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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Putra Impiana offers value for money, says developer

The developer says its quality finishings for the Taman Putra Impiana terraced houses will save buyers from having to make many renovations

PETALING JAYA: The property market in Puchong is booming with an increasing demand for landed properties, particularly high-end ones. According to the developer of Taman Putra Impiana, Usahasama Utama Sdn Bhd, its properties there have been enjoying good capital appreciation. “For instance, the value of the units in Phase 1 have increased by 15% since their launch in 2006, and are expected to rise by a further 15% by year-end,” Ronnie Wong, head of
operations told theSun.

Phase 1 of Taman Putra Impiana is sold out, while Phase 2 has achieved a take-up of more than 95%. To date, more than 20% of the 80 units in Phase 3 have been sold since its launch in mid-January. Future phases will include terraced houses, shop lots and low-rise medium cost apartments. It is scheduled for completion within the next three to four years with a gross development value of RM231 million.

Targeted at first-time homebuyers and upgraders alike, the 2-storey link houses in the 100-acre leasehold Taman Putra Impiana, come with quality finishes to minimise the need for renovations. The project is a joint-venture development by Usahasama Utama, a member of Klangbased Acmar International, and landowner Permodalan Negeri Selangor Bhd (PNSB).

Wong said the units in the development are attractively priced and will appeal to small families and young couples, particularly in the middle-income group, whose dual incomes ranges from RM4,000 to RM7,500. “We are offering value for money as buyers will be saving on renovation costs,” he said.

The features of the homes include wooden laminated flooring for their 4ftwide staircases, column-free car porch laid with concrete-imprinted flooring, and porcelain tiles throughout the living area and dry kitchen. Prices range between RM286,800 and RM566,800 for units in the
latest phase, with built-ups from 2,072 sq ft to 2,641 sq ft.

The development is accessible via a network of highways, including the Damansara Puchong Highway (LDP), North South Central Link, KL-Seremban Highway and Kesas Highway. Nearby amenities include Jusco, Tesco and Giant hypermarkets as well as IOI Mall.

Wong said that despite the rise in petrol prices, the developer still managed to price its properties at a competitive rate by absorbing the increased construction costs. “In comparison, a similar 2-storey terrace in the freehold Bandar Bukit Puchong is valued from RM380,000,” he said.

Acmar has been involved in the automative business since 1979, but later diversified into property development and management, construction, leisure and entertainment, education, healthcare and warehousing. The group has completed several residential and commercial projects including Taman Jati in Jeram, Taman Cempaka in Banting, Wisma TLT in Klang and Acmar Villa in Ampang. Its ongoing projects include D’Rapport @ Ampang, Bandar Baru Klang in Klang and Kemensah Indah in Melawati.

By theSun (by Yap Yew Jin)

E&O on target for 2008

An artist's impression of E&O's proposed commercial tower in KL

PETALING JAYA: E&O Property Development Bhd’s plans to launch two high-end projects during the third quarter of the year are on target. One is a commercial development situated on a 4.1- acre site in Kuala Lumpur, while the other is a residential project on a 21-acre parcel
within its 980-acre Seri Tanjung Pinang seafront, mixed development in Penang.

According to its marketing and sales director KC Chong (pix), it has since begun sub-structure works on the former St Mary’s school site in Jalan Tengah in KL. Plans are for a mixed commercial development featuring serviced apartments and retail and food and beverage outlets.

“We will be launching the apartments in phases and will have built-ups of between 1,000 sq ft and 3,000 sq ft,” Chong told theSun after the Group’s post-EGM press conference last week. On the apartments’ pricing, Chong would only say that property prices in the vicinity have breached the RM1,000 psf mark.

It also plans to retain some units for rental income. There will be 657 units housed in three 28-storey blocks as well as 35,000 sq ft of retail space. Adjoining the project on a 1.1-acre site will be a 35-storey Grade A commercial building owned by the E&O Group that will be kept for investment purposes.

Also planned for launch in the third quarter are 1,000 condominium units, with a gross development value (GDV) of more than RM1 billion, which form the last leg of development for the first phase of Seri Tanjung Pinang totaling 240 acres. The first phase has a GDV of RM2.7 billion.

Earlier during the press conference E&O Property Development managing director Datuk Terry Tham said E&O is currently in negotiations with several local and foreign parties to jointly develop the project.

On the condos’ (that will be partially furnished) pricing, Chong said that it would reflect the prices of its Suites at Waterside project in the first phase of Seri Tanjung Pinang, which are priced at about RM600 psf.

