A Look Into Iskandar Malaysia

A monumental undertaking in an area three times the size of Singapore, Iskandar Malaysia will continue to transform the southern region of Peninsular Malaysia in 2016. Here, a seasoned industry observer takes a closer look at this ambitious development.

In July 2012, TIME magazine called Iskandar Malaysia (IM) “one of the most ambitious development projects in the world.” Three years on, and that still holds true. Very few master plans in the world can rival IM in both scope and scale.

Iskandar Malaysia is a mixed development project in an area three times the size of Singapore, and in the words of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, aims at “having three million people, 1.46 million jobs, cumulative investments of RM383 billion over 20 years and a gross domestic product (CDP) of US$93.3 billion” by 2025.

It is carved out in the area of Southern Johor and encompasses five key nodes simply called:

  • Flagship A-Johor Bahru • Flagship B – Nusajaya • Flagship C-Western Gate Development • Flagship D – Eastern Cate Development • Flagship E – Senai – Skudai

In these five flagships, the particularly large number of residential dwellings under construction in Johor Bahru has been a cause of concern for many property investors and industry observers. Some are predicting that IM’s housing market will fail due to unfettered supply being constructed in places like Danga Bay and Princess Cove.

In April of 2015, Maybank lnvestment Bank’s research arm painted a grim picture, stating that property prices in Iskandar Malaysia would likely decline in the medium terms. The research arm cited over-supply as a cause for concern. Despite some of this cause for concern, development in IM has been chugging away and the investments have been coming in. So is Iskandar Malaysia in troubled waters?

Iskandar Malaysia ls Not a Property Development Project

ln my opinion, it is the less-talked about Western Cate Development, Eastern Cate Development, and Senai-Skudai that is the main engine driving IM’s growth now and in the future. It is here where the economy of Iskandar Malaysia is being molded and where sparks are being created.

In December of 2015, the Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) released some very interesting news.

It announced that between 2006 and November 2015, Iskandar Malaysia had recorded total committed investments of RM187.96 billion. 50% of this committed investment has already been realized as projects on the ground. In a span of nine years, Iskandar Malaysia has achieved about 50% of its 20-year cumulative investment target.

What is very interesting about this report is the breakdown of the investment.The sector with one of the highest cumulative committed investment is the manufacturing sector with RM52.1 billion. The manutacturing sector – together with logistics, tourism, healthcare, education, consulting services and financial advisory, the creative industry, and government spending on intrastructure and public works – account for RM76.02 billion or 40% of the total cumulative committed investment in Iskandar Malaysia.

This tells us that Iskandar Malaysia is not simply an oversized housing project. Iskandar Malaysia is an economic master plan. It is a plan to boost industry and manufacturing. It is a plan to attract toreign investment and to create jobs. This is the catalyst for IM. Most people overlook this fact.

It is a fact that the property market is shaped by the economy. A good economy equals a good property market. In Iskandar Malaysia, the economy is not only good, it is well-planned, has serious government backing (both Malaysian and Singaporean), and is sustainable in the long term.

If Iskandar Malaysia achieves its target of creating 1.46 million jobs, there will be a good supply of buyers for its housing market. Going by IM’s current progress report, it will probably achieve this target. As such, there may not be much cause for concern for IM’s housing market in the long term.

Government Backing

One of the main reasons why I believe IM will not fail is the strong government backing it has from Malaysia and Singapore. Beyond just lip-service, the governments of both countries have initiated sustained activity towards ensuring IM’s success.

The High Speed Rail that will connect Singapore to Iskandar Johor Bahru and Kuala Lumpur is one such initiative that is already well into the planning stage. The cooperation between Malaysia and Singapore on IM goes all the way to the top. Prime Ministers from both countries are actively involved.

The Malaysian government has shown strong commitment towards IM in the form of investment into infrastructure, incentives for investors and strategic plans. The IRDA reports directly to the Prime Minister who is co-chairman of IRDA.

This government backing ensures strong policy-making on a national level towards IM’s success and bolsters investor confidence, which is evident in the impressive cumulative committed investments to-date. Almost 41% of these committed investments are from foreign investors.

Another Shenzhen

Shenzhen is a major city in Guangdong, China. It is one of China’s most successful Special Economic Zones and financial centers. In its 2013 research report, CIMB Bank described IM as “Malaysia’s Shenzen.”

Iskandar Malaysia does have a lot in common with Shenzhen. In a very well-written piece in The Edge (30 June 2015) titled “Iskandar Malaysia: Why Are The Chinese Here?”, Ryan Khoo pointed out that Shenzen’s growth was driven by spill-over from Hong Kong’s economy and increased connectivity by high speed rail. The parallel he draws with IM and Singapore is very similar. Simply put, Iskandar Malaysia will enjoy economic spill over from Singapore.

Singapore’s Economic Development Board (EDB) is encouraging MNCs to look into a twinning model between Iskandar and Singapore where high value-added services operate out of Singapore while manufacturing activity take place in Malaysia. This is a synergistic model that many MNCs will find very attractive.

Ryan also highlighted how the population boom in Shenzhen, driven by job creation bolstered economic prosperity. Most people living in Shenzhen today are not natives of Shenzhen. This is forecasted to happen in IM. Job creation and relatively cheaper healthcare for Singapore’s ageing population will be a catalyst for population boom. This is evident from the fact that IM has one of the highest population growth rates now. The target population of 3 million people by 2025 can be easily achieved with current growth trends.

