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.
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