Budget 2020: A futuristic sounding budget that (unfortunately) brings Malaysian and foreign buyers back to square one
Despite its focus on the digital economy, the budget is a regressive one for both local and foreign buyers
By Khalil Adis
Another year, another budget.
This year is no different except that they were announced against a backdrop of the ongoing global trade wars and a general slowdown in the global economy.
While the Malaysian government has announced several measures to spur its economy specifically in the digital arena, Malaysia is likely to ride through the current economic climate largely unscathed as it has a strong domestic economy, unlike Singapore.
As such, I will focus solely on those affecting the property market.
From the looks of it, the measures appear to be cosmetic to address the shortcomings and mess left behind by the previous government.
Foreigners and Malaysians at the losing end
Call it a band-aid if you will but the budget seems regressive by bringing us back to the Budget 2014 and 2016 eras for foreign investors and locals buyers respectively.
Let us look back at Budget 2014.
During this period, the minimum purchase price for foreigners buying a property in Malaysia was raised from RM500,000 to RM 1 million.
This was to prevent a property bubble from forming in the market and thus preventing Malaysians from buying such properties.
Well, guess what?
The situation got even worse despite this measure as there were no checks and balances in place by the Housing Ministry.
As such, developers were at the free reign to build units that local could not buy resulting in a huge glut that we are seeing right now.
To reduce the overhang, Budget 2020 now allows foreigners to buy completed and unsold units that are priced above RM600,000.
So what happens to foreigners who had bought a property at RM1 million and are now looking to sell?
Most probably, due to the current market conditions, they will now be selling at a loss to either a local or a foreign buyer.
Also, they will now have to compete directly with the primary market where foreigners can buy at a steep discount of RM400,000 (RM1 million - RM600,000) directly from developers.
This mixed signal could potentially deter foreign investors from buying property in Malaysia.
Verdict: Foreign sellers: 0, foreign buyers: 1*
*it remains to be seen if subsequent budgets will see a change in the minimum purchase price across the various states in Malaysia.
Next, let us take a look at Budget 2016 in the affordable housing segment for Malaysian buyers.
Previously, under Barisan Nasional, the government had announced that it was building PR1MA homes across various states during Budget 2016.
There were also promises to build such homes that are planned around transport hubs and train stations in Kuala Lumpur.
Back then, the government had announced that a total of 5,000 units of PR1MA and PPA1M houses will be built in the vicinity of LRT and monorail stations in 10 locations, including Pandan Jaya, Sentul and Titiwangsa.
Fast forward four years later, PR1MA has become a massive liability for the government.
As we speak, PR1MA is undergoing restructuring and is nowhere close to the lofty 1 million housing units it had previously promised to deliver.
Meanwhile, there is still no news on the 5,000 transit-oriented development units (TODs).
This leaves Malaysians who are in dire need of affordable homes stranded.
From the looks of it, they are now back to square one with another new policy in place to replace the old one.
A new budget for local buyers
As part of Budget 2020, the government will collaborate with financial institutions in introducing various schemes.
The first is the Rent To Own (RTO) financing scheme.
This scheme aims to assist those who cannot afford the initial 10 per cent deposit and access to financing in purchasing their homes.
This scheme, however, is not new and has been in place among private developers.
As such, Malaysian buyers who had hoped for a roof over their heads during Budget 2016 are better off buying from private developers.
Verdict: Malaysian buyers: 0, private developers: 1*
*Imagine the agony among those who had applied for PR1MA homes and are still waiting. If I were a Malaysia, it seems buying from a private developer is the way to go.
*It is an open secret that there are many Malaysians who had previously applied under this scheme are still waiting for their homes. Just speak to any Grab drivers.
While many other schemes are being rolled out such as Fund for Affordable Home that was launched by Bank Negara Malaysia in January 2019 and the Youth Housing Scheme, they remain under the umbrella of various government agencies.
As such, this could be very confusing for the first-time homebuyers who are unsure how to navigate the market.
What would work is for Malaysia to streamline them under one single government housing agency just like Singapore’s HDB model.
The federal government mooted project had promised to build 1 million affordable homes by 2020. However, the project was from the beginning mired in controversies.
By Khalil Adis
Just last week, it was announced in the media that Perbadanan PR1MA Malaysia, a public housing agency which was established under the Barisan Nasional government may be dissolved as it is in a “mess”. The final decision on whether PR1MA projects should be continued is pending a due diligence report, which is expected to be completed end of this month.
For years, the PR1MA initiative has received lashbacks from various stakeholders and the general public for its inefficient implementation.
I recall researching about PR1MA when I was writing my second book.
The 1Malaysia People’s Housing Programme or PR1MA was launched in July 2011 and incorporated under the PR1MA Act in 2012. It became operational in March 2013 and to qualify, applicants will need to have a single or combined household income of between RM2,500 to RM15,000 per month.
I couldn’t help thinking how the hoopla around an announced PR1MA initiative usually fizzles out after some time, with no proper project updates disseminated to the public.
For instance, under Budget 2016 that the government promised that it will build 5,000 units of houses under PR1MA and 1Malaysia Civil Servants Housing Programme (PPA1M) in 10 locations in the vicinities of light rail transit and monorail stations, including in Pandan Jaya, Sentul and Titiwangsa.
However, a quick check on PR1MA’s website does not show any such projects except for one in Brickfields, Fraser Business Park and Bukit Jalil respectively.
In addition, my interviews with young Malaysians while taking Grab and Uber show a great mismatch in what the government is saying – where many had said they had applied for the housing scheme, but they have yet to receive any official reply from PR1MA.
