Hiring a PR firm can amplify the good work that your company is doing. Here are the important facts on public relations and what it takes to get the story out.
By Khalil Adis
Few people know that prior to being in the property industry, I was doing editorial and public relations work in the lifestyle industry (do check out our portfolio section here).
I don't blame them really as my property work is more prominent.
While my firm’s core business lies in editorial, social media, research and due diligence work, we do handle public relations for our clients who are primarily property developers.
Last year, however, we took on a client in the wellness industry to help them penetrate the Singapore market.
The challenge we faced was their product is relatively new to the region with very little public awareness save for social media marketing.
As such, it was very difficult to pitch the client’s story to the press as they are not the big brand cosmetics.
In fact, some had asked for the client to advertise in order for the editorial team to come down to ‘cover’ the press conference.
In the end, however, we did manage to garner S$12,000 worth of PR value for the client.
#1: PR value
A PR value is derived by calculating the advertisement value times three.
Why times three?
This is because an editorial is considered three times an ad value as the story is deemed newsworthy enough by the editorial team.
In this case, we managed to get an editorial exposure on an advertising space worth S$4,000 without the client having to spend a single cent.
In the field of journalism and public relations, this is the ideal outcome professionals would like to achieve.
#2: Not every news or corporate announcements are of public interest
We get it that your event is important to you and your company.
After all, you do need to sell an X number of products as part of your company’s bottom line.
However, those boardroom announcements on launching a new website are of little relevance to the public.
An exception, of course, is if you are a government body who is launching a new platform that allows the public to check for traffic/health/transport etc information online.
This was in fact how I spun the story for a Malaysian property developer when they launched a community safety application.
The challenge was the client requested to call for a press conference in less than a week.
In three days, I contacted the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM), did up a community policing and safety fact sheet and arranged a press conference.
In the end, the client was very pleased as we had delivered a PR value of more than RM500,000.
The key winning formula here is the client gave us their 100 per cent confidence to do the work while keeping a hands-off approach when dealing with the media with a realistic expectation given the short work turnaround time.
#3 Be realistic
I always find myself having to tell my clients to be very realistic when they demand to be on the cover of every major newspaper in the country.
Before putting out your news announcement or hiring a PR agency, ask yourself, how is this relevant to the public?
The exception is of course if your company has discovered a cure for cancer backed by research.
As a newsmaker, you must always put yourself in the shoes of the reader.
Does your news scream “front page news”?
#4: Understand the 5Ws and 1H
When pitching your story to the press or hiring an agency to do this for you, it is imperative that you understand the 5Ws and 1H formula that journalists use in the newsroom to determine the newsworthiness of a story.
What are the 5Ws and 1H? They are the Who, Why, What, When, Where and How.
Who is involved?
Why did it happen?
When did it happen?
Where did it take place?
How did it happen?
Every day, the newsroom receives hundreds of media releases and invitations.
Why should your event be an exception?
#5: There is no guarantee on publicity
A public relations campaign takes time to build up especially if you do not have a sexy angle to sell to the press.
Most often than not, it is the soft skill that gets the story out like a good relationship with the press.
This can help to open doors.
While a story may not be suitable for this week, it will probably be of relevance to the journalist a few months down the road.
The key is to be consistent in your media engagement.
One PR practitioner’s pet peeve is when a client asks to guarantee a certain number of coverage in the media.
While we will endeavour to do our best, there are certain things that are beyond our control.
For instance, should a war break out in the region today, the story that the journalist had promised to cover this week will most likely be cancelled or postponed as the entire newsroom will be devoting their resources on this breaking news.
For clients that want guaranteed publicity, then taking up an advertising space (with the title: advertorial) or hiring a media buying agency is the way forward.
A vibrant district is about to take shape over at Woodlands Regional Centre in the next 15 years with enhanced connectivity to Johor Bahru via the Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link. We give you the quick low-down on this gateway district to Singapore.
By Khalil Adis
Living in Woodlands is about to get even more exciting as Woodlands Regional Centre will be developed into a sizeable commercial hub and bring jobs closer to homes in the northern region of Singapore.
