Three reasons why speakers are paid a fee while agencies earn a commission
By Khalil Adis
Recently, I was approached by a real estate agency in Singapore for an upcoming launch event.
I generally work directly with developers and try as much as possible to avoid working with a real estate agency as they have a very unrealistic expectation.
It turns out I was right.
During the first meeting, I had asked if their client has a budget. They said no. However, they said they can pay me a commission. That itself was a huge red flag.
Nevertheless, I continued with the meeting to see where it was going.
However, I still wasn’t sure what the deal was.
I do know they needed a speaker and someone to conduct their agent training.
They subsequently asked for a copy of my presentation slides and samples of my editorial work.
A second meeting was then requested but I made it clear that I do not operate on a commission with zero marketing cost as that would be unfair to my paying clients.
They then requested I do up a marketing proposal and the costing for their client to consider.
The second meeting was supposed to be a conference call with the developer but it was delayed and subsequently cancelled.
They did inform me that the client will contact me to ask me further questions.
However, I never heard from their client nor received any confirmation about my proposal.
With nothing signed off, I am therefore not legally bound to provide any form of services.
It got me thinking about the potential conflict of interest when working with real estate agencies and why I generally avoid working with them.
#1: Developers leverage on the speaker’s expertise
I have been very blessed that developers look for me when it comes to launching their projects in Singapore and Malaysia.
It is because they see the value in the research, books and analysis that my company had done over the years.
We provide unparalleled insights into the property market from a Singapore perspective.
They also understand that consumers generally trust an unbiased point of view which will thus act credibility to their project.
On the other hand, an agency operates solely based on commission.
They also justify paying a referral fee for any closing.
As a business owner, this does not make any sense as the risk and marketing cost is totally on me.
In addition, it does not justify freeing up my time at the expense of other clients.
#2: A speaker has marketing missiles
When I do events with developer clients, I would put together a strategic marketing communications plan to ensure the client gets its bang for its bucks.
From public relations, social media content, book signings to a dedicated electronic direct mailer campaign, this helps to ensure the desired communication strategy is achieved when communicating with the public, consumers and shareholders.
Having a book signing and giveaway also helps to attract the public to come to the developer’s event.
This helps the agency to do their closing.
A recent Singapore event saw a client closing eight units.
#3: A speaker should not be involved in sales
In the life of a journalist, we must declare any potential conflict of interest that may impact the credibility of our story.
It is how journalists are able to write the truth and earn the trust of the public.
Likewise, a speaker must not be involved in any property sales as it impacts their credibility in the market.
In the past, developers and agencies had tried to exploit this to their advantage.
This is one reason why I decided not to renew my real estate agency licence.
In closing, I would like to remind real estate agencies that there is a service fee for any form of work and that their client should respect someone else’s time.
It also is an insult to the speaker when you request them to do a dry run presentation when they had spent many years conducting research, writing books and honing their skills.
And that is what separates a good speaker from the average.
With 10,000 affordable homes in the pipeline, Bandar Malaysia is both a boon and a bane for Kuala Lumpur’s sluggish property sector. We analyse how this development will impact the market.
By Khalil Adis
The recent announcement by the Malaysian government that it is reviving the shelved Bandar Malaysia project is a piece of welcome news as it gives some clarity to investors on the status of the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) project.
Since winning the 14th general election, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad had reviewed several mega infrastructure projects including Bandar Malaysia and the HSR.
In the face of the country’s mounting debt, both projects were at first announced as cancelled in May 2018.
This prompted Singapore’s Ministry of Transport to issue a statement stating that it “will wait for official communication from Malaysia”.
However, the Malaysian government backtracked on this subsequently.
Instead, it announced in June 2018 that the project was “postponed”.
This created a lot of confusion on both sides of the causeway.
After many months of speculation, the market finally received some clarity in September 2018 when representatives from both governments met in Putrajaya.
In a joint-statement, both Singapore and Malaysia announced that they had signed an agreement to suspend the project until 31 May 2020
“Malaysia will bear the agreed costs in suspending the HSR Project. If by 31 May 2020, Malaysia does not proceed with the HSR Project, Malaysia will also bear the agreed costs incurred by Singapore in fulfilling the HSR Bilateral Agreement. During the suspension period, Malaysia and Singapore will continue to discuss on the best way forward for the HSR Project with the aim of reducing costs,” the statement read.