Here are some circumstances that may have led to PR1MA’s failure
#1: Lack of single housing agency to manage the affordable housing market
Unlike Singapore which has the Housing & Development Board (HDB) to oversee the affordable housing segment, in Malaysia, there are many agencies rolling it out under the federal and state umbrellas.
From federal-led initiatives like PR1MA and Residensi Wilayah (RUMAWIP) to state-led schemes like Rumah Mampu Biaya Johor (RMBJ) and Rumah Selangorku, this not only confuses the public but leads to inefficient use of public resources competing for the same market.
What would work in my opinion is to have a single housing agency to streamline the entire process across the nation.
This could also allow the agency to gauge demand from the public via available government data.
In addition, this will allow them to allocate land according to demand to ensure that they are successfully balloted and fully taken up like the Singapore model.
The Ministry of Housing and Local Government had studied the HDB model last year and is reportedly looking to emulate it.
#2: Federal versus state government complicates matters
While on paper this may sound ideal, it is not so easy in reality as land is a state matter.
As such, federal-initiated programmes like PR1MA will likely face bureaucratic red tapes and are less likely to receive priority when applying for the release of state land.
YB Zuraida Kamaruddin, Minister of Housing and Local Government (KPKT) recently shared that it is the responsibility of the state governments to offer up their spacious lands for the development of affordable housing. However, as of end-2018, only 27 plot of lands out of the total 127 for affordable housing projects around the country, were supplied by state governments.
Let’s not forget that the state and federal governments may have different objectives which can further complicate matters.
#3: Costly to acquire land
Considering the challenge in securing land from respective state governments, the federal government would have to acquire them from private parties at a hefty cost.
As land cost takes up a significant percentage of a project’s cost, this will inevitably drive up the cost of building affordable homes.
Thus, it is hardly surprising that previous PR1MA projects were mostly built in undesirable locations, where homebuyer demand is low.
#4: Far-flung location with sub-par connectivity
Hence why, one of the common grouses about PR1MA is the project’s far-flung location away from the city.
With the exception of the homes within KL mentioned above, most of PR1MA’s housing projects are inaccessible and will require applicants to own a car.
This then defeats the purpose of building affordable homes as most of the applicants will be financially burdened with the double whammy of a car and home loan.
Given Malaysia’s patchy connectivity and lack of seamless connection to public transport, this thus makes some of PR1MA’s projects highly unpopular.
#5: Some applicants were left in the dark
The applicants are the most important stakeholders for PR1MA.
As such, communication ought to be done more diligently.
Many young Malaysians I had spoken to said they did not receive any form of acknowledgement on the status of their application.
Some have been waiting for more than five years and are still waiting.
I had highlighted this at a panel discussion but a representative from PR1MA replied that this wasn’t true.
Perhaps, she had reasons to as this was during Najib Razak’s era.
Looking back, if this wasn’t the case, surely PR1MA would not be in its current position right now.
In addition, it would certainly help if PR1MA were to address these issues head-on to assure applicants.
Whether or not PR1MA will be dissolved remains to be seen.
However, PR1MA is already costing Malaysian taxpayers more than RM8 billion.
Buying a home will be your single most expensive investment in your life and these are the most common mistakes you should avoid.
By Khalil Adis
Buying your first home is an exciting experience that will have you go through a range of roller-coaster emotions.
From scouting for the right property to securing a loan, the procedures are endless that it is so easy to lose sight of what is important:
#1: Buying based on emotions
Buying a property based on emotions can cause you to gloss over some of its inherent shortcomings.
It is like falling in love in someone gorgeous until they start to open their mouth.
The initial phase may elicit a response such as exhilaration over its interior design finishing and then imagining how it would be like to sit in front of that bay window in that sleek glasshouse apartment.
However, your emotions can bite you back over the long run as such a home will result in hefty utility bills in the long term.
When buying a property, you should make calculated decisions by asking yourself these basic questions:
Is the property priced fairly?
Do your market research to find out what is the average price per sq ft of the property in the vicinity. This is important as it will ensure your property can have room for capital appreciation in the future.
Are there nearby amenities like schools, hospitals and train stations?
This will make the area desirable and attract people to want to live, work and play there. As demand increases, it will attract a significant population leading to the capital appreciation of your property. If you want to start a family, these are important considerations.
Can the property be rented out or sold in the future?
There will be some point in your life that you may end up as a landlord or a seller. Therefore, you must put yourself in the position of a tenant or a buyer by really looking at the property for what it is. As such, check if there any defects that may affect its future rentability or value. It is a good idea to upkeep your property to ensure all the electrical points and sanitary appliances are working while giving it a fresh coat of paint every year. You might also want to look at your interior design, layout and colour schemes and see if they will appeal to potential tenants or buyers.
#2: Buying a house facing East-West orientation
You should avoid buying a house that is facing the East-West orientation as it is directly exposed to the afternoon sun and therefore increases the heat gain. During night time, the concrete walls will radiate back the heat to your home leading to higher utility bills from your air-conditioning unit. Instead, you should go for a home that is facing North-South orientation. Do also ensure there is cross-ventilation from one end of the house to another to encourage natural air flow.
#3: Buying an odd-sized unit
An oddly sized unit refers to a layout which has odd corners like a triangle or irregularly shaped like an oval or circle.
Such homes have an inefficient layout meaning that it will result in wasted space which cannot be utilised.
It is also bad in terms of feng shui should the odd corners have an acute angle as they will collect energy that cannot be dispersed.
Instead, you should opt for a regularly shaped unit like a square or rectangle.
Remember this golden rule when it comes to a home layout: boring equals good.
#4: Buying a common unit versus one that is scarce
This is especially applicable for the property market in Malaysia where there is a severe oversupply of homes particularly in Johor and Kuala Lumpur.
