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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Putra Place finally sold for RM514m

The Putra Place in Kuala Lumpur has finally been sold to OSK Trustee Bhd for RM513.95 million, some three years after the property was first put up for auction.

The auction, held yesterday, is believed to be the largest public auction in Malaysia.

Sources said OSK Trustee may have bought the property on behalf of one of the real estate investment trusts (REIT).

Among OSK's clients, speculation is that Sunway REIT is the buyer. Sunway REIT's chief executive officer Datuk Jeffrey Ng Tiong Lip did not answer calls from Business Times.

This move is not surprising as Sunway REIT manages malls, hotels and offices. Putra Place encompasses The Mall shopping complex, the Legend Hotel and an office tower.

This purchase will also strengthen Sunway REIT's position as Malaysia's largest trust.

Commerce International Merchant Bankers Bhd (CIMB) put the property up for auction to recover loans given to property owner, Metroplex Holdings Sdn Bhd.

CIMB's counsel, Alan Gomez of Tommy Thomas Advocate & Solicitors, when contacted by Business Times said: "We confirm the successful auction of this property at the reserve price. The successful bidder was OSK Trustee Bhd."

Gomez said OSK has placed a 10 per cent deposit and now has 120 days to complete the purchase.

"The amount outstanding to the first chargee (CIMB) is in the region of RM140 million," he added.

The second chargee Aseambankers Malaysia Bhd is said to be owed a substantial amount.

Over the years, the auction price of the property was reduced thrice, as no bids were received.

The property was first auctioned in April 2008 and the price was then set at RM705 million. The latest reserve value was RM513.95 million.

The Mall comprises eight levels of podium retail/shopping units. The Putra Place office tower covers the tenth floor to the 33rd, while the 25-storey Legend Hotel includes serviced apartments and penthouses. It is located on Jalan Putra opposite the Putra World Trade Centre.

The freehold property, with 193,621 sq ft space, has 1,323 parking bays.

By Business Times

50pc more hotel rooms needed

BY 2020, Malaysia needs 50 per cent more hotel rooms to cater for the anticipated tourist arrivals of 36 million.

As at February this year, there were a total of 1,610 hotels in the three to five star category and budget hotels in Malaysia. Together the hotels provide 161,117 rooms.

The increase, Deputy Minister of Tourism Datuk Dr James Dawos Mamit said, would be required throughout the country.

Malacca records the highest number of tourists, he added.

Mamit, who read the speech on behalf of Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen at the official launch of InterContinental Kuala Lumpur, said that in Kuala Lumpur alone there are 236 hotels, offering 30,000 rooms.

The average occupancy of hotels in Kuala Lumpur in 2010 was 66.9 per cent, which was 4.2 per cent higher than in 2009.

However, the average occupancy of hotels in Malaysia declined by 1.6 per cent, registering 59.3 per cent. This was despite an increase in arrivals in 2010 of 24.6 million compared with 23.6 million in 2009.

Mamit said the decline could have been a result of people opting for Malaysian Homestay.

"There was a dramatic increase in the number of homestays," he said.

This year's tourist arrivals target is set at 25 million and the government is looking at bringing in high-yield tourists.

He added that any decline in arrivals from Japan will be cushioned by higher arrivals from China and India, particularly affluent tourists.

Meanwhile, some of the confirmed new room inventory to enter the Klang Valley market over the next five years are St Regis Kuala Lumpur, Grand Hyatt, Pullman Bangsar, Best Western Premier Dua Sentral, Hilton Garden Inn, Movenpick, Park Regis Kuala Lumpur and Four Season Place.

By Business Times

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Malaysia to allocate land for affordable homes

The government will allocate a portion of its landbank for the construction of affordable housing, especially for Malaysians eligible for the My First Home Scheme.

Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Chor Chee Heung said the affordable housing project, which will likely be stratified properties or apartments, will either be built by the government or through joint ventures with the private sector.

"The government is looking at its landbank for the purpose of building houses for those earning RM3,000 a month and below.

"We also hope that the state governments will do their part by imposing quotas for developers to build affordable homes, besides low-cost houses," he told a news conference after launching Green Building Index Township Rating Tool and Residential New Construction Tool (Version 2) in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Chor also said that the government will start paying some RM1.4 billion annually to Alam Flora Sdn Bhd, SWM Environment Sdn Bhd and Idaman Bersih Sdn Bhd once the concession agreement is signed between the government and the three waste management companies.

He said local councils in Peninsular Malaysia will collect some RM900 million from households for waste management services provided by these concessionaires, while the federal government will top up about RM500 million.

Once the concession is signed, he said, the three operators must perform their duties according to the agreement and key performance indicators.

Chor said the operators will also be able to deliver better services as they can use the concession agreement as collateral to obtain financing for capital expenditure.

He said for the past 13 years, the three operators have been utilising their own resources in providing the services, besides not receiving full payment from the state governments.

"We are currently studying the intricacies of the contract, which will take between three and four weeks. Then, we will submit it to the Cabinet, before it is submitted to the National Council for Local Government," he said.

The minister, however, did not give the targeted date for the signing of the concession agreement.

Currently, Alam Flora is responsible for Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan; SWN for Negri Sembilan, Malacca and Johor; and Idaman for Perak, Kedah, Penang and Perlis.

Commenting on the statement made by Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng to allow the state government to opt out of the Solid Waste and Urban Cleansing Management Act and choose its own contractor for the services, Chor said: "Let time convince those state governments that do not agree."

It is understood that there are three states that have yet to accept the taking over of solid waste services by the government-appointed concessionaires.

By Business Times

Push for more industrial parks

PETALING JAYA: A shortage of industrial properties and absence of new industrial park projects in the Klang Valley have resulted in higher prices and opened up opportunities for developers with large landbank, especially those near highways, to venture into industrial park projects.

James Wong

Property consultancy, VPC Alliance (KL) Sdn Bhd managing director James Wong said over the past six years, vacant industrial land in premier industrial parks such as Bukit Jelutong, Glenmarie and Section 23 Shah Alam had seen substantial price increases of between 60% and 100% in 2010, or an annualised increase of 10% to 17% a year.

Average prices of industrial units rose by 8% to 18% in the first half of 2010 over the same period in 2009.

Currently, industrial property is still a small sector of the overall property market, accounting for 2.5% of the total property transactions and about 10% of the total value of property transactions. The average yearly transaction of industrial properties is only about 8,000 units.

“The industrial property market is considered quiet for the past few years as developers are concentrating on residential and commercial developments and there is hardly a developer that concentrates on industrial development,” Wong told StarBiz.

“With the Government's big push to transform the country's economy under the Economic Transformation Programme and with the industrial sector as one of the main drivers of the economy, it is timely and ripe for developers to come forward to develop more industrial parks and estates to cater to the increasing demand.”

Wong said last year, the manufacturing sector attracted RM47.2bil of approved investments, compared with RM32.6bil in 2009, a jump of 44.8%. This will translate to more demand for industrial properties.

In the past decade, the majority of new industrial parks in the Klang Valley were developed by the Selangor State Development Corp and there were no new industrial parks by private developers.

Many of the private industrial parks are fully developed and sold, and they are only available in the secondary market.

“There are opportunities to develop modern three-storey semi-detached factories in pockets of prime industrial parks and with easy access to highways,” he added.

The development of SME parks to cater to the SMEs was still a neglected sector, Wong said, adding that although the SMEs' contribution to the national gross development product was more than 30%, many of them were still located in illegal buildings and squatter areas.

“Developers should develop parks for the SME industries of similar trades to group them together, such as shoe-making SMEs industrial parks with amenities such as common canteen, food courts, and also staff housing for the workers,” he added.

According to figures provided by the National Property Information Centre, the value of industrial property transactions grew by 44% from RM3.06bil in the first half of 2009 to RM4.4bil in the same period of 2010, while the volume of transaction increased by 29.3% from 3,596 to 4,648.

The rise was mainly due to demand from SMEs seeking small-sized industrial buildings with good concepts in strategic locations with excellent accessibility.

Wong said Mah Sing was the pioneer in the new generation of semi-detached factories for multi-purpose use.

According to Mah Sing Group Bhd group chief executive and managing director Tan Sri Leong Hoy Kum, there is pent-up demand for three-storey semi-detached corporate factories.

He said the shortcomings faced by the sector were that generally the older units were either detached (with too large built-up) or linked (small built-up), and did not have the capacity for multi-purpose use.

