adds.

Ng has 25 years of experience in the industry, with a background in architecture and property consultancy.
According to him, in 2004, the rental rate for MUI Plaza was around RM3.20 psf. Today, the rates for Menara Hap Seng range from RM4.70 to RM5 psf. "The rate for our next release of office space, which will be when the refurbishment is completed, will probably be around RM5.50 psf," he offers.

Each floor has a space of 13,000 sq ft and the minimum space for lease is 900 sq ft. The rental for the retail lots at the three-level retail podium ranges from RM5 to RM15 psf.


Mass housing

In Sabah, Hap Seng is known as a township and mass-housing developer, particularly in Tawau where it developed its first project. Among its townships is Bandar Sri Indah, which is 10 miles outside Tawau. It is the largest commercial-residential township develoment in Sabah, covering 1,368 acres. The total development consists of over 8,300 homes, 700 shoplots and 550 industrial lots. It also has amenities such as schools, a bus terminal, government departments, a market and a 300-acre ecopark.

Hap Seng has also built affordable housing in Sandakan, Kota Kinabalu and Lahad Datu. To date, it has erected over 8,000 mixed types of properties in excess of RM1 billion and still has more than 2,000 acres of undeveloped land.

However, the group realised that the property action was in West Malaysia, especially in the Klang Valley. It thus started scouting for opportunities to build or rebuild niche properties in strategic locations here. "We have developed our brand in Sabah but it is West Malaysia that has the potential for greater things for us.

"In KL, we want to focus on niche developments such as high-end condominiums and commercial buildings and towards this end, we are busy looking for land and good investment buildings," Ng says.

The developer is in the midst of completing the purchase of three vacant lots, one on Jalan Tun Razak and two on Jalan Kelang Lama. "When developed, we expect the total gross development value (GDV) for the three projects to be more than RM600 million," Ng discloses.

"We are a new developer here on an acquisition trail. We believe our strategy to acquire more land or old properties with potential for redevelopment must be based on prime locations and we don't mind paying top dollar for it. Location is very important for investment," he says, revealing the developer's deep pockets.

However, he adds, property owners are holding back from selling, in anticipation of price increases in the near future.


Puchong development

Besides Menara Hap Seng, the group hopes to launch its 88-acre D'Alpinia development in Puchong by year-end. The development comprises 76 acres of residential homes made up of superlinks, detached and semi-detached houses priced from RM300,000 to RM1 million plus, and 12 acres of commercial development. The total GDV is expected to be more than RM500 million.

"Unlike in Sabah, the KL market expects a lot more, so we have to provide a lot more. Things like auto gates, CCTV security systems, filtered water systems, all these will be standard features in our D'Alpinia homes because purchasers today consider these items as essentials in a home. Most of the time, they have to renovate and add these features on their own but with our homes, they probably won't have to," says Ng.

There was strong response to a pre-registration exercise for D'Alpinia's Phase 1A of 154 units. "There were 1,500 registrants when our whole project, when completed, will offer only 1,000 odd units. It looks like our reputation in Sabah has preceded us," Ng says.

Besides property investment and development, Hap Seng Consolidated is involved in credit financing, trading (fertilisers, automotive, building materials and petroleum), stone quarries and plantations. The group is one of the largest oil palm plantation companies in Sabah, with a total planted area of about 32,700ha. The group plans to list its plantation assets by year-end.

As at Jan 31, 2007, Hap Seng's paid-up capital stood at RM622.66 million while shareholders' funds stood at RM1.53 billion. For FY2007 ended Jan 31, it registered a profit after tax of RM121 million on a turnover of RM1.7 billion.


A jewel in the rough

By THE EDGE

Coming up amidst secondary jungle in the ex-mining town of Gambang in the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia is the RM1 billion Bukit Gambang Resort City (BGRC).

Sprawled over 500 acres of freehold and leasehold land, it will feature a host of tourist attractions, including a water park, an adventure park and a forest park, and resort suites and villas, says its developer Sentoria Harta Sdn Bhd.