When buying a home, you should opt for a unit that is scarce.
You should first study the development carefully and the unit types that are available.
For example, in a project where 4-bedroom greatly outnumber 2-bedroom units, you should opt for the latter.
This is because such units will be easier to offload in the resale market should you wish to sell or rent it out in future.
Of course, you must take into consideration your family size before making the final decision.
#5: Not asking about your prospective neighbours
A neighbour can make or break your property.
This is especially true if you are buying a resale home.
Recently, a friend confided how he had to move out from his current home to rent another place in eastern Singapore.
He had bought the HDB flat from the resale market from an owner who appeared desperate to sell it off.
“Don’t tell the neighbour downstairs how much I sold this house,” the owner said ominously.
This should have been a red flag.
After moving in, he realised his neighbour downstairs would often make a din throughout the entire day.
Sometimes, he would have the police knocking on his door as the neighbour had complained about him for no reason.
This caused him and his family so much distress that the neighbour’s mom had to come up to explain and apologise for her son’s erratic behaviour.
Apparently, her son suffers from a mental illness.
After talking to his neighbour, he realised the previous owner was not on good terms with the entire family.
This explains their decision to sell the flat.
While he now lives a quieter life elsewhere, his tenants are now at the receiving end of the neighbour’s constant abuse.
For example, recently, he received a call from the HDB complaining about the apparent noises from his unit.
Thankfully, the HDB and the police are aware of his problematic neighbour and have since closed the case.
Unfortunately, you cannot choose your neighbours if you had bought a new home directly from the HDB or developer.
However, you can mitigate your risks by being a good neighbour.
For instance, why not offer a serving of cookies or cakes during your festive celebration?
While your actions may not be reciprocated, a friendly hello on your neighbour’s door and offering such goodies will certainly go a long way in making a good first impression last.
Neighbours do talk so why not give them something good to talk about?
With the Chinese New Year approaching, what better way to soak in the festivity than exploring Kuala Lumpur’s historic Chinatown district?
By Khalil Adis
Whether you love it or hate it, Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown district has a colourful personality that attracts both Malaysians and tourists alike. While Malaysians lament about the loss of its authenticity and some have chosen to avoid it altogether, this vibrant area has its own quirks that make it oh-so-charming thanks to the many rustic shophouses. Here is a quick guide on exploring Chinatown.
#1: Plaza Rakyat LRT station
Plaza Rakyat LRT station is an elevated station along the Ampang and Sri Petaling Line. Situated next to a massive proposed mixed-use development that has since been abandoned, the whole area unfortunately reeks of urban decay. Once you exit from the station you will likely come across the occasional beggars and the rancid smell emanating from the air - not for the faint-hearted. Taking the LRT station is ideal if you intend to head to Menara Maybank or to savour the street food at Jalan Sultan as it is located within the vicinity.
#2: Pasar Seni MRT station
Pasar Seni MRT Station is an underground station that is integrated with the existing Pasar Seni LRT station serving the Kelana Jaya LRT Line. Located in the heritage area of Chinatown, Pasar Seni is located within walking distance to backpackers’ lodges, boutique hotels and the tourist trap flea marts of Petaling Street.
There are plans to also connect the station to the iconic Central Market. An added feature is a bus interchange located just above the station that will connect buses from Kuala Lumpur to Petaling Jaya.
#3: Petaling Street
Petaling Street is a must visit street if you want to buy branded knock-offs ranging from bags to watches. Ironically, while this is the heart of Chinatown, the vendors selling the wares are mostly foreigners comprising Bangladeshi workers. The imitation watches, in particular, are rather pricey and do not last long. You are better off buying the real deal while taking in the rampant piracy that occurs along this stretch.
#4: Pasar Karat
Known locally as ‘Thieves Market’, Pasar Karat is a treasure trove for antique and trinket lovers as well as the occasional luxury goods that are believed to have been stolen. From Montblanc luggage bags to second-hand electronic goods, Pasar Karat is KL’s version of the now-defunct Singapore’s Sungei Road. Pasar Karat is open in the wee hours of the morning at around 4 am and shuts down by 10 am. Be sure to come early before the goods run out.
#5: Food street at Jalan Sultan
Located within the Petaling Street enclave, the food street comes alive at night with a serving of local Malay dishes, mamaks as well as Chinese cuisines in a fuss-free alfresco setting. If the dark and dirty alley makes your stomach turn, fret not as you can opt to dine at the slightly upmarket Nando’s or KFC located nearby.
#6: Weng Hoa Flower Boutique
No 1 Lorong Hang Lekir
Off Jalan Hang Lekir
50000 Kuala Lumpur
Opening hours: 8 am to 10 pm
Forget overpriced flowers sold at upmarket malls. Instead, head here for fresh plants and roses sold at wholesale prices! There are even ready-made bouquets for you to choose from. Ladies and wedding planners will definitely find delight in the freezer room located at the back of the shop where you can choose from the many arrays of local and exported roses as well as other exotic flowers. In addition, you can buy flower petals and kaffir lime to cleanse your chakras for that montly flower bath ritual. For the freshest produce, head here when the store opens.
#7: Central Market
Lot 3.04-3.06, Central Market Annexe,
Jalan Hang Kasturi,
50050 Kuala Lumpur.
Telephone: 03-2031 0399/5399/7399
Central Market is the place to go to for slightly upmarket goods within an air-conditioned environment. Housed within an art deco facade, Central Market first started out as a wet market in 1888 but has since been repurposed as a one-stop centre for Malaysian batik, souvenirs, collectables and handicraft. From textiles to tableware, the choices are endless.