The HSR project is now expected to commence service by 1 January 2031, instead of the original commencement date of 31 December 2026.
With Bandar Malaysia now being revived, we list down the possible implications on Kuala Lumpur’s property market.
#1: Boost for the construction sector
The construction sector is currently in the doldrums due to the lacklustre property market in Malaysia.
Loan rejections from buyers and the demand-supply mismatch mean developers are faced with unsold inventory leading to cash flow problems with contractors.
In March, for instance, Bursa listed engineering and construction company, Zeland Berhad filed a statement with the Malaysian stock exchange that it was initiating arbitration proceedings against NRY Architects for RM305.4mil and other contract breaches for the construction of buildings of International Islamic University Malaysia in Kuantan.
It also announced that it is claiming RM3.34mil in outstanding payment for construction works from BBCC Development Sdn Bhd located at the former Pudu jail near Hang Tuah monorail station.
With Bandar Malaysia now back on track, contractors will be willing to bid at a much lower price to stay afloat amid the challenging market condition.
Subcontractors will also benefit.
#2: 10,000 new housing units will likely worsen overhang in Kuala Lumpur’s property market
Initially, DBKL had announced that Bandar Malaysia will house around 30,000 affordable homes.
However, a recent announcement puts the figures to 10,000 units.
Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) had previously indicated that it has set a development guideline for developers to build such homes at around 800 sq ft but priced below MYR450,000.
Meanwhile, Bank Negara’s figures showed that 80 per cent of homes, or 146,196 units priced above RM250,000, remained unsold as of end March 2018.
While Bank Negara did not break down the figures according to each state, recent data provided by the Valuation and Property Services Department (JPPH) showed that Kuala Lumpur recorded the third highest number of residential overhang at 5,114 units.
So unless the homes are priced below RM250,000, we are likely to see Kuala Lumpur’s housing glut worsen.
#3: Boon for first-time homebuyers
Bandar Malaysia has been cited by DBKL as a case study for government and private developers in building transit-oriented development (TOD).
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).
Bandar Malaysia will also possibly serve as the interchange to the MRT Line 3, which has now been postponed.
If indeed Bandar Malaysia will build affordable homes according to DBKL’s guidelines, then it will be a boon for first-time homebuyers as the entry price in Kuala Lumpur is easily above RM600,000.
It will also mean young Malaysians will no longer have to buy a car first after completing their education and thus improve their chances of getting their home loans approved.
Currently, many young Malaysians are trapped in the debt cycle due to various financial commitments such as their National Higher Education Fund (PTPTN), cars, personal and credit cards loans.
So while demand is strong, loan rejections remain an issue further worsening the cash flow for developers.
#4: Bane for landlords and sellers
If indeed 10,000 new housing units will be coming on stream, Bandar Malaysia’s surrounding areas such as Pudu, Brickfields, Cheras, Bandar Tun Razak, Sungai Besi and Taman Desa will be badly affected.
As such, landlord and sellers will likely see their asking prices fall even further as consumers will soon have more choices.
Landlords will also find difficulty in doing short-term accommodations as the Malaysian government will be regulating this market segment.
Therefore, rent-seekers and buyers are the clear winners as they are in the position to haggle for the best price.
#5: Sluggish commercial and office market ahead
The initial projection for Bandar Malaysia stated that it will have a gross development value (GDV) of RM150 billion.
Measuring around 196 hectares, Bandar Malaysia’s master plan indicates that it will be a mixed-use development with commercial and office buildings.
With so many mega malls and office buildings in Kuala Lumpur, Bandar Malaysia will add on to more floor space in Kuala Lumpur’s already weak commercial and office markets.
Despite this, Bandar Malaysia will likely attract multinational companies to set up their operations here as it is located within the Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ).
Located within the Eastern Gate Development Zone of Iskandar Malaysia, Bandar Seri Alam boasts a number of good schools and is dubbed the 'City of Knowledge'.
By Khalil Adis
Bandar Seri Alam is one of Johor's best-kept secrets.
Home to 16 educational institutions and located in between Pasir Gudang and Permas Jaya, the township has a growing young population of around 220,000.
We list down some of the attractive points about living in Bandar Seri Alam.
#1: Located in the growth corridor of Flagship Zone D of Iskandar Malaysia
Also known as the Eastern Gate, this is the third phase of Iskandar Malaysia's next growth.
