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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Orando sees healthy sales

NEWLY-LAUNCHED property units are not flying off the booking boards in the showrooms this year, but sales are “at a healthy level”, according to Orando Holdings Sdn Bhd managing director Datuk Eng Wei Chun.

Having entered the property development scene in 2005, Orando has witnessed the peak of the Malaysian property market when launches were sold out within days or even hours as well as the softening of the market as Bank Negara tightened the reins on financing.

But Eng is not fazed.

“The current level of tightening measures to curb price speculation is just nice, any more and the property market could suffocate,” Eng says, donning his trademark accessory – the bowtie.

“If the property industry slows down too much, that would lead to an economic crisis. People have been afraid of a property bubble but the truth is, Malaysia is not small like Singapore or Hong Kong. We have a bigger property market.”

He adds that with a young and growing population, it will not be that easy for the Malaysian property market to suffer a bubble.

Earlier this month, Orando launched its sixth project Villa Crystal @ South Desa Park, in Taman Sri Sinar, Segambut, Kuala Lumpur.

The condominium project comprising 414 units on 38 storeys is already 60% sold thus far. Given the current market momentum, Eng estimates the entire project would be sold in another few weeks.

In his promise to provide “Swiss-watch quality” homes, he says the company believes in building responsibly.

“I don’t think we should talk only about returns, as businessmen. We should create something of value for society,” he tells StarBizWeek.

This year, Orando has won three awards – the European Quality Award from the European Business Assemble Oxford, UK; the Five Star Best Residential High Rise Development Award and the Safe Home Award for its Vila Vista project under the Asia Pacific Property Award 2014.

Villa Crystal is sited on 3.5 acres of freehold land a stone’s throw from Desa Park City, Taman Tun Dr Ismail and Kepong. The gross development value is RM310mil.

“There is a link currently being built from Desa Park City to this area. When completed within three years, it would take only five minutes to drive from Desa Park City to Villa Crystal,” he says, adding that the link will lead to the Damansara-Puchong Highway.

Villa Crystal units are going for around RM515 per sq ft, or between RM700,000 and RM1.2mil. The built-up ranges from 1,155 sq ft to 1,614 sq ft. The bigger units come with three parking bays while the smaller ones have two.

“We are selling at the current price, not the future price,” he says.

Its selling points are its high ceiling and a multi-purpose area taking up 10% of floor space in each unit which the home buyer can customise into anything, from a wine cellar to a personal hideout. The area also has its own entrance, therefore homeowners can divide the space for a tenant or the domestic helper.

Small operation, big ambition

Although Orando has a little more than a handful of projects under its brand, it has plans to venture beyond the Klang Valley... into the United Kingdom.

“When we were there to accept our award in April, we met some potential contacts for future ventures. We’re still exploring the idea of London,” he says. Eng has been in talks with a landowner in London and thinks the growth into the British market could be next year, after some feasibility studies.

For now, the company’s strategy is still to hunt for pockets of land in the Klang Valley to develop as soon as possible. Orando does not have any projects or land bank beyond this area, currently.

Eng says the group’s formula is to build one project, launch another and keep a parcel at any one time.

“Of course we would like to keep more land if possible but good land is not easy to find in the Klang Valley,” he says, “So we look for land with great logistics potential.”

Another strategy for the company is to introduce new products into the areas it ventures into, so as to not create unhealthy competition among developers providing similar products.

“When we launched the grand lobby condominiums in Cheras, there was no such development in that area then,” Eng says.

He puts it neatly: People sell apples, I sell oranges.

To come up with fresh ideas that locals of any area would be receptive to, Eng studies the society of that area in order to understand what it demands or lacks.

“You have to look at it through the local’s perspective and see what’s missing,” he says, “Like in Segambut, there is no such high rise that offers multi-purpose, dual-key units.”

He explains that Segambut and Kepong, being 40-year-old townships, have second and third generation dwellers looking to upgrade.

“The younger generation are beginning to settle down. They want to upgrade but don’t want to move too far away from their parents. And there is not many luxury condominiums in these areas,” he says.

Eng says the buyers’ profile for Villa Crystal has been largely people in their late twenties and thirties from Kepong.

Orando’s previous high rise residential projects include Vistaria and Vila Vista in Taman Pertama, Cheras.

By The Star

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