#8 Kasturi Walk
Kasturi Walk is located alongside the main Central Market building. This newly transformed, pedestrianised and covered walkway features an al fresco ambience with a wide variety of stalls selling local snacks and exquisite souvenirs.
Price: According to Brickz, the median price for office buildings and shophouses here are around RM858 per sq ft and RM1,056 per sq ft respectively.
The good: Buying a property here will mean constant human traffic from both locals and tourists alike as Chinatown is rich in popular tourism landmarks such as Central Market and Petaling Street. The quaint rows of heritage shophouses house hip boutique hotels to quirky cafes and restaurants that attract the cool, creative type. The area is also a haven to some of KL’s famous hawker food such as Shin Kee Beef Noodle near to Central Market and the birthplace of Hokkien mee, Restoran Kim Lian Hee located at the junction of Jalan Petaling and Jalan Hang Lekir. All these attractions make it suited for Airbnb type of accommodations.
The bad: If you intend to buy a property here, you are only limited to office buildings or shophouses. Land here is extremely scarce and there are no existing or future residential projects in the pipeline. As such, this area is a no go for most investors unless you are an institutional investor or have deep pockets.
Gear up for a bumpy ride next year in Malaysia’s property market as the number of unsold units continues to rise. Despite the challenges, there are some opportunities for investors and rent-seekers.
By Khalil Adis
According to the Valuation and Property Services Department’s (JPPH) latest figures, the number of unsold completed residential units rose from 20,304 units to 30,115 units year-on-year as at 30 September 2018.
This represents an increase of 48.35 per cent.
Meanwhile, the total value was RM19.54 billion, representing a 56.44 per cent rise from RM12.49 billion a year ago.
However, if JPPH were to also include serviced apartments and small offices home offices (SoHos), this would bring their overhang value to 40,916 units valued at RM27.38 billion.
According to JPPH, Johor has the largest number of unsold completed serviced apartments and SoHo units at 7,714.
JPPH notes that it rose a whopping 191 per cent from the 2,647 units recorded a year ago.
The overhang in serviced apartments is valued at RM6.16 billion compared with its residential overhang of RM4.44 billion.
This means the total overall value of its unsold serviced apartments is 1.5 times that of residential housing.
In summary, Johor has the highest number of completed unsold units in Malaysia at 6,053.
This is a 55 per cent increase from the 3.901 units a year ago.
With an overhang in supply spanning from Johor to Selangor, here are some of the likely property trends to emerge next year.
#1: Renter’s market
The new supply of the completed units plus the those from existing units will lead to a downward pressure in the rental market causing rentals to fall.
This is because rent-seekers will be spoilt for choice while landlords will be fighting for tenants.
This will make it ideal for rent-seekers as landlords will most likely be open for price negotiations.
Meanwhile, it is bad news for landlords should they be able to find a tenant or not.
In the former, the rental will most likely not be able to cover the mortgage resulting in negative cash flow.
In the latter, landlords will have to cover the mortgage themselves.
Those who cannot will have no choice but the let go of their units.
#2: Buyer’s market
The property market will also favour buyers as sellers will be desperate to offload their properties, especially those who have multiple units.
Therefore, buyers will be in a more stronger position to bargain in a market flooded with so many units.
#4: Buy properties in the secondary market
If you urgently need a roof over your head, then the secondary market is the way to go as you are buying a completed property.
Sellers are also more willing to negotiate on the terms of payment and will likely cut a flexible payment deal via their agents if you do not have a sufficient deposit in hand.
In addition, the supply overhang also mean that properties in the secondary market are priced 20 to 30 per cent cheaper than new launches.
However, do bear in mind that you need to pay a 10 per cent deposit.
#5: Overhang in supply means good deals in the auction market
Unfortunately, there will also be distressed properties which will be auctioned off in court.
If you are looking for a below market value (BMV) property, then this will present a very good opportunity for you.
When buying a BMV, you will need to attend an auction in court and prepare a bank draft in advance to show of interest.
This will cost you around 10 per cent of the reserve price.
For example, if the property is being auctioned off at RM50,000, you will need to prepare RM5,000 in bank draft.
If you have successfully bid for the property, you will need to settle the balance of the payment within 120 days.
However, there are a lot of hidden costs, for example, legal, quit rent (cukai pintu), unpaid utilities and maintenance fees, assessments and so on.
Perhaps, the biggest risk is this - while the property is legally yours, you may find it hard to evict the tenants or owners.
You may have to apply for a court order, through a lawyer, to evict the occupants.
This process can take you up to four weeks and costs you between RM1,500 to RM2,000. Even so, there are no guarantees they can be evicted as Malaysian laws favour occupiers.
When buying a BMV property, it is best to find out if the property is occupied by tenants or owners.
#6: It also means good deals from the primary market
Developers have to move their unsold inventory as each unit means added cost for them.
As such, developers will be coming up with creative schemes like zero downpayment and such to lure buyers.
Speak to a good developer and check if they have a good master plan to ensure your property values are protected.
Remember the 5Cs I always talk about?
Check against them before you commit to buying a property,
#7: More restrictions on Airbnb accommodations
Making money from your short stay travellers may prove to be even harder even if the government legalises Airbnb.
This is because we are seeing trends of management committees barring Airbnb-type of accommodation due to security and safety issues.
So before you decide to list your untenanted unit on Airbnb, it is best to check with your management committee if this is allowed.
However, if you happen to own a serviced apartment, this will not be an issue as it falls under a commercial title.
#8: Transit-oriented developments (TODs) along SSP Line
The Sungai Buloh-Serdang-Putrajaya Line (SSP Line) is one of the few major infrastructure projects that will be continued under the newly elected government.
In fact, the project is currently under construction and is fast taking shape.
Some developers have already acquired land banks along this line to build TODs.