Ryan opines that Chinese developers like Country Garden and R&F, who come from Guangdong, see the resemblance between IM and Shenzhen. They witnessed the growth of Shenzhen and are aware of what sparked its growth. Similar conditions in IM are a major motivation for their heavy investment into the housing market here.

Overlooked Areas Of IM’s Housing Market

The mention of Iskandar Malaysia to people outside of Johor conjures images of luxury properties along the waterfront of Danga Bay. Those more in the know will think of the five flagships.

However, there is a vast tranche of land outside the five flagships but within the interior of IM that is often overlooked. These places present some of the best investment opportunities. Here, you will find small townships with strong growth drivers and huge potential. In Seri Austin for example, landed houses were sold for as low as RM350,ooo. Imagine the appreciation potential.

Many reputable developers like UM Land, SP Setia, and Eco World are changing the landscape here with well- cultivated projects that are not only appealing in design but more affordable. Areas like Bandar Dato Onn, Seri Austin, Taman Setia Indah, and Bukit Indah offer great opportunities. Commercial spaces here appear to be fully occupied. You can tell that business is good. A larger segment of the Iskandar Malaysia population would be able to afford properties in these areas.

Based on my own travels to Iskandar Malaysia and observation, there are investment gems in the interior of Iskandar Malaysia. lnvestors should be looking at these areas for low hanging fruit.

Grim or Bright Future?

There is a concern about the supply in IM’s housing market. Coastal projects alone in Danga Bay and Princess Cove will account for 52,000 to 62,000 houses coming into the supply stream in the next few years.

However, Iskandar Malaysia is backed by good economic fundamentals. It is not a property project but rather, an economic zone with well-planned catalysts that will boost the regional economy, create jobs, and spur rapid population growth. It has got strong government backing, both in Malaysia and Singapore. No less than the Prime Ministers of both countries are spearheading policy-level efforts.

In many ways, Iskandar Malaysia parallels Shenzhen.We are able project IM’s trajectory by looking at Shenzhen and as it stands, IM is well on its way towards becoming an economic success.

Current level of committed investments in Iskandar is well above the critical mass required for its success. Besides popular areas like Danga Bay, Princess Cove, and Medini, the interior of IM offers housing projects that are affordable with good investment opportunity. This is a sign of a balanced housing market and bodes will for the housing sector in IM.

Although there may be valid short-term concerns, I still am optimistic about Iskandar Malaysia in the longer term because it is a massive development plan which is built on good economic fundamentals.

Overcoming Bubble Doubts Iskandar Malaysia Real Estate

Pulling Iskandar Out of the Cold

Iskandar Malaysia was the darling of local and international investors and many pumped in large sum of investment of the years. The landscape changed rapidly in the span of less than a decade as projects after projects sprung up.

However, this special economic zone might have stumbled a little recently as it has fallen into doldrums together with the slow global economy. There are even fears of a bubble forming with investors fearing that the weak sentiments will ultimately trigger a massive slide.

Figures of Decline

Although the relevant authorities are reluctant to admit, there is no denying the fact that real estate volume and prices has taken a hit and the pace of development has indeed slowed down significantly.

According to Maybank Investment Bank, the slowdown begun in 2014 and the excess supply will worsen in 2015-2016. The Monetary Authority of Singapore also issued a warning in May that the 330,000 units of residential properties under construction have exceeded the total number of private homes in Singapore.

H1 2015 figures published by the NAPIC showed a weaken climbed of the MHPI (Malaysian Housing Price Index) to 211.1 points, up only 4.1%, the lowest gain in the past five years. Quarterly figures for Johor show a decline of 1.4%, although the yearly figures registered a gain of 5%.

Year on year transaction price saw a slight increase of 2,2% to 39.4 billion ringgit in Q1 but fell by 4.7% to 37.6 billion ringgit after the implementation of the GST.

Part of the Global Slump and More

Malaysia is not the only country faced with a decline as the global economic slowdown has significantly impacted nations all around the world. That being said, Iskandar has to deal with a host of other factors as well.

As mentioned, investment in Iskandar reached feverish pitch during the property boom and the market required a longer time to digest the influx of capital. However, the timing could not have been worse as the 1MDB financial scandal broke cover and the country started to see some political turmoil.

The issues were extremely unfavourable to the market and affected investment sentiments. Situation can be expected to improve once the market gets up to speed with the price-quantity equilibrium and there is greater clarity in the 1 MDB case and political stability.

Fundamentals Remain Strong

Iskandar continues to present a strong case for itself on the fundamental level as it continues to lead the nation in terms of population growth. Needless to say, population growth is a most telling indicator of demand for properties.

The region is also supported by well planned development regions such as the theme parks, EduCity, healthcare city, shopping districts and more. These districts are conceived to promote growth in specialized areas and would be relatively insulated from market noise as key players in the market react to long term growth instead.

The continued influx of foreign capital should ease further doubts as planned investment into Iskandar continues to flow in despite the weakening sentiments.

With the sluggish residential properties segment, investors into Iskandar can look into non-residential properties as there are still huge potential. Tourism related properties and industrial properties are two areas that are worth exploring. However, the projects would need to maintain a global high standard to ensure its long term viability as Iskandar shapes up to become a global gateway for Malaysia.

The much touted Singapore advantage remains a relevant point in Iskandar and always will. However, there is a pressing need to address the negative conception of the region by Singaporeans as well as global investors.

The perceived corruption and high crime rate as well as unexpected policy changes are just some of the issues that have gained the attention of this important pool of investors. The falling ringgit did not materialize into huge influx of investments by Singaporeans as a result of the above non-price issues.