The idea is to develop a family-oriented, integrated resort city in a natural environment, says the Kuantan-based Sentoria Harta. It targets not only the locals, but also those out of town and foreign tourists attracted by Malaysia's culture.

For those not familiar with the east coast, the questions would be: Where is Gambang? Who is behind the billion-ringgit development?

For a long time, even the locals considered Gambang, located 30km east of Kuantan town, inaccessible. This perception has changed somewhat with the emergence of the East Coast Expressway, says Gan Kim Leong, Sentoria Harta's executive director.

Gambang is now home to, among other facilities, a matriculation college, the Paya Besar community college and a Felda scheme with five primary and two secondary schools. For BGRC, this means a captive market of lecturers and students for Desa Hijauan, its affordable housing component.

The project comprises several components, of which the five main ones are the water park, adventure park, forest park, East Coast Bazaar and Heritage Square. These are complemented by a residential component, comprising resort accommodation and Desa Hijauan. The final component will be institutions of higher learning.

Preliminary work on BGRC has started and the project should keep the developer busy for at least the next decade, says Gan.

Track record
A developer is judged by its track record. So, what's BGRC's story?
Gan and former colleague Jimmy Chan are executive directors of Sentoria Development Sdn Bhd, the holding company of Sentoria Harta. Set up in June 1998, Sentoria Development is involved in the construction, leisure and hospitality industries apart from property development.

The partnership started when the duo, civil engineers with some 20 years' experience in consulting, contracting, design and property development, decided to be their own boss.

"We decided to do something on our own; to have our own business," Gan tells City & Country.

The company's maiden project, the upgrading of the Bahau road in Negeri Sembilan, was awarded in 2000. The following year, Sentoria Development designed and built Sekolah Rendah Bandar Rinching in Semenyih, Selangor. In 2002, the company ventured into its first property development project — a mixed development named Taman Sentoria in Kuantan. And it has not looked back since.

It was also in 2002 that Sentoria Development chanced upon 117 acres of freehold agricultural land. Used to the high land prices in the Klang Valley, Gan and Chan could not believe their ears when they learnt how much it was going for, although they declined to reveal the price. The decision to invest in the land was made when they realised its potential.

Last year, an adjoining 430-acre tract of leasehold land was alienated to Sentoria Alfa Sdn Bhd by the Pahang government. Gan and Chan had a brainwave — why not combine the two pieces of land and build a water park resort city?

Why a water park resort city? "Why not?" asks Gan. There is no water park in the east coast, he says. All of them are located on the west coast — Sunway Lagoon in Selangor, Bukit Merah Laketown Resort in Perak and A'Famosa Resort in Melaka.

Sentoria Harta is looking beyond return on investment with regard to the water attractions. It sees the buzz created by these popularising the homes that will come up within BGRC. Gan also expects other than the locals — there is a catchment of some four million people in Pahang, Kelantan and Terengganu — to visit the water park and invest in the homes.

"BGRC is strategically located near the Gambang interchange, the first East Coast Expressway exit point into Kuantan town, and only 8km from the toll plaza," says Gan, adding that it takes less than three hours to drive to BGRC from Kuala Lumpur.

"People think it's too far to travel to Kuantan, but with the highway, it is actually very convenient. Most city dwellers work five days a week. Where can they go for the weekend? They won't want to travel far. Our society is also becoming more affluent, with more people seeking entertainment and relaxation. We want to provide that," he says.

Previndran Singhe, CEO of Kuala Lumpur-based Zerin Properties, says that while BGRC is a great tourism project, he sees Kuantan's beaches as its strength.

Gan agrees, but is quick to point out that BGRC will offer more attractions. It is not replacing the beaches, but complementing them, he says. "We are providing an alternative tourist destination for visitors."

What would BGRC's selling point be? Acknowledging that it would be unrealistic to compete with the big boys in the industry, the down-to-earth developer says it will capitalise on what it sees as lacking in existing integrated water parks, such as a natural environment.

"We will bank on our natural surroundings and family-oriented activities. For instance, the secondary jungle will provide a shady environmental setting," Gan explains.

