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.
With the Chinese New Year approaching, what better way to soak in the festivity than exploring Kuala Lumpur’s historic Chinatown district?
By Khalil Adis
Whether you love it or hate it, Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown district has a colourful personality that attracts both Malaysians and tourists alike. While Malaysians lament about the loss of its authenticity and some have chosen to avoid it altogether, this vibrant area has its own quirks that make it oh-so-charming thanks to the many rustic shophouses. Here is a quick guide on exploring Chinatown.
#1: Plaza Rakyat LRT station
Plaza Rakyat LRT station is an elevated station along the Ampang and Sri Petaling Line. Situated next to a massive proposed mixed-use development that has since been abandoned, the whole area unfortunately reeks of urban decay. Once you exit from the station you will likely come across the occasional beggars and the rancid smell emanating from the air - not for the faint-hearted. Taking the LRT station is ideal if you intend to head to Menara Maybank or to savour the street food at Jalan Sultan as it is located within the vicinity.
#2: Pasar Seni MRT station
Pasar Seni MRT Station is an underground station that is integrated with the existing Pasar Seni LRT station serving the Kelana Jaya LRT Line. Located in the heritage area of Chinatown, Pasar Seni is located within walking distance to backpackers’ lodges, boutique hotels and the tourist trap flea marts of Petaling Street.
There are plans to also connect the station to the iconic Central Market. An added feature is a bus interchange located just above the station that will connect buses from Kuala Lumpur to Petaling Jaya.
#3: Petaling Street
Petaling Street is a must visit street if you want to buy branded knock-offs ranging from bags to watches. Ironically, while this is the heart of Chinatown, the vendors selling the wares are mostly foreigners comprising Bangladeshi workers. The imitation watches, in particular, are rather pricey and do not last long. You are better off buying the real deal while taking in the rampant piracy that occurs along this stretch.
#4: Pasar Karat
Known locally as ‘Thieves Market’, Pasar Karat is a treasure trove for antique and trinket lovers as well as the occasional luxury goods that are believed to have been stolen. From Montblanc luggage bags to second-hand electronic goods, Pasar Karat is KL’s version of the now-defunct Singapore’s Sungei Road. Pasar Karat is open in the wee hours of the morning at around 4 am and shuts down by 10 am. Be sure to come early before the goods run out.
#5: Food street at Jalan Sultan
Located within the Petaling Street enclave, the food street comes alive at night with a serving of local Malay dishes, mamaks as well as Chinese cuisines in a fuss-free alfresco setting. If the dark and dirty alley makes your stomach turn, fret not as you can opt to dine at the slightly upmarket Nando’s or KFC located nearby.
#6: Weng Hoa Flower Boutique
No 1 Lorong Hang Lekir
Off Jalan Hang Lekir
50000 Kuala Lumpur
Opening hours: 8 am to 10 pm
Forget overpriced flowers sold at upmarket malls. Instead, head here for fresh plants and roses sold at wholesale prices! There are even ready-made bouquets for you to choose from. Ladies and wedding planners will definitely find delight in the freezer room located at the back of the shop where you can choose from the many arrays of local and exported roses as well as other exotic flowers. In addition, you can buy flower petals and kaffir lime to cleanse your chakras for that montly flower bath ritual. For the freshest produce, head here when the store opens.
#7: Central Market
Lot 3.04-3.06, Central Market Annexe,
Jalan Hang Kasturi,
50050 Kuala Lumpur.
Telephone: 03-2031 0399/5399/7399
Central Market is the place to go to for slightly upmarket goods within an air-conditioned environment. Housed within an art deco facade, Central Market first started out as a wet market in 1888 but has since been repurposed as a one-stop centre for Malaysian batik, souvenirs, collectables and handicraft. From textiles to tableware, the choices are endless.
#8 Kasturi Walk
Kasturi Walk is located alongside the main Central Market building. This newly transformed, pedestrianised and covered walkway features an al fresco ambience with a wide variety of stalls selling local snacks and exquisite souvenirs.
Price: According to Brickz, the median price for office buildings and shophouses here are around RM858 per sq ft and RM1,056 per sq ft respectively.
The good: Buying a property here will mean constant human traffic from both locals and tourists alike as Chinatown is rich in popular tourism landmarks such as Central Market and Petaling Street. The quaint rows of heritage shophouses house hip boutique hotels to quirky cafes and restaurants that attract the cool, creative type. The area is also a haven to some of KL’s famous hawker food such as Shin Kee Beef Noodle near to Central Market and the birthplace of Hokkien mee, Restoran Kim Lian Hee located at the junction of Jalan Petaling and Jalan Hang Lekir. All these attractions make it suited for Airbnb type of accommodations.
The bad: If you intend to buy a property here, you are only limited to office buildings or shophouses. Land here is extremely scarce and there are no existing or future residential projects in the pipeline. As such, this area is a no go for most investors unless you are an institutional investor or have deep pockets.
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
An independent analysis from yours truly