More Infrastructure Needed

The road network in Iskandar is already very developed and should be able to service the various developments all across the region. However, non-road traffic connectivity is still far from adequate for a city aspiring to become a global cosmopolitan city. The Senai Airport and various piers around Johor still need much improvement to achieve global standard.

Hastening the development of infrastructure is one of the ways of strengthening investor confidence as proper infrastructure will directly lead to a strengthening of economic advantages.

Iskandar is a massive project with many stakeholders involved, each with their own view of how the development unfolds. It should come as little surprise that their different game plan can cause the market to react in surprising ways. That being said, a project the size of Iskandar is bound to run into hiccups, but the outlook remains positive as different stakeholders work towards ensuring the success of the region.

For Iskandar Malaysia Real Estate news and update, please visit our website .

Budget 2016 For Property Market

Budget Joy or Budget Killjoy?

We are once again at the countdown stage for the annual Budget. Being the first Budget to be tabled after the announcement of the 11th Malaysian Plan, analysts are expecting Budget 2016 to see an increased focus on project developments. This is also the first Budget after the GST was implemented and many are waiting to see how the revenue collected from the GST will be used to promote economic growth and people’s welfare.

Making this Budget all the more critical is the fact that it comes at a time where Malaysia is facing internal and external problems in the political and economic realm. The stakes are high and everyone is waiting to see what is contained within that briefcase of our Minister of Finance.

You, our readers, are no doubt concerned about what the Budget has to say about the real estate market. Affordable housing has long been one of the items that topped the list of concerns over the past years, and this issue we listen to some of the wishes of our industry insiders.

Cool Enough Already?

Market cooling measures has pretty much been the order of the day for the past few years as the government tries to put the brakes on the real estate market.

The series of cooling measures were first tabled during a time of economic buoyancy and perhaps it is time for the government to dial back a little to stimulate the housing market in this lacklustre economy.

After all, the housing market is one of the Malaysia’s economic pillars and renewing its vigour might just take some heat off our economy. It will also be a huge boost to see the government relax restrictions on the sub-sale market, including lowering of the RPGT so as to return life to the market.

Budget Recap

A quick look at the past Budget reveals how the real estate market was being squeezed over the past five years. In 2010, the government reinstated the RPGT and all properties sold within five years were subjected to 5% tax. The following year, the stamp duties was cut by 50% for first time buyers of properties no more than RM 350,000 and the My First Home initiative was introduced.

In 2012, the price ccp for My First Home was raised to RM 400,000 while the RPGT was adjusted upwards to 10%. 2013 saw the RPGT adjusted upwards yet again and refinements were made to the My First Home programs to up the salary eligibility ceiling to RM 5000.

2014 saw the taxation moved into high gear as the RPGT was adjusted higher once again and taxation targeted at foreign investors was introduced. The government also announced plans to build some 223,000 affordable housing under various schemes.

Budget 2015 did not include many changes on the property market and most of the cooling measures remained in place despite the fact that the market has already cooled down significantly.

Affordable Housing Remains Hot Topic

Many developers expect the government to continue to focus on promoting affordable housing, but hope that the government can follow up with supplementary strategies such as reducing land cost, improving infrastructure, providing incentives and lower borrowing barriers.

The government should also consider providing concessions to buy sub-sale properties as there are bargains out there but young people are often hampered by their ability to secure a mortgage.

Many developers also hope that the government can relax the restrictions on foreign buyers to recover some of the capital outflow happening in the past year so as to revitalise the housing market.

Tax Reduction the Key

There are fewer things more certain in life than death and tax, and Malaysian have had to deal with increase in taxation for the past couple of budgets. The property market in particular is full of taxes such as RPGT, stamp duty, quit rent, land tax and more.

While the government had justified the increase in taxation in the previous budgets as a means to rein in the heated market, many financial and legal experts believe that it is perhaps time for the government to scale back on the tax during this turbulent time to rebuild market confidence. Or perhaps explore the introduction of incentives to focus on the relevant markets as a starting point to boost the economy at large.

Beyond merely making it easier for people to buy their own homes, many experts are also calling for greater protection to be put in place to protect the interests of homebuyers. Amongst those include the fine-tuning of the built and sale model and introducing more transparent housing policies and pricing strategies.

For potential Malaysia property market , please visit our Iskandar Malaysia Properties .

Why Malaysian Still Struggling To Buy Property

Lower Prices but Market Remains Lukewarm

The past two months has been a time of rapid adjustment for many Malaysians as they endured a string of price increase following the implementation of the GST. News of rising cost of living and even errand traders caught in profiteering acts continue to make the news. In these times of blanket price increase, the real estate prices seem to have bucked the trend with downward adjustments.

Normally, the price adjustment should have been a good sign for many Malaysians whom had to deal with rapidly escalating prices of the past couple of years. However, few cheers can be heard as people continue to sit on the side lines despite the clear bargain.

There are many reasons for the phenomena; uncertainties in the global economy, depreciating ringgit, lack of confidence in the market, etc. But the biggest reason is simply because many everyday Malaysians simply cannot get a mortgage as loan rejection rate hit the stratosphere.

Cooling Measures Continue to Exert Influence

The current lackluster performance and high loan rejection rate can be traced back to the property cooling measures that government has put in place since 2013. The cooling measures were in response to the property boom from 2010 to 2012 where national price average rose from RM 138,711 in year 2000 to RM 231,369 in 2012.

The reason these cooling measures has been so effective is because they target different areas such as taxation, bank loan requirement, etc. These factors have a compounding effect and resulted in this market disparity we see today. We can look at the market from different angles to better understand how the market will change in the near future.

