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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

New project in Iskandar Malaysia set to boost sales

Done deal: Frankie (second right) exchanging the documents with Fujimora (second left) while Tan (right), Takahiro (left) and Ahmad Zahri (thrid right) and Pee look on.

JOHOR BARU: Iskandar Malaysia is set to attract more foreign property buyers who want to make the city as their second home or to invest in properties.

Johor Baru’s proximity to Singapore is one of the strong selling points and many of them are also attracted to the prices of the residential properties which are relatively cheaper compared to theirs home countries.

“Iskandar Malaysia is progressing well since its launch with many infrastructure projects and major developments taking shape within the next one to two years,’’ said Seri Alam Properties Sdn Bhd general manager Frankie Tan Kiat How.

He said this after the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the company and Global Asia Assets (M) Sdn Bhd (GAAM) at the Wealth of Iskandar Malaysia Conference.

Seri Alam Properties was represented by Tan and assistant general manager (Finance) Tan Siew Peng while GAAM by its chief executive officer Fujimora Masanori and general manager Sakanoue Takahiro.

The ceremony was witnessed by Johor committee chairman for Local Government and Housing Datuk Ahmad Zahri Jamil and UMLand Bhd chief executive officer Pee Tong Lim.

The company will develop 110 bungalows, each with a swimming pool with a land area of 4,500 sq ft each and a club house under the Japanese Holiday Homes in Bandar Seri Alam township in Pasir Gudang for Japanese buyers on a 8.09ha site overlooking a lake.

“We believe the project will be a good platform to attract more foreigners to come and buy properties in Iskandar Malaysia,’’ said Tan.

The collaboration, he added, would increase the number of Japanese community within the township which already has from the existing Japanese International School there.

By The Star

S’pore plans more HDB flats

SINGAPORE: Aspiring home owners can expect to see more build-to-order (BTO) Housing Development Board (HDB) projects launched in mature estates next year, promised National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan on Monday.

Khaw ... ‘I have asked HDB to look into more mature estates as possibilities.’

Announcing this latest policy shift in another blog post, he said: “I have asked HDB to look into more mature estates as possibilities.

“It is too late to prepare suitable sites for this year, but we should be able to put up some for next year's BTO.”

He said that his ministry had been “rather reluctant” to launch BTO in mature estates as it was worried that such popular launches would attract high subscription rates, “further alarming the market”.

“While this is a valid concern, I believe Singaporeans will understand that mature estates will always attract very high subscription,” he said.

“We should not be daunted by such a prospect, but should instead try to meet the aspirations of many young couples wanting to set up nests near their parents. Our response should be to put up more sites in mature estates, even as we ramp up BTO launches elsewhere.”

Khaw added that it would be inevitable that some of these new sites would be near existing residential blocks, and he hoped residents would bear with the construction while works were under way.

The blog, titled Making a Calculated Move, was his third since last Thursday. Like the other two as well as his recent comments it showed the determination of the new National Development Minister to address areas in housing which are causing unhappiness to various segments of Singaporeans.

Last Friday, he spoke of speeding up the construction of new flats and raising the number of BTO units from 22,000 to 25,000 this year. At a forum with youth on Sunday, he said that more rental flats must be built for lower-income families.

Under the BTO system launched in 2002, the HDB builds flats in response to demand for them.

In his latest post, Khaw noted that the current BTO launch for 4,000 new units in four towns was under way. So far, there have been about 8,000 applications, and this was within the ministry's expectation.

Not surprisingly, he said, projects in the mature estate of Tampines are the most popular, with many applying for four and five-room flats.

He acknowledged that new flats in mature estates are more attractive since many couples living there would like to continue to live close to their parents.

This is a move which the government supports, and so it has doubled the chances of such couples under the Married Child Priority Scheme.

The current BTO launch in Tampines was also the first one there in recent years, he noted.

He said that young couples eagerly looking for new homes should calculate their chances.

“My advice to them is to opt for non-mature estates,” he said.

“You improve considerably your chance of securing one in the new towns, instead of competing with many others for the popular projects in the mature estates,” he said, adding “good luck friends, and congratulations on your recent or upcoming wedding”.

For years, the Ministry of National Development's (MND) position has been to focus on launching new flats in non-mature estates such as Punggol and Sengkang.

Last year, former national development minister Mah Bow Tan said that land in mature estates was limited and the mainstay of BTO supply would still be in outlying estates.

Launches in mature estates have proven to be wildly popular.

In 2009, 1,718 BTO flats in Queenstown SkyVille@Dawson and SkyTerrace@Dawson received over 10,000 subscriptions, or 12 buyers for some units in the estate.

In 2007, 400 flats in Telok Blangah Towers were oversubscribed nearly 20 times, with 7,970 applications.

Mature estates usually have more established infrastructure such as recreational and educational facilities and well-connected transport links.

In such areas, land for building new flats is limited and flats built are generally snapped up quickly.

Dennis Wee Group director Chris Koh said that these projects were also likely to be smaller in size, given the limited land.

He added that flats could be built at the perimeter of mature estates.

Colin Tan, research and consultancy director at real estate firm Chesterton Suntec International, said HDB could overcome such size limitations by building taller blocks and increasing the population density.

Khaw's latest announcement gives hope to buyers like human resources executive Teo Yingying, 25, who has applied for a BTO flat with her boyfriend five times with no success. She is hoping for a BTO launch in Tanjong Pagar where she now lives with her parents.

“I want to be near my parents. If we ever have children, my parents can help me take care of them when we're working,” she said.

MND said that it was studying suitable sites and more information would be released later this year.

By Asia News Network/ST

Survey: England, Wales house prices fall sharply in May

LONDON: House prices in England and Wales dropped at their fastest annual pace in over 1 years in May as demand fell for the first time since January, a survey showed.

Property research company Hometrack said prices were 3.7% lower in May compared with a year ago, the biggest decline since October 2009. On the month, prices nudged 0.1% lower after April's unchanged reading.

Hometrack blamed the decline on flagging consumer morale, public holidays and people taking Easter breaks that ran on into May.

“The late Easter break and May bank holidays reduced the volume of traffic through agents' offices,” said Hometrack research director Richard Donnell. “But of greater significance is the growing evidence of weakening consumer confidence.”

Economists expect high inflation, weak wage growth, tax rises and public spending cuts to weigh on consumer spending and house prices this year, despite record low interest rates.

One survey released on May 27 suggested consumer morale may not be as bad as many feared.

The GfK NOP measure showed its biggest rise in almost 20 years in May, although analysts said it might have received a temporary boost from unusually fine weather, the royal wedding and a run of public holidays.

The Hometrack survey showed that the number of new buyers registered with estate agents fell by 0.5% in May, the first decline since January.

The number of sales agreed rose by 1.6% in May, lower than the 8% jump seen in April and March's 12.6% rise.

London continued to buck the national trend, with prices up by 0.2% on the month.

Hometrack said it expected lower demand to keep pressure on national house prices over the rest of the year.

“With concern over household finances and the wider economic outlook, demand for housing is likely to continue to post further modest declines over the summer,” Donnell said.

By Reuters