Areas to watch out for include Kwasa Damansara, Kwasa Sentral, Sungai Besi, Bandar Malaysia and Cyberjaya City Centre
As the air and sea territorial dispute enters a second week, it could negatively impact investor sentiment in the already lukewarm property market in Iskandar Malaysia.
By Khalil Adis
The simmering tension brewing in the Straits of Johor between Singapore and Malaysia has now entered its second week.
In fact, it is like watching history repeating itself.
Growing up during the Lee Kuan Yew era, I recall how both countries would often trade barbs over water to territorial issues.
The relationship between both countries is best described as testy then.
However, much like brothers and sisters, we would soon kiss and make up.
Post the Lee Kuan Yew-Mahathir era, bilateral ties between both countries warmed up significantly under the leadership of Lee Hsien Loong and Mahathir's successors, Abdullah Badawi and Najib Razak.
While the later remains highly unpopular among Malaysians, several win-win deals were concluded between both countries which arose from the land swap deal.
They included the joint development of DUO in Bugis and Marina One by M + S Pte Ltd (Malaysia and Singapore, in case you don't know)
Over in Iskandar Malaysia, Singapore agreed to develop two wellness centre called Afiniti Medini and Avira.
Subsequently, CapitaLand invested in A2 Danga Island.
Until today, the project has yet to be launched.
With bilateral relations going from cold to warm and back again to cold, we analyse how this will impact the property market across the causeway.
#1: Investors will likely adopt a ‘wait-and-see' approach to Iskandar Malaysia
This is almost similar to the pre-Iskandar Malaysia era under Abdullah Badawi's leadership when the special economic zone was first announced.
I recall covering a few stories on Iskandar Malaysia then where I had interviewed several Singaporeans.
During that time, many had expressed scepticism on Iskandar Malaysia and avoided buying a property at Horizon Hills.
Back then, it was then launched within the minimum investment threshold of RM250,000.
However, that changed once the land swap deal was concluded in 2010.
As our bilateral ties improved, so did investors' confidence.
As a result, properties in Iskandar Puteri and Medini began selling like hot cakes.
Meanwhile, units at Horizon Hills was transacted at almost three times the launch price as developments at Legoland Theme Park, EduCity and Puter Harbour were gathering pace.
With both countries now embroiled in a maritime dispute, investors are most likely to adopt a similar approach until the issue is resolved
#2: Market sentiment in Iskandar Malaysia the most affected
July's property cooling measures have made it even more difficult for Singaporeans to buy a private property in the Lion City as the loan-to-value (LTV) limit has been reduced from 80 per cent to 75 per cent if the loan tenure does not exceed 30 years for the first property.
Logically, this makes Iskandar Malaysia much more attractive due to its close proximity to Singapore as we share many similar customs, culture and speak similar languages.
However, the property market is very much sentiment driven as described above.
With Iskandar Malaysia being the closest to Singapore, this will be the property market that will be the most affected.
#3: Developers will face an uphill task in marketing their units
The property market in Iskandar Malaysia is already facing a challenging time due to the oversupply in the residential sector.
According to the first quarter of 2018 data from the National Property and Information Centre (NAPIC), Johor has the second highest number of existing stock of residential units at 795,363 in Malaysia.
The current political climate will no doubt be a double whammy for developers who are already struggling to move unsold units in their inventory.
With the High Speed Rail project now postponed, only the brand name of the developer will be able to win investors' confidence.
As such, developers who have a good reputation among Singaporeans and local buyers will stand to win.
Word-of-mouth marketing will be the way forward.
#4: Possible spillover impact in tourism and retail sectors
The allure of Malaysia is the affordable holiday destination, the many scenic nature and food trails it offers, its close proximity to Singapore and the strength of the Singapore dollar.
Thus, December is typically a busy month at the checkpoints as many Singaporeans go for a short break to Johor and beyond.
As the tension escalates, Singaporeans are likely to stay away this holiday season unless absolutely necessary.
In such a scenario, the tourism and retail sectors in popular malls in Johor Bahru like City Square and KSL will be affected.
In addition, many reservist units and national servicemen are being recalled for mobilisation exercises.
Many will have no choice but to stay in Singapore.
#5: Malaysians will also be affected
The current situation affects not just Singaporeans but also Malaysians living in Johor.
In fact, many brave the causeway in the wee hours every morning just to feed their family back home.
As we speak, Johoreans have expressed their concerns that their livelihood in Singapore may be impacted and hope the issue can be resolved amicably.
2018 is a watershed moment for Malaysia's politics and the subsequent impact on the property market. We list down the key highlights in our 2018 property market roundups and our outlook for 2019.
By Khalil Adis
May 10 2018 was a watershed moment in Malaysia as it marked the first change of government in the country's history.
Since 1957, it had enjoyed an uninterrupted reign from the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.
However, the high cost of living, falling Ringgit, the lack of affordable homes in the market, high unemployment among fresh graduates, the unfettered check on power and the 1MDB scandal proved to be the undoing for BN as Malaysians far and wide casted their protest vote in the ballot box
The message from Malaysians is clear - they have had enough and want a new, clean government to lead the way.
With the Pakatan Harapan government now in power, all eyes are on the newly elected old Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad and his team to solve the pressing bread and butter issues.
Here are the top five property market roundups for 2018 and our top five outlooks for 2019.
#1: Demand-supply mismatch has resulted in an increasing number of unsold homes
According to Bank Negara, 80 per cent of homes or 146,196 units priced above RM250,000 remained unsold as of end March 2018.
In comparison, 130,690 units were unsold during the same period last year.
"Imbalances observed in the property market continue to persist," Bank Negara had said in a statement.