To ensure there will be something for every visitor, the developer will introduce recreational activities, such as jungle trekking and mountain biking in the 100-acre forest park; educational attractions for young children, such as a tropical fruit farm, an aquarium showcasing freshwater fish from various states in the country and a petting zoo with local animals.

Instead of adopting flashy foreign names and themes for the rides, the developer will go local. The 40-acre adventure park, for instance, will feature the Sungai Lembing Tin Tunnel and the Mulu Cave Adventure Ride. The East Coast Bazaar will boast a 3-in-1 concept, combining a local wholesale market, night market and foreign factory outlet showcasing the handicraft of the local people.

The Heritage Square will put on cultural shows and have food and beverage outlets. There will be batik painting workshops and a variety of activities for children, says Gan.

Resort accommodation
Gan is very excited about the integrated resort accommodation, comprising the Scenic Ocean Ville resort suites and Global Heritage resort villas. The former is designed with various ocean themes — Caribbean Bay Resort, Arabian Bay Resort, Andaman Bay Resort, Hawaiian Beach Resort and Mediterranean Beach Resort — while the latter will have country themes.

Sentoria Harta held a sales preview in June for the 560 units in Caribbean Bay Resort. Gan says the sales were "better than expected" at 300 units, of which 80% were sold to buyers from Kuantan.

What is noteworthy is that the units, tagged at RM107,000 onwards for the 470 sq ft studio units (140 units) and RM152,000 onwards for the 810 sq ft family suites (420 units), come with a five-year leaseback agreement, with guaranteed annual rental yields of 7.5%. Owners get 35 days of free stay during the five-year period. The developer will absorb all the legal fees.

Buyers, says Gan, can continue to lease the units to the developer after the initial five years. The units will also be fully furnished and maintained free of charge during the leaseback period.

Sarkunan Subramaniam, executive director of Knight Frank (Ooi & Zaharin Sdn Bhd), says for a project such as BGRC to sell, the developer must offer a good track record. "Some developers make promises, but when they find that they can't carry on with the project, they fold and buyers are left in the lurch. Who is guaranteeing the 7.5% return? Is it backed by any financial institution?" he asks.

"The return is guaranteed by the developer," Gan says, "We will honour the rental guaranteed simply because, based on our calculations, income derived from the hotel operation is sufficient to fund the rental.

"We guaranteed RM1,000 and RM650 per month for our family and studio suites respectively, which is much lower than other developers offering similar products."

'BGRC should do well'
Gan is confident BGRC will do well, given its affordability and the current high hotel occupancy rate in Kuantan, boosted by the fact that Kelantan and Terengganu do not work from Friday to Sunday. A typical room at Swiss Garden Hotel costs about RM300 per night, says Gan.

The launch of the project's next resort suites — about 500 units in Arabian Bay Resort — are slated for early 2008. The developer is targeting to put Desa Hijauan, comprising 900 units of 1-storey homes and 41 units of 2-storey shopoffices, on the market early next year.

According to Gan, the building approval for Desa Hijauan is expected by year-end. Priced from RM35,000 onwards, the homes have built-ups from 660 sq ft onwards. The shopoffices have built-ups of 3,080 sq ft and are priced at RM280,000 onwards. Gan says the water park and the Caribbean Bay Resort units are targeted to be ready by June 2009.

Will the developer make its way into the Klang Valley? Gan discounts this for now, due to the high cost of land there and the fact that the BGRC project will keep Sentoria Harta busy for the next 10 years.



Real estate scene set to sizzle

By THE EDGE

The exemption of real property gains tax (RPGT) and other incentives with regards to foreign investment in Malaysia's real estate seems to be the impetus that is driving the market in recent months. In the KL city centre, agents have noted a high transaction volume and keen interest shown by investors, especially in the high-end condominium market.

Previndran Singhe of Zerin Properties says Malaysia has many plus points for foreigners looking to invest in property here. "Our ownership laws are clear and we are very transparent in our real estate dealings," says the CEO of the real estate agency that has affiliated offices in Singapore, New Delhi and Sydney.