Fundamental Demand Still Persists

The first thing to understand is that the cooling measures have effectively put many short-term investors and speculators out of the picture as the market is no longer in their favour. What this has done is to filter down the current market to those looking to buy for own stay.

With real demand to prop up the market, it is unlikely that the market will experience a bubble as the lackluster performance is not due to oversupply. That being said, the risk adversity of banks has resulted in a high loan rejection rate that is putting a huge damper on the transaction, More need to be done to address the issue and potential property buyers would be better served by properly strategizing their mortgage application to increase the chances of securing a loan.

As mentioned numerous times throughout the years, while the percentage increase in property prices might dominate the headline, potential buyers must be aware that absolute prices in Malaysia is still significantly lower when compared to the regional markets.

Despite price appreciation of some 40% in the past five years, Malaysia is ranked only 99 globally in terms of property prices and trails by a wide margin other Asian cities such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo, etc. What this suggests is that there are further rooms for growth in property prices as prices in Malaysia play catch up to regional standards.

What all these seem to suggest is that the nation is facing a case of chilled property prices that are caused by external policy factors. The fact that many young Malaysians are still actively on the lookout for properties is definite sign of a strong demand, but there is no denying that the disparity between want and ability to purchase is turning out to be a significant huddle.

Value for Money Houses On the Rise It is interesting to note that the increase in construction prices has not led to similar increase in property prices and this seems to suggest that properties are getting as close to being value-for-money. This is due largely by the developers adopting different pricing strategies to cope with the market sentiments. With developers thinning their profit margins, people shopping for new launches might really be able to stretch their ringgit,

The market will be expected to continue to adopt a wait-and-see attitude to the end of the year as the market settles and changes in the regional economy becomes clearer, Perhaps it is time for the government and banks to relax their grip a little so as to inject life into the market. For more Iskandar Johor Bahru Properties , please visit our website.

Mining The Gold For Iskandar Subsale Market

Attractive Subsale Market Outlook

2014 has been a lacklustre year for the Malaysian real estate market due to the property cooling measures that was carried over from the previous year. The New Year has seen little changes and 2015 has turned out to be plagued by bad news since the start of the year.

Whether it is the falling crude oil price, the poor performance on Bursa, the weakening ringgit or the downward revision of the economic growth forecast, the market just cannot seem to catch a break. The biggest question on the minds of home buyers and investors is whether the property prices will follow the downward adjustment.

The short answer by many experts is; while there is a slowdown in price appreciation, there is no sign of falling prices in the market. After all, the GST has just kicked in and the ever-increasing construction cost underlines the fact that prices are unlikely to decline.

Falling Prices Unlikely

There is almost no escaping a short-term inflation with the implementation of the GST, and Bank Negara is expecting the consumer price index to increase by 2% to 3%.

With depreciating ringgit and rising price index, properties naturally become one of the most direct means of wealth preservation.

However, the market is driven by sentiments and the fear of potential slowdown in economic growth has caused many potential buyers to sit of the side-line while waiting for prices to dip before entering the market.

The biggest problem with waiting for price to fall is that it is unlikely to happen as the series of cooling measures since 2013 have effectively brought the prices close to their real value. In addition, most developers have chosen to slow down the pace of new launches and this will further reduce excess supply in light of the prevailing market sentiment.

Resilient Prices with Pockets of Opportunities

REHDA President Datuk Seri Fateh Iskandar believes that the reduction in supply will further exacerbate the imbalance between demand and supply. The shortage in supply will likely push price higher. Under the GST, new launches can be expected to cost some 6.2% higher and this will further weaken purchasing powers.

On the other hand, there might be some downward adjustments in certain property types on the subsale market and therefore one might be able to pick up some quality properties at a slightly lower price.

Industry experts stress that distinctions have to be made between the slowdown in the real estate transaction and price increase against falling prices. After all, what the market is experiencing is a fall in price appreciation instead of a fall in actual prices.

What we are seeing is a mismatched of supply rather than an oversupply as some quarters are worried about. The fact remains that Malaysia’s young demographics mean that there is still a large pool of potential home buyers, and the apparent supply issue we are observing now is simply a case of a market with large number of high-end properties where the appetite lies with affordable housing.

Rental Yield Underperforming

It is also interesting to note that while prices of properties in the Iskandar Johor Bahru have remained very resilient, there is intense competition on the rental market and rental of high-rise residential properties have remained stagnant for years now.

In fact, the average rental yield has fallen to 3.5%, which is about the same for fixed deposits. The — issues will further intensify in 2015 as many of the newly completed properties enter the market.

Rental return is an important consideration when purchasing a property as it can be used to offset some of the monthly repayment. However, the low rental yield meant that the holding power is truly tested and becomes the difference between waiting out the stagnant period and cashing out early.

Financing Issues Require Relook at Strategy

The tightening lending requirements over the past few years have also contributed to the slowdown in the market. Except for a very small number of buyers, most home buyers need to take a mortgage and the high rejection rate is causing some of the poor figures we are seeing.

Properties above the RM 500,000 threshold will most likely suffer from downward pressure while those under RM 500,000 are expected to push strong as the demand for properties in this price segment is very high.

Experts are advising home buyers, particularly the younger buyers, to consider buying an affordable housing that they can comfortably manage even if the location is slightly further away from their ideal location, and only upgrade when they have the means. It is important to lock in on a value generating asset rather than forcibly buy their “dream property” that they can ill afford now.