“Our research shows that semi-detached factories currently make up about 10% of the total supply of industrial units in the Klang Valley. We foresee there will be strong demand from the SMEs, halal food industries, light manufacturing, distributive trade and those who need to upgrade to industrial properties which can serve multi-purpose functions such as integrating their logistics, warehousing, showrooms and offices under one roof,” Leong added.

Mah Sing is undertaking three i-Parc industrial projects comprisingthree-storey semi-detached corporate factories which have 4-in-1 centralised function as a factory, corporate office, showroom and warehouse.

“Our buyers are mainly local companies looking to integrate their corporate headquarters with operations and warehousing facilities as well as multinational corporations from various industries which see the commercial potential of locating in these schemes,” he added.

By The Star

LTV imposition not likely to have big impact on home loans growth

PETALING JAYA: Bank Negara's move last November to introduce a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio for third and subsequent house financing facilities will not hamper residential mortgage loans growth this year or even reduce residential property prices significantly.

A local bank-backed analyst said residential home loans growth might see a slight slowdown as the measure by the regulator would curb speculative investment activities.

She said the slowdown would not be drastic, as 70% to 90% of banks' mortgage loans were held by homeowners, who were not speculative investors but had purchased residential properties to live in.

“Our population has a high number of people below 30 years, who are purchasing properties to live in,” she said.

Bank Negara said in its “Financial Stability and Payment Systems Report 2010” that house prices in selected locations within and surrounding urban areas had shot up to four times higher than the national house price index.

It also added that there had been incidents of applications for financing of multiple residential units within a single development project from a single borrower.

To address this, the LTV ratio was placed into effect, aimed at promoting a stable and sustainable property market by deterring speculative activity through higher equity requirements for transactions of these nature.

Maybank Investment Bank Research said in a report earlier this month that housing loan applications had declined for the last three months on a month-on-month basis, partly due to recent measures to curb property lending, namely the LTV imposition.

Loans applications for residential purchases fell 3.8% month-on-month from December 2010 to January 2011, 7.1% from November 2010 to December 2010 and 9.6% from October 2010 to November 2010.

However, another local bank-backed analyst said the decline in housing loans applications could be seasonal and could pick up as the year progressed.

“I still think it is early days to attribute the decline to the LTV imposition only. Generally, I do not see this new measure having much of an impact on residential housing loans growth this year,” he added.

Zerin Properties group chief executive officer Previndran Singhe said the regulator's cooling-off measure would have minimal impact on the property market, as individuals looking at third properties were usually cashed up and took a long-term view on real estate.

“Moreover, speculative activities in Malaysia are limited so the impact (on property prices) will be very minimal as prices are driven by domestic demand,” he added.

MIDF Research chief economist Anthony Dass said a curb on speculative investment of properties and slower loans growth could see a correction in property prices and the downside risk, more so for high-rise properties, would be contained.

By The Star

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

YTL Land's The Capers in Sentul East exceeds expectations ahead of launch

The Capers: All 338 units of the Tower Blocks were snapped up in 2-Day preview.

YTL Land & Development’s Sentul West & Sentul East continues to captivate the market as the preview of the first release of its newest residential development – The Capers exceeded expectations to become a sell-out success in just two days.

The teeming crowd made up of YTL valued buyers and registrants were seen rushing to stake a claim in the units priced between RM688,519 to RM3,284,086, from the preview which opened on Friday, 25 March and by the end of the second day, all 338 units of the tower blocks were snapped up.

Commenting on the staggering results, YTL Land & Development Berhad executive director Datuk Yeoh Seok Kian said, “We knew the response to The Capers was going to be good as more than 7,000 people had earlier registered their interest with us, but we certainly did not expect to have a sell-out story in our hands ahead of the official launch.

This is a clear sign of buyers’ confidence in Sentul, and our appreciation goes out to them for their continued support. Not only are they buying into the YTL promise of quality branded homes with unique concepts, they are also investing in the future of Sentul West and Sentul East which through our master plan has already started transforming the landscape of this heritage town.

The Capers is the third residential development to be launched in Sentul East, following The Tamarind and The Saffron. Standing tall at 36 storeys, the two towers of The Capers is set to alter Sentul’s already changing skyline and bring a new lease of energy with its wave-like iconic design that takes its inspiration from nature where nothing ever conforms to a straight line.

“The design of The Capers is certainly something that KL has not seen before that we’re proud to bring to Malaysians for the first time. We are raising the benchmark in terms of architecture and design, not only to contribute to KL’s goal of becoming a world -class city, but more importantly to contribute towards the transformation of Sentul under our vision of urban renewal,” said Datuk Yeoh.

“In spite of the new price standard, we have continued to sustain the interest of the market with The Capers, proving the underlying strength of Sentul as KL’s next property hotspot.” The Capers registers a new price benchmark for Sentul properties selling at an average of RM550 - RM600 per sq ft.

Datuk Yeoh added that the preview of The Capers will continue with the opening of its pool-facing 5-storey low rise suites that sit on the podium floor of the iconic towers. Comprising duplex units (4+1=1 bedrooms at 1,965 sq ft) on the ground floor and three levels of single suites at 999sq ft with 2+1 bedrooms, the low rise offerings of The Capers is expected to mirror the success of the tower block units.

“Through the years, we have also established a strong capital appreciation track record for our Sentul properties. The Saffron for example was launched in 2006 at RM220psf, and today it’s valued between RM450 to RM500 per sq. ft. Similarly, The Maple is currently valued at an average price of RM500 per sq. ft, which translates to 100% of its launch price in 2003. This is a true test that a unique product, can weather any economic cycle."

Already in demand for its quality homes, Sentul is also shaping itself as the city’s next business precinct featuring a new generation of architecturally stunning offices that redefines the traditional office model. Sentul East’s commercial offerings include the recently completed d7 and soon-to-be completed d6 boutique offices project that have taken the market by storm. And soon, YTL Land & Development will be launching d2 and d5, raising the bar even higher in terms of architectural concept.

In the future, all Sentul East developments will be connected via a sky bridge to provide convenience to the community and create a truly thriving and connected hot spot. The elevated sky bridge provides one with seamless access from the Sentul KTM Komuter through our properties and ends at the Sentul Timur LRT station. The first connection will be made between d6 & d7 in the later part of this year

“Ultimately, we are creating unprecedented living values for city dwellers through our developments. On one hand we have Sentul West, which leads the creation of the city’s first private park homes through Sentul Park, a 35-acre private gated green lung, and on the other Sentul East is a chic and cool urban space that is fused with the colourful heritage of Sentul,” said Datuk Yeoh.

The RM350 million Capers project comprises two 36-storey iconic towers that enjoy panoramic views of the city skyline and Sentul Park, and low-rise suites that further provide one with the ultimate in urban living. At six units per floor, the two towers has 338 units in total while the low rise suites are made up of 128 units. The Capers is located within walking distance of the Sentul Timur LRT station and the Sentul KTM Komuter where within 15 mins, one can connect directly from KL Sentral to KLIA via the 28-min KLIA Ekspres train. In addition, three highways (Sentul Link, Duta-Segambut and DUKE which is accessible from the north of Sentul) ensure smooth connectivity to all parts of the city.

For more information, please visit

By The Star

RM300m centre to transform KK suburbs

AN INTERNATIONAL technology and commercial centre (ITCC) is being developed in Penampang that will transform the economy of the town in the suburb of Kota Kinabalu.

Built with a capital investment of RM300 million, the ITCC is undertaken by Bumiputera-owned Sabanilam Enterprise Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Malakun Holdings owned by Datuk Seri Clarence Bongkos Malakun.

The project will include the development of a business hotel, an office tower hotel, a modern shopping mall with hi-fi facilities, theatre and science and technology exhibition area.

Officiating at the ground-breaking ceremony of the project, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman said the ITCC is listed as a private sector initiative project by the Sabah Economic Development and Investment Authority (Sedia), the one-stop authority for the Sabah Development Corridor (SDC).

Musa said the ITTC reflects the capabilities of Bumiputera company to undertake big projects.

"Both the state and federal government are continuously encouraging Bumiputera entrepreneurs to initiate and participate in projects that could help spur economic growth in Sabah," he said.

Malakun said site preparation for the ITCC project located at Jalan Pintas in Kampung Hungab, Penampang, has been completed and that piling works would begin soon.

"We expect the project to be completed in 40 months," he said.