Ireka Corp's Lai Voon Hon could not agree more. "Our transparent legal system in real estate, coupled with attractive financing and a solid mortgage system as compared to some other countries in the region, are just some of the factors that are attracting foreign buyers," he says.

Both Previndran and Lai feel that the real estate scene in Malaysia has gained a lot of attention in recent months and the market is heating up. Why shouldn't it, now that there is more room for potential capital appreciation with the exemption of RPGT, says Lai.

"We are also one of the few countries that enjoy high rental yields between 8% and 12% in areas like Mont'Kiara and some parts of Damansara," adds Lai.

The country's status as an "emerging market" also makes it an attractive place to invest in as many foresee that demand for real estate will grow with the country as it continues to develop.

So is Malaysia a "hot" country where real estate is concerned?

"We're still not that hot as Singapore where prices for luxury condos in Orchard Road have hit S$5,000 (about RM11,500) psf. However, we still have many good things to offer," states Datuk Richard Fong, executive vice chairman of Glomac Bhd. Fong says the cost of living in Malaysia is still relatively low, and many people also speak English.

"We may not have the number of expatriates that Singapore has, but that should not deter more foreigners from looking our way as our pricing is only 10% of the most expensive condo across the causeway!" adds Fong, who is also president of the International Real Estate Federation (Fiabci) Malaysian Chapter.

Hence, should the market even bat an eyelid at recent transactions in the vicinity of the Petronas Twin Towers changing hands at RM1,800 psf with some prime units going as high as RM2,000 psf? Is Malaysia's real estate underpriced?

Fong, Lai and Previndran will discuss the issue further at The Edge Investment Forum on Real Estate 2007. The topic will be moderated by Kumar Tharmalingam, secretary general of Fiabci Asia Pacific.

"The forum is something not to be missed, especially with three speakers who have vast experience in three different sectors of Malaysia's real estate," says Tharmalingam, adding that these are valuable speakers who do not easily make available their time.


_________________________________________________________________

The forum will be held on Oct 27 at the Eastin Hotel, Petaling Jaya. It will start at 9am sharp. Registration starts at 8.30am. THE EDGE INVESTMENT FORUM ON REAL ESTATE 2007


Waterfront City project

By The Star



A view of Jelutong Expressway that will eventually stretch from Batu Maung to Weld Quay. The highway is part of IJM's Waterfront City mix development project. File Photo.

The IJM Group is unveiling its RM4bil Waterfront City, a seafront luxurious mixed development next to the Penang Bridge next month.

The developer, Jelutong Development Sdn Bhd (JDSB) is a subsidiary of IJM Properties Sdn Bhd, which owns an 80% stake in the company.

IJM Properties managing director Teh Kean Ming told StarBiz that the 152-acre project at the Jelutong Expressway comprised three components:

  • Over 1,000 units of luxurious low-rise, high-rise, and landed residential on 42 acres;

  • Mixed development scheme, comprising about 80% commercial properties such as hotels, corporate offices, food and beverage outlets and, retail shops and 20% residential high-rise properties and

  • A seven-acre park fronting the sea.

    Teh said the residential component of Waterfront City would be a gated community, comprising strata-titled properties.

    “There will be waterways constructed to surround the properties, fronting the sea. This is one of the unique features of the project,” he said, adding that the other special feature was a six km sea-fronting promenade with a 10m width, stretching from the Penang Bridge to Sungai Pinang in George Town, where the Jelutong Expressway ends. There will also be a 2km green belt, with a 20m-25m width, to separate Waterfront City from the Jelutong Expressway.


    The Waterfront City project would be launched after the Chinese New Year next year.

    He said the properties, targeted at the regional market would be launched in phases over a 10-15 year period. JDSB’s RM1.2bil Bandar Sri Pinang project, also along the Jelutong Expressway, was 85% completed.

    “We will also be launching the Nautilus Bay landed residential scheme and The Spring condominiums for the Bandar Sri Pinang project next month. The Nautilus Bay, comprising 78 three-storey terraced houses, has been completed and will be launched for sale soon.”