Comprising 100 hectares of land, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) envisages Woodlands Regional Centre to become home to new spaces for industry, research and development, learning and innovation over the next 15 years.
Just last month, the URA released a white site for sale under the reserve list of the second half of 2018 Government Land Sales (GLS) Programme.
A white site means it can be used for different functions such as commercial, residential and industrial.
The sale of the site is especially momentous as it will provide a seamless connection for commuters travelling to Johor Bahru via the RTS Link by 2024 at Woodlands North MRT station before disembarking at Bukit Chagar station.
Here are a few quick facts on the site:
#1: Located next to popular shopping mall, Causeway Point
The site is located within Woodlands Regional Centre which comprises two complementary precincts - Woodlands Central and Woodlands North Coast.
The white site itself is located at Woodlands Central which the URA said will be transformed into a bustling commercial and community node with a mix of office, retail, residential and attractive public spaces for live, work and play.
#2: A vibrant mixed-use site with a GFA of 115,000 m2
The mixed-use site measures 2.75ha and can potentially generate some 115,000 m2 of gross floor area (GFA) for office, residential, retail and entertainment uses.
At least 45,000 m2 of the maximum permissible GFA of the development will be set aside for office use.
Meanwhile, the URA said the remaining GFA can be for additional office, retail, entertainment and residential uses.
#3: 27,000 households in northern Singapore set to benefit
According to the URA, the new public spaces planned for the precinct can be enjoyed by more than 27,000 households in the vicinity.
Woodlands Central will also serve as a community gathering point for the residents in Woodlands and the rest of the north region.
#4: Strategically located above the upcoming Woodlands Thomson East Coast Line (TEL) station, (TE2)
The site is planned to be seamlessly connected to the existing Woodlands MRT station.
As such, the site will enjoy a direct connection to both the Thomson East Coast Line (TEL) and the North South Line (NSL) via the Woodlands TEL station, (TE2).
From the TE2 station, commuters can hop onto the RTS Link at Woodlands North MRT station located one stop away to Bukit Chagar station in Johor Bahru.
#5: Direct basement connection to TE2 station
The new development will have a direct basement connection to the future Woodlands TEL station, providing shoppers and commuters with easy access to the rest of the stations under the TEL.
This includes the Central Business District, Marina Bay and the shopping, dining and entertainment options at Orchard Road.
#6: 100,000 new jobs
When fully developed, Woodlands Regional Centre will have about 700,000m2 of commercial space and offer approximately 100,000 new jobs.
#7: Innovation district at Woodlands North Coast
Meanwhile, a mixed-use business cluster will be coming up at Woodlands North Coast which will include future industrial and business park spaces.
Woodlands North Coast will be served by the Woodlands North MRT station
The URA has envisioned it to provide flexible workspaces that encourage experimentation and innovation and are geared towards the needs of both small to medium enterprises and multinational companies.
As we can see from the infographics above, prices of HDB resale flats across the board have fallen except for executive flats.
However, the upcoming TEL and developments at Woodlands Regional Centre will act as a property booster for homes in the area.
The opening of Woodlands TEL station and Woodlands North MRT station will be the first property booster followed by the rest of the developments that are being planned.
Homeowners of 3-, 4- and 5-room HDB flats should hold on tight to their properties in the next 15 years before selling.
Meanwhile, it is a good opportunity for home buyers to start their property hunt in Woodlands and wait for the capital appreciation as Woodlands Regional Centre becomes more mature.
As for the RTS Link, the Malaysian government has remained committed on completing this project.
In fact, this is one of the major infrastructure project that will be carried on under the newly elected Pakatan Harapan government.
For a detailed master plan of Woodlands Regional Centre, do check out the URA site here
Announced under Budget 2019, first-time homebuyers should take advantage of the schemes that are being rolled out by the federal government.
By Khalil Adis
In case you had missed the good news that was announced during Budget 2019, there will indeed be more help coming your way if you need help in buying your first home this year.
Here are the quick low-down on what the schemes are.
#1: P2P (peer-to-peer) Funding
This is a private sector-driven “Property Crowdfunding” platform to serve as an alternative source of financing for first-time house buyers.