On the progress of the Seri Tanjung Pinang development, Chong said it has obtained approvals from the state government on the concept of the second phase totaling 740 acres. The second phase comprises a cluster of three islands that will be connected to the mainland.

“For the next two years, we will be getting the necessary approvals as well as starting the physical works on the site. This phase will take between 10 and 15 years to complete and
the components will be similar to those residential and commercial properties in the first phase.
We have plans to introduce gated homes,” said Chong.

Meanwhile shareholders of E&O Property Development have given their approval for its merger with Eastern & Oriental Bhd at a courtconvened meeting last week. Approvals were also obtained from shareholders of Eastern & Oriental Bhd at an EGM that was held after the court-convened meeting.

With the merger targeted for completion by June, Tham said it plans to enhance its hospitality and lifestyle, and property investment businesses alongside property development, which now contributes more than 90% to the group’s earnings. It aims to scale the earnings contribution from property development to 60% and equal contribution from the other two sectors, Tham added.

By theSun (by Loo Pik Kwan)

Striding Confidently into 2008

"...Malaysia will not be overly affected by the downturn in the US"

WHILE last year was generally good for properties in Malaysia, particularly at the top end of the market, news of the credit crunch in the US stemming from the subprime mortgage crisis had become troubling by year-end.

Still, we tend to remain optimistic about the prospects for Malaysian property. The government had put various measures in place for the property market and announced a series of liberalisations, financial incentives, and system enhancements even before the news of the credit crunch reached our shores.

These included changes changes to Employee Provident Fund (EPF) withdrawals. Effective this Jan 1, EPF members will be allowed to make a withdrawal every month from Account 2 of their accounts to finance their housing loans. Previously, EPF withdrawals for housing purposes were permitted only once every three years, and subsequently, once a year.

If all 5.4 million EPF members take advantage of this initiative, about RM9.6bil is expected to be released for home purchases, which will surely give the real estate market a nudge in the right direction.

Drawing on the experience of our neighbour down South, home ownership in Malaysia, currently at 67%, is likely to increase with this new monthly withdrawal scheme. In 1980, when Singapore allowed its Central Provident Fund (CPF) members to use their CPF money for paying off monthly mortgages, home ownership was 59%. By 2000, according to the Singapore Census, home ownership had risen to 92%.

Early last year, we saw the removal of real property gains tax, or RPGT for short – a move meant to stimulate the real estate market in Malaysia and in the words of our Prime Minister “inject more excitement and dynamism into the property sector”. In truth, this was something that the industry had been expecting for some time prior to its enactment.

Before this piece of welcome news, the government had already relaxed foreign ownership rules so foreigners could buy residential properties worth more than RM250,000 without having to go through the time-consuming Foreign Investor Committee (FIC) approval process. In addition, foreign home buyers could purchase as many properties as they wanted and they could buy them for investment purposes. These two incentives caused a marked increase in property purchases by foreigners.

Collectively, all these efforts have made Malaysian properties more attractive. Together with the prospect of a strengthening ringgit and low per square foot prices vis-à-vis our regional neighbours, Malaysia may well become the property hub that our government has envisioned.

We hope that all these incentives and measures that have been put in place, will be here to stay. Previously, we would see guidelines on foreign ownership implemented for only short periods of time. As a result, each time a new measure was implemented, there were doubts as to whether it would last.

In order to further stimulate property transactions, quota for the sale of properties to foreigners could be relaxed. In Singapore, for example, as long as one unit in a housing project is bought by a Singaporean, the rest of the development can be sold to foreign purchasers. This type of liberalisation would certainly give the property market in Malaysia a big boost.

Still, despite efforts at pushing the growth of the industry, consumer sentiment based on economic trends can be unpredictable. While it showed an uptrend in the third quarter of last year, it is often not that easy to gauge which way it will swing if we are to be assailed by more unpleasant news from the US.

We have seen that Malaysia, too, is somewhat dependent on the good health of the US economy as the recent tumble of our share market has proved.

However, I am confident that Malaysia will not be overly affected by the downturn in the US. There are now “new” investors from emerging markets such as China, India, Korea and the Middle East and we are no longer relying on the traditional group of investors from the US and Europe.

Investors are always looking for safe and stable havens. We are already seeing a “shift” of foreign funds to this region. This means that Malaysia, with its currently undervalued property market would be an ideal place to invest. Let’s ensure we are ready to tap onto this opportunity.

  • Teh is the managing director of SDB Properties Sdn Bhd, a lifestyle property company. Bouquets and brickbats are welcome. (Bricks & Mortar -- by Teh Lip Kim)

  • Article posted by The Star Newspaper

    Home loans go under hammer online

    The Internet is proving to be an exciting new frontier for property transactions. Going beyond websites that highlight the best buys, homebuyers can now take a virtual seat and participate in real-time auction happenings over the worldwide web.

