Thursday, 31 October 2013

(BUSINESS TIMES) Eco World makes over RM1b in property sales

KUALA LUMPUR: Focal Aims Holdings Bhd's ultimate parent, Eco World Development Sdn Bhd, seems to be breathing fire, raising more than RM1 billion in property sales over the past 30 days. 

Buyers have rushed to grab the properties in Selayang, Selangor, and Johor, thinking that they will be getting the best quality homes in the market.

"It's a rarity for an untested developer to receive such backing," said Mercury Securities head of research Edmund Tham.

He added that Focal Aims, backed by the personalities in Eco World, could be a major player in Malaysia's property development sector.

The confidence stems from market perception that Focal Aims and parent Eco World Development will ultimately be managed by Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin.

Liew, a dominant stakeholder in builder SP Setia Bhd before being taken over by Permodalan Nasional Bhd, was instrumental in creating market perception, equating SP Setia homes with quality.

Liew's eldest son Liew Tian Xiong, together with Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Manaf, a former director of SP Setia, and former stockbroker Datuk Eddie Leong Kok Wah gained control of some 65 per cent of Johor-based Focal Aims at RM1.40 a share some two months ago.

Some of Eco World's assets are likely to be injected into Focal soon, people familiar with the matter said, adding that with the injection, a new shareholder will emerge in Focal.

Market chatter is that Tan Sri Syed Mokthar Albukhary will appear as the new stakeholder as the tycoon has a strong working relationship with the elder Liew and Leong.

Under Liew's stewardship, SP Setia became Syed Mokhtar's preferred builder, resulting in SP Setia partnering Tradewinds on a 50:50 basis to develop affordable housing under the PR1MA scheme at Taman Ikan Emas, Cheras.

While in Bangsar, the tycoon's privately-held Mekar Gemilang Sdn Bhd has teamed up with SP Setia to develop an RM11 billion gross development value project in Federal Hill.

In April, DRB-HICOM Bhd said it had sold 623.29 acres of land to Eco World for RM604.65 million.

Some of the land was used by Eco World to launch its first two projects over the past 30 days, namely the Eco Botanic project in Nusajaya, Johor, and the Eco Sky project in Taman Wahyu in Kuala Lumpur.

(NST) Eyes on Iskandar real estate

ATTRACTIVE OFFER: 30 per cent real property gains tax timely as Singaporeans are keen to tap into landed residential properties in Nusajaya

The residential property market in Iskandar Malaysia has been under the radar of foreign investors, especially the investment savvy from across the Causeway, in the last two years.

Given Johor's location, Singaporeans were keen to tap into properties in Nusajaya. Compared to the prices in Singapore, properties in Johor are still an attractive buy.

In the suburbs of Singapore, for instance, a condominium can be pegged at SG$1 million (RM2.5 million), while a flat in the high-end enclave of Tampines may cost in the region of SG$400,000 (RM1 million).

For those who want to own a landed property where they can enjoy gardening and have a playpen for their pets, wouldn't Johor Baru be the ideal choice for a second home?

And for foreigners who are working in Singapore, it is much more feasible to stay in Johor Baru and have the parent travel to Singapore daily while their children attend the international schools here.

So, as the property market in Iskandar Malaysia starts to soar due to demand along with the surging prices, is it a good time for local housebuyers to be hit with the implementation of a 30 per cent real property gains tax (RPGT) on those who sell their property within three years, and 15 per cent on those who hold up to five years?

For foreigners, RPGT is imposed at 30 per cent on the gains from properties disposed within the holding period of up to five years. For disposals in the sixth and subsequent years, RPGT is at five per cent.

It will, no doubt, make a speculator think twice about buying for the sole purpose of re-selling. But re-selling is inevitable at times.

The property, after you have moved in, may turn out to be unfavourable, one could be abruptly transferred to another state or one could encounter financial woes, marital problems and health issues along the way.

Things happen and you have no choice but to sell.

Most of my friends who are in the property development industry are not too concerned about the RPGT. They said the move would not affect property sales as the bulk of their clients aren't speculators.

But in any market, there are always speculators. Speculators move the market, which otherwise, would have been stagnant and dull. And like I've said, things happen.

I knew a couple who were so eager to move into their new home. The thought of selling the property must have been the last thing on their mind. But just a few days before moving in, the husband died in a tragic road crash. The wife, broken-hearted, decided to sell the house.

And speculators may not be contributors to the rising property prices. Without a doubt, many young executives are finding it harder to own properties today, but the exorbitant prices may not be caused by property speculation.

The rising costs of construction materials, a shortage of manpower in the industry and rising costs of land may be the other factors.

The booming prices bear testimony to the success of the development of the southern corridor.

Though I do not think the RPGT will cause much impact on property sales, I wonder if this was indeed a well-timed policy intervention as far as Johor is concerned.

Kudos to the government's plan to increase the supply of low-cost housing for low-income families by releasing more residential land.

Amid the mega developments in Iskandar Malaysia, there are still squatters in Kempas, Skudai Kiri and Kampung Pasir, all in the southern development corridor, which presents a marked contrast to the picture.

The plights of the poor and the middle class should be looked into as Iskandar Malaysia thrives into vision 2020.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

(The Edge) IOI positive on property market outlook

PUTRAJAYA: While a slowdown in the property market is to be expected in the near term following the cooling measures announced under Budget 2014 last Friday, IOI Corp Bhd group executive chairman Tan Sri Lee Shin Cheng said he remains optimistic about its longer-term outlook as consumers digest the changes in due time.

Lee was speaking to reporters after the company EGM yesterday which saw shareholders approving the demerger of IOI Corp’s property arm.

“With the measures to curb rising house prices in Budget 2014, the speculative market will fade off. The sales will slow down. However, we believe genuine house buyers will come back and continue to drive the market.

“There is no telling when the market will pick up again, but I believe the slowdown will occur in the next two to three months. Consumers will digest the ‘shock’ and eventually come back to the market,” Lee said.

Lee said upon completion of the demerger exercise, IOI Properties Group Bhd would be listed on Bursa Malaysia next January with an expected market capitalisation of RM14 billion.

“We are now at the final stage and we have received approvals from Securities Commission Malaysia and Bursa Malaysia for the listing,” he said.

IOI Corp will receive proceeds of RM1.9 billion from the proposed non-renounceable restricted offer for sale of IOI Properties shares to entitled shareholders.

“IOI Corp will use part of the money to redeem the bond worth US$500 million (RM1.57 billion) and the balance will be for working capital,” Lee said.

This would bring IOI Corp’s total borrowings down to RM5.4 billion from RM7.3 billion.

Lee added that IOI Properties contributed about 30% to 40% of IOI Corp’s revenue.

“After the listing, IOI Corp would focus on its plantation business and enhance its participation in downstream activities which would give more value to the company,” he said.

Commenting on the increase in the minimum price of property purchase by foreigners from RM500,000 to RM1 million, Lee believes Singaporeans will still be purchasing properties in Iskandar Malaysia.

He added that they could purchase bigger properties, such as bungalows, which sell at around RM1.3 million each.

“In addition, the construction of public transportation such as the MRT and KL-Singapore High Speed Rail will be appealing to the Singapore market, as it offers travelling convenience,” Lee added.


(The Edge) OWG to revitalise Komtar Tower with IPO proceeds

KUALA LUMPUR: Only World Group Holdings Bhd (OWG) intends to revitalise the KomtarTower in Penang using 56% of the proceeds from its IPO.