There are a few catalytic projects currently happening here, namely Iskandar Halal Park (formerly known as Johor Halal Park) and the Pengerang RAPID Project.
First announced on 19 November 2015 by the former Chief Minister of Johor Dato' Khaled Nordin during the Johor Budget 2016, it is part of the state government's effort to promote entrepreneurship in Johor.
A 50:50 joint venture collaboration between UMLand and the Johor State Government via Johor Biotechnology & Biodiversity Corporation (J-Biotech), the private-public initiative aims to put it as an international halal park and is one of the catalyst projects in Eastern Iskandar Malaysia.
Recently, IHP scored a major coup among when US based-company, Chocolat Moderne from New York, picked JHP as the manufacturing site to set up its first business in Asia.
Meanwhile, the Pengerang RAPID Project will be the largest oil & gas hub in Malaysia that will create around 40,000 to 50,000 job creation in the construction industry, 400 jobs for engineers and 4,000 jobs for trained technical.
#2: Education is a recession-proof industry
One of the attractive factors about Bandar Seri Alam is it is home to a number of higher learning institutions such as Universiti Teknologi Mara campus, Universiti Kuala Lumpur campus, the Masterskill University College of Health Sciences campus as well as international schools.
While the Iskandar Puteri/Medini and Johor Bahru/Danga Bay areas boast a number of catalytic industries such as tourism and finance, they are not immune to economic down cycles.
Bandar Seri Alam is 100 per cent focussed on education, particularly among the local population.
This makes it even more attractive as education in an evergreen industry.
One of the oldest and biggest schools in Malaysia, Foon Yew High School is set to open its third campus in Bandar Seri Alam in 2021.
#3: Homes are still affordable with the potential for capital appreciation
According to data from Brickz, prices of homes here were transacted at a median price of RM320 per sq ft from Jan 2018 to Dec 2018.
In comparison, homes in Iskandar Puteri/Medini and Johor Bahru/Danga Bay are priced at around RM900 per sq ft.
Being a relatively new township surrounded by various property booster will give room for capital appreciation for homes here.
This, plus the price point, make it suitable among first-time homebuyers.
#4: Master planned by a reputable developer
Bandar Seri Alam is one of United Malayan Land Bhd's signature projects developed by its subsidiary company Seri Alam Properties Sdn Bhd.
Thoughtfully developed across 3,762 acres by its subsidiary, Bandar Seri Alam has been planned as a self-contained township with a mix of freehold residential, commercial, industrial and hospitality offerings.
At the centre of this township lies a bustling commercial arena with various exciting and attractive retail features and green elements.
Some of the world's best brands can be found here including Starbucks, KFC, Burger King and Subway.
#5: Growing population
Bandar Seri Alam is a thriving township which boasts a population of more than 220,000.
As Iskandar Halal Park and the Pengerang RAPID project are currently being developed, we can expect the population to increase in the next 10 to 15 years as more jobs are being created.
As we speak, a new RM500 million Pasir Gudang Hospital will also be constructed as part of the government's announcement under Budget 2016.
The Draft Master Plan 2019 which was announced last week and is fast taking shape to take Singapore ahead into a vibrant yet liveable city.
By Khalil Adis
A decentralisation strategy to bring jobs closer to homes in the next 10 to 15 years, here are the five growth areas to watch out for:
Woodlands Regional Centre: Woodlands Central
Woodlands Regional Centre: Woodlands North Coast
Punggol Digital District
Scaled model of the Punggol Digital District. It will be a hub for innovation with industry clusters such as cyber security, artificial intelligence, data analytics and Internet of things. It will also be a transportation hub linking Punggol Coast MRT station to Jurong Lake District and Changi by around 2030 via the Cross Island Line (CRL). Photo: Khalil Adis Consultancy.
Paya Lebar Central
Jurong Lake District
Greater Southern Waterfront
Get rich quick schemes that target the vulnerable should be regulated.
By Khalil Adis
During an economic downturn, many so-called experts will enter the market with click-bait worthy headline on social media promising massive profits.
In fact, I happen to know some of these experts.
One of the experts would go on to sell a course that encourages overleveraging.
My post is in no way to disparage any experts but to highlight the dangers of overleveraging in the greater public interest.
Fake it till you make it
Years ago, I was approached by this particular expert who had asked me to help him market his course in Singapore.
In return, he had promised a cut from the profits.