Secondary Market a Good Hunting Ground

The GST also makes sub-sale properties an attractive option as the authorities have made the distinction between those who sell 3 or more units of properties within a period of 12 months and those who sell less than 2 units or less.

The former would be required to register for GST while the latter will not need to levy GST on the buyer. This means that there is potential saving for buyers of subsale properties if one takes time to shop.

As in any market, there will definitely be properties that are priced below the market price and diligent investors who know where to look can definitely pick up a bargain. However, one needs to keep the fundamentals in sight and not be lured by properties that are selling at too attractive prices. Ultimately, location remains a key determinant of the capital appreciation of a property.

Sustained Winter In Singapore

Forbes published an article in July last year listing the top 10 countries that China investors favours when investing overseas and three ASEAN countries managed to make the list. Malaysia made the list for the first time coming at 10, Thailand advanced two level to 6 while Singapore fell two position to 7.

The ranking is an indication of investor preferences and how they react to changing factors. Singapore’s fall in ranking can be attributed largely to the series of cooling measures put in place by the Singapore government.

The cooling measures have seen huge success and a report published last year by the Global Property Guide listed Singapore at number 10 amongst key Asia-Pacific countries in terms of properly price appreciation, a far cry from its leadership position in the past. Transaction volume also fell to a new 4-year low in 2013, decreasing by some 33% to 15,301 units.

The downward slide did not slowdown during 2014 and the lacklustre performance in Singapore continues to damper investors’ interest.

As of Q3 2014, the prices of private homes in Singapore saw a 3% slide and experts believe that the decline will continue this year, falling some 10% to 15%. Premium properties in prime areas such as Orchard Road might fall between 10% and 20% while luxury properties in Sentosa Cove can fall as much as 40%.

The government’s cooling measures are not the only contributing factors, the tightening of immigration and foreign worker policies have also contributed to a fall in demand for housing.

Despite the weakening market, the government has not pulled back supply and will be adding a further 180,000 houses in the next four years. The large supply lined up and cooling measures have led to fears of oversupply and a depressed rental market.

The government has currently given no hints of lifting its cooling measures and thus the market is expected to continue on its current trajectory,

On the other hand, demand for commercial properties remains robust and rental in the CDB area has climbed as much as 15%, making it the biggest gainer in Asia-Pacific.

For those interested in Iskandar Johor Bahru Property , please visit our website.

Johor Bahru Property Market

Highlights

  • With the continuous growth in local and foreign investment, Iskandar Malaysia is on track to achieve its target, notwithstanding the general slowdown in the upcoming residential development projects and their take-up rates over the past one year.
  • The ‘Singapore’ factor remains a strong supportive pillar to the overall structure of the region’s economy and property development.
  • The property market of Johor Bahru  keeps a meticulously optimistic outlook because the country helps itself for the issue of GST execution.

Market Highlights

Iskandar Malaysia continues to attract investments, both local and foreign. As of October 2014, the cumulative committed investment to the region stands at RM156.35 billion. In terms of foreign investment which accounts for approximately 37% of the total investments, Singapore topped the list with about RM12 billion, followed by the US, Spain, Japan and China. To- date, RM77.17 billion or about 49% of the total investments have been realised.

Residential

There were several launches in the second half of 2014, comprising mainly high-rise residential developments. Some of the notable developments are as follows:

G Residences, on a 2.72-acre freehold site by GSB Group, consists of two 25-storey towers with 240 units of serviced apartments each. The project which has a GDV of RM233 million is situated in Plentong. The size of the property from 653  – 1,552 sq ft, the price is from RM327.000 onwards.

The effects of the cooling measures implemented earlier this year are being felt in the residential property sector with some developers shying away from or putting on hold their proposals to develop, especially the high-rise stratified units, due to anticipated slower take-up. However, certain developments in good locations, particularly those with sea views or facing the waterfront are still going ahead with their launches.

Johor Bahru Property Outlook

During the review period, absorption rate had been clearly more slowly, mainly in the primary market influenced by the cooling measures effective January this year. Although the residential sector continues to be the leading sub-sector in terms of transaction volume, launches of other property types such as office suites and industrial products by reputable developers have received good response with encouraging sales rates.

Despite the negative sentiments reported in both the local and Singapore media, the desire of Singaporeans to acquire homes in Iskandar Malaysia remains strong. The country is also in need to expand its manufacturing and productive sectors and Iskandar Malaysia appears to be the right choice due to its proximity, lower cost and business friendly environment. The impending construction of the HSR and the RTS will further enhance and improve connectivity between the two neighbours and this augurs well for the future growth of Iskandar Malaysia.

Going forward, the outlook for the the property market of Johor Bahru stays very carefully optimistic. The effect from the latest GST to be carried out in 1H2015 and the increase in toll rates on both sides of the causeway are being felt on all fronts of businesses.

Bandar Dato Onn Johor Bahru

 Within the sprawling 1,514-acre integrated development of Bandar Dato’ Onn is the B’Onn Hill Villas – Exclusive Bungalows. Bearing a gross development value of RM100 million, these luxurious spaces are carefully curated to reflect Johor Land’s commitment to creating signature spaces to live in. Launched in October 2014, the development is gunning for an October 2016 completion.

The freehold development comprises built-up sizes that range from 3,882 sq ft to 4,498 sq feet. Placed on 60’ x 110′ and 80′ x 110′ lots, this low-density development consists of a mere 32 units. Exuding a sense of exclusivity and privacy, each bungalow home offers a sense of tranquillity that can only be found in Johor. The four designs available are:

QASEH 1: Dubbed an urban resort mansion, its eye-catching faAade and contemporary concepts feel as homey as they are fabulous. Perfect for entertaining guests, each unit comes with wide open spaces suitable for hosting that lead into little enclaves for residents to enjoy a little peace and quiet.