In its prospectus exposure, the group said the revitalisation project involves the proposed refurbishment and enhancement of five specified levels within the Komtar Tower to create high-end commercial space for retail, food and beverage, and recreational purposes.

The project commenced on Aug 27 and is expected to be completed within 30 months of the leasing date.

The group also plans to allocate about 28% on its expansion plans, which include the expansion of its water park, Wet World Water Park in Shah Alam, food and services outlets, and growing its franchise programme.

The rest of the proceeds will be used for working capital and listing expenses.

“Our group intends to utilise our IPO proceeds as general working capital to support our business operations.

“This would further enhance our cash flow position and enable us to conduct our operations smoothly without being dependent on external borrowings,” it said.

The group plans to issue up to 56.4 million new ordinary shares (30.49%) of the group’s enlarged issued and paid-up capital, priced at 50 sen each. Of the projected new shares, 5% or 9.2 million shares are allocated for the public.

Furthermore, four million shares or 2.2% will be allocated for its directors, 18.5 million shares or 10% for bumiputera investors and 24.7 million shares or 13.3% for selected investors.

The OWG group is primarily a provider of leisure and hospitality services incorporating the operation of food services outlets, as well as amusement and recreation outlets comprising water amusement parks and family attractions.

(The Star) Only World Group won open tender to rejuvenate Penang’s Komtar

New look: Lim posing with an artist’s impression of a refurbished Komtar. Beside him is Koh.

Restoring the shine to an icon

Komtar — arguably Penang’s best known landmark — will be revitalised to become one of the top tourism draws in the state.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the state wanted to bring back the past glory of the iconic tower.

“At one time, it was the main shopping centre. We want to bring back its shine,” he said after launching the construction of a banquet hall at Level Five in Komtar.

Lim said work was in progress for the rebranding of the 65-storey tower.

“After almost 30 years of neglect, most of the shoplots and office spaces for the private sector have been taken up,’’ he said.

The banquet hall is part of Komtar’s revitalisation initiative undertaken by the Only World Group, which was entrusted with the project by the state government and the Penang Development Corporation through open tender.

Apart from the banquet hall, this project will also include the construction of two external high speed observation bubble elevators.

Levels 59 and 60 as well as 64 and 65 will be refurbished into international-class sky dining restaurants including an outdoor dining area.

Only World chairman and chief executive officer Datuk Richard Koh said the restaurant would be installed with a transparent floor to provide an impression that the patrons were dining in the sky.

Only World has pledged over RM50mil for the project and Koh was confident that it could reap returns from this venture, owing to the state’s growing clout as a tourist destination.

He also spoke highly of Penang’s tourism sector if the state could develop new must-see attractions.


(BUSINESS TIMES) CapitaMalls calls off property buy

KUALA LUMPUR: CapitaMalls Malaysia Trust (CMMT) has called off its proposed acquisition of two properties owned by Tropicana Corp Bhd. 

In a filing to Bursa Malaysia, the company said that both parties were unable to conclude on the terms of the sale and purchase agreement, and have mutually agreed not to pursue further with the proposed disposal.

The two properties owned by Tropicana Corp's unit, Tropicana City Sdn Bhd, are Tropicana City Mall and Tropicana City Office Tower in Selangor.

(BUSINESS TIMES) KL a prime new-build market for China investors

KUALA LUMPUR: Kuala Lumpur has been listed as one of the favourite prime new-build markets for property and real-estate investors from China, according to a report compiled by Knight Frank.

Its global head of residential research Liam Bailey said the Chinese are the most influential buyers in the world's prime new-build sector.

"Chinese are the top purchasers of new-build residential properties in Sydney and Hong Kong and are active buyers in both Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok's prime new-build markets," Bailey said yesterday.

Liam said Chinese buyers' global presence is fuelled in part by the strong yuan and a slowing domestic economy, both encouraging them to look further afield in an attempt to diversify investments.

He said the next most influential buyers are from Singapore and Russia, followed by the United Kingdom and the United States.

"Given the recent growth in wealth creation in Asia over the last few years, it is, perhaps, no surprise that buyers from this region feature strongly among our list of top global new-build purchasers," he said.

"There is no doubt that recent residential market cooling measures in Asia have acted as a spur for many investors from that region to look further afield," he added.

Knight Frank also named key nationalities that will increase investments in new-build residential properties over the next 12 months, who include investors from China, Russia and the US.

"Given the popularity of prime real estate as an investment in the years following the financial crisis, we expect a portion of this growing wealth will continue to be assigned to new-build properties in key locations around the world," Bailey said.

The report, which is issued quarterly, includes data on the luxury new-build home sector from Knight Frank's global network for the year to end-July 2013.


GEORGE TOWN: TUMI, international brand of premium travel, business and lifestyle accessories recently joined forces with six local designers and artists to celebrate the opening of its first northern region flagship outlet in Penang.

The store, located at the Gurney Paragon Mall, here, displays sophisticated travel cases and business briefcases and the brand's best-selling bags.

Officiating the opening were Valiram Group executive director Mukesh Valiram, Tumi Asia-Pacific managing director Tom Nelson, Hunza Properties Bhd chairman Datuk Khor Teng Tong and group managing director Datuk Daisy Ooi.

Local artists and designers present included Rebecca Duckett, Kid Chan, Sasha Bashir and Rizalman Ibrahim. By Marina Emmanuel

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

(The Star) Res280 SOHOs project in Selayang receives robust take-up rate, says developer

Leong giving his speech during the ground breaking ceremony.

Salcon Bhd’s maiden property project, rés 280 located in Selayang, Selangor, received encouraging response on its official launch and groundbreaking ceremony recently, recording a sales value of approximately RM108mil on the first day of launch.

rés 280 is a niche development strategically located in a prime area within Taman Selayang Jaya and directly fronts the Selayang-Kepong Highway.

It is easily accessible to various major townships such as Damansara and Kepong and is supported by good public amenities and infrastructure such as the Selayang Hospital, Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), Selayang Mall and many more.

The project, with a total gross development value (GDV) of RM154mil, is a joint-venture project between Salcon Bhd and Mepro Holdings Bhd.

The 21-storey commercial development comprises 12 units of two-storey shop office and 280 units of Small Office Home Office (SOHO) with one level of basement car park .

Salcon executive director Datuk Eddy Leong Kok Wah said, “With an average selling price of only RM495 per sq ft, rés 280 provides dual purpose spaces for a balanced lifestyle of resort living and working space to first time owners at attractive prices. The SOHO concept also appeals to the younger generation as it suits the work-from-home lifestyle besides having complete facilities and infrastructure provided at a strategic location.”

The project is targeted to complete in 2016.

Looking forward, the group will continue to focus on managing and delivering the existing developments in hand while looking for potential acquisitions to further penetrate the property development market.
Salcon obtained shareholders’ approval in March to include property development as part of its principal activities in order to boost the group’s order books and diversify its revenue base.

The group also acquired two parcels of land in Johor with total land area of 12.72 acres for mixed residential and commercial development. The project in Johor will be a joint venture with Ecoworld Development Sdn Bhd.


(The Star) MDHS may charge parking fees

‘New’ divider: Motorists parking their cars in the centre of the road with no regard for the law or other road users’ safety.