#2: Rent-to-own scheme being rolled out
To help ease the entry for the first time property buyers, the private sector has come up with a few initiatives.
Some private developers like Ayer Holdings have introduced a ‘Stay & Own' scheme for their Epic Residence and Foreston projects whereby part of the rent will be converted to the downpayment.
This not only provides a temporary solution for those who urgently need a home but also a form of security.
Meanwhile, Maybank has rolled a similar initiative called HouzKEY which they have called as "a rent-to-own solution that helps you to own your dream home."
The scheme involves zero per cent downpayment with the monthly rental forming part of the home financing.
#3: Ministry of Housing and Local Government studying Singapore's HDB model
In July, Zuraida Kamaruddin, the Minister of Housing and Local Government paid an official visit to Singapore to study the HDB model.
Singapore has succeeded to build demand driven homes under its Built-to-Order (BTO) scheme to house 80 per cent of the Singapore population.
This is especially useful in Malaysia where there is currently a demand-supply mismatch as in point number one.
#4: Malaysia looking into having a single housing government agency
In Malaysia, there are so many affordable housing programmes being rolled out by the state and federal governments such as Rumah Milik Mampu, Rumah Selangorku, PR1MA, My First Home, Program Perumaha Rakyat and the list goes on.
This confuses the public.
The Malaysian government is currently looking into having a single housing agency to streamline the whole process much like the HDB model.
If implemented, this could solve the current Malaysian housing woe.
#5: More help for the B40, M40 and first-time homebuyers under Budget 2019
More help is on the way for these group of property buyers as announced under Budget 2019.
The measures included the Real Estate and Housing Developers' Association (Rehda) agreement to cut prices by 10 per cent for new launches, the exemption of the Real Property Gains Tax (RPGT) for properties that are priced below RM200,000 and the stamp duty exemption for properties priced in the first RM300,000 up to RM500,000 as well as those priced from RM300,000 to RM1 million.
Outlook for 2019
#1: Affordable homes to continue driving the market
There is currently a strong pent-up demand for affordable homes but where the supply is lacking.
As such, the affordable home segment will continue to be in strong demand for 2019.
However, there needs to be concerted efforts from both the government and private developers.
Under Budget 2019, the federal government has pledged to spend RM1.5 billion on such homes via the 1Malaysia People's Housing (PR1MA) and Syarikat Perumahan Negara Bhd (SPNB).
Meanwhile, Rehda has agreed to cut prices as stated above.
#2: South KL to be the growth area
There are many infrastructure projects and economic drivers that are in the pipeline that will further boost property prices in Southern KL.
One such project is Bandar Malaysia will serve as the terminus station for the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (KL-Singapore HSR) project linking both cities in 90 minutes flat.
The development for the project has been postponed to two years and will now commence construction in 2020 instead of 2018.
Meanwhile, the express service will only commence by 1 January 2031 instead of 31 December 2026, as originally planned.
Bandar Malaysia has been designated as a site for the Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ) initiative by Jack Ma. Home to the Satellite Services Hub, DFTZ is expected to create some 60,000 direct and indirect jobs. It will also possibly serve as the interchange to the MRT Line 3, which has now been postponed.
Another economic driver in the vicinity is Tun Razak Exchange (TRX).
TRX will be a mixed-use development comprising a Grade A office space as well as residential and commercial precincts.
To be developed in several phases over a period of 15 years, the first phase will comprise four investment grade A office towers, a lifestyle retail mall, two 5-star hotels and up to six luxurious residential towers with a target completion date by 2019.
In addition, Bandar Malaysia will house two MRT stations - Bandar Malaysia North and Bandar Malaysia South which will form part of the alignment for the Sungai Buloh - Serdang - Putrajaya Line (SSP Line).
#3: Properties along Sungai Buloh - Serdang - Putrajaya Line (SSP Line) will be sought after
Speaking of the SSP Line, properties along the alignment, particularly those situated in the growth areas of Sungai Besi, Bandar Malaysia and Cyberjaya City Centre are worth looking into.
Bandar Malaysia will house two MRT stations as stated above and located a few stops away from Tun Razak Exchange MRT station.
Meanwhile, Sungai Besi MRT station is an interchange station to the Sungai Besi LRT station.
It will serve as an interchange to the upcoming High Speed Rail station located in Bandar Malaysia, also in Sungai Besi.
Last but not least, Cyberjaya City Centre MRT station is a transit-oriented development (TOD) project to be developed by Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd (MRCB).
With its experience in building the transport hub in KL Sentral, MRCB will be developing a new city that will be integrated with the MRT station.
Phase one is expected to generate a gross development value (GDV) of RM5.35 billion.
It will feature a 200,000 sq ft convention centre, a 300- to 400-room business hotel, low and high-rise office buildings and a retail podium. Cyberjaya City Centre will have a development plan spanning 20 years.
The MRT station is located just opposite Lim Kok Wing University of Creative Technology.
#4: Penang to get a boost from Phase 1 of Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP)
With Lim Guan Eng as Malaysia's Finance Minister, Penang's property market will get a further boost.
Just this month, Phase 1 of PTMP was approved.
It will comprise the Bayan Lepas Light Rail Transit (LRT) project, Pan Island Link 1 (PIL1) project and several main highways.
The proposed Bayan Lepas LRT line will be about 30 km in length with 27 stations running from KOMTAR to the future reclaimed islands in the south.
There will be three interchange stations - KOMTAR, Sky Cab Station linking it to the Sky Cab line across the Malacca Straits and The Light Station linking it to the George Town-Butterworth LRT line.
The LRT Line will also be integrated with the Sungai Nibong Express Bus Terminal at the Sungai Nibong Station.