    Some of these sites are so creative that houses are even offered to the lowest, unique bidder! Thus, by law of natural progression, it comes as little surprise now that home loans too are being put under the hammer in cyberspace.

    Believed to be the first scheme of this kind in the world, and not just over the Internet, New Zealandbased website has hundreds of Kiwis rushing online to auction their mortgages to the best home loan financial institutions can offer. Put simply, lenders compete directly for the borrower’s business.

    According to the site’s webmasters, Fundit aims to help borrowers, first-time homebuyers and property investors by arranging online auctions and attracting banks and other lenders in the market to bid for their business.

    And the website says it has already conducted more than 500 such auctions since it was launched last year, all of which have proven successful.

    The financial institutions currently bidding online with Fundit include established names such as the Bank of New Zealand, Kiwibank, First Mortgage Trust, Loan and Building Society, Southern Cross Finance and Southland Building Society.

    The Bank of New Zealand, which has been a significant participant in these auctions, reported a surge in its share of the mortgage market since the website was launched.

    Property experts in the country are also giving the concept the thumbs up, saying the scheme challenges mortgage brokers as New Zealand’s property market continues to tighten.

    Fundit arranges the auction process at no charge to the borrower, and online, they can see lenders compete directly for their business.

    A former chairman of finance agency Mike Pero Mortgages, Abigail Foote, described Fundit as “a fresh approach to finding a home loan at a testing time in the property market”.

    “The housing market is becoming tighter and I believe this will give homebuyers an edge they need to get the best mortgages out there... lenders who aren’t on emerging websites such as Fundit may shut themselves out of a key part of the home loan market.” - Chris Prasad

    By New Straits Times

    Credit Suisse cuts target price on UEM World

    SHARES of UEM World Bhd fell nearly eighth per cent after it announced plans to sell four listed units to focus on its soon-to-be-listed property arm, UEM Land.

    The shares, which started trading again after last week's suspension, closed the day 32 sen lower to RM3.80, in active trade.

    Although analysts were positive on the deal, Credit Suisse cut its target price on the stock and three firms told investors to reject the sale offer.

    The revamp enables shareholders to have direct participation in UEM Land, master developer of the Iskandar Development Region in Johor.

    It also gives them the option to hold shares in UEM World's other listed subsidiaries or cash out at a 15 per cent premium to their one-month weighted average market prices.

    "This is positive for UEM World shareholders, who we expect to cash out for RM1.26 per share capital repayment and participate directly in UEM Land," said Credit Suisse in a note to clients yesterday.

    However, it cut its recommendation on UEM World to "neutral" from "outperform", and lowered its target to RM4.97 from RM5.88.

    It also reduced its forecast of the company's earnings per share by eight per cent to nine per cent, citing an uncertain global economic outlook.

    "The perception of how rapid UEM World's land value will appreciate is also toned down, so we have revised our perceived future land price from RM31 per square foot (psf) to RM23 psf to arrive at (the lower target price)," it said.

    By New Straits Times

    Hektar REIT buys shopping complex in Muar

    KUALA LUMPUR: Hektar Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) has acquired a shopping complex and hotel tower, together with a basement car park, in Muar, Johor, from Wetex Realty Sdn Bhd.

    In a filing with Bursa Malaysia yesterday, Hektar REIT said the property was acquired for a total RM117.5mil and it would enter into a lease-back arrangement with Wetex in respect to the hotel.

    The 10-year lease term shall commence on the date of completion of the sale and purchase agreement with an option for the renewal of the lease for a further 10 years from the 10th anniversary of the lease commencement date, it said in the statement.

    The rationale for the acquisition of the property and the lease back of the hotel was yield accretion to Hektar REIT and would provide for an expected increase in income for the financial year ending Dec 31 (FY08), it said.

    By The Star

    Hektar REIT buys mall, hotel

    HEKTAR Real Estate Investment Trust is buying a shopping mall and a hotel in Muar, Johor, for RM117.5 million cash to expand its portfolio. The property is known as Wetex Parade, a mall that is 95 per cent occupied, and the 156-room Classic Hotel. The seller is Wetex Realty Sdn Bhd, Hektar said in a statement to Bursa Malaysia yesterday. Hektar will lease back the hotel to Wetex for 10 years. The property is valued by Henry Butcher at RM118 million. It will use the loans for the deal. This raises its gearing to 42 per cent.

    By New Straits Times