By Business Times

Plan to transform Rebak Island into unique retreat

Rebak Island Resort, on a 158ha private island off Langkawi, is planning to enhance the island to attract more guests.

The resort, 75 per cent-owned by DRB-HICOM Bhd's unit Hicom Indungan Sdn Bhd, is looking at developing private beaches for guests and opening a wellness spa.

Rebak Island Resort, in which Langkawi Development Authority and Mofaz have a 19 per cent and 6 per cent stake respectively, is managed by Indian luxury hotel chain Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces.

General manager Mahesh S. Aiyer said these plans are likely to be completed in the next two to three years.

"Rebak is a unique private island. In sync with the positioning of a private island, we need to extract the potential of the island," he said during an interview with Business Times.

For a start, it plans to open an additional restaurant serving Asean and Japanese cuisine.

It is also looking at a yoga retreat and a restaurant serving organic food.

Subsequently, it may also develop two private beaches and set up a spa complex aimed at capturing not only guests from its resorts but also tourists from the main island.

Rebak Island, he said, will be transformed into a rejuvenation spot where unique activities can be conducted such as a cooking holiday and for photography enthusiasts.

By Business Times

Saturday, March 26, 2011

YTL Land to launch The Capers condo

An artist’s impression of The Capers condominum which will be built by YTL Land in Sentul.

PETALING JAYA: YTL Land & Development Bhd, which is launching its condominium development The Capers at Sentul East today, caused a “mad rush” among potential buyers looking to lock in sales.

“There was a mad rush of people scrambling in. The food for the guests was left uneaten,” said a fund manager who was on-site to buy a unit yesterday.

At press time, about 80% of Block A has been taken up, according to a sales person when contacted by StarBizWeek yesterday.

The Capers, which has a gross development value of RM350mil, consists of 338 units housed in two 36-storey towers and 128 low-rise suites.

Built-up areas for the tower units range from 695 sq ft to 1,567 sq ft with two bedrooms and 3+1 bedrooms configurations.

The low-rise suites are made up of duplexes and 3-storey single-level suites. Sizes are 999 sq ft (2+1 bedrooms) and 1,965 sq ft (duplex 4+1+1 bedrooms).

YTL Land executive director Datuk Yeoh Seok Kian said one of the top selling points of The Capers was its design.

“The Capers' other unique points include its freehold status, a prime city location that is well-connected by road and train, backed by a 294-acre masterplan that has been dedicated to re-generate this 100-year-old town with a new vibrancy,” he told StarBizWeek in an e-mail.

The Capers is the third residential development in Sentul East after The Tamarind and The Saffron (both sell-out projects were launched in 2005 and 2006 respectively).

Sentul is one of the areas that has been earmarked as a “hotspot” to benefit from the Government's upcoming mass rapid transit (MRT) project.

YTL Land is the first developer to launch a development that is close to an upcoming MRT station.

Yeoh noted that Sentul already enjoyed a multi-connected infrastructure network, placing it in direct access with key locations by road and train.

“Indeed, with the onset of the KL City Circle line (which circles the Kuala Lumpur city centre), Sentul will turn into a major stop-over point among the city's key attractions, not only bringing with it more traffic on a consistent basis but providing enhanced convenience to the community and resulting in significant impact to property values.”

Yeoh said that in the future, all Sentul East developments would be connected via a sky bridge to provide convenience to the community and create a thriving and well-connected hot spot.

“This elevated sky bridge provides one with seamless access from the Sentul KTM Komuter through our properties and ends at the Sentul Timur LRT station.”

He said the first connection would be built in the later part of this year.

By The Star

Naza TTDI aims to be top 10 property player in 3 years

PROPERTY developer Naza TTDI Sdn Bhd is aiming to be among the top 10 property players in the country in three years' time and the No. 1 developer in five years' time.

Group managing director SM Faliq SM Nasimuddin says the group is up for the challenge and believe the goals are achievable based on a few factors.

“With major high impact projects in hand, more merger and acquisition in the pipeline and the strength of our workforce, the goals are achievable,” he says in an e-mail reply.

SM Faliq SM Nasimuddin ... ‘Our market is well diversified.’

SM Faliq says the group plans to focus on its high impact projects such as the Platinum Park, and targets a turnover of RM1bil this year and RM2bil within the next three years.

“We will continue to improve on our deliverables that includes product innovation, quality and customer service,” he says.

Group turnover in 2010 was RM635mil and to achieve the RM1bil turnover target this year, 18 more property launches will be carried out with gross development value (GDV) of RM1.6bil.

“We are targeting RM100mil net profit this year and RM200mil within the next three years. We have a number of exciting launches this year that begin with the launch of TTDI Adina, a mix development in Section 13, Shah Alam,” he says.

The new launches will also comprise both residential and commercial developments such as TTDI Grove in Kajang, TTDI Alam Impian in Shah Alam, TTDI Dualis in Puchong as well as a 35-storey tower at Jalan Tun Razak, Kuala Lumpur.

“Our market is well diversified. We cater to various market segments with our high-end boutique, township and commercial developments,” he says.

SM Faliq says Naza TTDI has also established an associate construction company Naza TTDI Construction to complement the former's business and offer complete construction services, specialising in the fields of building, civil engineering and infrastructure works.

“Our diversification into construction will be another avenue for growth and within these three years, we hope to build an entity that will be well respected for its own portfolio and achievements,” he says.

He adds that the group is looking at expanding its land bank (now reaching over 400 acres) locally and regionally.

“We are also looking at going into our neighbouring countries with high impact, high visibility projects that hopefully will provide us with the necessary profile to propel us into the global property market,' he says, adding that among the countries the group is eyeing are Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia and China.

On the outlook of property market this year, SM Faliq says Naza TTDI is confident that the local property market is sustainable and will continue to be so as buying activities are backed by economic fundamentals and genuine purchasers.

“But having said so, certain fundamentals like the attractive interest rates have to remain encouraging for the purchasers,” he says.

He adds that the Government's Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) has shown concrete and quantifiable results in a relatively short time, and the group is excited about the ETP.

“It is a long-term programme for Malaysia to become a high-income, high-value economy and execution is crucial. We welcome the initiative for Greater KL to be a National Key Economic Area as this will boost demand for properties,” he says.

SM Faliq says NAZA TTDI also lauds the Government's commitment to increase and improve road connectivity and the public transportation system. “While our projects already enjoy excellent accessibility, any additional connectivity will bring added convenience for residents and tenants, and has the potential to increase property values. There are in fact many Malaysian developers who are capable of developing properties of international standard. In this regard, NAZA TTDI is one of the top privatelyowned companies with the capability and potential to successfully develop mega projects and also niche boutique projects with quality comparable to international standards,” he says.

By The Star

PJCC Development’s on-site sales office depicts its futuristic project concept

An artist’s impression of PJCC Development’s The Pod on-site sales office and showroom gallery.

When PJCC Development Sdn Bhd decided to build its on-site sales office and showroom gallery for its ongoing integrated commercial hub project, Petaling Jaya Commercial City (PJCC), the challenges were many.

As PJCC Development managing director Jacqueline Daniele Roberts recalls, the company wasn't looking to develop a bland, flat structure.

Jacqueline Daniele Roberts ...‘We wanted it to be something unique, iconic, futuristic and symbolic.’

“We wanted it (the on-site sales office and showroom gallery) to be something unique, iconic, futuristic and symbolic to represent the whole development,” she tells StarBizWeek.

The final output was The Pod, a structure that has to be seen to be believed.

Roberts says one of the major concerns was whether the final structure would end up resembling how it looked on paper.

“It was a complicated building to build and whenever you want to build something unusual, it's always a challenge. When you see something in a rendered picture, it does not resemble exactly the image you initially intended once it's completed.

“We were also concerned about appointing the right contractors. The Pod has over 20 individual steel ribs each having different shapes and sizes.”

Fortunately for PJCC Development, everything fell into place, says Roberts.

“There was no specific picture given to the architects. We just wanted something that stood out. But with the first draft (of the designs), we knew it was what we wanted.”

The Pod was designed by architects of Hijjas Kasturi from Malaysia, in collaboration with Studio Nicoletti of Italy. The latter has worked on key projects such as the Palermo Sport Palace, the Italian Parliament Conference Centre and the Hall of Justice in Arezzo.

Water droplets were the inspiration for The Pod, creating a dynamic spherical form resulting in a primitive building archetype with a modern twist.

