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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Developers see stable property mart

KUALA LUMPUR: The Real Estate & Housing Developers' Association Malaysia (REHDA) is confident the property market can be stable amid the gloomy global economic outlook.

Its chairman of finance and investment committee, Datuk Ng Seing Liong, said the market would probably take a breather after having been quite bullish in 2010 and the first half of 2011.

"So far, the property market is not too bad, except for the past few weeks when the stock market was down.

"Looking at the market situation, we will definitely see a slight slowdown, but the undercurrents are still quite strong," he told a media briefing on the coming Malaysia Property Exposition 2011 (MAPEX 2011) here today.

Ng said REHDA hoped the government would not introduce new tax policies and impose more stringent rules for securing property loans in the 2012 Budget.

"It is important to be consistent so that the property market can be sustained," he said.

REHDA, he said, has generally asked for stability and consistency in terms of policy whether it's tax or other things.

Meanwhile, chairman for REHDA Wilayah Persekutuan, NK Tong, said the challenge for the country, especially the Greater Klang Valley, was the provision of more new good quality houses, especially with the increase in the population.

"We're facing very unusual time now all over the world. Not only the moods are dampened, we also find the costs are rising, therefore people are not buying.

"That will slowdown the building of new homes and in 10 years there will be a shortage of homes and this will escalate prices," he said.

Ng said MAPEX was open to participation from overseas.

"We cannot be static anymore. Many Malaysians are investing in overseas properties and vice-versa. We also want the foreigners to come and buy our properties," he said.

REHDA has received interests from Shanghai, Hong Kong, Guangzhou (China) as well as Australia, London and Dubai, he said.

He said MAPEX was expected to generate sales of about RM300 million, the same amount be recorded last year.

"We are more concerned about generating awareness. Sales don't have to be transacted within the three days," Ng said.

MAPEX 2011 will be held from Oct 21-23 at Mid Valley Exhibition centre.

It attracts 60,000 visitors each year.

By Bernama

Rehda’s wishlist for Budget 2012

KUALA LUMPUR: The Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association Malaysia (Rehda) hopes the Government will not implement any major systemic change for the property sector in Budget 2012.

While applauding the current system, its president Datuk Seri Micheal KC Yam said frequent changes in the taxation and property-buying segment would disrupt the immense investment in property by both locals and foreigners.

He said a change, would deepen the negative perception of Malaysian legislation by foreigners, and even locals, that things are always changing.“If the system keeps changing for every budget, then the confidence level for a person to invest in local properties will also be very low.“Sustainability and standardisation of property taxes, as well as a market friendly environment, is very important for Malaysia to compete on the international arena,” Yam said after the opening of the “Green Solutions for Property Development 2011” forum here today.

It was officiated by Housing and Local Government Minister, Datuk Wira Chor Chee Hueng.

He added that the result of an inconsistent system has resulted in only four per cent of households in Malaysia being owned by foreigners.

He said the current system was good in ensuring the competency of the local property market among neighbouring countries.“However, the property segment players must be given time to adjust to a certain legislation system.“Usually, when the players are ready to adopt a new system, it is then being enhanced or upgraded, thus, making it difficult for the property developers to put it into practice,” he added.

Meanwhile, Yam said REHDA hopes the government will review the low cost housing scheme requirements and reconsider the release of unsold Bumiputera-property units, due to less demand from the respective quarter.“This will enable the Malaysian property segment to be a more market and demand-driven,” he said.

By Bernama

Mah Sing buys Semai Meranti

Mah Sing Bhd is acquiring the entire issued and paid-up share capital of Semai Meranti Sdn Bhd for RM57 million, which will make the latter its wholly-owned subsidiary when the purchase is completed in the first quarter of next year. Semai Meranti is the registered and beneficial owner of all parcels of contiguous freehold development land within the Northern Growth Corridor in Rawang measuring about 90.28 hectares.

The company, in a filing to Bursa Malaysia, today said the land would be developed into a lifestyle township, namely M Residence@Rawang, with an estimated gross development value of about RM948 million.

It said the proposed development, to be developed between three and four years, would commence construction by the first half of next year.

The proposed acquisition would allow Mah Sing to lock in large tract of development land at attractive prices for township development.

By Bernama

Luxury hotel chain Banyan Tree coming to KL

The Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts is slated to open in 2015 as part of the Pavilion project on Jalan Conlay near Bukit Bintang.

Kuala Lumpur: The Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts will be the latest luxury hotel brand that will have a presence in Malaysia.

Slated for opening in 2015, Banyan Tree will be a part of the Pavilion project called Banyan Tree Signatures Kuala Lumpur, located on Jalan Conlay near Bukit Bintang.

Banyan Tree did not respond directly to Business Times queries on its opening. So did Kuala Lumpur Pavilion which did not answer any queries.

Both parties are expected to sign a collaboration agreement on October 18 2011, whereby information about the project will be revealed.

While details remain sketchy, industry players and website searches have confirmed that a single 55-storey block will be built to house private residences, serviced residences and a hotel.

Based on "preliminary information" on the project dated May 2011, there will be 441 units of private residences, 51 units of serviced residences and 50 units of hotel.

The fact sheet on the web, which has not been verified by either party, indicates that some 490 units of residences are for sale at an average price of RM2,000 per sq ft. However, sources say almost all units have been sold.

Industry estimates tag the cost of construction, not including land cost, to be around RM800 million.

Pavilion and Banyan Tree's relationship in the project remains unclear.