It will be regulated by Securities Commission.
The P2P exchange will go live in the first quarter of 2019.
How it works:
Interested applicants will need to put a 20 per cent downpayment while the remaining 80 per cent will be funded by investors.
Exactly when and how this will be done will be announced closer to the date by the Finance Ministry.
Who should apply:
Those who have the required 20 per cent downpayment. It is not clear if this is in cash and/or EPF.
#2: RM1 billion fund allocated for first-time homebuyers
This is a special fund for those earning less than RM2,300 a month.
The fund can only be used to purchase properties priced up to RM150,000.
Bank Negara will be setting up the fund. More details here
The fund is available for two years until the allocation is spent as of 1 January 2019.
You may apply for them at the following banks at a rate of 3.5 per cent:
#3: RM25 million fund allocated for first-time home buyers
This is a special fund meant for those with a household income of up to RM5,000
The fund provides a mortgage guarantee to enable borrowers to obtain higher financing, including deposit fees.
The fund can is for first-time house buyers who are purchasing properties worth up to RM500,000
The fund will also provide a grant stamp duty exemption of up to the first RM300,000 on transfer instruments and loan agreements for two years until Dec 2020.
The fund will be run by Cagamas.
Unfortunately, details are scant. You may check Cagamas Bhd for updates.
If you are unsure about the procedures on home renovation, fret not. Follow these six simple steps to a fabulous-looking home.
By Khalil Adis
The new year will probably see some homeowners moving to a new home and embarking on their home renovation.
While many will likely take up a home renovation package, some may opt to do them in stages.
In fact, this option is ideal for those who do not wish to take a loan and will allow you to have full control over the cost.
However, taking the first step in home renovation can indeed be a bewildering experience especially for the uninitiated.
I mean, where do you even start?
This was indeed the question I had asked when I first received the keys to my new home.
When embarking on my own home renovation project, I chose not to take a loan as I do not wish to burden myself with debt.
While my DIY renovation project is still a work-in-progress, here are some tips that I had learnt along the way.
Follow these steps so that your own home renovation will go off without a hitch.
#1: Work on your floor plan first
If you do not have any training in interior design, then you may wish to either engage an interior designer to do the proposed layout or using interior design software like Homestyler.
For detailed tips on some of the interior design basics, refer to my previous blog post here.
#2: Turn on your power and gas supply
This is a crucial second step as you need power and gas before embarking on your labour of love.
The latter is ideal if you want to have piped gas for your stove and water heater.
Otherwise, you can opt for LPG gas delivery from the various local supplier.
However, do note the gas cylinders do take up a significant portion of your kitchen cabinet and you may run out of gas while cooking.
#3: Decide where you want to place your air-conditioning units and then install them
You can make this decision by drawing the proposed location on your floor plan.
The number of air-conditioning units depends on the size of your home.
Go for inverter units as they are energy saving and come with energy saving modes.
You will need to install your air-con first before working on the next step.
#4: Work on the lighting points from the floor plan and then call in the ceiling contractor
This is an important next step before calling the carpenter to install your cupboards and other fittings.
As you can see from the floor plan that I have uploaded here, it shows the location of the existing lighting points.
From the location of the cupboards and fittings, you can then plan where you want to install the lighting points.
Be sure to plan this to a T as you will be charged around S$65 for each lighting point.
Next, you need to order your own LED lights.
There are many brands in the market.
I opted for Xiaomi Phillips Zhirui downlight as they are value-for-money and come with an adjustable colour temperature that can be controlled from your phone.
Unfortunately, they are not available in Singapore so you will need to order online.
You then need to download the Mi Home app in order to control the lighting.
For ceiling works, you may wish to opt for a combination of an L-box and cove lighting (see above).
An L-box can dramatically alter the ambience of your room making it very welcoming while giving the illusion of height due to the indirect lighting.
This will costs around S$350 onwards.
You may also opt for a cove lighting to give a very clean and intimate feel to your living space.
However, do bear in mind it reduces your ceiling height due to the plastering and ceiling works.
The cost varies according to the size - typically it starts from around S$500 onwards.