The Pod stands out the most when viewed from the sky. The building appears to be sliced diagonally into a series of ribbons, its shape formed in a series of elliptical sections of variable widths and heights.

The structure is fabricated from tubular steel members with the exterior made of reflective aluminium panels. Its exterior colour shades also changes depending on the reflection of the sun.

Roberts is not revealing how much was invested to build The Pod.

“It wasn't cheap,” she says, adding that The pod took about 12 months (from conception to completion).

The Pod has a floor size of 7,500 sq ft, Internally, it is divided into two parts. One zone is dedicated to the corporate office area while the main showroom and sales gallery.

PJCC Development will be officially launching The Pod on March 31 in a ceremony that will be officiated by Petaling Jaya mayor Datuk Mohamad Roslan Sakiman as well as the Italian architects and its ambassadors.

Roberts says design of The Pod has also inspired PJCC Development to replicate it for other structures.

“Everyone who's seen it says it'd make a fantastic design for a house,” he says, laughing.

“We would like to make similar designs for other projects but for now, it's a one-off thing.”

When looking at a miniature model of the company's entire PJCC development (in its show gallery), The Pod is however nowhere in sight. A few blocks of office towers, instead, are visible where it (The Pod) should be.

That's because the office towers will be built where the The Pod is currently located.

But because of its unique structure and appeal, Roberts says the company may just reconsider its plans.

“We have all gotten quite fond of it (The Pod). It's a beautiful building and we may review our plans (to build the office towers). We may build the towers around The Pod instead,” she says.

Nestled along the New Pantai Expressway (NPE), PJCC is being developed in multiple phases over a period of 10 years. Construction began in 2006.

Its first phase comprises 750,000 sq ft of shop offices. To date, 500,000 sq ft of built-up space have been completed, all of which have been fully sold.

Roberts says the shop offices were went for RM130 per sq ft in 2007 and today costs about RM350 per sq ft.

Next to be launched by year-end is a 13-storey corporate tower, a 380-rooms four-star hotel and a block of 180 units of serviced apartments. There are also plans to build more office space and a shopping complex.

The overall mix development's projected gross development value (GDV) is estimated at RM2bil. Once fully completed, PJCC will feature approximately 2.5 million sq ft of prime commercial properties.

According to Roberts, PJCC was recently voted to be year 2011's top three hotspot for investment in Klang Valley, Malaysia by 250 property's investors in Swhengtee International Real Estate Investors Club's Forecast Seminar.

By The Star

Which home loan to opt for?

For new homeowners, fixed rate loans may be a good alternative provided they are able to lock in when interest rates are still low.

A Home buyer with a floating interest rate home loan may feel slightly unnerved in a rising interest rate environment. Just in a span of five months, Bank Negara had raised the overnight policy rate (OPR) by 75 basis points to 2.75% last year and local economists expect the central bank to raise the OPR further in the second half of this year.

As the OPR moves up, banks will also look to increase their base lending rates (BLRs) and a higher BLR will undoubtedly have an impact on a floating rate housing loan. BLR is typically defined as a minimum interest rate charged by banks after considering its cost of funds and other administrative costs.

As most floating rate loans track the BLR, the interest charged will fluctuate based on the rise and fall of the BLR throughout the tenure of the loan while a fixed home loan ensures that the interest charged is fixed throughout the loan's tenure.

So how do you make a decision on which home loan to opt for, be it fixed or floating?

For individuals currently servicing floating rate housing loans, jumping to fixed home loans immediately may not be the best alternative.

Considerations that one needs to take into account include the cost incurred in refinancing a home loan, as there are fees or penalties impose by the existing financier for exiting your current loan contract.

Also, refinancing will see the individual having to abide by new terms and conditions, which means that the individual's lock in period for the loan may start again. But on the upside, you may receive better prepayment conditions and favourable rates with the new loan.

If a home owner does not foresee a steep rise in interest rates and the variable rate home loan tenure is coming to an end soon, the differential in savings from switching may be small considering that fixed home rates are also inclined to move up in a rising interest rate environment.

“It's important to take note of how many more years you have on your loan tenure. If you have a couple of years left, it may not be worth switching considering the cost of refinancing,” says Whitman Independent Advisors Sdn Bhd managing director Yap Ming Hui.

“Also, look at the fixed interest amount as that will help you decide, if it is too high or low. If the fixed rate is at 8% and a floating rate housing loan is BLR minus 2%, then the fixed rate loan is not competitive.”

However, for new homeowners, fixed rate loans may be a good alternative provided they are able to lock in when interest rates are still low.

Ng Wei Kian opted for a fixed rate home loan when he first purchased his home.

“I'm a type A personality and with the worry that interest rates may move up, I'm much more comfortable servicing a fixed rate home loan,” he says.

He adds that since he is an employee with a fixed monthly income, knowing how much he has to pay on a monthly basis provides him with peace of mind, especially since his housing loan is his biggest financial commitment.

“Another plus point is that as you progress in your career and see a higher salary base, your monthly loan repayment becomes smaller in comparison to your earning power,” he says.

While fixed rate loans tend to suit risk-averse individuals, it is best to seek out various options offered by banks and insurers alike in their product offering before one commits to a housing loan with repayments locked in for 30 years.

A quick check on website shows that BLR among banks here range between 6% and 6.30% as of October last year while there are some attractive fixed home loans out there, with one insurer even offering a fixed income rate at 4.85% per annum (non zero moving costs) and 5.25% per annum (zero entry cost).

The key take away in making a switch in a housing loan is to examine your financial situation and only change if the penalty fees charged outweigh the savings benefit from the new loan.

By The Star

Friday, March 25, 2011

E&O Property Development to sell Fututech shares for RM8.78mil

KUALA LUMPUR: Eastern & Oriental Bhd's (E&O) wholly-owned subsidiaries E&O Property Development Bhd and Samudra Pelangi Sdn Bhd has proposed to dispose of their entire securities interest in Fututech Bhd for RM8.78mil cash.

In a filing with Bursa Malaysia, E&O said both companies had on March 24 entered into a share sale agreement with Egovision Sdn Bhd in relation to the Fututech share sale.

It said the original cost of investment of E&O group in Fututech was RM27.34mil, adding that the unaudited net carrying value of the investment in Fututech shares and warrants as at Dec 31, 2010 were RM7.65mil and RM2.29mil respectively.

“Based on the above net carrying value, the proposed disposal is expected to record a loss of RM1.159mil, comprising a gain from disposal of shares of RM490,000 and loss on fair value adjustment in warrants of RM1.649mil,” it said.

The company said the proceeds from the proposed disposal would enable E&O group to redeploy its resources into its higher yielding core businesses.

Fututech shares closed at 51 sen yesterday, up one sen.

By The Star

OSK Property acquires land

PETALING JAYA: OSK Property Bhd bought 16 acres of prime freehold commercial land in Cyberjaya's flagship zone from Setia Haruman Sdn Bhd for some RM86.5mil.

The land is for a mixed development comprising studio to family-sized serviced apartments, shop offices, office suites and a retail mall with a gross development value of RM1.2bil.

By The Star

Bertam rises after agreeing to buy land

Bertam Alliance Bhd, a Malaysian property developer, rose the most in three weeks in Kuala Lumpur trading after agreeing to buy land earmarked for a RM200 million project.

The stock climbed 4.6 per cent to 69 sen at 9:19 a.m. local time, set for its steepest gain since March 4.

By Bloomberg

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Demand rebound lifts residential property market

The residential property market has been experiencing an upturn since the fourth quarter of 2009 as demand rebounded by 7.1% (2009: -2.3%) following improved consumer sentiments. Meanwhile, the increase in housing stock moderated in 2010 as housing started a declining trend.

The widening gap between supply and demand has kept property prices elevated, although at the national level, the Malaysian House Price Index rose only moderately by 6.2% up to the third quarter of 2010. Substantial increases in house prices had been observed in selected locations within and surrounding the urban areas where price increases were up to four times higher than the national house price index.

Price increases in these locations have in turn resulted in prices of properties in the surrounding locations to increase, making homeownership increasingly less affordable for the average Malaysian. There have also been incidents of applications for financing of multiple residential units within a single development project from a single borrower.

To address this development, borrowers are subjected to a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio of 70% for the third and subsequent house financing facilities with effect from Nov 3, 2010. This measure aims to promote a stable and sustainable property market by deterring speculative activity through higher equity requirements for transactions of these nature.