QASEH 2: These tropical resort mansions offer residents the opportunity to go back to nature, exhibiting a more minimalistic design with clean lines and open spaces. The high ceilings are complemented by big windows that afford the homes great amounts of both natural light and cross ventilation. Heat- deflecting and anti-glare tempered glass shield residents from the harshness of the sunlight and the reality outside.

SERRA 1: Designed to be a piece of art that has come to life, these classic resort mansions maximise space and boast a sense of practicality that is perfect for the modern- day dweller. Its unique position as the last cluster of the development provides this group of homes with a spill-over area that has been transformed into a serene and glorious garden space.

SERRA 2: Bringing the outdoors in, Serra 2 is a modern resort mansion that marries all the qualities of its brethren to create a living space that is as close to perfection as possible. Cross ventilation, abundant natural light and high ceilings are all combined into one abode, exuding a sense of prestige that is not to be found anywhere else.

A WELL-MAPPED NETWORK

Located only 12km from the Johor Bahru City Centre, B’Onn Hill Villas’ prime location provides it with great connectivity. Sitting comfortably alongside the North- South Highway, the development is easily accessible from both the eastern and western trunk routes.

ABUNDANT AMENITIES AND FACILITIES

In addition to being Green Building Index (GBI) certified, the B’Onn Hill Villas in Bandar Dato’ Onn are also eco- friendly. For the sake of providing total peace of mind to its residents, it is well-equipped with 24-hour patrol services and a multi-tiered security system.

Thanks on its strategic location, the development has a slew of amenities located only a stone’s throw away. Among the various amenities within close proximity of it are a police station, international school, specialist hospital and the esteemed KFCH International College.

ACT NOW!

The developer is offering free legal fees, stamp duties, and disbursement costs on the Sales and Purchase Agreement (SPA). Eligible buyers will also be entitled to a 15% Bumiputera discount. For more information, please call 07- 3602692 or visit www.jland.com.my.

ABOUT THE DEVELOPER

Johor Land Berhad is an integrated property development group with a diversified range of activities covering property development, investment, construction, management and the manufacturing of natural rubber latex concentrates. JLand has carved an enviable reputation for itself as being among Malaysia’s leading, reputable property developer. For more information , please visit our Iskandar Property Website for latest update .

Sunway Iskandar

Sunway’s largest integrated city, Sunway Iskandar, is poised to be a thriving township under the hands of the master community developer.

Sprawling over 1,800 acres of land across Medini and Nusajaya and just minutes away from the Tuas Second Link to Singapore, Legoland and Pinewood Studios, Sunway Iskandar has been making waves since its successful launch of its first phase Citrine At The Lakeview in July last year. The first phase of its Citrine Designer Offices experienced a 100% take-up rate with 90% of the buyers being local and half of those buyers comprising owner-occupiers.

Combined with the upcoming Sunway International School (SIS) Sunway Iskandar, there will be a receptive pool of residential tenants consisting of office workers, families, students and teachers for its Citrine Residences which is targeted to complete by May 2017.

Comprising 328 serviced apartments ranging from 626 sq ft to 1,528 sq ft with prices from KM588psf, Citrine Residences offers a 129-year lease and offers 1, 2, 3 bedrooms and a dual key concept.

Sunway Iskandar has an estimated GDV of RM30.0 billion and will dedicate 40% of its land area to nature and water resulting in enchanting green spaces amidst city living. The remaining land space will consist of 60% residential and 40% dedicated commercial components. Inspired by the booming triumph of Sunway Resort City, Sunway Iskandar will have six distinct precincts, namely, The Capital, The Parkview, The Lakeview, The Riverside, The Seafront, and The Marketplace.

These precincts will be filled with modern comforts and conveniences including a high-speed broadband

connection surrounded by verdant green expanse. Premium lots will front the Straits of Johor and gorgeous lake views. Best of all, the nature-inspired low density development will have a plot ratio 1 and be securely guarded by 800 security personnel, 350 of whom are auxiliary police.

World Class Education

Sunway, having just celebrated its 40th anniversary, has remained true to its tried and tested strategy of building integrated developments surrounding one or two key attractions.

Sunway Iskandar is thoughtfully planned with synergistic key components in mind, such as education, hospitality, theme park, retail shops, residential, commercial and healthcare to cater for the township’s target population of 120,000 within 20 years.

It provides exciting possibilities to owner-occupiers and investors alike. One of the pull-factors is second SIS Sunway Iskandar, the only international school in Malaysia running a Canadian (Ontario) syllabus fully taught in English by Canadian and International Baccalaureate-certified educators.

The first intake for the school has the capacity for 600 students spread across pre-school, primary and secondary classes (Grade 10). Grades 11 and 12 students can continue with The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) that is available at SIS Bandar Sunway.

The Canadian curricula are globally recognised for university admissions and produces critical and independent thinkers through practical and hands- on learning. According to Tan Wee Bee, Sunway’s Executive Director for Property & Construction, Southern Region and Singapore, SIS is strategic in shaping the holistic lifestyle of the community by offering access to world class education.

A special bursary of RM 10,000 is offered to all qualified children of Sunway Iskandar buyers who enrol and is valid for 24 months from the date of the school’s opening. Projected to cost RM40 million and expected to open in 2017, SIS Sunway Iskandar will be adjacent to Citrine at The Lakeview and consists of 5 school blocks including a hostel unit for students.

