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Friday, November 14, 2008

A night to remember

The MPA 2008 winners on stage with Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin.

PETALING JAYA: It was a memorable night for Naim Cendera Holdings Bhd managing director Datuk Hasmi Hasnan at the International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI) Malaysia Property Award 2008 (MPA 2008) on Wednesday.

Hasmi is the first Sarawakian and east Malaysian to win the new Property Man of the Year award.

Organised by the FIABCI Malaysian Chapter, this is the 16th year of the awards.

Dubbed the “property Oscars”, the awards also acknowledged 10 property projects in a glittering ceremony held at One World Hotel.

The event was graced by Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin and Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Nur Zahirah, and attended by more than 1,000 foreign and local guests.

The arrival of Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin (second from right) and Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Nur Zahirah (in red) at the MPA 2008 accompanied by FIABCI Malaysia president Richard Fong (left), MPA 2008 organising chairman Yeow Thit Sang (second on left) and FIABCI Malaysia evaluation chairman Yu Kee Su.

Hasmi said the group would consider selling more affordable property units as the market would be soft due to the slowing economy.

“This is a challenge for us. We have not launched any new project because we have to see how difficult the economic situation gets. Currently, we have some ongoing projects in Miri and Kuching,” he said.

Hasmi also hoped to venture into the property sector in Peninsular Malaysia should the opportunity arise for reasonably-priced land.

YTL Land & Development Bhd executive director Datuk Yeoh Seok Kian said the company would be launching more projects in Sentul next year.

“The 300-acre land bank in Sentul will keep us busy for at least six to seven years,” he said.

Meanwhile, SP Setia Bhd group managing director and chief executive officer Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin said participation in the award was an opportunity to see where the company stood in the market.

“Today, Malaysia has many prominent developers. I am very proud that local developers are as good as the international players.

“We will keep improving ourselves. In today’s competitive environment, we must always be ahead (of our rivals),” he said, adding that the company had 20 ongoing projects.

Urusharta Cemerlang Sdn Bhd (the owner and developer of Kuala Lumpur Pavilion) chairman Tan Sri Zainol Mahmood said retail development needed the support from tourists.

“We are looking to have some projects in Penang as it is a popular tourist destination,” he said.

By The Star

Be resilient to face slowdown, builders told

PETALING JAYA: Developers must be optimistic and resilient in facing the current slowdown in the property market, says Country Heights Holdings Bhd founder and vice-chairman Tan Sri Lee Kim Yew.

Tan Sri Lee Kim Yew

“The sector is facing a slowdown as the result of the current economic conditions. Though we do feel cautious, we must not be pessimists,” he said during the CEO roundtable session at the summit.

He was confident the sector, which survived the 1997 economic crisis, would be able to weather the present crisis.

“If you are all well prepared, a crisis like this could offer you more opportunities, provided you become more innovative in terms of product and marketing strategy,” he said.

For example, developing residential properties within a golf course could be one strategy as more people loved to play golf and wanted nice surroundings for their homes, he added.

Lee said Malaysia was still an attractive market even to the foreigners as prices were still affordable.

Stressing that the Government had already helped the sector with its policy towards reducing the construction cost, he said developers must not be greedy by pushing property prices so high that it could create a bubble.

He advised developers not to neglect the domestic market in their eagerness to attract foreign investors for their high-end properties.

“We cannot deny that domestic demand is key to our business. We must realise that houses are not a want, but a need for most people,” he said.

Asean Association for Planning and Housing president and past president of Real Estate and Housing Developers Association Datuk Eddy Chen said developers should look at their balance sheet and trim some of their profit margin to sell their properties during the current market slowdown.

Ireka Corp Bhd executive director Lai Voon Hon said the stable local financial market would help sustain the property sector.

He added that property prices in the country were still competitive compared with neighbouring countries like Singapore.

He also said developers that were resilient during the current difficult times would be able to exploit the market boom expected in another four to five years.

By The Star

YTL Land plans another project near Lake Edge

WINNING QUALITY: Lake Edge has won top honours at the 16th FIABCI Malaysia Property Awards in the residential award category for Best Low-Rise.

YTL Land & Development Bhd, the property arm of YTL Corp Bhd, plans to develop another 8ha of land next to its Lake Edge gated community in Puchong, Selangor.