In January 2011, Bank Negara revised the risk weights applied under the capital adequacy framework from 75% to 100% for housing loans with LTVs exceeding 90% to further reinforce prudent underwriting practices.

While a large fraction of household borrowings was collateralised (45.3% was for the purchase of residential properties), personal financing had increased significantly as outstanding personal financing grew by 17.5% to account for 14.6% of household debt last year (2006: 9.6%).

Development financial institutions (DFIs), cooperatives and building societies accounted for the bulk of this growth, with almost 80% granted under salary-deduction schemes. The absence of robust credit and affordability assessments will result in households being more at risk of becoming over-indebted, while the risk of defaulting on financing obligations, including those obtained from other banking institutions, will be higher for borrowers who have over-borrowed.

Excluding the DFIs, personal financing exposures of commercial banks increased at a lower rate of 13% to account for 8.6% of banking system household loans.

Despite a reduction in the number of cards owned by households following the imposition of a RM50 fee by the Government on credit cards in 2010, outstanding credit card balances increased by 15.2% to RM30.8bil as at end-2010 to account for 5.3% of household debts. Similarly, outstanding balances per credit cardholder rose by 15.1% to RM9,516 as at end-2010. The number of credit card holders with revolving balances (excluding defaulters) accounted for 47.9% of total credit cardholders.

More than half of credit cardholders with revolving balances were those earning an annual income of RM36,000 and below. Meanwhile, the level of non-performing loan (NPL) ratio for credit cards issued by banks and non-banks remained low at 1.7%. To ensure that credit card debts are maintained at manageable levels, a number of pre-emptive measures have been introduced, including raising minimum income eligibility, limiting the number of credit card ownership and aggregate credit limit for those with annual income of RM36,000 and below.

Loans-in-arrears across most categories of household debts remained stable, while loans-in-arrears for personal financing, which drifted upwards in the early part of last year, started to come down in the fourth quarter of 2010. As at end-2010, the NPL ratio for household loans was 2.3%. The ratio of household loan repayment-to-disbursement increased marginally to 87.8%.

The highly-competitive environment and the increased indebtedness of households have called for pre-emptive measures to preserve the resilience of the household sector going forward. Although personal bankruptcies and relapse rate among borrowers under AKPK's Debt Management Programme have been manageable, they have been on the increase since 2007.

Several initiatives have been implemented during the year to ensure the continued resilience of the household sector, including a programme to educate younger and first-time borrowers on responsible borrowing, tighter standards for credit cards and enhanced requirements on the conduct of business by financial institutions in retail financing.

Bank Negara will also issue new guidelines by April on the conduct of business in retail financing, which set the minimum standards to deliver a more responsible approach to lending by the financial institutions.

By The Star

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Retail property projects to soften Klang Valley rental rates

PETALING JAYA: The scheduled completion of a number of retail property projects in the Klang Valley offering 3.5 million sq ft of net lettable space this year is expected to soften rentals and reduce occupancy rates, property consultants said.

Allan Soo

CB Richard Ellis managing director Allan Soo said the additional space that would come onstream this year might lower the average occupancy rate of shopping centres in the Klang Valley to 90% from 95% now.

Occupancy rates are currently around 93% to 95% in the city centre and suburbs while most leading shopping centres have over 95% occupancy.

Soo said new retail centres of less than two years might have to offer rental rates that were 15% to 20% below market rates.

“This may lower the market's average rental rates by about 5%,” he said. Prime retail rents range from RM15-RM80 in the suburbs and RM27-RM107 in the city centre.

Last year, a number of projects were delayed and only about 2 million sq ft were added to the market.

The current retail net lettable area is 42.3 million sq ft in 130 centres, which is equivalent to 6.2 sq ft per capita.

Soo said most prime retail centres including Suria KLCC, Mid Valley, KL Pavilion, The Gardens, Sunway Pyramid phase 2 and AEON Bukit Tinggi, underwent rent reviews early last year.

Some of the prime lots in these centres are commanding monthly rentals of more than RM100 per sq ft. The next rent review will be in 2013.

DTZ Nawawi Tie Leung executive director Brian Koh said that with the new space coming onstream, market fragmentation was expected to set in.

“Although the prime shopping centres will be relatively unaffected, those in less prime locations and some of the new centres will be impacted,” he added.

Koh said that on the whole, the retail sector would still be quite stable given that retailers were quite optimistic of their sales performance.

Soo concurred saying retailers had turned positive with expectation of 4%-5% sales improvement this year.

“Demand recovered last year and turnover on same store sales increased by 5%-10%, with some reaching pre-crisis levels again. Some retailers are planning expansion while others are taking the opportunity to drive hard bargains,” he added.

The huge liquidity in the system will be a boost to retail spending.

Going forward, Soo said the mass rapid transit project will do a lot of good for the Klang Valley's retail sector as it was set to improve the connectivity between the residential areas and the shopping centres. Knight Frank Research in its latest report said several notable retail projects under construction or being refurbished within the Klang Valley were scheduled for completion in the first half of this year.

These centres have a combined net lettable area of about 3.48 million sq ft.

The retail sector is anticipated to continue to perform well, albeit at a slower pace than 2010, stemming from the country's slower growth forecast for 2011 and volatility in the world economy.

The report said that with stiff competition among existing and incoming malls, the older malls would continue to reinvent themselves by embarking on asset enhancement and repositioning initiatives such as expansion and upgrading works, and improving on their tenant mix to stay competitive.

By The Star

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

1Gateway for Klang folk

Food and beverage heaven: A model of the 1Gateway project.

Klang will have a new food and beverage (F&B) landmark once the 1Gateway project is up.

Covering a sprawling seven hectares, the project in Taman Datuk Abdul Hamid will comprise shoplots and two towers — one to be taken up by hotel chain Novotel while the other will house offices.

Co-developer Legenda Erajuta Sdn Bhd (LESB) said it planned to turn 1Gateway into a food and beverage hub. Besides eateries, it also plans to attract banks and a hypermarket.

Parking will also not be an issue, with more than 3,000 parking bays included in the plans.

“I believe in Klang’s potential. The population is quite dense and the people’s buying power is great,” said LESB managing director Datuk Raymond Chan.

He said the new plans for 1Gateway would be completed in four years, starting from the date LESB receives approval from the relevant authorities.

LESB is a subsidiary of Sagajuta (Sabah) Sdn Bhd, who developed a string of projects in Sabah including 1Borneo, 1Sulaman, Warisan Square and Kingfisher Ujana.

1Gateway was previously known as Intania, which had been abandoned for several years.

Recently, developer Dermaga Suasa Sdn Bhd (DSSB) announced that LESB had agreed to come in as the white knight to save the project.

Phase One of the Intania project, comprising two blocks of shoplots, had already been completed and occupied, while another 16 units of shoplots under Phase 2B were 80% completed when it was abandoned.

Chan promised the buyers of Phase 2B that their units would be delivered within six months.

Buyers of Phase 2A, which comprised two blocks of 500-unit condominiums, would have their investment compensated in accordance with the sale and purchase agreements as the developer had decided against building residential property there.

The gross development value (GDV) of the project is projected to be more than RM400mil, down from the RM600mil when Intania was first launched in 1999.

“The minimum GDV is RM400mil. We are still revising it. It is no less than RM400mil, depending on market demands it could come close to the RM600mil (projected initially),” said Chan.

DSSB project manager Anthony Lee Tee said the project was affected by the economic crisis in 2001 and 2002, and work stopped in 2006 after encountering legal issues with PKA.

“Intania is a privatisation project between Dermaga Suasa Sdn Bhd (DSSB) and Port Klang Authority (PKA), with PKA being the landowner and the project initially awarded to DSSB,” said Lee.

Lee said in December last year, the PKA board “sensibly” decided to break the impasse and allow the project to continue.

By The Star

First phase of residential homes at King’s Cross comes to the market

King’s Cross has announced the launch of ArtHouse, the first phase of private residential homes for sale at the 67 acre site. King’s Cross, the largest development project in central London, will provide over 8 million sq ft (743,200 sqm) of mixed use space, including some 2,000 homes and serviced apartments. The mix of uses, heritage buildings and canal-side setting all add to the extraordinary character of the area.

Prices for the new homes at ArtHouse, designed by award winning architects dRMM, will be announced on Friday, April 15th at an exhibition to be held at the JW Marriot, Kuala Lumpur.