The expert had also told me how his motto in life was to “fake it till you make it”, as he had put it.
Since I was trained in architecture and interior design, I had asked the expert to comment on my interior design floor plan.
However, I never received neither his proposal nor feedback.
A glamorous new life
Recently, I saw on social media that he has reinvented himself with a course that encourages overleveraging.
The captions and photos on social media seem to suggest that you too can lead an equally glamorous life as depicted.
It got me thinking about his motto and if others understand the dangers of overleveraging.
The dangers of overleveraging
Overleveraging means to commit yourself to more debts than you can handle.
Of late, there was a social media buzz that highlights this danger that apparently led a young man to commit suicide.
The young man had apparently bought several properties at a substantial discount and had hoped to generate positive cash flow from the rental.
However, in light of the severe oversupply in residential units in Malaysia as well as the very soft market, I am afraid he may have been taken advantage of by unscrupulous developers who are desperate to offload their units.
With the current market reality in Malaysia, I doubt his rental can cover his mortgage resulting in negative cash flow.
Assuming he has to top up RM1,000 per unit, that works out to RM4,000 per month.
Also, there is a possibility that the developer had priced up the unit and then sold it off at a ‘discount’ to make the buyer feel good.
However, in the resale market, valuers will take into account the current transacted value of the area and not the selling price from the developer.
Let’s do the math.
Assuming the developer had priced it at RM1,000 per sq ft and he now wants to sell the unit, valuers will value the property accordingly.
Should recent transactions show that units in the area were sold at RM700 per sq ft, he would have to sell it at a loss of RM300 per sq ft.
For a 1,000 sq ft unit, that works out to RM300,000!
Let’s not even talk about the possible commission the expert may have earned on the side from the units sold as well as from bank referral fees.
Ultimately, the one at the losing end is you.
A word of caution
I would urge consumers to do a lot of research, check the expert’s credentials and analyse if their methods make sense.
You should also conduct your own due diligence by going down on site to study the area to check if there is demand in the rental and resale market for the project that is on offer.
Find out what is the resale value current via Brickz and then compare it to how much the developer is selling it.
This will give you an estimate on how much the developer had marked up the unit.
Also, you should plan your exit strategy should you not be able to get a tenant. Can you do an Airbnb instead? Also ask yourself, “can I afford to take up so much loan?”
I would also like to remind consumers not to be easily blinded by the show of material wealth on social media.
They are most likely curated image meant to create an illusion that you too can live that ultimate lifestyle.
Live within your means, enjoy a good night’s sleep and don’t get trapped in the debt cycle.
Remember this, if it is too good to be true, it probably is.
Despite the tepid HDB resale market, Punggol has bucked the trend with a loft unit at Punggol Sapphire recently changing hands for almost a million dollars. Here are the lowdowns about living in Punggol.
By Khalil Adis
Punggol has indeed come a long way from being an ‘ulu’ area.
Once known as a rural settlement complete with kampungs and farms, Punggol has since 1998 transformed itself from a backwater area to a vibrant, modern yet green satellite district.
Amid Punggol’s oasis of calm, you can see LRT trains whirring through the residential areas, passing by the ample lush natural landscape before taking you directly to the heart of the district, Punggol Central.
While Punggol’s rustic charms may appeal to outdoor lovers, there are certain downsides about living here.
We list them down here:
#1: It’s oh so quiet
Punggol has an estimated population of 161,570 as of 2018 with a projected 96,000 housing units once the entire "Punggol 21-plus” master plan is completed.
Despite its high density, Punggol is surprisingly very quiet at night save for the traffic whizzing by the Tampines Expressway (TPE).
This is definitely good news for those wanting some peace and quiet but bad news if you want the buzz of city life.
If you still want to move to Punggol, fret not as Waterway Point has all the modern conveniences and amenities for your city living.
#2: Well landscaped parks and gardens
Nature and outdoor lovers will revel in the many landscaped parks and gardens that Punggol has to offer, including the award-winning My Waterway@Punggol.
From the Matilda District, you can enjoy a stroll or jog by the Punggol River before reaching Punggol Dam and Punggol Point.
This is part of the comprehensive Park Connector Network (PCN) linking the entire island.
The view is awe-inspiring and enough to make even the laziest couch potato get up and explore nature
#3: Properties here are in demand.
Being a relatively new township development with a young demographic, Punggol has proven to be popular among homebuyers as a few HDB housing projects are now eligible to be sold in the resale market.