In a move to boost its coffers and emulate other local authorities in Selangor, the Hulu Selangor District Council (MDHS) plans to introduce parking charges in its commercial areas starting next year.

This will be the first time Hulu Selangorians will be charged parking fees in the district.

MDHS president Tukiman Nail said the council stood to make about RM280,000 annually from the new parking system.

“This money will be used to upgrade facilities and resolve problems affecting the community,” he said.

“So far, we have identified four areas for the system — Kuala Kubu Baru town, Adenium Business Park in Bukit Beruntung, Bukit Sentosa and the Batang Kali commercial area,” said Tukiman at his office in Kuala Kubu Baru.

He said the council would study the system implemented by its counterparts, such as the neighbouring Tanjung Malim district council, before devising its own.

“The Tanjung Malim District Council uses parking coupons. We may also use this system because the profit margin is higher compared to using parking meters,’’ he said.

He added that the public must view the move in a positive light as it would eventually benefit them.

Tukiman pointed out that some motorists now resorted to double, and sometimes triple-parking in Kuala Kubu Baru, especially near the bus station, due to lack of parking space.

“Some irresponsible motorists hog the available space for long hours, depriving others of space. As such, imposing parking charges will help deter such selfish acts.

“This will help reduce congestion, too,” he said.

However, the business community in Hulu Selangor is unhappy over the move, fearing businesses in the vicinity might be affected.

Indian Village Restaurant owner Arumugam Batumalai, whose outlet is in Batang Kali, said charging motorists might keep customers away.

“My business may suffer if this system takes place,” he said, adding that even now, business had slowed down, with many traders barely making a profit.

“The council should introduce the system only in congested areas,’’ he said.

Another restaurant owner in KKB town, who wishes to be known as Lee, said it should be done in Bukit Sentosa and Batang Kali but not KKB.

“This is a heritage town with a small business community and our customers are mostly locals,” he said.

Another businessman in KKB, Raj Kumar, said many might start to cycle or walk if the system was introduced as the town was small and easily accessible.


(BUSINESS TIMES) 'New property measures to drive away investors'

NEW property cooling measures, such as raising the ceiling price of properties for foreign buyers to RM1 million, will be a big blow to Johor's Iskandar Malaysia region, says RHB Research.

The research house views that the 30 per cent real property gains tax (RPGT) for foreigners, for disposals within the first five years, will wipe out short-term foreign speculators to a certain extent as the minimum five years' holding period will drive them away.

Given such a situation and potentially higher land holding costs, it is uncertain if the Johor government will go ahead with the proposed four to five per cent processing fee that will be imposed on foreigners, as the impact of the 30 per cent RPGT is already detrimental, RHB said.

"We see downside potential for valuations of some stocks, particularly those that are highly exposed to the Iskandar region and have high proportion of foreign buyers," it said in its latest research note.

RHB said developers with high exposure to the Iskandar region will be the most adversely affected as the area has gained significant traction among foreigners over the past one to two years, especially Singaporeans, due to the strong Singapore currency.

They include UEM Sunrise Bhd, Sunway Bhd, SP Setia Bhd, Mah Sing Group Bhd, IJM Land Bhd and Eastern & Oriental Bhd.

"Medini, in particular, which has no Bumiputera quota, will likely see a knee-jerk slowdown in property sales over the near term, as the market is now less lucrative compared with before.

"While there is still demand for some attractive projects compared to a simple buying decision previously, potential foreign buyers will now think twice before purchasing properties in Malaysia," RHB said. 

According to CBRE, foreign purchasers accounted for 54 per cent of total high-rise residential sales (sales by developers) in Nusajaya, and 39 per cent in Johor Baru and major suburbs. 

In Penang mainland, RHB still sees healthy growth as local property demand is largely driven by genuine buyers for occupancy purposes.

(BUSINESS TIMES) Four roads to be made one-way

PETALING JAYA: Jalan Barat, Jalan Timur, Jalan Sultan and Jalan Yong Shook Lin are set to be converted into one-way streets.

The direction of traffic in Jalan Yong Shook Lin will be reversed.

The road conversion is expected to cost RM26 million.

Mayor Datin Paduka Alinah Ahmad said it would ease traffic congestion in Section 52 during rush hour.

"The one-way street project will be implemented in January and is expected to be completed in 2015," she said at the council's monthly full-board meeting.

Another issue raised at the meeting was the removal of oil drums which are used as barriers on public roads in housing areas.

These include Jalan PJU 1A/43E, Winchester, Ara Damansara, Jalan BU 6/2, Jalan BU 6/6 Bandar Utama and Jalan SS 22/2 Damansara Jaya.

(NST) Developers laud subsidy for affordable homes

WELCOME RELIEF: It will encourage them to build more low- and medium-cost houses

Housing developers are relieved that the construction cost for low- and medium-cost houses will be reduced with the introduction of the Private Affordable Ownership Housing Scheme (MyHome).

Those contacted said the measures announced in 2014 Budget last Friday, which included government subsidy of RM30,000 per unit, would encourage them to build more low- and medium-cost dwellings.

"This is positive for developers. Apart from the subsidy, the maximum prices have also been increased," said Mah Sing Group Bhd group managing director Tan Sri Leong Hoy Kum.

Mah Sing plans to explore the MyHome opportunity and identify locations within its housing projects suitable for the scheme.

Glomac Bhd group managing director and chief executive officer Datuk F.D. Iskandar also welcomed the Budget announcement.

He said the state governments should emulate the Federal Government's move to encourage developers to build low- and medium-cost houses.

"The government has been listening to us.

"They know we have been losing money.

"But rising construction costs is still an issue when it comes to state governments.

"The state governments, especially in Selangor, keeps raising the conversion premium rate.

"We have to pay 30 per cent enhancement value to the local council. We also have to pay for development and building charges.

"How are we going to keep cost low and houses affordable, when the cost keeps going up?

"The state governments are not in tandem with the Federal Government in solving this affordable housing issue."

He said developers were incurring losses of between RM35,000 and RM40,000 for every low-cost house they build in a housing project.

The government, in 1982, imposed a 30 per cent low-cost housing quota on private sector developers as a social obligation.

Developers are building low, low-medium and medium-cost houses, at prices that had been maintained at between RM42,000 and RM99,000 each.

In his 2014 Budget speech last Friday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak outlined five criteria for developers to fulfil under the MyHome scheme.

Among them are that developers must build at least 20 per cent low-cost houses and 20 per cent medium-cost houses in a housing project.

The houses are open to first-time buyers with a monthly household income of RM3,000 for low-cost houses and a maximum of RM6,000 for medium-cost houses.

The prime minister said preference would be given to developers who build low- and medium-cost houses in areas of high demand and limited to 10,000 units next year.

The MyHome scheme, which is limited to 10,000 units next year, is for housing projects approved effective from Jan 1.

Monday, 28 October 2013

(The Edge) Property developers taking a beating post-Budget 2014

KUALA LUMPUR: Although the FBM KLCI closed almost unchanged and the ringgit strengthened to a four-month high against the US dollar yesterday to 3.1355, property stocks took a beating in the aftermath of the unveiling of Budget 2014.

The goods and services tax (GST), which will replace the sales and services tax, as well as new measures that could put a dent in the demand for properties caused many counters in the property sector to close in the red on the first day of trading since the tabling of the budget last Friday.

Save for S P Setia Bhd which closed unchanged at RM3.20, other large cap property developers saw their market values fall.