You may also choose to opt for a centre ceiling flat panels.
This will cost around S$400.
The contractor will build the L-box and false ceiling around your already installed air-conditioning units.
Speaking of which, I would also urge you to install ceiling fans even if you have already installed an air-con system in your home.
This is because natural ventilation works best in our tropical weather and it can significantly cut down your electricity bill by up to 20 to 30 per cent.
Choose one that comes with LED lighting.
While there are many brands in the market, most are not aesthetically pleasing.
You might want to opt for a timeless design like the Haiku L-Series Fan.
Although slightly pricey, the fan is surprisingly quiet and comes with 16 levels of brightness.
I chose black as they fit with the monochromatic colour scheme of my home.
As for installation, you can opt for it to be installed for you (assuming the rest of the lighting works are already done).
Otherwise, the ceiling contractor will charge you S$60 for installation.
Remember, you will need to show this lighting plan to the ceiling contractor/electrician so they can execute it accordingly.
Try to get at least three quotations.
Word-of-mouth referrals, in my opinion, work best.
#5: Call in the carpenter
Now that you have installed your lightings and finished with your ceiling works, it is time to work on the rest of your fittings like kitchen cabinets and cupboards.
The carpenter will build your fittings up to the height of your false ceiling.
Generally, fittings will require a space of around 600mm.
However, if you do not have enough space, measurement of 300mm onwards works just fine especially if it is for display cabinet in the living room.
If you need flexible living space, go for slidable/foldable doors.
I particularly like those from Ewins as they come in a myriad of design and are customisable to your living space.
They are slightly pricey from the usual carpenter’s quote but worth considering especially if you live in a small apartment like mine.
The staff are also very helpful and can help you draft a design before proceeding to install the fittings.
#6: Blinds/curtains should be the last
Now that you have everything in place, you can dress up your windows with either curtains or blinds.
Curtains will require regular washing so it may not be ideal if you do not have the time to do it.
If you want a clean, modern look, then blinds are the way to go.
They are many options to choose from in the market according to the interior design theme you have in mind.
A parting word
In closing, a DIY home renovation project will require your 110 per cent commitment and attention but the outcome is worth it.
Remember to not spend more than 10 per cent of the purchase price of your home and to use neutral colours as they are easy on the eyes.
Most importantly, enjoy the entire design process, do not rush it and unleash your creativity to make the living space uniquely yours.
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
JB is taking the word ‘hipster' up a few notches and giving Kampong Glam a serious run for its money.
By Khalil Adis
When the Singapore authorities announced in October that Blu Jaz Cafe's entertainment licence is cancelled, it marked another dent for the entertainment industry in the hip Kampong Glam enclave.
Home to Zam Zam Restaurant, the historic Sultan mosque, bars and restaurants, Kampong Glam is a popular hangout destination among locals and tourists alike.
However, since the banning of shisha in July 2016, the area has lost its lustre as many businesses were affected.
One in particular, called Cafe Le Caire, was a popular watering hole but is now no longer in operation.
What still remains are the textile and carpet shops.
With one less entertainment outlet in Singapore, JB's heritage area is fast coming up as a viable alternative.
Once associated with sleaze, Jalan Dhoby is now home to a number of hip establishments which are popular among the young and the young-at-heart.
In addition, the shophouses are decorated with funky street art almost reminiscent of Georgetown's.
With two weeks shy of 2019, here are our top picks to explore within JB's heritage area.
#1: Restoran Hua Mui
No.131, Jalan Trus, Johor Bahru, 80000 Johor Bahru, Malaysia
Restoran Hua Mui serves a good mix of Western and local dishes and is popular among Johoreans and Singaporeans.
Unfortunately, it gets especially busy during lunchtime and that is when service standards drop.
I would recommend coming here to have your breakfast instead before exploring the rest of the heritage area.
The chicken and eggs sandwiches come highly recommended with a dollop of Lingham's Chilli Sauce.
#2: Explore the pre-war shophouses at Jalan Trus
Located at the intersection of Jalan Dhoby and Jalan Trus, the shophouses were built during the 1800s but has now been given a new lease of life thanks to the creative facade treatment.
