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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Analysts: Signs of quick rebound in property sector

PETALING JAYA: The slew of property launches and speedy take-up rates lately are signs that the local (property) sector is on a quick rebound from the global economic downturn.

In its latest report, HwangDBS Vickers Research said the local high-end property sector had been on an uptrend, with developers raking in quick profits from project launches.

Among them were DNP Bhd’s Verticas condominiums in Bukit Ceylon, Kuala Lumpur, which saw 60% of the 50 units soft launched being taken up.

En bloc buyers also snapped up 93% of non-bumiputra units launched (last month) at IJM Land Bhd’s Light Linear project in Penang.

“We see demand for high-end units returning, which could re-rate the sector,” said HwangDBS.

It also highlighted Eastern & Oriental Bhd’s St Mary serviced apartments in Kuala Lumpur (launched in June, 80% take-up in five days) and SP Setia Bhd’s Sky Residences condominiums in KL (previewed in September 2008, with an average 70% take-up so far).

“Developers are more confident now to resume launches, which should lead to faster earnings recovery. Selling prices may soon be raised and incentives gradually pulled back, resulting in margin expansion for developers,” HwangDBS said.

An analyst from a local bank-backed brokerage said the take-up rates were not surprising, given the developers’ good reputation.

“These developers aren’t your fly-by-night type of developers. They have very good reputation and solid track record. The average investor or house-buyer is more likely to park his money with a well-known developer, knowing that his money would be safe,” he said.

Another analyst said the property sector was making a comeback in the region. In the last few months, Hong Kong, Singapore and China had seen strong surges in property demand, she said.

“There’s so much liquidity with nowhere to go. This is one of the safest ways to fight inflation. Putting your money in the bank basically means being eaten up alive by inflation.

“Malaysian property is generally still very affordable. If you don’t buy one now, it will be even more difficult to afford it next time. The 2% interest you get from banks is nothing,” she noted.

HwangDBS also highlighted the Malaysia Property Inc, a joint public-private sector initiative aimed to attract foreign investments worth RM20bil in the domestic real estate sector over the next 10 years.

“The recent liberalisation measures (abolishment of local equity ownership requirement for mergers and acquisitions and Foreign Investment Committee approvals) should help boost both foreign and local demand for Malaysian properties.

“Previous policy changes (waiver of real property gains tax and monthly EPF withdrawals) introduced just before the financial crisis have yet to be fully felt and could be strong catalysts during a recovery,” it said.

By The Star (by Eugene Mahalingam)

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