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Monday, March 24, 2008

Aseana Prop sees RM2b from Mont' Kiara projects

Almost Sold Out: Tiffani by i-Zen project is among a few high-end residential and commercial developments at Mont' Kiara -- Website picture

ASEANA Properties Ltd, listed on London Stock Exchange and 20 per cent-owned by Ireka Corp Bhd, expects to rake in nearly RM2 billion in gross development value (GDV) from two high-end projects in Mont' Kiara.

Aseana also plans to launch its first overseas project in Vietnam by year-end, subsidiary Ireka Development Management Sdn Bhd chief operating officer Lim Ech Chan said.

The Vietnam venture will be a mixed development of serviced apartment, office and retail lots on a partnership with a local party, Lim said.

Aseana should generate RM1.3 billion from the recently-launched Seni Mont' Kiara residential resort and RM380 million from Tiffani by i-Zen condominium project.

Seni Mont' Kiara and Tiffani by i-Zen are among a few high-end residential and commercial developments under Aseana at Mont' Kiara.

"The average price of condominiums at Tiffani by i-Zen is RM630 per sq ft (psf). More than 90 per cent of the total 399 units available have been sold in the past one year," Lim said.

Sixty per cent of the project has been completed and the handover of the residentials is expected in early 2009.

Lim spoke to reporters after Aseana signed an agreement appointing South Korea's LG Electronics as air conditioners supplier for the Tiffani by i-Zen yesterday.

"The Seni Mont' Kiara will have an average price of RM750 psf," he added.

The Seni Mont' Kiara project, Lim said, will comprise four blocks with a total 600 units of condominium.

Two phases are being undertaken, with completion in three years. Phase One will have 300 units. The second phase of another 300 units is planned for launch in June or July.

Aseana expects to launch an office development by December this year.

"It is a two blocks of 28-storey and 16-storey office development with an average price of RM850 psf," Lim said.

Meanwhile, LG Electronics Sdn Bhd managing director T.Y. Ko said it will install 2,200 units of LG ArtCool air-conditioners at all 399 Tiffani by i-Zen units.

The contract is valued at US$4 million (RM12.76 million), he added.

This is the second air-conditioner contract awarded by Aseana to LG Electronics. In 2006, the latter got to supply air-conditioners for all the 404 units of the Kiaraville condominium development.

By New Straits Times (by Zuraimi Abdullah)

Faber’s new projects in KL and Sabah

Adnan (right) with Rimbunan Melati senior general manager Khalid Abdul Majid in front of a 3-storey terraced house show unit in Laman Rimbunan

KUALA LUMPUR: Faber Development Holdings Sdn Bhd (FDH), a member of Faber Group Bhd, is set to launch two new projects in Taman Desa here and an exclusive development in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah this year. Within its flagship development in Taman Desa, FDH will launch a joint-venture (JV) project with Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur (DBKL) comprising 40 units of semi-dees and six bungalows with an average built-up of 4,000 sq ft and 7,000 sq ft respectively.

The proposed average selling price for the semidees is RM1.4 million, and RM2.85 million for the bungalows. The target launch for the JV is the 2Q2008, Faber group managing director Adnan Mohammad told theSun in an interview recently.

“There is also a lakeside condominium in Taman Desa that we plan to launch by the 3Q2008,” he added. The lakeside development would consist of 176 units of luxury condominiums, with an average builtup of 1,279 sq ft. The proposed average selling price is RM400,000.

According to the developer, the two developments to be launched in Taman Desa are adjacent to each other.

Adnan disclosed in Kota Kinabalu, FHD will be launching a RM31 million high-end development within the exclusive Taman Hilltop. To be called Hilltop Perdana, it comprises 32 semi-dees and two linked bungalows with average built-up area of 4,000 sq ft. With a selling price of between RM869,060 to over RM1 milllion, the launch is scheduled for the 2Q2008.

“Taman Hilltop is an established and exclusive area in Kota Kinabalu. We anticipate very good response there,” said Adnan, adding that within the same vicinity, all high-end developments have been fully taken up.