Mah Sing Group Bhd dropped six sen or 2.49% to close at RM2.35, IJM Land Bhd lost three sen or 1.06% to RM2.79, and UOA Development Bhd closed seven sen or 3.06% lower at RM2.22.

UEM Sunrise Bhd was the biggest loser of the lot, as the counter fell 10 sen or 3.85% to RM2.50 a share.

“I applaud the government for trying to curb speculative activity in the property market, but it should be more focused when coming up with these measures so as not to punish the developers and genuine homebuyers,” Glomac Bhd group managing director and CEO Datuk FD Iskandar told The Edge Financial Daily.

He said the discontinuation of the developer interest-bearing scheme (DIBS) could negatively affect property sales as the scheme was used to attract prospective homebuyers.

“Property developers do not get any financial rewards from offering DIBS to their customers. We have to make the interest payments on the buyers’ housing loans until the developments are completed. Many developers use DIBS just to encourage sales,” he said in a telephone interview.

Glomac was not spared the post-budget property stock selldown, falling three sen or 2.52% to RM1.16 yesterday

Iskandar, who had earlier said that property developers are seeing their margins shrinking, said the introduction of the GST could affect the property sector’s profitability.

“Residential property sale transactions are exempted from GST. But then these properties are built using bricks, steel and other materials on which the GST will be imposed. We can’t pass our higher costs to consumers,” he said.

He hopes the government would have more dialogues with property developers on how to improve on these new measures.

“More than half of the loans given out by banks last year were for the purchase of properties, according to Bank Negara [Malaysia]. If sales of properties are affected going forward, this would be bad for the bigger picture,” he said.

Inter-Pacific Securities Sdn Bhd head of research Pong Teng Siew said he believes these new measures, along with the increase in the real property gains tax to 30%, would have an impact on the property sector.

“The question now is how much these measures will affect the property sector going forward,” he said.

(The Edge) Property market is expect to self-correct in the next year

PETALING JAYA: The "bold measures" to cool the market under the Budget 2014 will help the property market self-correct within the next six month to one year, said the spokesperson for the Association of Valuers, Property Managers, Estate Agents and Property Consultants in the Private Sector (PEPS)

The higher real property gains tax (RPGT), goods and services tax (GST) which will kick in April 2015, banks to stop funding projects with developer interest-bearing schemes (DIBS) and developers to be more upfront about their freebies will likely cause a surge in property transactions and launches as developers, institutions and individuals rush to "beat the system", followed by a dearth of launches as developers cope with added cost arising from the GST.

"The market is dynamic. If supply is less than demand, developers will come in to build more. So the mechanism of demand and supply will self-correct," said James Wong, publicity chairman for PEPS.

PEPS past president Elvin Fernandez also noted that the RPGT will help mitigate the higher property prices - including residential properties due to higher material and labour cost arising from the GST.

"We have 17 months before GST kicks in and in the meantime you have the RPGT so that will arrest the rush into property to beat the artificiality inherent in the implementation of the GST.

The effective abolishment of the DIBS and transparency about marketing packages will also lead to a more balanced and realistic market, said PEPS vice president Siders Sittampalam.

"With this moves against excessive speculation, we will have more realistic pricing, backed by fundamentals rather than excessive speculation," he said.

He added that the market was distorted by all the incentives by the developers, who had initially introduced these innovative schemes to boost flagging sales in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.

"Prior to this we had speculators outstripping investors and with these measures to curb excessive speculation we will have a market that is a little more realistic, dominated by investors and owner-occupiers.

"With the abolishment of the DIBS... the secondary market will start leading the way in terms of pricing," he said.

Meanwhile, PEPS president Lim Lian Hong noted that the revised RPGT is more effective in reducing excessive speculation because it covered the usual construction period of 36 months.

"Buyers should at least see the construction of their property to completon, because if there is a lot of selling and reseling, it would interrupt construction, cause a lot of upheavals, so the project will not go on smoothly. The exemption after five years is also good because it protects long-term investors," he said.

According to Lim, in the past two yeard hotspots such as Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Johor have seen prices rise by 20% to 30% per year.

The new RPGT rate imposes a 30% tax on the first three years of holding, followed by 20% on the fourth year and 15% on the fifth year. Sales from the sixth year onwards are exempt.

Meanwhile, foreign investors and companies will be charged a 30% tax for the first five years and 5% on sales in subsequent years.

(The Edge) Budget to impact corporate sector

KUALA LUMPUR: Budget 2014, which was unveiled last Friday, is expected to bring cheers to some corporations but others could see knee-jerk reaction from investors.

According to heads of research and fund managers, sectors that could be lifted by the latest budget include construction, oil and gas (O&G), telecommunications and media.

Conversely, stocks that could face knee-jerk reaction from investors are those in the consumer and property development sectors.

“Budget 2014 should be well-received by the financial markets as the commitment towards fiscal reform is something that investors in the bond and equity markets have been hoping for,” MIDF Amanah Investment Bank Bhd head of research Zulkifli Hamzah told The Edge Financial Daily.

Areca Capital Sdn Bhd CEO Danny Wong Teck Meng said the construction sector is set to be a major beneficiary as the mega projects announced could beget more developments surrounding those projects.

“The mega projects could encourage infrastructure development. Take, for example, the announcement on the refurbishment of rural roads ... it can bring more traffic volume to the areas concerned,” he said.

The government has allocated RM980 million for the refurbishment and upgrading of 437km of rural road networks nationwide. Another RM500 million will be provided for the Pan-Borneo Highway project.

Affin Investment Bank Bhd vice-president and head of retail research Dr Nazri Khan said the projects singled out by the government in the budget will likely benefit certain stocks. These projects are the 316km West Coast Expressway and the double-track railway from Ipoh to Padang Besar, as well as Petroliam Nasional Bhd-related O&G projects.

Nazri said these priority projects are likely to benefit the O&G, technology, power and construction sectors. He said stocks such as Petronas Chemicals Group Bhd, Petronas Dagangan Bhd, Dayang Enterprise Holdings Bhd, Uzma Bhd, Deleum Bhd, Coastal Contracts Bhd, Tenaga Nasional Bhd, YTL Power International Bhd, Gas Malaysia Bhd, Gamuda Bhd, IJM Corp Bhd, Pos Malaysia Bhd, Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd, DKSH Holdings (M) Bhd, My EG Services Bhd and Globetronics Technology Bhd will be in the spotlight soon.

A head of research at M&A Securities pointed out that fewer new projects were announced in the budget.

“Many of the projects have already been announced under the Economic Transformation Programme. Even with the announcement of the upgrading works of several airports, it will be very hard to say who will benefit. The projects could go to small players,” she said.

Wong said the government’s plan to improve the nation’s Internet connectivity will be a boon to the telecommunications and media groups.

“Increasing Internet access speed throughout Malaysia will encourage the usage of smartphones. But it’s not just the mobile telecommunications providers that will benefit. Fixed-line providers will also get a major slice of the pie as there will be more users having access to high-speed broadband (HSBB).

“Indirectly, media groups can benefit from this when their premium services like high definition television and HSBB offerings get a wider reach,” he said.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has announced that the government is going to roll out the second phase of the HSBB project, involving an investment of RM1.8 billion, which will see the Internet access speed being increased to 10Mbps. This will benefit 2.8 million households.