There is also a shop here that sells vintage clothing and apparels.
Whichever you decide to check out, the shophouses here will certainly appeal to photography buffs and those looking to update your #ootd Instagram shots.
Who knows? You might just find an outfit at the boutique here!
#3: Hiap Joo Bakery
13, Jalan Tan Hiok Nee, Johor Bahru, 80000 Johor Bahru, Malaysia
Hiap Joo Bakery is one of JB's best-kept secrets that it reportedly counts the Sultan of Johor as one of its fans.
Renowned for their coconut buns and freshly made banana cakes, many locals make a beeline for them in the morning.
In fact, their coconut and kaya buns are so popular that they usually run out by noon.
What makes Hiap Joo Bakery authentic is its old-school method of cake-baking which it inherited from its former British owner.
All the cakes and buns are baked in a classic wooden kiln which leaves them with a unique charcoal aftertaste.
If you still can't get enough of its freshly made cakes and buns, fret not!
You can buy its very own kaya spread to savour it from the comfort of your home.
#4: IT Roo Cafe
17, Jalan Dhoby, Johor Bahru, 80000 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
For lunch, just head to IT Roo Cafe located just around the corner.
Touting itself as having "the best chicken chop in town", you can choose to have it either grilled or fried with a choice of mushroom or black pepper sauce.
The dish comes complete with a serving of coleslaw and fries.
Aside from its signature dish, IT Roo Cafe also serves up popular local dishes like fried rice and noodles.
Be sure to arrive early as it can be difficult to get a seat during the lunch hour.
#5: Chaiwala & Co. Container Cafe
Lot 2180 Jalan Tan Hiok Nee, Johor Bahru, 80000 Johor Bahru Johor, Malaysia
Owned by a former sailor, Chaiwala gets its namesake from a disused shipping container which has become its signature look.
In fact, it has spawned a number of copycats within its immediate vicinity making it a draw among photographers and hipsters alike.
Some of its signature drinks include Thai milk tea and Vietnamese coffee served hot or chilled.
You can even customise your drinks with a base comprising either tea, milk tea, coffee, fresh milk or smoothie with a range of flavours.
The only drawback is there is no wifi here so it is best to stick to taking your Instagram shots.
#6: Cafe Al-Fayeed
Off Jalan Pahang, Johor Bahru, 80000 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
Fancy a serving of shisha?
Well, look no further than Cafe Al-Fayeed which is also located within walking distance.
Prepared by tattoed servers with technicoloured dyed hair, there are many flavours to choose from with an option to have it served with ice at just RM11!
Cafe Al-Fayeed also serves up popular side dishes such as fries to go along with your shisha.
For those who prefer a heartier portion, the cafe also offers a wide selection of Western and local dishes at very reasonable prices.
Music can get a tad bit loud with popular hip-hop tunes and EDM club bangers blaring from the speakers.
Ok, we don't really have a specific address here but it will be hard to give this wellness establishment a miss as it is housed within a red-hot container along Jalan Dhoby.
Offering foot massage and traditional Malay urut, Santai2 is a welcome respite after all those walking.
Foot massage starts from around RM45 while a full body traditional Malay urut is priced from RM65.
Both male and female therapists are available.
#8: Pasar Karat
Jalan Segget, Bandar Johor Bahru, 80000 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
Stock up on those pomades in various fragrances or shop for handphone covers at this night market located just a stone throw's away from the heritage area.
Pasar Karat, which means rusty market, comes alive from 7 pm onwards and attracts a strong Johorean crowd.
Selling just about anything from exotic pets to Malay kuehs, the night market gets especially busy during Ramadan as many would throng the market as they gear up for Hari Raya Aidilfitri.
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.
Allianz marks first foray in Singapore’s property market with a 20% minority stake in Ocean Financial Centre. Here are the five things you need to know:
Allianz Real Estate investment in Ocean Financial Centre is part of its strategy to allocate 5 per cent to 10 per cent of its real estate investments to the Asia-Pacific region.