    “We plan to launch next year the Summer Place, the final residential phase of Bandar Sri Pinang comprising 531 units of condominiums,” he said, adding that the RM680mil Metro-East mixed developments, also along the Jelutong Expressway, was about 60% completed.

    “We still have two more key residential and commercial projects to launch for Metro-East,” he added.

  • KL factor in Penang property

    By The Star


    The sea-fronting Seri Tanjung Pinang project in Tanjung Tokong by E & O Property Development Bhd has sold over 80% of their properties since 2005.

    Property prices in the south and southwest district of the Penang island have gone up over 20% compared to about a year ago due to the launching of high quality projects by developers from Kuala Lumpur.

    They have between 2004 and now announced projects worth about RM30bil to be developed on the island over the next 10 to 15 years.

    These developers included the Jelutong Development Sdn Bhd, E & O Property Development Bhd, Abad Naluri Sdn Bhd, CP Land Sdn Bhd, Mah Sing Bhd, and SP Setia Bhd.

    Henry Butcher Malaysia (Penang) chief operating officer Lim Ewe Tatt, said some of these projects that were selling “very well” despite their prices because of their location, concept, design, and quality. Mega infrastructure projects such as the monorail, second bridge, and Penang Outer Ring Road, planned for the state under the Ninth Malaysia Plan had also helped to boost local property prices.


    The CP Group’s Queensbay mixed-development scheme in Bayan Baru has sold very well since its launch.

    “The sea-fronting Seri Tanjung Pinang project in Tanjung Tokong by E & O Property Development Bhd has sold over 80% of their properties since 2005. The group has launched about 500 units of landed residential properties, priced from about RM800,000 onwards. It is now getting ready to launch new bungalows for the Seri Tanjung Pinang project at the end of the year. These bungalows are expected to be priced from RM2.8mil onwards,” he said.

    Lim said another project on the island, which had sold very well, was the CP Group’s Queensbay mixed-development scheme in Bayan Baru, which is in the southern part of the island.

    “The CP Group has sold about 80% of the 545 units of high–rise and landed residential and commercial properties. The price for the properties ranged between RM280,000 and RM1.2mil, depending on whether the property is a high-rise or a landed unit,” he said.

    Lim said the properties launched by the Kuala Lumpur-based developers were targeted not just at the Penang market.

    “These properties are also marketed overseas and have successfully drawn much attention. Henry Butcher Malaysia (Penang), for example, has recently, in collaboration with MAS, brought in foreigners to invest in second homes on the island.”

    “These overseas investors are now negotiating to purchase some RM20mil worth of properties, which are priced between RM500,000 and RM1.5mil. A substantial number of these properties that have caught the attention of foreign buyers are developed by Kuala Lumpur-based developers,” he said.



    SP Setia’s RM900mil Setia Pearl Island development in Bayan Lepas - located on a 112-acre site - will have homes with green themes.

    Raine & Horne (Penang) senior partner Michael Geh said Kuala Lumpur-based developers generally preferred the south and southwest districts of the island to launch their projects.

    “CP Landmark, SP Setia, and Mah Sing have all launched projects in the south and southwest district of the island because of the large tracts of land available for their projects.

    “They require large land areas so that they can develop innovatively designed development schemes. A good example is SP Setia’s RM900mil Setia Pearl Island in Bayan Lepas located on a 112-acre site.

    All the homes are designed in accordance to specific themes. For example, the developer has planned for some of the homes to be surrounded by trees and flowers with an aromatic element,” he said.

    “There are also homes in the Setia Pearl Island that are surrounded by shrubs or pines, spruces, and firs, covering the landscape. It is such unique concepts and designs that have boosted the sales of the project,” he added.

    Geh said Mah Sing’s RM1.28bil Southbay Penang project in Batu Maung had registered some 1,500 interested buyers for the first phase of the project, scheduled for launching in early 2008.