Wong also said the introduction of the goods and services tax (GST) on April 1, 2015 is positive for Malaysia’s economy going forward. However, he said, there may be a knee-jerk reaction to consumer stocks upon the opening bell today.

“The GST rate [of 6%] is slightly higher than what was expected earlier. So we won’t know if retail sales could be affected going forward,” he said.

(The Edge) THE EDGE Property Excellence Awards 2013: Gamuda Land continues to create value for its customers

FOR Gamuda Land Sdn Bhd managing director Chow Chee Wah, 2013 has been a good year thanks to all the projects the developer has been busy with. However, the year just got a little sweeter with two of its joint-venture projects receiving merit awards under The Edge-PEPS Value Creation Excellence Award 2013 in both the residential and non-residential categories.

The merit award under the residential category went to Lagoon Suites Condominium in Kota Kemuning, while in the non-residential category it went to the Botanic Business Gateway in Bandar Botanic, Klang. The developer of Lagoon Suites is Hicom-Gamuda Development Sdn Bhd, a joint venture between DRB-Hicom Bhd and Gamuda Land while Gamuda Land Sdn Bhd wholly developed and owns Botanic Business Gateway.

“We are very proud to receive the value creation awards,” says Chow. “This is an honour because we always appreciate The Edge’s recognition of our developments, especially after we came out tops for Horizon Hills and Kota Kemuning last year.”

In 2012, Gamuda Land’s Phase 1A3 The Gateway at Horizon Hills in Johor and the Lake Precinct Business Park 2 at Kota Kemuning in Shah Alam, Selangor, were the winners in the residential and non-residential categories respectively.

We are very proud to receive the value creation awards. This is an honour because we always appreciate The Edge’s recognition of our developments, especially after we came out tops for Horizon Hills and Kota Kemuning last year. — Chow
The Edge-PEPS Value Creation Excellence Award is a collaborative effort between The Edge and the Association of Valuers, Property Managers, Estate Agents and Property Consultants in the Private Sector Malaysia (PEPS) to recognise projects that have created value appreciation for their buyers and investors over a pre-determined time frame.

Chow says the awards prove that Gamuda Land is able to create value for its purchasers and investors because Kota Kemuning was recognised not only at its initial phase of development, but also as the township gets more matured.

“This just shows that throughout the whole development period, we are able to continue to create value for our purchasers,” he adds.

Chow points out that value creation lies in the sustainability of a township and he is glad that in Kota Kemuning, Gamuda Land was able to have the foresight to carve out a sustainable master plan and sound engineering solutions as well as identify the right place to allocate the green spaces.

“From the experience we gained from Kota Kemuning, this has carried into our Bandar Botanic project, which we started five years later,” he says.

The Edge-PEPS Value Creation Excellence Award 2013 | Residential: Merit Award - Lagoon Suites Condominium, Kota Kemuning, Shah Alam — Hicom-Gamuda Development Sdn Bhd

LAGOON SUITES is part of the 1,854-acre freehold development in Kota Kemuning. Located in Shah Alam, Selangor, the township has a total gross development value of RM3.6 billion and comprises industrial, commercial and residential properties.

Meanwhile, Lagoon Suites comprises condominiums and town houses. Gamuda Land Sdn Bhd managing director Chow Chee Wah says since Lagoon Suites was a strata development, there were constraints in the layout of the land, which is long and narrow. So, along with the two blocks of condos, Gamuda Land decided to build 52 units of town houses.

“The town houses are similar to 3-storey link homes with a built-up of 1,620 sq ft and three covered car parks,” he says.

Commanding a gross development value of RM74 million, Lagoon Suites has 350 units of condos in two 15-storey blocks, with sizes ranging from 500 to 900 sq ft. The units are priced at RM125,000 to RM218,000 during launch in April 2010 and has since appreciated between 60% and 95%. Current prices stand at RM300,000 to RM400,000

“The prices start from RM242 psf, which is 10% higher than the units at Kota Kemuning Lakeside Condominiums that was transacted at RM220 psf for 980 sq ft,” says Chow.

He adds that the selling points of the Lagoon Suites are that each unit has a 24-hour security system, and access cards are needed to enter the building from the car park podium. Each unit is also allocated two covered car parks and there is only one entry and exit point in the building.

Amenities include a playground, an open badminton court, a kindergarten, a launderette, a reading room, a surau, a jogging path and a multi-purpose hall.

Lagoon Suites was completed in September 2012.

According to Chow, when Gamuda Land first put the project on the drawing board, the size of the units were a mere 500 to 700 sq ft. Normally, he says, sizes like these would be acceptable in the central business district area but not in the suburbs. However, the company took up the challenge anyway and rolled out the development with those sizes.

He adds that the response from the public was positive and the project was well received.

“We were pleasantly surprised with the good response when we launched the first block as we did not anticipate such a good take-up rate,” says Chow. “It was indeed a big risk for us to launch the small condos back then because the site is surrounded by unfavourable factors, such as high tension cables and Petronas oil reserves.”

Chow says to mitigate these factors, the company carried out the advance planting of trees and shrubs with the car park podium positioned in such a way that it acts as a buffer against the pylons.

Another challenge were the power lines, monsoon drain and gas pipelines running along the parcel of land. To alleviate this problem, Gamuda Land created an eco wetland park from an idle swamp land.

“With assistance from Wetlands International, the park was innovatively restored to function as a natural filtering system as well as an educational park where people can bird watch and enjoy nature,” Chow explains.

“We had all these pipes and lines running near our land, it was an eyesore. So we opened up the whole area and created a wetland in order to draw the eye line away from the power lines and gas pipes and downward to the scenic environment,” he says, adding that this is how the place was transformed to double the value of the land.

Lagoon Suites is the last high-rise development in Kota Kemuning. It has a 70% occupancy rate in block 1 and a 45% occupancy rate in block 2. Lagoon Suites is 80% tenanted and 20% owner occupied. The monthly rental varies between RM900 and RM1,600 for the 500 sq ft units and RM1,000 to RM1,700 for the 700 sq ft units. The 900 sq ft units fetch between RM1,100 and RM2,000.

Chow says the company learnt a lot from this project, including advance planning, a good layout, the orientation of a building, and lush landscaping. “These factors will entice purchasers to purchase irrespective of the built-up and unfavourable factors surrounding the building.”

With experience from Lagoon Suites, Gamuda Land plans to continue developing similar projects in the future.

The Edge-PEPS Value Creation Excellence Award 2013 | Non-residential: Merit Award - Botanic Business Gateway, Bandar Botanic, Klang — Gamuda Land Sdn Bhd

LOCATED at South Klang in Selangor, Bandar Botanic is a self-contained township accessible via the Shah Alam Expressway. It comprises bungalow land, bungalows and apartments. There are also 2 and 3-storey link houses, and 2-storey semi-detached homes. For its commercial phase, Bandar Botanic offers 1 to 4-storey shoplots including the Botanic Business Gateway with 136 units of 2 and 3-storey shopoffices with a gross development value of RM114 million. Standard lot sizes are 22ft by 80ft with a built-up of 3,497 sq ft.

Launched in October 2009, the Botanic Business Gateway was completed in September 2011. The types of shops that opened there at that time included a car showroom, a wedding decorator, a solicitors’ office, an automobile workshop and an organic food shop.

The shopoffices submitted for the award were sold by the developer in 2009 for RM653,000 to RM788,000 and later on the secondary market in 2011 and 2012 for RM1.32 million to RM2.38 million translating to a capital appreciation of 50% to 97%.