FDH, through its subsidiary Rimbunan Melati Sdn Bhd, is currently developing Laman Rimbunan in Kepong, Kuala Lumpur. The mixed development consists of shop offices, 3-storey terraced houses, and medium and low-cost apartments. It is a JV between FDH and Cekap Corporation Bhd, where FDH holds a 55% stake.

Spanning over a 100-acre leasehold tract fronting Jalan Kepong, Laman Rimbunan has a gross development value of approximately RM618 million, consisting of six phases. To date, 60% has been developed, comprising 50-units of 3-storey shop offices and 243 units of 3-storey terraced houses. On-going developments include 360 units of lowcost apartments, eight units of 2-storey shop offices, and 148 units of 3-storey Mawar houses.

“Response has been very encouraging. Our 3-storey shop offices, 3-storey houses and low-cost apartments have been fully sold. The second phase of our 3-storey Mawar terraced houses have seen a takeup of 95%,” said Adnan.

The Mawar houses have built-up of 3,033 sq ft and a lot size of 22 ft by 75 ft. Launched in November 2006, with pricing at RM471,800 onwards, it is expected to be ready by November this year.

Launched earlier this month was its third phase, Matahari, comprising 193 units of 3-storey terraced houses with a lot size of 22ft by 75ft and built-ups from 3,025 sq ft for intermediate units and 3,689 sq ft for corner units. Intermediate units are going from RM547,800 while end lots are priced from RM843,800.

Adnan said 50% was sold within a week of the launch. The GDV of Matahari is over RM119 million.

According to the developer, a Matahari unit features a 700 sq ft junior master bedroom on the third floor. Laman Rimbunan also boasts the use of high quality materials. The Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) Malaysia, graded the construction quality of the project's first phase (terraced houses) as above average, or 70%.

“The property market in Kepong is vibrant," said Adnan, citing an example of some shop offices that were bought for RM1 million in August 2005 and were recently sold (subsale) for RM1.5 million.

"For our houses, the buyers are mainly owner-occupiers from Petaling Jaya, Kepong and Taman Desa,” he added. FHD is in the midst of securing more lands within Klang Valley, including one in Puchong. The developer will also be looking at collaborations with its sister company, UEM Land, and will continue to either acquire land or possible JVs with landowners.

By theSun (by Rosalynn Poh)

Asia property demand predicted to continue amidst global slowdown

SYDNEY: Demand for commercial and residential property in Asia will continue in the medium term despite a global property slowdown in 2008, predicts the Asian Public Real Estate Association (APREA).

Peter Mitchell, the CEO of APREA, told an audience of institutional investors at a recent seminar in Sydney that emerging Asian real estate investment trusts (REITs) made it comparatively easy and costeffective to access these markets.

“In certain Asian markets such as Hong Kong and Singapore, REITs are beginning to mature as an asset class,” said Mitchell. “As an investment instrument, REITs generally offer the longer-term investor steady dividend yields, a high level of management transparency and the potential for appreciation of the underlying assets.”

By The Edge Singapore

Abbey Woods focuses on KLCC

VETERAN property marketing guru and developer, Datuk Wong Choon Kee, who recently left Sunway City Bhd after more than seven years helming the company, is still raring to shape the property landscape of Kuala Lumpur and other major cities around the world.

“Property is my life – I live and breathe property,” enthused Wong during a recent interview with StarBiz. A strong believer of real estate in the KL City Centre (KLCC) area, Wong's outfit, Abbey Woods Sdn Bhd is teaming up with a few strong financial partners to develop high-end residential and commercial projects in the well sought after address.

“We believe that any property built in the KLCC area will be marketable and tradable. Properties built here have to be high-end branded products with quality finishes and iconic designed facade.” he said.

Datuk Wong Choon Kee

On his plans for Abbey Woods, Wong said: “It is important to always create a vision and then ignite your organization to make this vision a reality. I love exerting energy competitive spirit to get my team passionate about what they are doing that they cannot wait to execute the project.”

“I hope I am able to share my experiences and the little expertise that I have with the younger generation of developers and builders in Malaysia. To move ahead, one would have to be in-tune with the latest technology and information.” he added.

He pointed out that branding was the business buzz in property development today.