Meanwhile, PIL 1 is a new 20km highway that will be aligned along the mountainous terrain of the island and will take around 15 minutes from between Gurney Drive to the Second Bridge.
There will be six interchanges in all - Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway (LCE), Awang, Relau, Paya Terubong, Utama and Gurney.
#5: Johor Bahru to get a boost from the Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link
Meanwhile, over in the southern state of Johor, Iskandar Malaysia's muted property market will get a boost as the RTS Link will commence construction next year.
The RTS Link will link Bukit Chagar station in Johor Bahru to Woodlands North MRT station in Singapore when completed in 2024.
There are also plans for a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system within Bukit Chagar station to link it to the different areas of Iskandar Malaysia.
The BRT will feature a dedicated bus lane with three lines - BRT Line 1 will span from Bukit Chagar to Tebrau, BRT Line 2 from Bukit Chagar to Senai and finally, BRT Line 3 from Bukit Chagar to Iskandar Puteri.
However, based on market talk in the ground, there is a possibility that the BRT system will be upgraded to an LRT system instead.
With the dust from the 14th Malaysian general election now settled, the newly minted Pakatan Harapan government has renewed investors’ confidence and sparked hope in the otherwise lull property market. We list down six reasons why KLCC is now attractive to foreign investors.
By Khalil Adis
Walk around Kuala Lumpur and you cannot help but feel a renewed sense of hope in the air among Malaysians post the 14th Malaysian general election. In fact, Malaysians appear to be smiling more than usual that even the notorious KL traffic has failed to put a dampener on their faces.
Call it a new Malaysia, if you will. However, this is indeed a watershed moment which saw a newly minted Pakatan Harapan government taking power and effectively putting an end to 61 years of uninterrupted rule under UMNO. With the promise to weed out corruption, the return of the rule of law by the Mahathir administration has ignited business confidence and renewed interest in the property market.
One area which has always been a perennial favourite among foreign investors is KLCC. Home to the iconic Petronas Twin Towers, it was Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad who had the foresight to build it that has led to Kuala Lumpur being known all over the world. As if signalling a new dawn for Malaysia, KLCC’s skyline is set to welcome a new iconic landmark come 2023. Here are our findings why properties in KLCC are now ripe for picking.
#1: A new iconic landmark
Oxley Towers Kuala Lumpur City Centre is a freehold mixed-use development that is located within walking distance to the the Petronas Twin Tower and Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre. Comprising an office tower, Jumeirah Kuala Lumpur Hotel with residences, SO/ Sofitel Kuala Lumpur Hotel with residences, and a retail podium, Oxley Towers Kuala Lumpur City Centre is set to be the next iconic skyline in KLCC with its sleek, ultra-modern architecture. At our recent site visit, construction work has already started and is making good progress with an expected completion date in 2023.
#2: Reputable Singaporean developer with a strong track record
When buying a property in Malaysia, the track record of a developer is of utmost importance. Oxley Towers Kuala Lumpur City Centre is being built by Oxley Holdings Limited. This home-grown Singaporean property developer has a wide and diverse property portfolio comprising development and investment projects in Singapore, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Cyprus, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, China, Myanmar, Australia, Japan and Vietnam. Some of its notable developments in Singapore include Oxley Tower, Oxley Bizhub and Oxley Edge.
The EdgeProp cites Oxley Holdings as having S$2 billion worth of land last year including en bloc site. This makes it one of the biggest landbanks held by a property developer in Singapore. Despite the recent cooling measures, Oxley Holdings is going ahead to launch at breakneck speed this year with a total of 3,000 units already launched during the first six months of the year. And another 900 units underway.
Not only is Oxley Holdings rich in landbanks, it is also financially strong. For 2018, so far, Oxley Holdings has sold a total of 948 units and delivered $1 billion in residential sales in Singapore.
#3: First SO/ Sofitel residence in the world
If you like fashion and enjoy the buzz of city life, then you are in for a real treat. The SO/ Sofitel hotel and brand is a playful mix of sophistication and the dynamic style of each locale. Highly creative and fashion-led, the SO/ Sofitel residences in KL will reflect the rich, multi-cultural tapestry that Kuala Lumpur is known for. The SO/ Sofitel tower is set to offer 210 hotel rooms and 590 residences. Designed for those who break the rules and are ahead of the curve, this is the place to see and be seen. To ensure your ultimate privacy, the hotel and residences lobbies will be separated. Did we also mention that SO/ Sofitel Kuala Lumpur Residences will feature the highest residential swimming pool in Malaysia overlooking KLCC?
#4: Get more bang on your bucks in a branded residence
The difference between staying in a branded versus a non-branded residence is as different as day and night. In keeping with its lifestyle luxury and playful theme, investors can expect only the best while living life at the top. Staying at SO/ Sofitel Kuala Lumpur Residences will mean access to a plethora of luxury services and some of the most happening parties the city has to offer.
For starters, residents will enjoy 24-hour residence concierge, bell/valet services and the Mixo Resident’s Lounge. This is where you can let your hair down with its resident DJ or take those #OOTD Instagram-worthy shots with complimentary Wifi access overlooking the famed twin towers as you sip a cocktail or two from its Resident Mixologist. It’s not all about partying though. SO/ Sofitel Kuala Lumpur Residences will also offer fitness enthusiast access to its SoFIT residence fitness centre, including personal attendant, towel service and water. To ensure you stay ahead of the curve, residents also get a press reader subscription with digital access to 2,000 plus daily newspapers and magazines. AccorHotels offers an Industry Leading Ownership Benefits Program, including top-tier status in Le Club AccorHotels Loyalty program.