According to the fourth quarter of 2018 data from the HDB, the Resale Price Index (RPI) fell by 0.2 per cent, from 131.6 points in the third quarter to 131.4 points in the fourth quarter in 2018.
For the whole year, the RPI declined by 0.9 per cent in 2018.
Despite the lacklustre market, a five-room, loft unit in Punggol Sapphire was sold for S$910,888 in January 2019.
This was considered a record for an HDB flat in northeastern Singapore.
Additionally, OrangeTee & Tie's research showed that in the third quarter of 2018, Punggol was the fourth most popular area for HDB resale flats with 469 units transacted followed by Jurong West (505 units), Woodland (516 units) and Sengkang (528 units).
On the overall, resale statistics from the HDB showed that the median prices of three, four and five-room flats were transacted at S$343,000, S$455,000 and S$445,000 respectively in the fourth quarter of 2018.
#4: Comprehensive public transport network
Commuting in and around Punggol is very convenient as there is a comprehensive transport network comprising MRT, LRT and buses.
In fact, the township has been planned such that each housing estate is located within 300 m away from any LRT station.
An exception, however, is the new housing area at the Matilda district.
#5: Punggol Digital District
Come 2023, a new smart city is set to rise in Punggol called the Punggol Digital District. Housing technology firms involved in key growth fields as well as the new Singapore Institute of Technology Campus, Punggol Digital District will create around 28,000 jobs while providing residents with more lifestyle and dining options.
In the pipeline includes the new Punggol Coast MRT Station which will be an extension of the North-East Line.
Punggol Digital District will also enjoy enhanced connectivity via the Cross Island Line (CRL) which will link it to Jurong Lake District and Changi by around 2030.
Collectively, they will act as property boosters for Punggol.
#6: Lack of good hawker food
Food. That’s our favourite national past time that defines if we love or hate or neighbourhood.
Having lived in Taman Jurong, I must say I was spoilt for choice with various options of mouth-watering hawker fares such as the famous Boon Lay Power Nasi Lemak.
However, the choices have become extremely limited in Punggol unless you are into fast food.
While there are coffee shops serving local cuisines, they pale in comparison to the well-established hawker fares that you can find elsewhere.
You are better off cooking your own meals.
If you hate spring cleaning, be prepared for a rude shock.
With many construction works going on, you will find yourself dusting up every single day.
Windows, top of shelves, cupboards and other surfaces collect dust easily.
This certainly isn’t good news if you are asthmatic or are prone to allergies.
If so, you might want to invest in a good ioniser to keep your indoor air free of particles and other irritants.
#8: Get ready to jostle with the early morning crowd
If you think Singaporeans are a kiasu lot, be prepared to see that word taken to new heights when you commute to work in the morning.
In fact, many would play ‘musical chairs’ as they hustle for seats at on the MRT.
Meanwhile, getting a Grab or taxi would be almost impossible.
To get around this, I would leave home by 6 am and get to the office by 7 am.
#9: That acrid smell in the air
While Punggol may be planned as a green township development, be prepared for a strong burning smell that would emanate from time to time.
Located just opposite the industrial area of Pasir Gudang, Johor, the smell has become increasingly acrid over the past few days that it will linger from night till dawn.
In fact, it can get so bad that you might have to get up in the middle of the night to close the windows.
This is something perhaps developers and HDB will not tell you.
The game-changing project has been hit with a series of delays since the newly minted Pakatan Harapan government took power last May. With the property market in Iskandar Malaysia already in doldrums, we analyse the possible impact this may have on real estate on both sides of the causeway.
By Khalil Adis
When Pakatan Harapan took power in a landslide victory at the Malaysian general election last May, the ruling coalition government went to work by immediately addressing one of its election manifestos - reviewing major infrastructure projects which involve a foreign country.
Singapore was no exception.
Iskandar Malaysia, which was already feeling the heat from the sluggish property market, saw the High Speed Rail project at first being cancelled and then postponed.
Meanwhile, the controversial Forest City project bordering Singapore was initially announced as off-limits to foreigners but was subsequently changed to build affordable homes for locals.
The former is an important impetus that many developers had banked on to move their inventory amid a severe housing glut the state is facing.
According to recent data provided by the Valuation and Property Services Department (JPPH), Johor recorded the highest number of residential overhang at 13,767 units followed by Selangor and Kuala Lumpur at 7,233 and 5,114 units respectively.
