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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Promising yet cautious property market for 2008

KUALA LUMPUR: The outlook for the property market this year is expected to remain promising yet cautious due rising oil prices, the possible increase of inflation rates and growing concerns in financial markets worldwide.

“The government’s move to allow EPF contributors to make monthly withdrawals from the balance in Account 2 for the financing of one house (effective 1 Jan, 2008) as well as the establishment of one-stop-centres (OSC) are expected to give a positive effect,” said Datuk Abdullah Thalith Md Thani, directorgeneral of the Valuation and Property Services Department, Ministry of Finance.

Abdullah was presenting an overview of the Malaysian property market at the 1st Malaysian Property Summit 2008 organised by the Association of Valuers & Property Consultants in Private Practice Malaysia (PEPS) yesterday.

Other topics presented at the conference included the performance of Malaysian real estate investment trusts (REITS) and the high-end condominium market for 2007 and their outlook for 2008.

On Malaysian REITS, chartered surveyor Datuk Mani Usilappan said the market is expected to be aggressive in acquisitions this year, with additional injections of assets.

“Aside from this, some REITs have review of rents coming up this year and next year. So these REITs are expected to perform better,” he said. There are 13 REITs with a total capitalisation of RM6.5 billion as of 31 Dec, last year.

Where high-end condominiums were concerned, Knight Frank Malaysia’s managing director Eric Ooi (pix) said the completion for high-end condos in Kuala Lumpur is expected to be higher this year.

“Last year, there were 1,400 newly completed high-end condominiums and the expected completion this year is 4,370 — more than half are located in KL city. We are also expecting branded residences such as Four Seasons Place, St Regis Residences and The Binjai to set a new benchmark in pricing of RM2,000 to RM3,000 per sq ft,” Ooi said. Last year, high-end condos within the Kuala Lumpur City Centre were selling for RM1,300 to RM2,000 per sq ft.

The rental market is also expected to be competitive this year due to the higher completion of units. Rentals may increase but there would be yield compression, as the increase in prices is faster and higher than the rental increase.

“We have seen very strong foreign interest to buy properties in Malaysia, about 40% to 50% are foreign purchasers, and we expect this percentage to remain this year,” Ooi said, adding that buyers from the UK, Australia and Europe found the property prices here to be very affordable.

Ooi explained that there might be concerns of oversupply in high-end condos but it would depend on two segments – whether it is for investment purposes or owner occupation. He said there is still demand for high-end condos and among some of the key demand drivers are competitive pricing, location, quality and lifestyle.

By theSun (by Rosalynn Poh)

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