In the robust city of Vancouver, Abbey Woods will be teaming up with foreign fund partners to develop quality and high-end property projects.

The first project will be a 30-storey condominium tower comprising of 180 condominiums, ranging in sizes from 850 to 2,200 sq ft.

Construction is expected to commence within six months, once planning approvals are obtained. Selling prices are not yet confirmed, but expected to be in the region of RM4,000 per sq ft.

“The strong and sophisticated property market in Vancouver has attracted substantial investors' interest from all parts of the world.

High-end residential properties are going for between RM6,000 and RM8,000 per sq ft. The commercial market also holds much potential,” Wong said.

He also has plans for some quality residential projects in Singapore to establish a strong brand in the regional market.

How does he keep up with the industry? Wong said: “I love attending property launches, both locally and internationally. It is through these launches that I learn about the competitions we are facing and the ever changing trends – what is in and what is not.

“I must say that my years with the corporate sector were indeed fulfilling and inspiring as I got to work and learn from great visionaries. Everyday was a learning experience – gaining more skills and knowledge on the know-how's of the business. Their management and leadership skills had empowered and sparked others, leading the pack to achieve goals and vision.”

Wong co-founded property consultancy firm CH Williams, Talhar & Wong in 1973 and remained the firm's managing director until 1989.

His exposure in Canada was between 1989 and 1996 when he was the president and chief executive officer of Abbey Woods Development Ltd, a property company listed on the Toronto and Vancouver stock exchanges.

In late 1996, he was back in Malaysia to join Genting Bhd as executive vice-president before moving on in 2000 to become the senior managing director of Sunway City Bhd.

As part of the SunCity team, Wong listed three projects that he took pride in – Sunway South Quay, Kiara Hills and Palazzio “where the epitome of fine living makes both architectural aesthetics second to none amidst a lushly landscaped setting.

“Many savvy homebuyers are seeking for innovative residences set in natural surroundings. It has been said that a high quality life is often associated with a natural milieu in the simplest form – light, views and free flow of fresh air.

“Through our projects, we had gone beyond the norm to build wholesome innovative homes; beyond the expectations of homebuyers.

“Besides an exclusive address, the iconic development sits on an extensive natural, tropical landscaping, and uses natural materials laced with modern tropical designs,” he said.

With Wong's dynamic capacity for new property ideas and work, one can expect more property deals to come in the near future.

By The Star (by Angie Ng)

Going for community building concept

INSTEAD of merely building properties, developers should embrace the concept of building communities by envisioning the process from a “community builder’s” viewpoint.

According to Abbey Woods Sdn Bhd chairman and managing director Datuk Wong Choon Kee, this is a more holistic approach to building as the builder evaluates how the development could impact people’s lives as he constructs.

“Every developer must optimise construction standards by offering quality facilities, better security measures and higher standard of living, because they are part of the process of building a nation.

“Sustainable property development must be practised as we move forward, as we should remember that building is always about the future, and the future is something we borrow from our children.

“Developers must start looking seriously into eco-friendly designs and buyers and investors and buyers can support this by making educated purchases,” Wong said.

He reminded developers that they have to do their best to provide property buyers with the best value they can possibly enjoy.

“The new generation of homebuyers is extremely savvy and hands-on on real estate matters; demanding good craftsmanship, quality designs, prime locations and the best value for every ringgit spent.

“As a property developer, I would like to see more innovations in the property projects developed in the country in terms of architecture and design, and emphasis given to quality,” Wong said.

He observed that the country would continue to face strong competition “as every other country is racing to pull in foreign real estate investors.”

“We have to raise the country's rating in various aspects, including quality of life index and international-standard property offerings. We have to capitalize on our advantages, including having one of the lowest property prices in the region, a comparable cost of living and transparent land and property ownership laws.”

On the market outlook, Wong said the local property market would continue to offer attractive durable dynamics, especially in the residential property sector, which would continue to dominate the volume of transactions in the market.

Malaysia is experiencing major development and economic growth, giving rise to an upturn in its tourist, residential and commercial property markets.

“Many international real estate investors are considering Malaysia as a highly lucrative option for three main reasons – well-priced properties, strong economy for sustainable growth and yields over the medium to long term.