The plan is to build 45 units of high-end terrace homes with a gross development value of RM50 million, senior manager for sales and marketing Judy C.L. Loo said.

Loo told Business Times during a site visit yesterday that the design and layout plan is on the drawing board and it will be ready to launch in a year or two.

"YTL is confident of the take-up rate, looking at sales achieved from our earlier units and positive response from our ongoing registration exercise," Loo said.

The existing Lake Edge features courtyard, terrace, semi-detached homes and bungalows totalling 375 units, worth some RM450 million.
Launched in phases since 2004, YTL has sold and handed over 309 units of the courtyard homes and terraces to buyers, majority of whom were from Puchong.

Loo said construction and sales of products in Lake Edge were not affected by recent developments in the market.

"Our products have been selling well with positive feedback from buyers. We are also getting new registrations from potential buyers," she said.

Still under development are 50 units of two-and-a-half storey semi-detached homes with private lap pools known as Waterville, each worth over RM1.6 million.

This month, YTL will launch Waterville, which is due for completion by December next year, and also Parkville.

Parkville comprises eight units of double-storey semi-detached homes, worth over RM1.8 million each, and eight units of bungalows valued at more than RM2.1 million per unit, which have been built under a build-and-sell concept.

"YTL is optimistic the Waterville and Parkville units will be snapped up by June next year despite a downturn in the global financial markets. It has secured pre-sales from the two," Loo said.

Lake Edge won top honours at the 16th FIABCI-Malaysia Property Awards ceremony recently in the residential award category for Best Low-Rise.

By Business Times (by Sharen Kaur)

Developers’ good track record can help boost sales

PUCHONG: A developer’s track record is what buyers look at during challenging economic times, says YTL Land & Development Bhd sales and marketing senior manager Judy Loo.

Speaking during a media tour of its leasehold Waterville Homes, Loo said buyers were not put off by the fact that a particular project was not freehold.

“I don’t think it is a hindrance. Buyers today are more influenced by the track record of a developer, especially in the current challenging times,” she said.

She added that the homes, which are part of YTL Land’s high-end, 80-acre Lake Edge project in Puchong, had received strong interest mainly from Puchong residents.

“Most of the potential purchasers are from the Puchong area who are looking to upgrade. We have also received interest from existing Lake Edge residents,” Loo said.

She added that the Waterville Homes, now about 65% completed, comprised 50 units of 2½-storey semi-detached houses with a private lap pool each. The standard lot size is 40ft x 85ft.

Built on 4.4 acres of leasehold land, the homes are expected to be completed by end-2009. Priced at RM1.6mil per unit, this phase would have a gross development value of RM80mil, Loo said.

Lake Edge comprises multi-themed fenceless homes set in a modern tropical neighbourhood. A 12-acre lake is also part of the development.

The project received the award for best low-rise residential development at the FIABCI Malaysia Property Award 2008 held in Petaling Jaya on Tuesday.

By The Star

Sime Darby Property doubles sales target

KUALA LUMPUR: Sime Darby Property Bhd is doubling its sales target to RM200mil for the second instalment of its Parade of Homes fair, but is cautious about the property outlook going forward.

Managing director Tunku Datuk Putra Badlishah said new launches and sales targets for its current financial year ending June 30 (FY09) would be reviewed constantly due to the current downbeat economic situation.

From left: Tunku Datuk Putra Badlishah and RHB Bank retail head Renzo Viegas launching the second instalment of the Parade of Homes.

He said the company’s sales target for FY09 was a “moving target” and that given the current situation, the company was cautious about new launches.

“We’ll be focusing on what we have right now and if there are any new launches, there will be a lot of pre-sales done before we make a commitment to launch,” Tunku Putra said.

The sales target for the second instalment of Parade of Homes had been doubled to RM200mil due to the longer sale period, he added.

The total value of properties for the current sale is RM500mil.

The first instalment of the Parade of Homes in June generated over RM248mil in sales. The company had a sales target of RM100mil then.

“We were pleasantly surprised by the take-up rates in June when the market was quite weak,” Tunku Putra said.

The current instalment of the Parade of Homes is being held from today until Dec 15.

In conjunction with the sales launch, Sime Darby Property is working with RHB Bank to offer financing under the “RHB Unique Financial Solutions” packages as well as a guaranteed buy-back scheme for purchases during the sales period.

