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Saturday, September 5, 2009

Targeting Malaysian buyers

Malaysians are generally quite a frugal lot and believe in saving for rainy days. That should explain why we have one of the highest savings rates in the world at 32% of gross national product.

There are in fact many rich Malaysians who are looking for quality properties to invest in. Malaysian buyers constitute one of the largest foreign buyers in Singapore; many do this with investment in mind or for having a holiday home.

That could be the reason why developers from overseas, including Australia and as far as Britain, are targeting Malaysian buyers and are showcasing their projects in Kuala Lumpur.

Berkeley Homes group, one of the largest developers in Britain, is a regular foreign developer with outings to Kuala Lumpur to woo our buyers.

Last month, its subsidiary, St George was in the city to promote Battersea Reach in the township of Battersea and Aquarius House, on St George Wharf in Vauxhall SW8, south of London.

Averaging £200,000 to £350,000 for a 800 sq ft apartment or around RM1,500 to RM2,600 per sq ft, these properties are not exactly cheap by Malaysian standards.

Although most of the buying activities are from parents who have children pursuing their education in Britain, there are also those who are frequent travellers and enjoy the lifestyle there.

Those still with spare cash to invest will be on the lookout for good property to buy in Malaysia and buying activities are expected to resume when there are clearer economic and market directions.

For now, the majority of buying activities are still by first-time home buyers and for medium-priced property, while buying for high-end property has been markedly decimated by the global financial crisis.

One of the reasons could be that many of the high net worth buyers are out on “bargain hunting expeditions” to pick up overseas properties that have eroded in prices.

It is about time developers come up with the right products to attract these high net worth buyers and some of the high-end products will likely make their way to the market next year.

The pro-active stance adopted by industry practitioners will ensure they have the right products to offer and they will go the extra mile to design and market them well.

In fact, the pace and quality of property development in the country will depend on other factors including the rate of population growth, people’s changing lifestyles and economic activities.

Although the residential property sector has been the main driver of the local property market in the past, commercial property has the potential to grow in importance, especially with the advent of real estate investment trust.

Malaysia has many promising services-related businesses that should be tapped and harnessed to generate a more positive impact on the real economy and real estate sector.

Among the sectors that easily come to mind are tourism, education, healthcare, retailing, food and beverage, and financial services.

These businesses will continue to grow in importance in the coming years and will contribute to more job creation and economic growth for the country.

Having a robust services sector will have a significant impact on the real estate sector, especially commercial real estates, which are still largely in the doldrums as a result of the global financial crisis.

Many cities around the world that have drawn big numbers of businessmen, investors and visitors to their shores mostly started out as successful business and financial hubs.

From Singapore and Hong Kong to London, Paris and New York, these global cities are renowned for their highly efficient and top-notch infrastructure as well as corporate and public governance.

All are international financial centres and have well developed services sectors and facilities.

With more concerted efforts to further develop Malaysia’s services sectors, hopefully more opportunities will emerge for the people in terms of business opportunities and employment.

Meanwhile, property industry players will also be able to partake in more quality developments for the enlarged sectors.

·Deputy news editor Angie Ng hopes industry players will introduce more vibrancy and refreshing designs to their post-crisis property projects, both residential and commercial.

By The Star (by Angie Ng)

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