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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Developers try to ease property concerns in Penang

At the roundt able are: (from left) Dr Teoh, Chan, IJM Properties’ Toh, SP Setia’s Rajoo and Sunway’s Tan.

The Starregional operations manager (north) Chung Chok Yin and Henry ButcherMalaysia(Penang) Sdn Bhd director Dr Teoh Poh Huat recently met up with developers to ascertain the impact of a slower GDP forecast for 2011, rising interest rates, and escalating property prices amidst global challenges on the direction of the Penang property market.

Chung and Teoh moderated The Star Property Fair 2011 Roundtable discussion held at the Star Northern Hubon July 5.

The panellists included DNP Land Sdn Bhd (northern region) general manager K.C. Tan, IJM Properties Sdn Bhd general manager (north) Toh Chin Leong, Ivory Properties Group Bhd deputy chairman and executive director Datuk Seri Nazir Ariff,Lone PineGroup of Companies general manager Mabel Ooi, SP Setia Bhd (north) general manager S. Rajoo, Mah Sing Group Bhd general manager (northern region) Low Eng Hooi, Sunway City Bhd general manager Tan Hun Beng, and Real Estate Housing Developers' Association (Penang) chairman Datuk Jerry Chan.

The roundtable talk was a prelude to the ninth Star Property Fair 2011 in Penang that will be held at Gurney Plaza and the adjoining G Hotel fromJuly 21 to July 24.

The fair is organised byThe Starin collaboration with Henry ButcherMalaysia(Penang) Sdn Bhd.

The following are excerpts of the discussion:

StarBizWeek: How do you perceive the property market outlook inPenangfor 2011 and next year?

Chan: The outlook is stable. Landed properties with unique concepts will see appreciation. The demand is still there. It's just that people will be more discerning in their decision making when it comes to the high-end high rise developments.

Should steps be taken to ensure Malaysian owners still retain ownership of heritage properties in the core and buffer heritage zone?

Nazir: Penang developers are now more organised.

Nazir: That's going to be difficult. That is disturbing the market. How many foreign people own heritage properties now? Some might have foreign names but they may be locals.

Will the property market in Penang experience phenomenal growth as it did last year?

Rajoo: As long as there is expansion, there is going to be ample job opportunities. More people will enter the job market and they will need homes. We expect a good year.

Toh: There is fear that if you don't buy property now, you can never afford it again in the future. The interest rate is increasing, and the price of oil, materials, land, and compliance costs are going up also. These are driving people to keep buying houses now.

K.C. Tan: The mainland and island are now better connected in terms of distance, and accessibility, which will be further enhanced with the completion of the second bridge.

We can expect a shift in the property market towards Batu Kawan, especially when the second bridge and the Electrified Double Track Project (EDTP) connecting Ipoh and Padang Besar are completed.

The trend appears to be less focused on super-condominium lifestyle living, according to a recent report. What do you feel about this?

Ooi: That is what we hear from the locals. The trend is to go for smaller units. I would say there is still a demand for big units, as there are buyers attracted by unique concepts.

Purchasers of our 1 Tanjong beachfront-condominium project in Tanjung Bungah intend to stay there.

In future, the supply of this type of properties along certain stretches will be limited.

How will developers strategise to promote their properties this year in view of the slower economic growth locally and globally?

Nazir: Penang developers are now more organised. Developers like IJM, SP Setia and Mah Sing have set benchmarks that we local developers have followed.

They have given Penang companies competition and a challenge, and you can see better designs in houses and apartments in Penang because of that.

Has Mah Sing made the right move to enter the Penang property market?

Low: Buyers expect different concepts, innovation and designs.

Low: The local market, particularly in Batu Maung, has accepted the new concept. Buyers expect different concepts, innovation and designs. They buy into the lifestyle aspect, and they are willing to pay more for it.

All these factors will steer the property market and make it just as favourable if not more favourable than the outlook this year.

By The Star

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