    Foreign listing option

    By New Straits Times


    SUNWAY City Bhd (SunCity), which plans to float a RM3 billion real estate investment trust (REIT) - the country's largest REIT - next year, is looking at alternative exchanges for the listing, sources say.

    Business Times was told that Sun-City is also considering the Singapore Stock Exchange as a possible venue for better returns.

    "Malaysia is priority for Sunway Group to list its REIT ... but it does not offer much incentives for the listing of REITs," one industry source said.

    "SunCity is open to listing recommendations made by the houses so as to obtain better returns for investors, he said.

    SunCity officials could not be reached for comment.

    It is believed that one of the hindrances is the tax structure.

    "In Singapore, the withholding tax for foreign investment is 10 per cent. In Malaysia, the tax is 20 per cent," the source said, adding that this could be one of the reasons why SunCity may opt to list its REIT abroad.

    In a recent interview with Business Times, SunCity's managing director of property investment Ngeow Voon Yean said that the group was looking to float the trust next year and that investment bankers were working on the components that will form part of the REIT.

    News of SunCity's plans to unlock its value and raise funds for major projects through a REIT began as early as January 2005.

    SunCity's plans had included the injection of two of its shopping complexes into the REIT - Sunway Carnival and the newly-expanded Sunway Pyramid.

    The former opened in June and the expanded wing late last month.

    Some of the properties, apart from the shopping complexes that have been identified to be injected into the REIT, include the Sunway Lagoon Resort Hotel and the Pyramid Tower, Menara Sunway, Monash University and its hostels.

    Properties that are likely to be injected at a later stage include the recently acquired 27-storey RM170 million Wisma Denmark, Sunway Medical Centre (which is undergoing expansion), proposed KL South shopping mall in Cheras, and four office towers in Bandar Sunway that the group has proposed to build.


    Paramount buys land for RM203m commercial job

    By New Straits Times

    DIVERSIFIED Paramount Corp Bhd will spend some RM43 million to buy an industrial site in the Klang Valley to accommodate its RM203 million commercial property job.

    The 21,050 sq m leasehold tract is in Section 13, Petaling Jaya. Paramount will buy the site, fronting Jalan Universiti, from Rangkaian Cipta Sdn Bhd.

    It plans to build commercial units like offices and showrooms on the site, currently occupied by 40-year-old buildings which are fully tenanted.

    "The land acquisition is in line with Paramount's objective to replenish its landbank to generate long-term sustainable income," it told Bursa Malaysia last Friday.

    Paramount will use internal funds and bank loans to finance the purchase.

    Acquisition of the land is due to be completed in four months. The properties will be developed within four years from 2009.

    The project will be partially leased out. But if it is entirely sold, Paramount expects to book about RM44 million in profits.

    Existing buildings on the tract have lettable areas of 126,900 sq ft, and close to RM2.2 million is generated in yearly rentals, according to the developer.

    Paramount's net profit in the first half to June 2007 dipped 30 per cent to RM17.9 million, or 17 sen a share, while revenue dropped 35 per cent to RM137.8 million.

    The decline was due to lower earnings by its property unit, according to filings to the bourse by the company.

    Real estate development constituted the largest portion, or 55 per cent, of its first half revenue.

    The group had RM27.3 million debts as at June this year.

    Gadang builds earnings hopes on new projects

    By New Straits Times

    GADANG Holdings Bhd, a construction and property company, is planning to launch its maiden mixed development projects in Vietnam and Penang next year.

    "Negotiations are ongoing with the landowners.

    "In Vietnam, we are exploring different projects comprising mixed housing and commercial developments; and in Penang, we are looking at a luxury mixed development," managing director and chief executive officer Datuk Kok Onn said.

    Kok told Business Times that the Penang land deal may be finalised in three months, while negotiations in Vietnam may conclude early next year.

    Gadang may build properties worth more than RM300 million in Vietnam and Penang.

    "We may develop the projects in a joint venture based on luxury concept. We are targeting foreign investors to buy the properties," Kok said.

    Gadang may launch more projects in Vietnam and Penang if the two are successful.