The mismatch in the supply for homes versus what Johoreans can actually afford plus their inability to get financing have further exacerbated the property market situation in Iskandar Malaysia.
The only saving grace is the cross-border rail link service linking Woodlands and Johor Bahru.
Although not cancelled, the Johor Bahru-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) link project is "not progressing well” as Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan puts it.
Just last week, Acting Transport Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan gave an update in Parliament that “further delays” are likely as Malaysia had missed the deadline in confirming its partner three times - first until September 2018, then until December.
However, on December 28, Malaysia had asked to be given until February 28 this year to do so.
It had missed this deadline as well.
As a result, this will delay the opening of the link which was initially scheduled to be ready by December 31, 2024.
Some developers, particularly in the JB Sentral area, had banked on the RTS Link, to move their unsold units.
With the project now in limbo, here are the possible impacts on the property market both in Singapore and Johor:
#1: Possible higher development cost around Woodlands North station
In May 2012, it was announced that AECOM Technology has been awarded a US$42m contract for the design and engineering study of the RTS Link by Malaysia’s Land Public Transport Commission and Singapore’s Land Transport Authority (LTA).
Under the deal, the company will provide an architectural and engineering consultancy study for the proposed RTS Link.
Construction is well underway for the Thomson-East Coast MRT Line (TEL) with a plot of land allocated for the link at Woodlands North station.
The station is slated to be opened in December this year.
The Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA) master plan for Woodlands North Coast shows a mixed-use precinct for office and business parks along signature green boulevards within the station’s immediate vicinity.
The delay could mean higher development cost for the terminus due to opportunity costs and inflation.
#2: Higher fares
The higher development cost arising from the construction delay could also mean higher fares for the RTS Link which may be passed on to consumers.
However, whether or not this happens, commuters will likely switch to taking the RTS Link across the causeway as it will mean greater convenience as opposed to driving in or taking the bus.
For example, commuters need to clear customs and immigration only once when they depart from either Singapore or Malaysia.
Using one’s own vehicle or taking the bus will require a two times clearance with the possibility of being stuck in traffic.
#3: Potential capital appreciation for existing housing developments near Bukit Chagar RTS station affected
The Bukit Chagar RTS station will be located at the open car park next to the Sultan Iskandar Building complex.
Surrounding the station are landed terrace homes and condominium towers TriTower Residence and Bukit Chagar Apartments.
According to data from Brickz, from May 2017 to Jan 2018, the average per sq ft pricing for the landed homes in the area was RM354 per sq ft.
Meanwhile, the average per sq ft transacted pricing for Bukit Chagar Apartments from Mar 2017 to Dec 2017 was RM395 per sq ft.
There is no data for TriTower Residence built by SKS Group, formerly known as Maha Builders Group or MB Group.
With the delay, the potential capital appreciation arising from the spillover impact from the RTS Link will take a longer period beyond 2024.
Despite this, market talk is SKS Group has plans to build a covered link to the Bukit Chagar RTS station.
If this is true, investors of TriTower Residence will stand to benefit the most.
#4: Developments around JB Sentral affected
The delay will also impact surrounding developments in JB Sentral as it will mean longer gestation period for the commercial, property and tourism sectors.
The game-changing project could provide a much-needed boost to complement Johor Bahru’s ambitious RM1.8 billion rejuvenation programme that was unveiled by former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak in 2010.
This is because it will bring an inflow of investments from Singapore that will benefit the sectors mentioned.
Although the Sungai Segget rehabilitation is now completed, the project proved to be quite a letdown.
The project was spearheaded by the Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) with a reportedly whopping RM20 million consultation fee.
The entire cost is an estimated RM57 million.
The project was supposed to provide a booster to the nearby malls such as Johor Bahru City Square and KOMTAR JBCC as well as shophouses.
It was also supposed to be a tourist attraction much like Clarke Quay as it was modelled after South Korea’s Cheonggyecheon river restoration project in South Korea.
This explains why developers like UMLand had acquired land banks near to Jalan Wong Ah Fook for the opening of Suasana Iskandar Malaysia.
Given the high cost, naturally, the expectation among stakeholders was high.
However, some developers, shop owners and retailers were reportedly not very happy about the way the river cleaning project had turned out.
While the river no longer emits an odour, littering is still common.