According to Gamuda Land managing director Chow Chee Wah, the company does not control the tenant mix and to date, the Botanic Business Gateway is 23% occupied. While the occupancy rate is relatively low, Chow says it is expected to increase to about 70% by end-2014.

“With the increase of the population catchment, there is a high potential for the occupancy rate to increase as well,” he adds.

Gamuda Land is also the developer of block B of GM Klang, which is located close to the Botanic Business Gateway. The company is developing another block in the wholesale city development, which is expected to commence in 2014 and will increase the value of the commercial centre.

“We added the wholesale mall in order to create heavy human traffic around it, which promotes commercial activity,” says Chow. “This will complement and boost the occupancy rate of the Bandar Botanic Business Gateway shoplots and once the occupancy increases, people will start to see its value.”

The first block of the 7-storey wholesale mall has been operational for over a year with a net lettable area (NLA) of 230,000 sq ft, while the second block with an NLA of 320,000 sq ft will begin foundation works in the next two months. The total land size is over 20 acres and will be developed in phases.

“When we first launched the Botanic Business Gateway, it was priced at RM700,000 onwards. Today, we are seeing prices of over RM1.3 million and that’s only in over three years,” Chow points out.

Most of the buyers are investors and existing purchasers of properties in Bandar Botanic. Currently, there are no plans to build a bridge but Gamuda Land has built the KESAS ramp — which was completed in 2011 — which gives better access to the commercial areas in Bandar Botanic.

According to Chow, Bandar Botanic has seen a spillover effect in terms of an increase in its rentals by between 30% and 50% within the last 24 months as a result of the better access.

He adds that all the essential elements that resulted in the success of its Kota Kemuning township development can be found in Bandar Botanic. “We learnt a lot from Kota Kemuning in 1995. In terms of the master plan, emphasis was placed on gated and guarded living, as well as planned infrastructure and road networks.

“If you compare us with other developers, we always take our time during the master planning stage. We will roll out the development in one or two years’ time to get things in place before we start launching. We usually have large-sized developments, so that will usually take 10 to 12 years,” says Chow.

“We also keep evolving in terms of the concept and approaches. We hear what our purchasers require and we put that in place. We always think ahead in that sense so that value can be created along the way, so it won’t be outdated and it can support the community within the township.” Last year, Gamuda Land’s The Lake Precinct Business Park 2 in Kota Kemuning won in this category. The development sits on 5 acres and comprises 40 shopoffices that featured a modern design with dual frontages. The shopoffices submitted for the award were sold by the developer in 2009 for RM893,544 to RM980,000 and later on the secondary market in 2011 and 2012 for RM2.28 million to RM2.38 million translating to an appreciation rate of 141%.

(BUSINESS TIMES) Port Dickson turning into dynamic hub

THE once quiet coastal town of Port Dickson is slowing turning into a dynamic and vibrant lifestyle leisure hub, owing to rapid development of the RM1.5 billion PD Waterfront project.

When TSR Capital Bhd first started the project, it had never expected it to be a preferred leisure and tourism destination.

"We never expected that it could attract the attention of foreign food and beverages chains such as Starbucks Coffee and McDonald's.

"People like the ambience and picturesque scenery here. The spillover effect of PD Waterfront is definitely beyond our expectation," said Datuk Wan Abdul Razak, TSR's executive director-cum-chief operating officer.

TSR's PD Waterfront flagship integrated development project, which started in 2011, is expected to be completed within nine years.

Spanning across 40ha, the project entails commercial units, a waterfront plaza, residential blocks, condotel (a cross between a condominium and a hotel), a college, water chalets, as well as a wellness and convention centre.

TSR has completed the RM150 million first-phase development that features 25 units of waterfront shops and 64 units of three- to four-storey shop offices.

TSR group accountant Ng Kim Keong said the company targets to launch projects with RM100 million to RM150 million in gross development value (GDV) per annum over the next eight to 10 years. 

"This generates not only yearly profit but also provides long-term recurring income and value appreciation, as we do keep some units for investment purposes," he said.

The Phase One commercial unit development has generated RM2 million to RM3 million in annual rental income for TSR. Although the area was reclaimed more than 20 years ago, it had been abandoned due to economic slowdowns in 1987 and 1997. 

TSR currently has a RM115 million D'Wharf Residence serviced apartment project in the pipeline.

"We launched the project in September and the response has been favourable. We have hit about 80 per cent sales so far," Ng said.

D'Wharf Residence comprises two building blocks with 227 residential units, of which the 27 studio units have been fully taken up and there are 200 interested buyers in the waiting list. The selling prices range from RM160,000 to RM1.14 million.

TSR will be launching the condotel project by the middle of next year. Unlike the previous domestic-focused marketing approach, the company is planning to market the condotel abroad.

(BUSINESS TIMES) Redeveloping Kampung Baru

PROMINENT ROLE: UDA plans to build homes in the RM350,000 to RM400,000 price range

UDA Holdings Bhd is confident of playing a prominent role in redeveloping the 112-year-old Kampung Baru, whose redevelopment plans have stalled since the incorporation of Kampung Baru Development Corp (KBDC) last year.

Its chairman Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani said the government-owned agency is in talks with Kuala Lumpur City Hall and the Federal Territories Ministry to develop a portion of the City Hall-owned land.

“UDA is in a position to develop part of the land near the Pasar Minggu area together with City Hall and make it a catalyst project for Kampung Baru.

“Once completed, it will be a showcase to the rest of the landowners about the government’s commitment to develop Kampung Baru. The project will also boost confidence among the landowners on KBDC’s capabilities,” Johari told Business Times, here, recently.

KBDC was set up last year as a mediator between landowners and potential investors in developing the area, which is located in the heart of Kuala Lumpur.

However, problems arose when rumours surfaced that the corporation will acquire the land for its own gain.

He said KBDC is trying to amalgamate all the land and convince the landowners that with larger land sizes, it can command a higher price.

Johari said it is not an easy task to develop Kampung Baru due to its multiple ownership and scattered small individual land titles. 

Over the past 112 years, there have been more than 5,000 landowners in Kampung Baru.

“UDA has talked with the Public Private Partnership Unit of the Prime Minister’s Department, City Hall and Federal Territories Minister (Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor) with regard to 1.1ha of City Hall land in Kampung Baru and they have agreed in principle to allow UDA to develop the plot,” he said.

Johari said UDA plans to develop affordable executive homes in Kampung Baru in the RM350,000 to RM400,000 price range.

(The Star) Temple to become a new tourism landmark

KLANG: A Hindu temple being rebuilt here is set to be the first granite temple in the country and a new tourism landmark when it opens its doors in 2015.

“We believe the temple has the potential to become a tourist attraction and a beautiful landmark in the royal town of Klang that could attract foreign tourists,” Klang Sri Sundararaja Perumal Temple president S. Anandakrishnan said.

He said the RM10mil granite structure follows the precise design defined by southern Indian temple builders thousands of years ago.

“It is believed that using granite will cause the vibrations of the mantras to resonate to a higher level,” he said, adding that the consecration ceremony of the new temple would be held on June 9, 2015.

Already dubbed the Thirupathi of South-East Asia – after the famous pilgrimage centre for Hindus in the Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh – the temple keepers have enlisted 50 stone carvers and their families from Kanchipuram, 60km from Chennai, to craft the all-granite temple.