    Its property division contributed a net profit of RM7.5 million last year, more than double the RM3.2 million made in 2005.

    Kok expects earnings to improve this year amid Gadang's plans to launch two new projects next month.

    Its Taman Pinggiran Pelangi in Rawang, Selangor, will comprise 423 single-storey terrace and semi-detached houses.

    Taman Seri Bukit Segambut will offer 54 three-storey terrace houses with a combined gross development value (GDV) of RM80 million.

    Gadang also has 8ha in Tampoi, Johor, earmarked for a housing and commercial project, which is expected to reap RM190 million in GDV. The first phase will be launched in the next quarter.

    Next year, it will launch a mixed development in Kuang, Selangor, with a GDV of RM80 million.

    Gadang currently has four ongoing projects in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur, which can easily generate some RM210 million in GDV collectively, and land worth about RM100 million.

    "Gadang will continue to expand its development activities, and is confident of establishing the company as one of the leading players in property development," Kok said.

    High value in FIABCI property awards

    By The Star


    The FIABCI Malaysia Property Award, now in its 15th year, has become a much sought-after award by developers and for good reason too.

    Year 2005 winner in the leisure and hotel category The Westin Kuala Lumpur went on to bag the world's best hotel development at the FIABCI Prix d'Excellence 2006.

    Westin owner, Ireka Corp Bhd which was in talks to sell its hotel saw an immediate 10% increase in price for its hotel property, said Malaysia Property Award 2007 evaluation chairman and FIABCI-Malaysia secretary general Yu Kee Su.

    The Malaysia Property Award is the prelude for entry into the even more covetous international Prix d'Excellence Award that is presented at the FIABCI World Congress each year.

    Ireka Corp sale of The Westin to Thailand-based Newood Assets Ltd which was completed in Dec last year at an average of RM1mil per room set a record in the local property scene.

    The total sale price was RM455mil in cash.

    Another past Malaysia Property Award and Prix d'Excellence winner, SP Setia Bhd for the Setia Eco Park project located in Shah Alam, also saw an instant gain from the awards, Yu said.

    The 791-acre Setia Eco Park, which won at the Malaysia Property Award 2006 in the masterplan development category, went on to win the “World's Best Masterplan Development” in this year's Prix d'Excellence.


    FIABCI-Malaysia treasurer Yeow Thit Sang (left) and Yu Kee Su showing some samples of the awards

    On winning at the Prix d'Excellence, SP Setia was approached by parties in Vietnam for a joint development project, said Yu.

    Last month, SP Setia announced a joint venture with Vietnam's Becamex IDC Corp, a state-owned conglomerate, to develop a RM2.1bil master-planned project named EcoLakes in Binh Duong Province located about 40km north of Ho Chi Minh City.

    “Our Malaysian award and the Prix d'Excellence provides real value to developers,” said Yu.

    Retail buyer's also benefited as well with many taking the Malaysian awards as a sign of a high quality project, he said.

    FIABCI being a multi-discipline organisation similarly had to have a multi-disciplinary award, he said.

    Both the Malaysian and the international Prix d'Excellence were overall awards, which cover all aspects of a project.

    “We look at the financial sustainability of a project, and more importantly to the buyer and whether the maintenance is sustainable from the earnings generated. We also look at the social impact of a project on the surrounding area, together with the integration,” he said.

    Environmentally friendly factors were becoming more important criteria for both local and international awards as public awareness of “green” issues grew, he added.

    In line with the environmental theme, the Malaysia Property Award trophy started out 15 years ago as two stylised-birds symbolising nature as well as a mother bird feeding her young.

    Over the years the two birds symbol was cast in gold, silver and more recently in crystal glass.

    Since last year however, the trophy has become a half cocoon, half butterfly representing the maturing Malaysian property development market, he said.

    The Malaysia Property Award 2006 trophy is a gold cocoon/ butterfly motif on a silver stand, against a silver background.

    As to what this year's trophy will look like, developers will have to wait to see, but Yu said that it would be the same cocoon/ butterfly motif.


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