Located between the new Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design – probably the best known art college in the world and part of the University of the Arts London - and Kings Place - home to two concert halls, two galleries and a restaurant, as well as major companies such as Guardian Media Group – ArtHouse offers 114 one, two and three-bedroom private apartments, duplexes and penthouses. ArtHouse is scheduled for completion in 2013.

ArtHouse residents will enjoy panoramic views over London and a prime location, close to the capital’s best transport interchange with the Eurostar at St Pancras International, mainline connections at King’s Cross Station and six tube lines, all within a few minutes walk. King’s Cross, in Zone 1, is also close to numerous leading universities and a variety of the major museums and cultural institutions that make up this world city. ArtHouse is immediately next to the Regent’s Canal, the new Handyside Park and the new fountains of Granary Square.

The building’s sophisticated and striking façade is dressed in terracotta and polished stainless steel, complementing the significant architectural and industrial heritage of its neighbours. Exterior sliding aluminium louvres animate the façade, shading and cooling the interior and enhancing privacy.

Handyside Park runs the full length of the building, extending visually into the lobby through the landscaped courtyards and the glazed ground floor cloisters.

Many apartments at ArtHouse have park, canal or city views from generous balconies and some are dual aspect. The properties are well-insulated, light-filled and intelligently designed with contemporary interiors and bespoke kitchen and bathroom suites by specialist Johnson Naylor. A 24-hour concierge and security service will be onsite and underground parking will be available for purchase. All new homes will be managed by the King’s Cross Estate and Building Management teams.

‘Green’ features have been integrated into the design of ArtHouse from the beginning in order to achieve a target of Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4. All of the building’s hot water comes from the super-efficient King’s Cross Energy Centre which offsets around 75% of the whole development’s electricity needs.

King’s Cross, already Europe’s most connected location, is on its way to becoming the new cultural centre of London. New restaurants, shops, markets, health and fitness facilities, music venues, cinemas, hotels, a school and the new home of Central Saint Martins, will make King’s Cross the most exciting centre of any western capital city. N1C is the new post code covering the 67 acre King’s Cross development and St Pancras International - the “C” representing its Central London location.

The opportunity for both investors and home buyers is unique – stunning brand new one, twoand three bedroom homes with a host of cultural, commercial and leisure facilities on the doorstep, will be available from April 2011 onwards.

For more information on opportunities to invest at King’s Cross, contact Knight Frank: 03-22899666

By The Star

BJLand 3Q net profit rises to RM34.9m

KUALA LUMPUR: BERJAYA LAND BHD posted net profit RM34.91 million for its third quarter ended Jan 31, 2011 compared to net loss RM8.57 million a year earlier, due mainly to higher profit contribution from the gaming business operated under BERJAYA SPORTS TOTO BHD (BToto).

Revenue for the quarter declined to RM990.59 million from RM993.96 million last year. Earnings per share improved to 0.70 sen from loss per share of 0.17 sen, while net assets per share was RM1.04.

For the nine months ended Jan 31, BJLand’s net profit jumped to RM85.13 million from RM35.42 million, on the back of revenue RM2.99 billion.

Reviewing its performance, BJLand said its property development and investment business also reported higher profit contribution from the property sales registered in the current quarter under review.

The group also reported higher dividend income from its quoted investments, it said.

“In the preceding year corresponding quarter, the group incurred impairment in value of certain investment in associated companies and quoted investments,’ it said on Tuesday, March 22.

BJLand said the higher net profit for the nine-month period was due mainly to the exceptional gain arising from the disposal of an associated company amounting to RM53.2 million; higher property sales from property development business; higher dividend income received from certain quoted investments of the group; and higher share of profit from associated companies as well as lower share of losses from jointly controlled entities.

The company said its performance for the remaining quarter of the financial year ending April 30, 2011 would remain satisfactory.

By The EDGE Malaysia

Shop for your home at four-day expo

House owners looking at renovating or refurbishing their homes can mark March 31 till April 3 on their calendars for the Perfect Livin’ 11 exhibition.

Organised by CNM Events Marketing Sdn Bhd, the exhibition is back for the fifth time to offer a one-stop platform for home and lifestyle needs at PWTC in Kuala Lumpur.

Besides the 300 exhibitors at the 10 specific zones, a new addition to the exhibition — the Hall of Elegance — will be presenting premium products and services from eight selected exhibitors at Tun Hussein Onn Hall on Level 2.

The exclusive exhibitors include Kollektion Distribution, Sleep Suite, Alfo Designs, Beyond Arena, Bagus Curtain, AZ Klang Home Decor, Milanohause and Luzzone Gallery.

To enhance the shopping experience at the Hall of Elegance, there will be music performances at the VIP lounge.

Meanwhile, CNM Events Marketing CEO Adriana Law said every shopper who spends RM1,000 and above at Perfect Livin’ 11 would be rewarded.

For instance, those who purchase products and services worth RM3,000 and more would take home a 20cm stainless steel stew pot with glass lid or a set of five stainless steel knives.

“Besides, we are also offering RM30,000 for lucky shoppers. Those who spend RM1,000 and above are in the running to win either RM15,000, RM10,000 or RM5,000,” she said.

There will also be a Purchase & Win contest for shoppers who spend RM100 and above, and colouring contests for children aged 12 and below.

Cooking demonstrations and talks on feng shui (by master Yap Cheng Hai) and interior designing would be held on April 2 and 3.

Law was confident that the low prices and discounts would not disappoint the visitors.

“We are the biggest home and lifestyle exhibition with more than 950 booths. Last year, we attracted about 130,000 visitors and we hope to see a 10% increase this year,” Law said.

For details, call 03-8075 7375 or visit

By The Star

Monday, March 21, 2011

RM6bil invested in Nusajaya

Nusajaya is expected to benefit from better Malaysia-Singapore bilateral ties. Picture shows Bangunan Sultan Ismail, the Johor State Legislative building in Kota Iskandar, Nusajaya.

NUSAJAYA: A total of RM6.15bil in new investments from local and foreign investors have been received for development projects in the eight catalyst developments (except EduCity components) in Nusajaya.

UEM Land Holdings Bhd managing director and chief executive officer Datuk Wan Abdullah Wan Ibrahim said the investments included RM500mil from Biocon Ltd, India to invest at SiLC (Southern Industrial and Logistics Clusters), RM2.3bil Canal Homes at Puteri Harbour by Bandaraya Development Bhd and RM500mil by Pantai Group for the Gleneagles Hospital at Medini.

Datuk Wan Abdullh Wan Ibrahim

“Albeit operating in the global economic recession in 2008 and 2009, following the US sub-prime crisis and the European financial woes, we have been able to attract investments to Nusajaya,” he told StarBiz in an interview.

UEM Land Holdings is the master developer of the 9,308ha Nusajaya, which is one of the five flagship development zones in Iskandar Malaysia. The latter is the country's first economic growth corridor, launched on Nov 4, 2006, and spanning 2,217 sq km located in the southernmost part of Johor.

Wan Abdullah said Nusajaya was going to benefit from the improvement in bilateral ties between Malaysia and Singapore.

“Prior to this improvement, Singaporeans were waiting for a signal from their government on whether to invest in Nusajaya or Iskandar Malaysia.

“The announcement (in the middle of last year) that Khazanah Malaysia and Temasek Holdings would jointly develop a wellness township development in Danga Bay has sent a strong signal to Singaporeans to come and invest in Iskandar Malaysia,” he said.

Apart from targeting Singapore investors, UEM Land is also looking for Singaporeans who want to buy property or a second home in Johor.

“In Singapore you can't get get a landed property for S$1mil, whereas you can get a semi-D or bungalow in Iskandar for RM1mil,” he said.

“We are also targeting Malaysian professionals working in Singapore who want to stay in Nusajaya because of the close proximity to the Second Link.”

Another market UEM Land is seeking to tap is the middle-class segment from India, which comprises some 300 million Indians, and those from the Middle East.

“Despite the political uprisings in the Middle East, the region remains high in liquidity due to the strong petro-dollar. They'll look at safe havens to park their money,” Wan Abdullah said.

Five years ago, local and foreigners alike were quite skeptical when Nusajaya was launched amid a grand and glittering ceremony by the fifth Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Many doubted whether UEM Land would be able to undertake the gargantuan task once the party was over.

“We have proven our skeptics wrong and many are now really impressed with the progress being made in Nusajaya since day one,'' said Wan Abdullah Wan Ibrahim .

“Nusajaya was best described as a rough diamond in its early years. No one really gives a second look but with cuts on it, the stone is slowly showing its sparkle now,” said Wan Abdullah.