“Once the granite temple is completed, discussions will be held with the Tourism Ministry to include it in their tourism calendar as a preferred choice for tourists,” said Anandakrishnan.

In 2006, the temple was awarded with ISO 9001:2000 certification for its contributions to religious, cultural and social service to Hindus. — Bernama


(The Star) Property sector measures in Budget 2014 hailed

Property professionals describe Budget 2014 measures as ‘apt, correct and measured’

PETALING JAYA: Describing the proposals for the property sector as “apt, correct and measured”, property professionals said Budget 2014 will curb excessive speculation and help to solve affordability issues besetting the housing market.
In a post-budget commentary on Saturday, James Wong, the publicity chairman of the Association of Valuers, Property Managers, Estate Agents and Property Consultants in the Private Sector, Malaysia (PEPS), said the proposals, along with macro-prudential measures taken by Bank Negara, would stabilise and strengthen the market.

The proposed establishment of a National Housing Council and the provision of RM1bil in a public-private partnership to boost the affordable housing sector was much needed as previous measures were ineffective, Wong said.

“The affordable housing model has to be tweaked to include pre-fab housing, releasing more land by government agencies and increasing urban area density, particularly in places near transport terminals in order to average out land cost,” he said.

“It is not that private developers do not want to build affordable housing. Land prices have gone up too high in the Klang Valley, Penang and southern Johor. It is impossible for private developers to build homes priced between RM150,000 and RM450,000 in urban centres.

On the 30% tax on gains within the first three years of disposal in the proposed real property gains tax (RPGT) effective Jan 1, 2014, Wong said such measures in previous budgets for 2012 and 2013 were ineffective as an anti-speculation tool. The latest move would give RPGT more bite, he said.

“The budget promotes properties as a long-term investment, not something to be flipped to make short-term gains,” he said.

The Budget 2014 review of the RPGT has extended the quantum of increase from 15% within the first two years of disposal to 30% within the first three years of disposal. It has also re-imposed a prevailing 5% tax on companies and non-citizens in the sixth and subsequent years.

The new RPGT, and the removal of developers interest bearing scheme (DIBS) which enable buyers to pay a 5% or 10% downpayment with mortgage payments kicking in until the property is completed, would also stamp out bulk buying by foreigners, Wong said.

Although this would affect Iskandar Malaysia in southern Johor, over time the proposed measures would bring about confidence into that market as there had been “too much hype and speculation going on there”, he said.

The exemption of RPGT between 2007 and 2009 and the entry of DIBS in early 2009 created fertile ground for speculation. Home prices have increased by between 20% and 30% annually in urban centres, a situation PEPS president Lim Lian Hong said was “unhealthy” and needed to be corrected.
“Research by RAM (Ratings Agency Malaysia) into the past 50 years shows that a steady annual growth of 7% is healthy for the market,” said Lim, who is also the executive director of Raine & Horne International Zaki+Parners Sdn Bhd.

He said the property sector was an important part of Malaysia’s economy – or any other country for that matter – and that excessive speculation had a destabilising effect on the overall economy.

“The RPGT is an important anti-speculation tool, and with the removal of DIBS, we expect the market to self correct in the next six to 12 months,” Lim said, adding that affordable houses must be build as quickly as possible.

On the impact of the 6% goods and services tax (GST), buyers will try to complete transactions before April 1, 2015 when the GST is enforced. There may be a dearth of launches after the GST is in place.

He said the imposition of GST, the removal of DIBS and the RPGT must be considered in totality.

Although housing is GST-exempt, there will be an impact on house prices. At the same time, the RPGT will weed out speculative elements and remove the artificial element in the market.

A check with a developer showed that they have removed DIBS packages starting yesterday.

The developer will discuss with its bankers and lawyers as there is a lack of clarity when the scheme is prohibited. The move would not be retrospective, a marketing personnel said.

Separately, in a statement, C H Williams Talhar & Wong Sdn Bhd managing director Foo Gee Jen said it was “surprised at the quantum”.

Foo said he had reservations that foreigners had been discriminated against with a 30% RPGT imposed for all five years.

“Considering that foreign investments in Malaysian properties have been consistently encouraged, RPGT should have been equally applied to Malaysians and foreigners at the same rate.” he said.


(The Star) Neoclassical pomp within Melawati nature

20Trees West is a subtly luxurious neighbourhood located at the foothills of Melawati in Kuala Lumpur, alongside its award-winning sister development 20trees.

The highlight of this neighbourhood is its effortless blending of modern architecture with the lush greenery of its surrounding, which includes the longest quartz ridge in the world.

“The place is in a water catchment area as the Klang Gates Dam is located behind the hill. After heavy rain, you can see beautiful mists and feel the cool air,” says Michael Lim, a senior negotiator at Full Homes Realty.

Because the architects of 20trees West have incorporated the undulating land of the area in the house design, the main entrance is on the first floor.

The play of natural light is also prominent in its environment-friendly design. Instead walls, the architects opted more for tall sliding glass doors to let sunlight in. This complements the landscaped gardens visible from the living area and the kitchen.

The house that we viewed is a 6,426 sq ft unit listed at RM3.9mil – a slight increase of RM200,000 over the launch price in 2011.

There is a scene of sakura trees painted on the ceiling of the master bedroom. One room is illustrated with a fairytale castle, while another has a scene from Star Wars.

Prospective buyers have the option to take over the Italian-made furniture.

Where: 9, Jalan 1, 20trees West, Taman Melawati Indah, 53100 KL
Property type: 3-storey bungalow
Tenure: Freehold
Layout: 5+1 bedrooms, 5+1 bathrooms
Completed: 2013
Selling price: RM3.9mil
Potential rental: RM15,000
Facilities: Personal swimming pool, clubhouse
Security: Gated and guarded with perimeter fencing, single entry/exit point
Maintenance: RM600
Developer: Selangor Dredging Bhd
Education: SK Taman Melawati 2, SMK Taman Melawati, SRJKT Taman Melawati, International School of Kuala Lumpur
Medical facilities: Kohilal Medical Centre, Damai Hospital
Banks: Maybank, Bank Rakyat, Bank Muamalat, CIMB, Public Bank, Affin Bank in Taman Melawati town centre
Shopping: KL Festival City, Alpha Angle Wangsa Maju, Wangsa Walk
F&B: Ulu Klang New Village Chinese restaurants, Thurkah Banana Leaf, Breadties
Entertainment: Cinema, karaoke at Wangsa Walk and KL Festival City
Recreation: Hiking at Klang Gates Dam trail

Distance: Approximately 25km or 30 minute-drive (smooth traffic) to Parliament House via DUKE Highway with RM2 toll


(The Star) SP Setia to launch projects with GDV of RM10.3bil within two years

Norhayati: ‘We are committed to building homes and communities via well-planned developments’

SP Setia Bhd plans to launch projects with a gross development value (GDV) of RM10.34bil in Malaysia in the next two years. According to the property developer’s group marketing general manager, Norhayati Subali, the three projects are Setia Eco Forest in Penang, Setia Federal Hill in Kuala Lumpur and Setia Eco Templer in Selangor.

Setia Eco Forest is a mixed residential development of over 1,050 units with a GDV of RM1.1bil, Setia Federal Hill is a mixed development with a GDV of RM8bil while Setia Eco Templer is a township with a GDV of RM1.24bil.