By The Star

Sime Darby Property sweetens home campaign

SIME Darby Property Bhd expects its second property campaign to record RM200 million sales during the month-long event.

It is targeting a lower sales figure than its first campaign in June, which generated RM248 million sales, amid the current uncertain market conditions.

The "Parade of Homes" will run from today until December 15. Properties for sale will be featured at Sime Darby sales galleries and show units at all its 10 townships.

Sime Darby Property managing director Datuk Tunku Putra Badlishah Tunku Annuar said the RM200 million figure was a conservative target.

"We have RM500 million worth of properties on sale, which are in different stages of construction. Some have just been launched.

"For residential properties, prices range from RM160,000 to RM2 million," Tunku Badlishah told a news conference after the launch of the campaign in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Also present were Sime Darby property development head Tengku Ab Aziz Tengku Mahmud and RHB Bank Bhd retail head Renzo Viegas.

The properties range from affordable to high-end homes and landed to high-rise in townships like Subang Jaya, Bukit Jelutong, USJ Heights, Bandar Bukit Raja, Ara Damansara, Denai Alam, Melawati, Nilai Impian, Planters' Haven and Putra Heights.

Tunku Badlishah said that Sime Darby Property's "Guaranteed Buy Back" (GBB) scheme coupled with RHB Bank's financing packages would make it attractive to buy properties during the campaign.

"Under the GBB scheme, Sime Darby Property will buy back the property purchased during the campaign period if the purchaser decides not to proceed with the purchase," he said.

Meanwhile, Viegas said that RHB Bank's innovative financing will give customers more flexibility and allow them to better manage their cash flow.

The advantages include not having to pay interest during the construction period, up to 90 per cent financing and paydown payment through existing property financing.

By Business Times (by Hamisah Hamid)

Offer unsold Bumi units to other buyers: Developers

The Real Estate and Housing Developers' Association (Rehda) has proposed that houses set aside for Bumiputeras be opened up to others if there are no Bumiputera buyers within six months or halfway through the construction period, whichever is earlier.

Rehda president Datuk Ng Seing Liong said the move will help ease the burden of interest payments and holding cost by industry players.

Currently, developers must set aside up to 30 per cent of available units in a housing scheme for Bumiputeras, and these are offered at five to 15 per cent discounts.

"In addition to high cost of land, property developers still have to pay for building materials and other construction costs. At times like this, it is difficult for property developers to continue and subsidise," Ng said yesterday.

He was speaking to reporters at the National Property and Housing Summit 2008, organised by the Asian Strategic and Leadership Institute.

Ng said that Rehda submitted a proposal to the government to look into the matter six months ago.

It also requested the authorities take over the development of low-cost housing so that industry players could concentrate on higher-cost projects.

Currently, lower-cost housing is being subsidised by profits from higher-cost projects. The regulator requires developers to allocate between 20 and 30 per cent of their development area to low-cost housing.

"Sometimes, these low-cost housing units go unsold and developers suffer losses," Ng said.

By Business Times (by Zurinna Raja Adam)

Call for Govt to relax bumi quota ruling

PETALING JAYA: Housing developers have urged the Government to relax the bumiputra quota for housing schemes, as unsold bumiputra units are placing a heavy burden on them amid the weak global economy.

Real Estate and Housing Developers Association of Malaysia (Rehda) president Datuk Ng Seing Liong reiterated his earlier calls for the Government to review the bumiputra quota policy and standardise it in all states.

“We hope that all the state governments will seriously consider our proposal to limit the bumiputra quota to a maximum of 30% of the total units. Discounts for Malay buyers should be capped at 5% and be only applicable for properties valued at RM250,000 and below.

“In addition, there should be an automatic release of the quota units after six months of a project’s launch or when construction has reached 50%, whichever is earlier,” he told the media on the sidelines of the summit.

The two-day summit gathered property developers, housing associations and government bodies to discuss the current and future issues relating to the property industry. It was opened by Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan.

Meanwhile, Glomac Bhd managing director Datuk F.D. Iskandar, one of the panel moderators at the summit, suggested that the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) scheme be placed under the Prime Minister’s Department because the Tourism Ministry was unable to promote it effectively.

“The Tourism Ministry is focusing more on attracting tourists than ensuring the MM2H programme is successful,” he said.

By The Star