By Khalil Adis
#1: Ocean Financial Centre is a 43-storey Grade A office tower
The Grade A office tower is located strategically at the intersection of the Raffles Place and Marina Bay financial precincts with retail component on its ground floor and basement level.
It is accessible via the Raffles Place MRT station.
#2: Singapore’s office market is experiencing strong rental growth
While Singapore’s private residential market has been muted by the recent property cooling measures, its office market is doing well.
"The Singapore office market is experiencing strong rental growth. From an occupational cost and efficiency perspective it continues to be favourable vis-a-vis other comparable markets like Hong Kong,” said Mr Rushabh Desai, CEO Asia Pacific at Allianz Real Estate,.
#3: The divestment is worth S$537.3 million
According to Keppel REIT Management Limited, the divestment is part of ongoing portfolio optimisation efforts and presents a unique opportunity to unlock value for its unitholders.
The divestment by Keppel REIT of a 20 per cent minority stake in its subsidiary, Ocean Properties LLP which holds Ocean Financial Centre, to Allianz Real Estate has an agreed property value S$537.3 million.
This is 16.8 per cent above Keppel REIT’s historical purchase price of S$460.2 million.
#4: Divestment has a target completion date by end December 2018
According to Keppel REIT, it currently holds a 99.9 per cent interest in Ocean Financial Centre through Ocean Properties LLP.
Keppel REIT said the divestment is expected to be completed by end December 2018
With Allianz now holding a 20 per cent a minority stake in Keppel REIT’s subsidiary, Ocean Properties LLP, will continue to maintain a majority interest in Ocean Financial Centre through its 79.9 per cent interest in Ocean Properties LLP.
Additionally, Keppel REIT said it will continue to be the asset manager for Ocean Properties LLP in relation to Ocean Financial Centre.
#5: Unitholders of Keppel REIT set to benefit from the divestment
According to Tan Swee Yiow, CEO of Keppel REIT Management Limited, the divestment is “in line with our commitment to deliver sustainable total return to unitholders”.
"The partial divestment of Ocean Financial Centre is a unique opportunity for unitholders to realise part of the capital gains from this premium Grade A office building, while maintaining exposure to the strengthening Singapore office market. Despite this being a divestment of a non-controlling stake, the agreed property value reflects the asset's quality and underlying value,” he said in a statement.
The divestment will see Keppel REIT realising approximately S$77.1 million of capital gains.
This translates to an attractive net asset-level return of 8.3 per cent per annum over the holding period.
Singapore's private property market experienced robust growth but was muted midway by property cooling measures. We list down the key highlights in our 2018 property market roundups and our outlook for 2019.
By Khalil Adis
Singapore's private property market saw a steep rebound from the fourth quarter of 2017 after many quarters of decline in its Property Price Index (PPI) since the fourth quarter of 2013.
Figures from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) showed that the Lion City's PPI surged by 11.0 points from 138.7 in the fourth quarter of 2017 to 149.7 points in the third quarter of 2018.
However, the market softened from July onwards post the new property cooling measures.
Here are the top five property market roundups for 2018 and our top five outlooks for 2019.
#1: En-bloc fever
Singapore's property market was off to a fiery start with several collective sales deal that was concluded during the first half of the year.
They included the iconic Pearl Bank Apartments which was sold for S$728 million sales to CapitaLand and Park West which was sold for S$840.89 million to SingHaiyi Gold Pte Ltd.
Data from Cushman & Wakefield Inc showed that the collective sales market recorded S$3.8 billion of en-bloc transactions in the second quarter.
#2: New property cooling measures introduced
To douse the red-hot residential property market, the government announced a slew of property cooling measures in July.
This included increasing the Additional Buyer's Stamp Duty (ABSD) rates and tightening loan-to-value (LTV) limits on residential property purchases.
The new ABSD rates and LTV limits are as above.
As a result, the collective sales market declined with S$353 million worth of transactions recorded in the third quarter, data from Cushman & Wakefield Inc showed.
#3: Industrial property market picks up steam
While Singapore's residential property sector has taken quite a hit, its industrial and commercial property sectors are seeing an uptrend in investment sales.