Wan Abdullah said much work needed to be done before Nusajaya, which is the largest urban development in South-East Asia, under the became a regional city by 2025.

Wan Abdullah said as the master developer of Nusajaya, the company's vision was to build a modern city with a focus on enhancing the lives of its residents.

He said Nusajaya must be a city unlike any other city in Malaysia and that the city must have signature developments to realise its vision to become Asia's new regional city and benchmarking itself with other major cities in the world.

Nusajaya comprises eight catalyst developments Kota Iskandar (Johor State New Administrative Centre), SiLC, Puteri Harbour Waterfront Development, EduCity, Health and Wellness, International Destination Resort and Nusajaya Residences.

Wan Abdullah said apart from continuing to attract new investments and strong interest from investors, several of the company's completed projects in Nusajaya had also won prestigious awards such as the Fiabci Malaysia Property Award 2009 (Puteri Harbour), Best Golf Development CNBC Asia Pacific Property Awards 2009 (Horizon Hills) and Fiabci Malaysia Property Ward 2010 for Public Sector (Kota Iskandar).

He said works on infrastructure and several projects in Nusajaya were on schedule and expected to be completed this year and within the next two to four years.

These include the RM1.4bil Coastal Highway linking Johor Baru city centre to Nusajaya, Asia's first Legoland Theme Park, Indoor Theme Park @ Puteri Harbour, Marlborough College, Newcastle University Medical Faculty, Netherlands Maritime Institute of Technology and Pinewood Malaysia Iskandar Studios.

“On completion of these projects, Nusajaya will have enough content to attract investors and residents,'' said Wan Abdullah.

He added that it would be much easier to convince and attract them to Nusajaya as they could witness the developments taking place, unlike when it was first started five years ago.

Nevertheless, Wan Abdullah said UEM Land would not rest on its laurels and feel satisfied with what it had achieved so far; instead it would work even harder to keep the momentum going.

By The Star

Greater KL Hottest among Malaysian Investors

Gavin Tee, fourth from the left, together with his staff, posing with winners of 2011 Hotspot Contest. Adamin Corporation Sdn Bhd director Kok Pick Tong (third from left) won the grand prize worth RM3,000 which entitles him to an investment course with SwhengTee International Real Investors Club

Kuala Lumpur and KLCC emerged as the leaders in Malaysia and Klang Valley respectively, in a survey of investment hotspots conducted among 421 participants by Swhengtee International. Matching a prediction by SwhengTee International Real Estate Investors Club founding president Gavin Tee, of them being the top hotspots, their connectivity from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport to the City Centre would result in the eventual internationalisation of properties there.

Petaling Jaya came in second within Malaysia and the Klang Valley as a very attractive investment destination, because it is a matured city with lots of investment opportunities, which are present through usage conversion of its buildings, old factories, vacant land, and redevelopment value in its properties.

“However, What is HOT may not be good to invest,”commented by the Swhengtee International Real Estate Investors Club founder Gavin Tee. Education is still a problem, people are not aware of potential opportunities and hidden risks. He thinks that whatever people are dashing to buy are normally where the bubbles are. Investors should evaluate if the hotspot is in the stage of “Warming up, Hot or Overheated.”

Penang, Kota Kinabalu and Melaka took third, sixth and eighth places respectively, as they are international tourist destinations that are inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List. These places are tourism hotspots, making tourism-related real estate in these areas among investments with the most potential.

Johor Bahru took fourth place, due to the impressive development taking place within Iskandar Malaysia, with foreign and local investments surpassing expectations in recent years. Other property hotspots in Malaysia include Putrajaya/Cyberjaya (5th), Shah Alam (7th), Seremban (9th), Ipoh (10th) and Kuching (11th).

Within the Klang Valley, Kota Damansara came in at an impressive third rank, with a matured neighbourhood, excellent amenities, improved accessibility, and vibrant lifestyle. Its commercial and residential enclaves are set to benefit from the proposed Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit Sungai Buloh – Kajang Line.

Bukit Bintang (4th place ), as Malaysia's premier shopping district, stands to be a more vibrant tourism destination, when it is linked to KL Sentral, which is also connected to KLIA, through the Sungai Buloh – Kajang MRT line. With two stations proposed to be at Bukit Bintang East and Bukit Bintang West, it will become conveniently accessible to tourists.

Other property hotspots in Klang Valley were Sungai Buloh (5th), Puchong/Kinrara (6th), Mont'Kiara/Sri Hartamas (7th), Jalan Klang Lama/Kuchai Lama (8th), Ampang (9th), Bangsar/Damansara Heights (10th) and Bukit Jalil (11th).

It is reasonable to be worried about property bubbles forming as they may be scattered around various places within the next 3 years. The bubbles may look similar to the 1997 property crash, where properties were oversupplied and overpriced in unpopular areas. However, the general market will remain strong.

The people from left are Lee Ding Ding, Gavin Tee and Olivia Wong

Gavin believes the hotspots are changing more rapidly since 2008 as Malaysia steps into Real Estate Globalisation process after Singapore, Hong Kong and China. Greater KL, MRT and Mega Project developments have moved Kuala Lumpur into a world class city. He predicts that service apartments or condominiums in Malaysia will hit RM5000psf within 5 years.

Globalisation will turn CBD and tourist spots (Melaka, Penang, Kota Kinabalu, Langkawi, etc) real estate into properties with international price tags, thus, RM5000 psf (equal to SGD2000+) is nothing to be surprised about. He also explain that high price is partly caused by high land and building cost, the country's economic development, properties being commercialised and people are much more willing to put housing as priority in life.

Gavin recommends to invest as the next 10 years are the 'Golden 10 years' in Malaysia real estate, However, he also reminds that identifying a hotspot requires a professional approach, study and high network. He concludes that hotspot may not be in the city centre. It can be a rural, river or new village development as long as the potential of growth exist. The hotspots will definitely distributed to all corners in the country.

By The Star

Atlan expects net gain of RM16m from Penang land sale

KUALA LUMPUR: ATLAN HOLDINGS BHD expects to gain RM16 million after the sale of two pieces of land along Jalan Batu Ferringhi, Penang for RM33 million cash to Glass Bay Sdn Bhd.

It said on Monday, March 21 that the RM16.47 million was arrived at after deducting estimated income tax of RM5.49 million, land cost of RM9.19 million, development cost of RM1.84 million.

On March 17, Atlan had signed a conditional sale and purchase agreement to dispose of two pieces of freehold land with a single storey sales office for RM33 million.

In a reply to a query from Bursa Malaysia Securities, it said that it had decided to put off its original plan to build 40 units of ine-storey storey apartments with one-storey basement carpark.

The decision to dispose of the land was after taking into consideration the estimated time frame and resources required to develop the land over the next three years given the competition of other developments within the vicinity and long gestation period to reap the full potential and benefits of the land.

“The proposed disposal will enable the group to realise disposal proceeds of RM33 million and an estimated after-tax gain of disposal of approximately RM16 million thus unlocking the value of the land immediately upon the completion of the proposed disposal,” it said.

Atlan said the proceeds from the proposed disposal would be used to repay bank borrowings, interest payments and to finance the group’s funding needs.

By The EDGE Malaysia

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Will buyers be proud of My First Home?

Last week, the Government officially launched My First Home Scheme targeted at young working Malaysians earning RM3,000 or less to help them become home owners. Though different in many ways from Singapore's Housing Development Board scheme, Malaysia's My First Home scheme has similar and noble objectives.

Malaysia has another housing scheme targeted at the poor and needy the low-cost housing scheme. It is mandatory for developers to provide this form of housing when they build and develop a township. One may ask, what has the low-cost housing scheme got to do with the My First Home Scheme? The three key words here are management, quality and standards.

Granted, low-cost housing is priced between RM35,000 and RM42,000 each. Because of that price, many of these units are small, at 650 sq ft or slightly bigger and are occupied by a family of five or six. The lack of space and privacy results in children spending their time at corridors, on the landings of fire escapes or at the car park bays provided. As a result, when the owners are able to afford it, they move out in search of a better standard of living and rent out the place.

This latest scheme launched a week ago involves houses priced 4-5 times that of low-cost homes.

A couple of developers have already announced that they will build apartments for first-time house buyers. Although it is not mandatory for developers to provide this form of housing, they want to move into this market because they see the huge demand as property prices continue to rise.

