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Monday, February 16, 2009

Johor developers: Innovation and creativity the key

PROPERTY developers in Johor – like in other parts of the country – are taking different strategies and approaches in view of the softening property market.

Developers opined that unlike the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis, it was more challenging now as countries in the world were facing uncertainties from the global economic downturn.

However, they said this time around governments globally were taking pro-active steps and making concerted efforts to overcome the situation.

Chang Kim Wah

SP Setia Bhd group executive director Chang Khim Wah said the company would continue to focus on its ongoing projects in Johor even during bad times.

The projects are Bukit Indah I & II, Setia Indah, Setia Tropika and Setia Eco Gardens.

“We are not worried about others and what they are doing but instead are looking at how we can improve and provide what is best for our customers,’’ he said.

Chang said developers had to be innovative and creative regardless of whether the times were good or bad as today’s consumers were more knowledgeable and expected only the best and product differentiation.

He said although the property market might not look rosy this year, it could benefit from the lower interest rate as this would prompt serious house buyers to make purchases.

Chang said even during bad times, there were still buyers with cash and who were willing to spend on properties as they knew they would get good deals from developers and banks.

He said the company recently launched 40 bungalows with a price tag from RM1.3mil each at its Setia Tropika project in Kempas. “Sales were good and the units were immediately snapped by Chinese and Malay businessmen,’’ said Chang.

The company would concentrate on landscaping at all its projects in Johor, he said, adding that it did not see prices of properties in Johor dropping this year.

Mah Sing Group Bhd is not going to postpone or scale down its property launches in Johor. In fact the company is confident of recording good sales this year.

Its projects are the Sierra Perdana, Sri Pulai Perdana I, Austin Perdana and Sri Pulai Perdana II launched recently.

Mah Sing Properties Sdn Bhd chief operating officer Ng Heng Phai said the Johor property market had never been a bubble market and the property price appreciation was more moderate.

“Johor is fortunate during this economic downturn as it has Iskandar Malaysia and can benefit from the two integrated resort projects in Singapore,’’ said Ng.

He said the commitment shown by the stakeholders to make the economic corridor a success should be lauded.

Ng said the two integrated resorts in Singapore would create 10,000 jobs in the services sector and, in this respect, Johor had always been providing the workforce needed by the republic.

In Singapore, the hospitality service employees earned between S$1,500 and S$3,000 monthly and they were what the company was looking at as potential house buyers, he said.

“The unemployment rate is likely to reach 6% this year but we still have 94% of the population working and this is the segment developers should target instead on harping on the unemployment rate,’’ said Ng.

Berinda Properties sales manager Lim Sung Heng said the company would try to adjust its products according to the economic situation.

He said, for instance, when times were good, it usually launched 300 units of new houses, but was now looking at 100 units at the most. It was also considering reducing the size of the houses so that the prices were not marked up.

Lim said the company still enjoyed good sales and most of its buyers were businessmen in the recession-proof business and multi-level marketing companies.

“There are always opportunities during a crisis but we must be able to maintain our costs by streamlining our products or reviewing them,’’ he said.

Berinda is a member of the Kuok Group and its projects in Johor are Taman Molek, Taman Impian Emas, Taman Impian Heights, Taman Redang, Taman Ponderosa, and the soon-to-be-launched Ponderosa Woods. It also owns the Impian Emas Golf and Country Club and Ponderosa Golf and Country Club.

By The Star

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