According to data from Cushman & Wakefield Inc, industrial property deals soared 73 per cent to S$1.2 billion in the third quarter while office sales increased by 54 per cent to S$2.1 billion.
Meanwhile, Jones Lang Lasalle Singapore, citing data from JTC statistics said islandwide all-industrial rental correction stayed modest at 0.1 per cent quarter-on-quarter for three consecutive quarters since the fourth quarter of 2017, while the second quarter of 2018 all-industrial price index flat-lined for the first time since trending down in the third quarter of 2014.
#4: HDB resale values are declining
HDB is a hot bread and butter issue among Singaporeans as 80 per cent of the population lives in public housing flat.
Public interest in HDB dominated the headlines in 2018 as government officials warned that their values could decline, especially those that are more than 40 years with around 50 years left on their 99-year lease.
This marked a stark contrast during Lee Kuan Yew's era when he assured Singaporeans that HDB flats are an asset.
Property agents who specialise in HDB flats in mature estates such as Toa Payoh say they are already seeing prices of older resale flats declining as many buyers are staying clear from such properties following the ongoing debate.
For example, according to the third quarter data from the HDB in 2018, a 3-bedroom flat in the estate was transacted for S$279, 000.
In contrast, the median price during the same period in 2016 was transacted for S$300,000.
Having said that, other factors do come into play such as the supply of new Built-to-Order (BTO) flats which has influenced the resale price.
However, until the government addresses the uncertainty surrounding older estates, we are likely to see the values declining as it is very much influenced by market sentiment.
#5: Widening price gap between a private property and an HDB flat
While the private property market has seen the price index picking up by some 11.0 points, the HDB Resale Price Index (RPI) has been on a decline.
According to data from the HDB, the RPI has been on a decline since the second quarter of 2013 as it continues to launch BTO flats in the market.
This is the biggest price gap in over 10 years and will likely be a contentious issue when the general election is expected to be called in 2019.
#1: HDB to become a hot-button issue
2019 is expected to be an election year.
As such, HDB will be a hot-button issue as 80 per cent of the population lives in HDB flats.
As we have discussed above, HDB resale prices are already on the decline while the price gap between a private property and an HDB flat has widened considerably.
The government will need to address the ongoing debate on the value of older HDB flats moving forward.
#2: Fewer BTO flats to be launched
In November, the HDB said it launched 7,214 flats for sale under the Build-To-Order (BTO) and Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) exercise.
This comprises 3,802 BTO units and 3,412 SBF units across various towns estates such as Sembawang, Sengkang, Tengah, Yishun and Tampines.
However, there will be fewer units being offered in the next BTO launch exercise in February 2019.
The HDB said it will offer about 3,100 flats in Jurong West, Kallang Whampoa and Sengkang.
#3: A sellers' market
With fewer BTO flats on the offering, this could possibly divert some of the buyers to the resale market and prop up the resale prices which have been falling since the second quarter of 2013.
As such 2019 could likely be a sellers' market.
Sellers should watch the market closely while buyers should opt for a BTO quickly.
#4: Five growth areas
As outlined in the URA Master Plan 2014, the five growth areas are located at Woodlands Regional Centre, Jurong Lake District, City Centre, Paya Lebar Central and Punggol Digital District.
Woodlands Regional Centre will be a transportation hub which will connect the Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) to the Johor-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) via Woodlands North MRT station.
Meanwhile, Jurong Lake District will house the High Speed Rail station linking Singapore to Kuala Lumpur in 90 minutes flat.
The development of 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.
You can read more about URA Master Plan 2014 here.
#5: Opening of TEL will provide a price booster for properties along the line
The TEL is a 43km MRT Line that will add 31 new stations to the existing rail network, with 7 interchange stations.
It will link to the East-West Line, North-South Line, North-East Line, Circle Line and the Downtown Line.
Spanning from Woodlands North to Sungei Bedok, the line will be opened in stages next year.
Stage one will comprise stations from Woodlands North to Woodlands South.
As such, properties in the Woodland Regional Centre as highlighted above will be among the first to enjoy the price booster when the stations commence service next year.
This will definitely be much to cheer about in the north amid the muted HDB resale market.
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.
An independent analysis from yours truly