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Monday, March 23, 2009

Uncertain times for property

The property outlook in Malaysia remains uncertain with industry players giving mixed feedback.

The Malaysian Institute of Estate Agents (MIEA) president K. Soma Sundram believes the local real estate industry is still resilient.

“Based on the feedback from our members, they are still doing business as usual, in fact some of them are doing much better. We are not in recession yet, the only thing that is happening now is that investors are adapting a wait-and-see attitude,” he said.

“Though the market around KLCC area is expected to go down by 15% to 20%, other places such as Bangsar, Subang Jaya and Damansara Heights are still maintaining their prices,” he added.

People with cash were still on the lookout for properties, Soma noted.

“First-time buyers for example, are still looking for affordable properties to buy or invest in and real estate agents need to adapt to tap this market and offer suitable locations for them to close more deals,” he said.

Soma said with developers giving out more incentives and doing more promotions, there were still plenty of jobs for real estate agents.

Zerin Properties executive Lalitha Anandarajah, who has been covering sales and leasing of office space in the past few months, said there had been an increase in demand for office spaces, and almost 70% of the enquiries were businesses looking to shift to more competitive rentals.

“There has also been an increase in demand for furnished offices to defray costs on renovation,” she said.

But at Venture Properties, senior negotiator Gary Lee is beginning to feel the impact of the economic slowdown.

“The number of cases has reduced since three to four months ago as the result of the slowdown in the global economy and this include local and foreign parties,” he said.

A real estate agent covering both office and residential sales/lease said the market had made a turn for the worse.

“Some of my clients aborted plans to secure new premises. It is not a good sign. Even expatriates looking for houses to rent are looking for more short-term agreements,” she said.

Another real estate agent said the market was extremely slow especially for the high-end residential units.

She said there were still expatriates coming in but their budget was now much lower.

“Honestly speaking, I don’t see many European expatriates coming in to the country compared with the previous years.

“Right now, I have to change my strategy by expanding my network and focusing on condominiums with much lower rent,” she said.

By The Star (by Edy Sarif)

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