The only saving grace for the river is a miserable small fish pond with a fountain in the middle of it.
Surely the river rejuvenation project can do much better.
#5: Ibrahim International District as the potential jewel of Johor
Delays and disappointments aside, there is a gateway district coming up in Johor Bahru that will mirror the one at Woodlands North station.
Called Ibrahim International District, the project is named after the Sultan of Johor.
Under his auspices and blessings, His Majesty has set the target of making Johor Baru the second biggest city in Malaysia after Kuala Lumpur.
As such, we can be sure the project will receive the state’s 110 per cent commitment to make it shine as the jewel of Johor.
With a gross development value of RM3 billion, Ibrahim International District is an ambitious mixed-use development that will comprise six towers -– a hotel, a hotel with residences, an office, medical suites high-rise and two serviced apartment towers and a mall with an estimated gross floor area of 80,000 sq ft.
The district is currently under construction.
There are plans to build a linkway from Persada Johor to Coronation Square at Ibrahim International District.
However, there is no word yet if the district will be connected to the future Bukit Chagar RTS station.
If it does, it will enhance property values in the area, albeit beyond 2024.
#6: One Bukit Senyum as the current property booster
Nevertheless, there is light at the end of the tunnel as the only property booster around JB Sentral is the One Bukit Senyum project by Singapore Exchange-listed Astaka Holdings Limited.
Home to the tallest residential towers in Southeast Asia, Astaka, One Bukit Senyum will be Johor Bahru’s new central business district when fully completed in 2021.
One Bukit Senyum will be developed in two phases.
The first comprises The Astaka, with a total of 438 units.
The development, which is Johor’s most luxurious condominium development by far, was completed late last year.
Phase two will comprise Johor Bahru City Council’s new headquarters, a 450-room five-star hotel, 1012 residences, 254-key serviced apartments, a 1.5 million square feet shopping mall and a Grade A office building.
The JB-Woodlands RTS Link is a complicated matter as it involves the state and federal governments.
Nevertheless, it will be a win-win situation for both Singapore and Malaysia to continue with the project as it will mean and inflow of investments, particularly for Johor.
It will also ease the daily commute among Johoreans who are working in Singapore.
The spirit of good neighbourliness should prevail.
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?
Good news for senior citizens living in HDB flats and SMEs but bad news for landlords
By Khalil Adis
Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat delivered his Budget 2019 speech on 18 February with a slew of goodies ranging from start-ups to the older generation.
We dissect the budget and analyse its impact on the property market.
#1: Merdeka Generation Package will help prop up the HDB market
The package worth some S$8 billion is for Singaporeans born in the 1950s to thank them for their contributions to Singapore.
The package includes the following:
These additional incentives will go a long way to help the elderly.
This is because medical treatment can take up a significant portion of one's life savings resulting in some elderly having to sell their HDB flat.
Thus, the package will indirectly prop up the HDB market.
This is good news as the HDB resale market has softened considerably since the first quarter of 2013.
Singaporeans who qualify will receive their Merdeka Generation cards from June 2019.
#2: Various incentives for SMEs will boost the commercial property market
The government has announced an SME Co-Investment Fund III that will witness it investing S$100 million in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that are ready to scale up to catalyse private sector funding.
In addition, the Enterprise Financing Scheme will offer better support for SMEs to access bank financing and provide enhanced support for companies incorporated for less than five years.
Collectively, these measures will indirectly lead to demand for office space among start-ups.
Commercial properties that specialise in co-working space will benefit the most as they are conducive for start-ups.
One such property is The JTC LaunchPad @ one-north.
The budget will not have any significant impact on Grade A office spaces as such market tend to be dominated by multinational companies.
#3: Lower Dependency Ratio Ceilings (DRCs) will impact the rental market
A lower DRCs in the service sectors will reduce Singapore's dependency on foreign workers from the current 40 per cent to 38 per cent from 1 Jan 2020 3 and 5 per cent from 1 Jan 2021.
In addition, the ratio of S Pass workers will be reduced from the current 15 per cent to 13 per cent from 1 Jan 2020 and 10 per cent from 1 Jan 2021.
This will have a significant impact on the HDB rental market and mass market condominiums due to the shrinking tenant pool.
As such, landlords will likely need to reduce their rent to continue attracting tenants.
Vacancy rates in the heartlands may also rise leading up to 2020 and 2021.