Despite the challenges of rising construction cost, an increasingly cautious financing environment and lower loan-to-value ratios adopted by banks, Norhayati told StarBizthat SP Setia continued to maintain quality and offer great value to its customers.

“We are committed to building homes and communities via well-planned developments with accessibility and extensive amenities within one single location,” she said.

This, she noted, was obvious in one of its recent projects, Setia EcoHill, which was launched early this year at a GDV of RM4bil.

“We have 25,000 registrants to date. On Oct 11, we put up 760 units of semi-D, terraced homes and bungalows for sale on a first come-first served basis. More than 3,000 people turned up, while 960 queue numbers were given out, (including the additional) 200 extras (given out) on the waiting list,” she said.

Some of SP Setia’s ongoing developments include the 2,525-acre township Setia Alam in Shah Alam, which has a GDV of RM8bil. Setia Alam has achieved a take-up rate of 95% for its units.

Another project, KL Eco City in Kuala Lumpur with an RM6.4bil GDV, has seen a take-up rate of 81%. Comprising three residential towers, three corporate office towers, serviced apartments, a retail mall, 12 boutique office blocks and strata offices, it is SP Setia’s landmark project to develop a world-class sustainable eco-city within a city.

On the overseas front, SP Setia is planning to launch the Parque in Melbourne, Australia, in the fourth quarter of this year. The development, which comprises 323 apartment units, has a GDV of RM800mil.

Also, in January this year, the Battersea Power Station redevelopment project in London, led by the Malaysian consortium of SP Setia, Sime Darby Bhd and theEmployees Provident Fund, was officially launched. With a GDV of RM40.8bil, over 97% of Phase 1 has been taken up.

On SP Setia’s participation in the Star Property Fair, she said it was growing to be one of the most popular real estate exhibitions in the country and was well-received by homebuyers.

“We hope that through our involvement in the fair, we would be able to reach out to a greater number of customers to share with them the ‘Setia’ way of building homes. Our approach is a simple one, which is guided by our ‘LiveLearnWorkPlay’ development ethos,” she said.


Sunday, 27 October 2013

(The Edge) THE EDGE Property Excellence Awards 2013: A labour of love

The Edge-PAM Green Excellence Award 2013): Special mention - Palm Garden Golf Club - Resort Villa Golf Course Bhd

Tan Sri Lee Shin Cheng personally drove me around the golf course to show me what needed to be done, and he taught me how to identify the healthy trees from the sick trees before we transplanted them here. Who knew that being a gardener was part of my job?” laughs IOI Properties Bhd director Teh Chin Guan.

He was recounting the early days of Palm Garden Golf Club’s reconstruction, which was painstakingly undertaken by a small team of gardeners and contractors he led. The project was personally supervised by IOI Corp Bhd founder Lee, who is known for his love of nature.

The 125-acre, 18-hole, par 72 golf course in Putrajaya received special mention in The Edge-PAM Green Excellence Awards 2013 for its sustainable design and reconstruction. It boasts a variety of full-grown trees and animals such as geese, guinea fowl, migrant birds and water birds, monkeys, iguanas, pythons and fish.

“Lee told us to keep count of the geese eggs. He warned us to not let the iguanas get them!” says Teh.

The golf course is managed by Resort Villa Golf Course Bhd, which is a subsidiary of IOI Properties’ parent IOI Corporation Bhd.

IOI embarked on the golf course reconstruction to upgrade its 15-year-old, 27-hole golf course to a higher standard, and to make the golf course more challenging. Part of the old golf course was also earmarked for a huge development — IOI City Mall, a 1.5 million sq ft retail project poised to become Putrajaya’s biggest landmark, so the site was cut off and a new adjoining parcel of land was used to create the new course.

Teh: We decided to transplant the trees and to use materials found onsite to reduce pollution from the trucks Chin: It will take about 30 years for the golf course to turn a profit, but the ROI is apparent in higher values of nearby properties
“The old course was a par 108, because back then, there weren’t many serious players. As the sport became more popular in Malaysia, the players became more skilful and started to demand a more challenging course, so this came about,” says the golf club’s general manager Brandon Chin.

The golf course would challenge not just seasoned golfers but also the developer, which took a more untested route to bring to life the designs of acclaimed golf course architect Ted Parslow.

The company harvested and replanted mature trees from the old golf course and used materials such as granite boulders found on site as well as sand from the nearby IOI City Mall construction site.

In total, over 2,100 trees were transplanted to the site. However, it was not as simple as uprooting a tree, carting it over and planting it willy-nilly. The trees have to be partially dug up and left for a week to enter “survival mode” before they are replanted at the new site, which had already been trenched and filled with organic fertilizer. The orientation of the trees also matters.

Despite the team’s lack of experience, an astonishing 95% of the transplanted trees survived, compared with a normal survival rate of 80%. “Don’t forget that we are also an oil palm grower, and we were guided by our experienced colleagues there,” Teh smiles.

Meanwhile, over 80% of the grass and shrubbery was propagated at a 17-acre nursery in the golf course, with each cycle of grass grown over six months. IOI chose to source most of the materials onsite to reduce its carbon footprint.

“A granite boulder can easily weigh two tonnes, and a truck can only carry three of these at a time. So to do that, and to ferry the trees back and forth from a nursery, will cause a lot of pollution. That’s why we decided to do it this way,” Teh explains.

The payoff was immediate – when the golf course opened for play on April 1, 2012, the majority of the trees and plants were mature specimens. Golfers could immediately enjoy the cooler and more beautiful environment provided by the large, shady trees.

The clubhouse also boasts features that help to reduce use of electricity and water. For instance, large skylights are installed in the corridors and changing rooms to naturally light up the space during the daytime. While golfers may turn on the lights if they see fit, the management advises golfers to rely on sunlight to reduce electricity use.

The clubhouse is designed to use less electricity and water
Meanwhile, cross-ventilation ensures that the building is cool most of the time. About 85% of the building does not need air-conditioning. Golfers can hop on rechargable electric buggies to get around the course.

While the cost of this golf course on the environment is lower, IOI’s venture ultimately proved to be more expensive financially than a typical golf course development. The land cost RM120 million, while construction took RM70 million. The architect’s fees were 5% of the construction cost, and start-up fees of facilities such as the clubhouse were RM6 million.

Its neighbour is the manmade Putrajaya lake and wetlands, which is recognised as a Unesco Ecohydrological Operations site. To protect it, IOI used an innovative silt management programme that was hailed as exemplary by the Department of Environment, which sent a busload of its staff there as part of a study tour.

Meanwhile, the course also harvests rainwater from its ponds for irrigation purposes. The course does not have to be watered except during dry spells, when the course is watered twice a day. Remarkably, the course also uses an all-natural water filtration system, which allows fishes to thrive in the ponds.

Thus, this labour of love will not bear monetary returns for a long time. However, Teh and Chin believe that all the company’s hard work is still worth it at the end of the day.

“It will take about 30 years for the golf course to turn a profit, but the return on investment is apparent in other ways. For instance, the homes in the area appreciate in value because of the beautiful environment,” says Chin.

The Puteri Palma condominiums near the course have appreciated by 41.2%, with one unit now going for RM599,800 from RM424,800 when it was launched in March 2008.

Ultimately, Palm Garden Golf Course proves that ambition, sheer grit, innovation and passion trump any challenges.

The Palm Garden Golf Club is an 18-hole golf course that was replanted with old trees from the old golf course