Close by is the renowned Marlborough College Malaysia and EduCity@Iskandar which houses 10 top global institutes of higher education such as Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia, University of Southampton and University of Reading.

Buyers As Co-investors

In line with Sunway’s ‘Build, Own and Manage’ business model, the developer’s involvement does not stop after vacant possession is handed over to the buyers. Buyers are co-investors and partners as they stand to gain together with Sunway who will maintain and retain various components of each development, making everything work and appreciate in value. For instance, Sunway’s retail management team will maintain and lease out the retail component of Citrine.

One of the key highlights is the development of the “missing link” which will connect the existing Coastal Highway to the Second Link expressvyay. The Coastal Highway Southern Link will shave off 10km of travelling distance from Medini to the Second Link and effectively position Sunway Iskandar as the closest township to Singapore at a mere 5 minutes away. The 5.2km highway stretch is scheduled to complete in 2017 at the cost of RM169.3 million.

Announcements of future enticing attractions including an international theme park in the vicinity is expected sometime this year. Having recently won the Best Township of the Year Award 2014 by iProperty.com People’s Choice Award, Sunway Iskandar is well on its way to being an attractive place for people to live, study, work and play.

Top Property Investment Hotspots In Malaysia

Often we regard Greater Kuala Lumpur as the property area where most people would invest in or even work and stay in, but there are other the top hotspots throughout Malaysia for investors to venture in.

First, let’s see what is in store for us in Lembah Klang:

1. KAJANG/SEMENYIH

The southern Klang Valley is getting quite popular nowadays, especially the Kajang/Semenyih area due to the MRT Line currently in construction, which helps in terms accessibility towards Kajang, according to Herbert Leong. To date, media reports indicate that more than 40% of the MRT construction has been completed.

Kajang/Semenyih connectivity is also enhanced by highways such as Kajang Dispersal Link Expressway (SILK), Kajang-Seremban Highway (LEKAS) and Sungai Besi Expressway (SBE).

Another reason behind Kajang being popular is its availability of landed houses, the most sought after type of residential properties. Kajang is also boosted by its short distance to Cyberjaya.

 “Because of the close proximity, people are going into the south since the house price is still lower. It goes without saying that when the price around Cyberjaya increases, people choose to live nearby, if not inside,” Stanley Toh adds.

2. CYBERJAYA

Cyberjaya basically have the infrastructure ready. It has good connectivity and is nearby a major town,” Toh explains. It is connected to Putrajaya and Shah Alam by major highways such as Damansara- Puchong Expressway (DPE) and South Klang Valley Expressway (SKVE). “Also, MRT 2 Line will have its station in Cyberjaya,” he adds. As for completed station, Cyberjaya and Putrajaya shares an Express Rail Link (ERL) provided by KLIA Express. Another factor that attracts investors is the completion of retail outlets in Cyberjaya such as Shaftbury Square. Currently also under construction is the 101 City Mall. Toh believes that with the completion of 101 City Mall and its opening in 2015, although not directly located in Cyberjaya, will help attract even more population into the area. Cyberjaya is also nearby Puchong, so whoever is late to enter the market in Puchong will eventually venture to Cyberjaya as a place to live.

3. Sungai Buloh

Again, MRT Line takes its place in booming the growth of an area. With its construction of MRT Sungai Buloh-Kajang Line, Sungai Buloh has made it into the list of top hotspots. Also, its connectivity with Kota Damansara plays an important role, for Kota Damansara is where commercial retails such as Giant, Carrefour, Sunway Giza are located, along with international school such as Sri KDU International School, and for medical needs, the Tropicana Medical Centre.

Sungai Buloh is also within close proximity to Subang Airport. Jalan Sungai Buloh is a busy road with vehicles constantly cruising through between the Subang Airport and Guthrie Corridor to Sungai Buloh town and the North-South highway.

4. Shah Alam

In Shah Alam, highway plays an important role of its development, specifically Damansara-Shah Alam Elevated Expressway (DASH).

“DASH will improve congestion and enhance connectivity which will support developments in the vicinity,” Toh explains. The expressway will exist as an alternative route for Persiaran Surian at Kota Damansara which has capped its road capacity. It will become an alternative and easier route to the airport when Subang Airport becomes the main low cost carrier terminal in 2015.

 Also not to forget that RRIM’s development in the area is expected to increase population by 300,000, this will cause congestions to the existing routes and DASH is going to be one of the solution.

5. TANJUNG BUNGAH/BATU FERRINGHI

Let’s go up and visit the land of Penang. Explaining for the north sector is the Knight Frank Malaysia’s Resident Director of Penang Branch Tay Tam. Who provides us with another four hotspots to look at.

Tam’s explanation about the Tanjung Bungah/ Batu Ferringhi is simple: “It is traditionally a much sought after area,” he says. The reason why people like the area is due to the coastline view of Tanjung Tokong-Tanjung Bungah-Batu Ferringhi coastal line.

Toh adds that this area is seen more as a retirement spot or holiday homes. The price is quite high for the area that is about half an hour drive from the city, for RM1,000-plus per sqft.

“People living in Penang are quite different from people living in KL. For us, we can absorb the idea of driving for 30 minutes to get to work but for them, it’s a long drive already. So local market will not be going into Tanjung Bungah much since they don’t prefer that,” he mentions.

6. GEORGETOWN

George Town is in itself a unique blend of the old and the new that is acclaimed by ECA International as the most liveable city in Asia, on par with Kuala Lumpur. In addition, the city, which has received World Heritage status from UNESCO, is praised of being one of the ‘10 Islands to Explore Before You Die’ by Yahoo! Travel.