Thus, it will be a tenant's market.
Phase one of Cross Island Line (CRL) is finalised. Here are 5 quick facts on Singapore’s eighth MRT line
Spanning 29km with a target completion date by 2029, phase one of the CRL will run from Bright Hill to Changi with 12 stations in all
By Khalil Adis
Come 2029, you can hop onto the train via a fully underground line that will link you from Ang Mo Kio to the aviation hub of Changi.
Announced just last week by Singapore’s Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan, phase one will comprise 12 stations.
When fully completed by 2030, the entire line will span some 50km and will serve existing and future developments in the eastern, western, and north-eastern corridors.
This will link it to major hubs such as Jurong Lake District, Punggol Digital District and the Changi region.
According to the Land Transport Authority (LTA), the CRL will be Singapore’s longest fully underground line.
Here are five quick facts on phase one of the CRL.
#1: 29km of fully underground line
The CRL will run parallel to the current East West Line (EWL).
When opened, it will serve the residential and industrial areas such as Loyang, Tampines, Pasir Ris, Defu, Hougang, Serangoon North and Ang Mo Kio.
This will definitely help ease congestions along the popular line which has been in operation since 12 December 1987.
When the full CRL line commences service, the LTA envisages time savings of up to 30 to 40 minutes from Changi to Jurong.
Construction for phase one of the CRL is expected to commence in 2020 and will be completed by 2029.
#2: 12 stations
Phase one of the CRL will comprise 12 stations namely, Aviation Park, Loyang, Pasir Ris East, Pasir Ris, Tampines North, Defu, Hougang, Serangoon North, Tavistock, Ang Mo Kio, Teck Ghee and Bright Hill.
Of these, four will be interchange stations.
Bright Hill, which is on the Thomson-East Coast Line, will become an interchange station with the CRL
Meanwhile, Ang Mo Kio, Hougang and Pasir Ris will be an interchange station with the North-South Line, North East Line and the East-West Line respectively.
#3: More than 100,000 households will benefit
According to the LTA, more than 100,000 households will benefit from phase one of the CRL.
Additionally, the LTA said envisages the projected daily ridership of the entire CRL to be more than 600,000 in the initial years before increasing to over 1 million in the longer term.
#4: Open up access to more areas
The LTA said previously inaccessible areas which currently have no MRT access such as Serangoon Gardens, Serangoon North and Aviation Park in Changi will enjoy greater connectivity.
This means common recreational spaces such as Changi Beach Park, Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, Hougang Mall and Ang Mo Kio Hub will also become more accessible by public transport.
This is definitely great news for outdoor lovers and mall enthusiasts as such spaces will enjoy greater connectivity.
There’s more good news.
The LTA said the line may be extended to link up with Changi Airport.
#5: CRL will support three new economic hubs
Singapore plans to bring jobs closer to homes with various plans in place to build economic hubs away from the central business district.
Minister Khaw said that the CRL will help to support these new economic hubs that are being planned such as the Punggol Digital District, Jurong Lake District and one at the Changi region.
The CRL will help to boost property values along the 50km stretch.
The districts that will benefit greatly are those described above where the government has laid across a masterplan especially for Punggol Digital District and Jurong Lake District.
According to the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA) Punggol Digital District masterplan, the innovation district will house technology firms involved in key growth fields such as cyber-security as well as the new Singapore Institute of Technology Campus.
It will be opened progressively from 2023 and will create around 28,000 new jobs.
Meanwhile, Jurong Lake District is set to become the largest commercial and regional centre outside the city centre.
According to the URA, the district will create more than 100,000 new jobs with 20,000 homes to be built when it is set for completion after 2040.
As for Changi, the URA’s Draft Master Plan 2013 showed Changi Airport’s ambitious expansion plans with two new terminals that will be built - Terminal 4 was completed in 2017 while the new Terminal 5 will be completed by around 2025.
In addition, Project Jewel, an S$1.7 billion mixed-use development is set to open this year and will be seamlessly linked with the existing Terminal 1.
This iconic development will feature a vast indoor garden and more shopping options.
The URA envisages these three new developments to anchor Changi Airport’s air hub status for years to come and to generate thousands of new jobs for Singaporeans.
As such, homeowners residing in Jurong East, Toh Guan, Teban Gardens, Taman Jurong, Punggol and Changi areas will benefit the most from the opening of the CRL line.
An independent analysis from yours truly