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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)

Bina Puri bids for RM2b jobs in UAE

DUBAI: Construction group Bina Puri Holdings Bhd is bidding for RM2 billion worth of jobs in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Bina Puri general manager (projects) Lee Seng Fong said projects include villas and high-rise buildings in Dubai as well as Abu Dhabi, which will be a good platform for the company to capture the Gulf of Corporation Council countries.

They are Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain and Kuwait.

"We are also eyeing projects in Syria, but will venture cautiously due to the unpredictable movement of building material prices," Lee told reporters at the sidelines of the Malaysia Services Exhibition 2009.
Bina Puri is fresh from bagging a RM693 million project in Brunei earlier this month to build 2,000 homes for the Brunei Economic Development Board.

The firm, which currently has an order book of RM2.7 billion, has completed roads, highways, bridgeworks, airport works, water works, residential and offices, hotels, government complexes and hospitals in six countries.

By Business Times (by Zaidi Isham Ismail)

Bina Puri eyes RM2bil worth of projects in UAE

CONSTRUCTION company Bina Puri Holdings Bhd is aggressively pursuing projects in the Middle East with the group bidding for about RM2bil worth of potential projects in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Projects general manager Lee Seng Fong said despite the global economic slowdown, prospects in the Middle East were still good although one must be more cautious when expanding in the region.

“Currently, we are present in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Oman, Bahrian and Syria,” Lee told reporters during the Malaysia Services Exhibition 2009 which ended here last Thursday.

Currently, the group has a total order book worth RM2.7bil.

By Bernama

MPI to rev up overseas roadshows

MALAYSIA Property Inc (MPI) will be ramping up its overseas roadshows and programmes in the coming months to promote Malaysia as an international real estate destination.

The primary markets targeted include Singapore, Britain, Japan, Hong Kong, Indonesia and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, while the secondary markets are China, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

It will be taking part in the “A Place In The Sun” property exhibition in London from April 3 to 5, followed by a four-day roadshow that covers London and Manchester in July.

Following the success of its first roadshow in Tokyo last December, a second roadshow will be in Osaka on April 17-18, and in Tokyo on April 25-26.

Over 1,000 participants turned up for the seminars and talks in Tokyo.

MPI chairman Datuk Richard Fong said the challenge was to convince international investors that Malaysian property offered better value than other subprime properties elsewhere and the country’s economy was expected to remain steady despite the uncertainties in the global economy today.

‘’Malaysia has much to offer real estate investors. Foreigners can buy an unlimited number of properties; register them in their names; and there is no real property gains tax, inheritance and transfer tax, unlike the many restrictions on foreign buyers in the other countries.

“We are going on a two-pronged approach to promote local property as an attractive and high return investment destination and as a value-for-money second home choice,” Fong told StarBiz.

The activities lined up include having continuous introductory and follow-up briefings for the target groups; an online presence via the MPI website with hyperlinks to websites of supporting developers; online property databank; encouraging developers to meet international standards in quality and workmanship; working with the media; and raising awarEness through advertisements, brochures and newsletters.

At MPI’s maiden roadshow in Tokyo, the team realised that not many Japanese knew about Malaysia. Plans are afoot to invite journalists from Japan to visit and write about Malaysia.

Before promoting Malaysia’s properties, MPI would be working with Tourism Malaysia to promote the country first, said MPI director Yeow Thit Sang.

“Our focus is to brand the country as a preferred real estate and second home destination in the international arena. Potentially it will have a significant impact to promote foreign direct investment in real estate,” he added.

MPI expects to spend RM3.5mil to RM4mil a year over the next five years for its brand-building exercise.

Yeow said while Singapore had successfully attracted many high net-worth investors with 25% of its properties sold in the last few years to foreigners, Malaysia’s sales to foreigners only made up 3% of the total RM2.5bil industry sales last year.

“Our target is to attract at least 10,000 foreigners to buy at least RM1mil worth of property each,” he said.

By The Star (by Angie Ng)