“Property development in Malaysia has been encouraged by political, economic and geographical stability and it is one of the safest countries to live in.” Wong said.

Its modern lifestyles with exposure to western culture, great healthcare and infrastructure facilities, as well as a technology savvy society, make the country an attractive investment destination.

Wong said the Government’s My Second Home Programme and recent relaxations for foreign investment had made it easier for foreigners to purchase property and get financing locally.

“Malaysia also has a young age profile where 60% of the population is below 30 and the size of the average household is still largely at 4.3 persons per home. As the population matures, it should drive increased household formation, which will spur property demand.

The feel-good strategies, including the exemption of the real property gains tax, the lifting of Foreign Investment Committee (FIC) approval and removal of the limit of the number of property loans allowed for non-residents, will also help stimulate the property sector,” he added.

By The Star

Property on investors’ radar

GIVEN the volatility in the equity and financial markets since late last year, investors, both retail and institutional, are looking for safer places to park their money. Inflationary pressure also plays a role in where the money goes.

Property is an asset class that, in recent times, has entered the radar of investors seeking capital gains, yields or as a hedge against inflation.

For example, in tandem with economic growth, the property markets of Ireland and Spain were booming until recently while in metropolises such as Hong Kong, London, Mumbai, New York, Shanghai, Singapore and Sydney, commercial and residential property prices have risen due to their roles as global or regional financial hubs.

However, this asset class is complex, as street and market sentiment count for a lot. For residential properties, investment is based heavily on location while for commercial properties, economic growth and business sentiment are important factors. Supply and demand also influence the price, capital gains and yields.

Property prices in certain markets might have levelled off or fallen on account of the mortgage crisis in the US and the subsequent turmoil that has ensued but if ever there was a time to purchase property it might be now in those markets that have seen falling prices such as in the US.

The US Federal Reserve's move to cut the federal funds rate - the key interest rate that influences consumer credit, has also fuelled a property boom in Asia where interest rates have been kept low in tandem with the Fed's.

Due to this comparatively low-interest rate regime across most of East and Southeast Asia, there is a good spread or gap between returns and financing of properties.

Australia on the other hand is facing higher interest rates but due to the lack of supply in the residential component of the property market, there might be a property boom although not till two years down the road when pressure for housing builds up, according to a February report by an economist with an Australian bank.

The equity markets in Australia have also not been spared the turmoil that has hit other markets, he said, adding that this has provided added impetus, outside of the high interest rate regime, for investing in property.

He said most investors do not chase yield but capital gains when looking at property. A property boom may be around the corner due to the lack of housing supply in cities such as Melbourne, Perth and Sydney in recent times, he said.

Hall Chadwick Asia Sdn Bhd chairman Kumar Tharmalingam said the general rule of thumb in managing portfolio of investments is 20% in cash, 30% in property and 50% in equities and bonds.

“In the current scenario, the 30% investment in property is very stable because rental is determined over entire term period and not based on the market's current volatility,” he told StarBiz.

Kumar said owing to the recent volatility in the equity markets, it might not be a good idea to take positions, “but there may be opportunities to take profit.”

He said the consequences of the financial crisis in the US would be higher borrowing costs, as banks turned cautious on borrowers. “We're going to be affected by the sub-prime crisis by association due to tightening of credit worldwide,” Kumar added.

He said capital gains on property are also seen as a hedge against inflation. “Its a good time to own property if you've debt-free real estate or existing debt on easier terms that is also fully-led,” Kumar said.

Regroup Associates Sdn Bhd executive director Paul Khong said investors would only look at sizable investment grade-type commercial properties when looking for yields or capital gains. “Luxury residential properties led the way in transactions until a year ago when commercial properties started to see transactions in the RM1,000 psf range. Before that it was between RM500 psf and RM600 psf,” he said.

Since then we've seen values of commercial properties soaring, Khong said, adding that until the advent of real estate investment trusts and their emphasis on yields, most investors did not acquire properties to look for yields.

“Now, we're looking at an industry average net yield of between 6% and 7% within the Klang Valley for choice office properties while it is 8% for industrial properties,” he said.

By The Star -StarBiz