Banyan Tree Holdings Ltd manages and develops premium resorts, hotels and spas in Asia Pacific. The group has ownership in niche resorts and hotels.

Singapore Stock Exchange-listed Banyan Tree Holdings website states that it is now involved in some 30 resorts and hotels, over 60 spas and 80 galleries, as well as three golf courses.

By Business Times

Investors looking beyond Beijing to buy houses

BEIJING: Government figures show the trading volume of apartments in Beijing was down 50% on last year's figure, with counties neighbouring Beijing the new hotspots for property investors.

Property prices in Beijing have stabilised since last year, following the introduction of various policies to restrain soaring property prices, leaving speculators little room for earning. As a result, counties outside the capital have become a new target for investors.

“The demand for property in Beijing has now moved to neighbouring counties in Hebei province,” Li Wenjie, general manager for the North China region of property agency Centaline China, told China Daily.

In less than a year, the average property price in Chicheng, a poor county in Hebei province, almost doubled to more than 4,000 yuan (US$626) per sq m, according to Xinhua News Agency. “Housing prices have risen dramatically. How can we ordinary people afford them?” a local resident surnamed Guo, who makes about 1,000 yuan a month, told Xinhua.

In Dachang Hui autonomous county, also in Hebei province, housing prices are now between 4,000 and 5,000 yuan per sq m, compared with 3,000 yuan a year ago and in Zhuozhou city, housing prices have risen 2,000 yuan per sq m in the last two years.

Although real estate developers put prodigious faith in September sales, demand in Beijing did not surge as expected this year.

The total trading volume of the city's commodity housing in September was down 51% from a year earlier. The weak demand would continue in October and the price would be dragged down, said Zhang Yue, chief analyst with property agency Home Link.

By ANN/China Daily

Singapore prime rents dip

SINGAPORE: Rents of homes in prime areas have fallen for the first time in almost four years as global economic uncertainty means fewer executives are hired, according to a property consultancy.

Average rents in districts 9, 10 and 11 dipped 1.4% in the three months to Sept 30 compared with the previous quarter, said Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) South-East Asia. It was the first fall since the first quarter of 2008, JLL added.

It was worse in the luxury home segment where third-quarter rents fell 1.9% over the previous quarter.

Experts said that fears over the global economy were starting to be felt here with companies freezing hiring or scaling back on employment packages for existing staff.

This had hit demand for homes, especially in the prime markets where new expatriates typically chose to live, said JLL head of South-East Asia research Chua Yang Liang.

“This fall in demand, combined with an influx of new supply such as Nassim Park and Cliveden at Grange in the luxury market and City Vista Residences and Soleil@Sinaran in the typical prime market, has put downward pressure on rentals,” he added.

“Increasingly, occupiers are not maximising their housing budgets and are opting for less expensive options or downsizing their existing properties to reduce accommodation costs.”

JLL data also found that new properties in the central region - including the business district and Chinatown - and East Coast areas are increasingly attractive to tenants, with rents holding firm.

Activity also remained high in properties renting for under S$6,000 a month as people reduced housing costs, JLL said.

Mass-market rental flats were benefiting as a result with “high activity”, Chua noted.

Despite falling rents, he does not think home prices will drop in tandem unless the eurozone financial crisis takes another negative turn that sends shock waves across Asia.

“Even if rents fall, owners might not be motivated to sell as there is no distress there,” Chua added.

City centre home prices might hold steady with an increase of less than 1% in the fourth quarter, he said.

Urban Redevelopment Authority data out yesterday showed city centre prices rising by just 0.8% in the three months to Sept 30, easing from the 1.6% gain in the previous quarter.

The JLL findings differed from the results of a Knight Frank report last week which showed rents still rising.

The report showed marginal rental increases in the prime segment with a 1.9% rise in the third quarter, although it was sharply down from 6.5% in the second quarter.

Png Poh Soon, Knight Frank's head of research and consultancy, said the influx of foreigners was spurring rental growth.

The run-up in property prices also resulted in landlords increasing rents during lease renewal to maintain property yields.

“The slowdown in property price appreciation and tightened immigration policies may consequently moderate residential rental growth. We expect general average residential rental to increase marginally at less than 2% or to remain flat for the rest of the year.”

By ANN/Straits Times

HDB latest offerings good news for first-time buyers

Singapore: National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said the Housing and Development Board's (HDB) latest launch of build-to-order (BTO) and Sale of Balance flats last month was “making good progress” in meeting the housing needs of first-time flat buyers.

In a blog post titled, Light At End Of Tunnel on his online journal Housing Matters, Khaw weighed up the application rates of HDB's largest crop of new flats launched, and said half the 15,500 first-time applicants would get flats.

Last month, the HDB released 8,200 flats - 5,415 for a BTO exercise, and 2,847 for a balance flats exercise. Balance flats are “leftover” units from previous BTO launches, surplus replacement flats from selective en-bloc redevelopment schemes, and those bought back by the HDB.

The joint BTO and balance flat sales saw mixed response. While balance flats were wildly popular, with some in mature estates seeing 50 times as many buyers as there were units available, the BTO exercise saw a more muted response with an average application rate of 1.7 times. Khaw wrote that the lower BTO sign-up rate this time meant “almost all the 6,700 applicants who selected these projects will get a chance to select a flat.” He also urged buyers to consider their options carefully before they make their applications, so as to increase the chance that they get the flat of their choice.

By ANN/Straits Times