For Tam, Georgetown is a popular area for investors interested in hotels and conservation properties. Also, after the inscription of the George Town UNESCO World Heritage Site, heritage enthusiasts and foreigners are snapping up properties within the heritage zone, particularly within the buffer zone, where the laws on renovating properties is not as strict as within the core zone. With such accolades, George Town, the capital of Penang has put the state on the world map.

7. Batu Kawan

Batu Kawan is an area which is only starting to boom, mainly because of Penang Second Bridge. The area was not brought up before and is quite a remote area since it is like an island of its own, separated by a river. Now that the connectivity to the island is improved, Batu Kawan has started to attract the attention of developers and investors altogether.

The sentiment is echoed by Toh. He also adds that not only Batu Kawan, the surrounding area will also see boom happening as when the land gets scarce, investors and developers will start to go into nearby area. “Penang Second Bridge really helps in boosting the accessibility and visibility of Batu Kawan. It was just a remote area before, but since the bridge is launched, the area started to boom. That goes to show how important accessibility is as to play the role of making an area into a hotspot,” he adds. Toh also says that serious property players are coming in hard; for instance, a project by Ikano will bring the only other IKEA Malaysia besides the one currently in Damansara.

8. BAYAN LEPAS/RELAU/SG. ARA/BATU NIAUNG

“These areas are popular with those working in multi-national companies in the Free Trade Zone bolstered by the close proximity to the second bridge,” Toh says. Penang Second Bridge helps much in boosting the connectivity from the mainland to island to Batu Kawan and these areas.

“These are the areas that got the spillover effect from Batu Kawan,” Toh explains. Ever since Penang Second Bridge was opened, what once took about one hour to reach to the bridge is now reduced to only about 15 minutes of travel. Much like Batu Kawan, these areas are the areas where their accessibility is improved drastically, making it into a sought after area.

9. MEDINI@ISKANDAR, JOHOR

Medini@lskandar being part of ‘Flagship B: Nusajaya’ is a well-planned integrated township development spanning 2,230 acres, occupying slightly less than 10% of Nusajaya’s total land area. “It offers special incentives to approved developers, approved development managers, IDR- status companies, investors and foreign knowledge workers, which include tax exemptions up to year 2020, flexibility on employment and administration of foreign workers and exemption of EPU property acquisition guideline,” explains Ricky Lee.

Positioned as the Central Business District (CBD) of Nusajaya, the outstanding development in Medini is dominated by numerous key players/developers from both the local and international scene. These include WCT Group, Mah Sing, Sunway, Zhuoyuan, Distincti, MCT Group, BCB, Metrolink, IOI Medini, UMLand, Link Group, Sunsuria Group, Kimlun Corp Bhd, Singapore’s Tang Group and more recently, the presence of China developers. “But, since the presence of Chinese developers who develop in bulks with thousands of units offered, the developers are now in safe zone where they are a bit cautious as to develop in Iskandar,” Toh adds.

The proposed construction of Coastal highway southern link, connecting Medini to second link expressway, is expected to benefit properties within the locality in terms of capital value and marketability, while at the same time sending a strong message to investors on the Malaysian government’s determination to transform Iskandar Malaysia into a liveable city and a thriving investment destination. “The high speed rail will be a major game changer for Iskandar. I hope to see this rail be used for people who lived far from KL, but will still work in KL in the future,” says Stanley Toh. For Iskandar Property Inquiry , you can check our website for latest Iskandar Johor Bahru project and news .

10. KOTA KINABALU, SABAH

Last but not least, we go across the sea into Sabah and Sarawak where Ginn Lai and Alexander Lee share with us what is in store for Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

“The fundamentals boosting development in the Sabah property market haven’t been stronger,¡± Lai explains. During the last couple of years, Sabah even more so its capital Kota Kinabalu has knowledgeable fast change throughout several major economic areas. Tourism in Sabah has enjoyed double digit growth rates and means the very best visitors spend worldwide. Raw palm oil manufacturing continues to be largest in Malaysia, while aquaculture and agriculture  industries always strengthen the state’s GDP. In the oil and gas sector, Sabah represents the highest crude oil reserves in Malaysia and with new deepwater discoveries, will increase the country’s reserves of crude oil and natural gas.

Performances across these industries have been a catalyst for urban and rural property development, both for domestic demand and the increasing number of expatriate relocations to Sabah. “What was once a destination only loved by locals and eco-tourists, Sabah today is well on its way to becoming Jesselton Quay, an international hotspot for travellers and savvy investors, blessed with an equatorial climate of year long summer days, amazing sunsets and virgin beaches, the world’s oldest rainforests and cool mountain ranges. It’s hard for Sabah not to be on the radar of neighbouring Asian cities, most of which are within a five hour direct flight of the state’s gateway Kota Kinabalu,” says Lai.

Starting from a lower capital value base, availability of financing, low interest rate environment, and a transparent legal and title system, Sabah is quickly gaining regional interest from major real estate developers and investors. As the rest of developed Asia struggles with heated property markets, Sabah is at tipping point with a confluence of Borneo’s unique offerings and strong property drivers.

Lee, who is handles the territory of Sabah for LaurelCap, explains that Kota Kinabalu is like a smaller KL. Residents brought in their experience of city living from KL into Kota Kinabalu and they are now trying to emulate the city living style of KL, which is why we see more of strata development. “The population is increasing due to the development and people from small towns choose to migrate into Kota Kinabalu,” he concludes.