At the price of between RM100,000 and RM220,000, most of these projects will be outside the Klang Valley, or on the fringes of what will be known as Greater Kuala Lumpur.

With inflationary pressures to contend with, and profit being the main motive of private developers, it is extremely important that this form of housing although not low-cost does not one day become the disenchantment of what will be Greater KL, like how most of the low-cost housing in the city have turned out today.

Other than a decent minimum built-up (not 650 sq ft please!), there should be some quality control, not only in what will one day be Greater KL, but also in other states.

The cap on prices sieves out some of the more desirable locations in the Klang Valley that developers can build on because of high land prices.

Nevertheless, there are two other points that are equally important location and accessibility. In the Klang Valley, some of the locations where young Malaysians can opt for include certain parts of Seri Kembangan and Puchong, as highlighted recently.

In Perak, Johor and other states, the choices would be greater and in all likelihood may include single-storey houses. Whether in the Klang Valley or outside, there are lessons to be learnt from both our low-cost housing scheme and the Singapore example.

There is talk that because it is a government-initiated scheme, this latest housing scheme may be implemented in the Sg Buloh land that will soon be developed. Just as developers had to do national duty with low-cost housing, could it be possible that those who eventually benefit from the 3,300 acres in Sg Buloh may also have to do some form of national duty?

Just a thought ...

Assistant news editor Thean Lee Cheng hopes the My First Home Scheme will go beyond its fundamental objective of enabling the populace to own houses by including meaningful elements such as quality and good living.

By The Star

Moderate price hikes seen for houses

ALTHOUGH the demand for residential properties in the Klang Valley is expected to remain good this year, property consultants expect prices of landed housing to show only moderate increases compare with the double-digit jump in 2010.

Landed property prices grew strongly last year, up by as much as 20% in some areas. This can be attributed to the limited new supply, which only increased by 3% during the year, which was less than half of the 6%-8% annual growth seen during 2004-2008.

Brian Koh ... ‘Ultimately the question of affordability and sustainability will kick in.’

Strong buying interest and economic performance data last year led to many new project launches last year after being deferred following the global financial crisis.

The increase in project launches is also due to higher confidence in demand and take-up rate.

Many of these projects will be completed this year and add to the supply numbers.

DTZ Nawawi Tie Leung Sdn Bhd executive director Brian Koh says prices have gone way up last year and this has resulted in the market “becoming quite thin now.”

“Such high prices are not sustainable as there will be a limit to how much they can go up. Ultimately the question of affordability and sustainability will kick in,” Koh says.

Concurring with Koh, Knight Frank Ooi & Zaharin Sdn Bhd managing director Eric Ooi expects prices of landed housing to show modest increases averaging between 5% and 10% these one to two years.

This is in line with the expected slower growth in the country's gross domestic product of 5% to 6% this year from an expansion of 7.1% last year.

“Such increases are healthier and more sustainable for the market. I believe it is one of the effects of Bank Negara's measure that capped the loan-to-value ratio (LVR) at 70% for the third mortgage borrower. It is a good measure to curb speculation in the market,” Ooi says.

The move is seen as a measure to reduce speculative activities and prevent the housing market from overheating as the economy recovers amid a low interest rate environment.

Ooi says market sentiment is still generally healthy with demand strongest for terrace houses priced from RM300,000 to RM1mil.

CB Richard Ellis managing director Allan Soo says the high prices of landed houses have made affordability a serious issue, especially among first-time house buyers.

He says the market preference appears to be for smaller units with lowerentry costs.

Soo says the proposed mass rapid transit (MRT) system augurs well for the market and hopefully there will be more affordable housing projects to meet the needs of the people.

“Developers have already started formulating plans for property developments near the various stations, which should be a major driver for new projects over the next two years,” he adds.

He concurs that the LVR measure has contributed towards curbing speculative buying in the market, notably the medium-high to high-end price range of up to RM3mil.

On overseas investment, he says the strong ringgit over other major currencies has made owning property overseas a more viable proposition for those looking to spread their investment portfolio outside the country.

“Malaysians are venturing overseas and the popular countries include Singapore, the United Kingdom and Australia,” he adds.

Meanwhile, a recent survey by Real Estate & Housing Developers' Association reveals that average prices of newly developed residential property are expected to grow by 13% this year over last year's as a result of rising raw material prices.

The survey found that houses in the RM100,001 to RM500,000 price bracket are the most sellable, while demand for residences priced between RM250,000 and RM500,000 will remain strong in the next six months.

DTZ's Koh says strong demand exists for smaller, starter homes priced at up to RM300,000.

“Although there is good demand for such housing units, this end of the market is not being properly served and there is still a short supply,” he adds.

Echoing his view, Ooi of Knight Frank says that in the KLCC area, there is also keen interest for smaller residences of about 700 sq ft to 1,500 sq ft priced from RM500,000 to RM1mil.

In its latest research report, Knight Frank Research says projects which offer smaller units, such as M-Suites and The Elements@Ampang are well received by the market with sales rates of more than 80% due to their lower entry prices and ease in future leasing.

The high-end condominium segment has a cautious near-term outlook following the imposition of the 70% LVR cap on third mortgages.

Some 1,202 units of high-end condominiums will be launched this year. Kuala Lumpur suburbs will see more launches including MK 20 and MK 28 by Sunrise Bhd, while SP Setia's KL Eco City is also in the pipeline. Others include sixceylon by Bolton Bhd and JSI Serviced Condominiums by UDA Holdings.

According to Knight Frank Research, within the first half of this year, 1,692 units are scheduled for completion in the city centre of Kuala Lumpur and a further 2,020 units will be in the fringe areas of KL.

Some of the notable projects include Panorama, Swiss Garden Residences, Regalia@Sultan Ismail in KL city; Gallery@U-Thant, Damai 206@ Embassy Row and Brunsfield Embassyview in Ampang Hilir / U-Thant; D'Nine, Suasana Bangsar and Gaya Bangsar in Bangsar; Seni Mont' Kiara, Kiara 3, Sunway Vivaldi and Kiara 9 in Mont' Kiara.

CB Richard Ellis in its latest MarketView says the condominium sector, particularly in the KLCC area, performed more poorly last year.

Some high-end projects witnessed a decline in both capital values and rents as the market consolidated after the heady growth of 2007-2009.

“Of concern is the impending supply, with 2011 completions projected to be around 6,000 units, and we expect this to have an effect on the luxury residential market,” the report says.

By The Star

Friday, March 18, 2011

SP Setia net profit jumps on property projects

PETALING JAYA: SP Setia Bhd’s earnings rose 62.41% to RM62.03mil for the quarter ended Jan 31 versus a year earlier, on property development activities in the Klang Valley, Johor Baru and Penang.

The company’s revenue climbed 42.59% to RM518.88mil.

SP Setia told Bursa Malaysia that the current period’s proft after-tax was arrived at after expensing approximately RM6mil for employees share options for the scheme launched in May 2009 with a further RM16mil for the cost of financial incentives pursuant to the successful 5/95, Best for the Best and Invest Setiahomes campaigns.

By The Star

Abandoned RM600m Klang project gets white knight

The RM600 million Intania commercial project abandoned three years ago in Klang, Selangor, will be revived this month.

The project, now called 1Gateway Klang, will be developed by turnkey contractor Erajuta Sdn Bhd, a unit of Sagajuta (Sabah) Sdn Bhd.

Port Klang Authority, the land owner, has approved and endorsed Erajuta as the white knight in December 2010, to complete the development.

Intania, a joint venture between Port Klang Authority and Dermaga Suasa Sdn Bhd, controlled by Tan Sri Megat Najmuddin Megat Khas, stopped in 2006 following a dispute between both parties on privatisation matters.

The project was awarded to Dermaga Suasa in 1999 by the Economic Planning Unit through a privatisation agreement with the Port Klang Authority.

When the project stalled, only 13 units of four to six storey shoplots were sold and built while 16 units of 3-storey shoplots were left half way during construction.

"There were some impairs in terms of settlement and that has been resolved.

"We will submit all relevant documents and plans to the authorities soon," said Sagajuta managing director and executive chairman Datuk Raymond Chan.

Chan told reporters in Klang yesterday that the concept for the project will change to be market driven.

Previously, the project was to feature medium to high-end apartments, serviced apartment, shoplots and an office tower.

The new plans will comprise the 4-star Novotel hotel, a 31-storey office tower, a hypermarket, duplex shops, shoplots, a 3,000-bay carpark and a food hub.

By Business Times