#5: Good tenant pool
Buying a unit at SO/ Sofitel Kuala Lumpur is not just about all play. This is the address for those who have arrived that is within walking distance to Pavilion Bukit Bintang, Suria KLCC, KLCC Park and The Petronas Twin Towers, just to name a few. Shopping, entertainment and dining options are also aplenty ranging from the award-winning Nobu’s to your local mamak coffeeshops. For investors, this is where you can have access to some of the most sophisticated tenants at your feet. There are a high number of industries here ranging from government offices and embassies at the nearby Embassy Row to the petrochemical and MICE industries within KLCC. Take your pick.
#6: Enhanced connectivity via KLCC East MRT station
Located approximately just 200 metres away, KLCC East MRT station is part of the RM32.5 billion Sungei Buloh-Serdang-Putrajaya (SSP Line) MRT project that was announced under Budget 2015. Measuring some 52.2km spanning from Sungai Buloh to Putrajaya MRT station, the SSP Line comprises 24 elevated and 11 underground stations (including KLCC East) When completed in 2022, the SSP Line is expected to generate a daily ridership of 529,000 while enhancing property values within its immediate vicinity.
Investment talk by Khalil Adis
Join Khalil Adis this weekend to find out what is in store in the Malaysian property market post GE-14.
Date: 18 & 19 August 2018
Venue: Oxley Gallery, 30 Stevens Road #02-01
*First 10 to RSVP on each day (10 copies on Saturday, 10 copies on Sunday) will each receive a copy of Khalil Adis's best-selling book 'Property Buying for Gen Y
Is it on of off? We study each station and list down the good and the bad from the possible impact of its postponement in their surrounding areas.
With recent news of the High Speed cancellation, much remains to be seen if Bandar Malaysia will succeed or not. However, Bandar Malaysia North MRT station’s alignment has already been confirmed. Initially, Bandar Malaysia has been planned with a gross development value (GDV) of RM150 billion with a dedicated commercial district to support new start-ups as well as small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). In addition, Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) has said 30, 000 units of homes will be delivered housing some 120, 000 residents within Bandar Malaysia. Whether or not this will go ahead, remains unclear. The only glimmer of hope here is the Digital Free Trade Zone by Jack Ma which so far has not been canned by the new government.
The Bangi-Putrajaya HSR station is located in the south of Klang Valley and within the state of Selangor at Kampung Abu Bakar Bagindar. Putrajaya is the Federal Administrative hub of Malaysia. Major townships include Putrajaya, Cyberjaya and Bangi. There is a proposed connection to the Putrajaya Monorail that will connect this station to Putrajaya Sentral which will serve as an interchange station to the MRT station and the Putrajaya Sentral Express Rail Linl (ERL). The latter links you to KLIA and KLIA2.
The Seremban HSR station is located within the Malaysia Vision Valley area within the state of Negeri Sembilan. Sited within the Labu and Kirby estates, major townships in the vicinity include Bandar Enstek, Bandar Ainsdale Property and S2 Height. Seremban will be an interchange station to the Seremban Komuter Line and KTM Electric Train Service .
The Melaka HSR station is located in Ayer Keroh within the state of Melaka. Melaka is a hub for tourism and medical tourism. Major townships in the vicinity include Taman Tasik Utama, Kampung Baru Ayer Keroh and Taman Melaka Perdana. Many Indonesians and Singaporeans flock to hospitals such as Mahkota Medical Centre for medical treatment.
The Muar HSR station is located within the state of Johor at Bandar University Pagoh. Muar is a coastal town by the Straits of Melaka that is a hub for furniture manufacturing. Major townships in the vicinity Pagoh, Parit Jawa and Sungai Balang. The main economic drivers here are those in the education, trading, furniture manufacturing, historical tourism and agrotourism industries.
The Batu Pahat HSR station is located within the state of Johor at Pura Kencana, Seri Gading. Batu Pahat is a hub for garment and textile factories. Major townships in the vicinity include include Rengit, Yong Peng and Semerah. The main economic drivers here are those in the the furniture manufacturing, food processing and agrotourism. However, isnce 20011, there has been a notable growth in small and medium industries such as textiles, garments and electronics.
The Iskandar Puteri HSR station is located within Gerbang Nusajaya in the state of Johor It is the gateway to Iskandar Malaysia and covers an area of 1,841-hectare. Gerbang Nusajaya features a number of catalytic developments including Nusajaya Tech Park and FASTrack Iskandar. Major townships in the vicinity include Gerbang Nusajaya, Iskandar Puteri and Medini. This will be the final leg of the Malaysian station before it enters Singapore, terminating at Jurong East. While the station in Nusajaya has not yet been announced, government officials have indicated that it will be located close to Motorsports City near East Ledang.
The Jurong East HSR station is located within the Jurong Lake District in Singapore. It is the gateway to Singapore and covers an area of 67-hectare. Jurong Lake District is the hub for commerce, retail, healthcare and tourism industries. Major townships in the vicinity include Jurong East, Teban Gardens, Lakeside and Taman Jurong. Jurong East will be an interchange station to the North South MRT Line, East West MRT Line and the proposed Jurong Region MRT Line.
Also known as MRT Line 3, this is the final line that will comprise of a “wheel and spoke” system to connect to MRT Line 1 and SSP. Line 3 is expected to be completed in 2025. Collectively, all three lines will be integrated with the current trains systems forming the Klang Valley Integrated Train System. However, this project has been postponed by the new federal government when it took power in May 2018 owing to budget cuts.
The impact for this postponement will be marginal as this MRT Line will still need to be constructed to connect the SBK Line and SSP Line.
We will most likely see speculators staying away from the market.
This presents good opportunity for genuine homebuyers to start looking in and around the station.
Homes in the secondary market will be the most ideal as they are priced cheaper than new launches.
An independent analysis from yours truly