City & Country: Emerald Bay unfazed by property glut concerns

Artist’s impression of Emerald Bay with its manmade waterways.

FOR the well-heeled and those who own yachts and luxury speedboats, a home in the only waterfront development in Iskandar Malaysia might be worth checking out. Bandar Raya Development Bhd’s (BRDB) Emerald Bay, with its manmade waterways, could be just the location for seafaring homeowners.

“Emerald Bay is in Puteri Harbour, Iskandar Malaysia, on 111 freehold acres near the marina,” says chief marketing officer K C Chong. “Almost all the landed houses have water frontage and their own private berths. We are the only private water site development in Malaysia with direct access to the sea.”

Emerald Bay has a gross development value (GDV) of RM3.7 billion. In December 2013, it held a Phase 1 pre-launch of 82 units that has achieved a 75% take-up rate to date. Phase 1 has a GDV of RM370 million.

While the project has got off to a good start, the immediate concern is of a property glut in the Johor market. Chong believes it is a minor issue, considering “the supply has not yet materialised”.

“There have been a lot of launches and when people see that, they say there will be a glut,” he says.  In fact, he says, “A lot of demand is being created in the Iskandar region.  From our own involvement in Emerald Bay you see the quality of people and the quality of interest. For example, we have expatriates from Singapore looking to buy landed properties as well as our apartments because they have children going to schools in Iskandar, such as Marlborough College Malaysia.

“In Singapore, the private schools are full, in fact, Singapore expatriates love it when we do private schools in Iskandar, which means they can work in Singapore but have their children in Iskandar. And buyers in KL are buying into Emerald Bay because they have children in college here.

“There is also demand from hospitals coming up in Iskandar, such as Colombia, Gleneagles and Raffles Medical Centre. And the Singapore government allows its  citizens to use their CPF funds to buy a house. So there is a lot of demand.”

A joint-venture project with UEM Land, Emerald Bay is situated in Puteri Harbour Iskandar Malaysia and is near the Puteri Harbour marina. It is not far from Singapore and the Johor Custom, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) centre, so boats from aboard can come through without too much hassle, Chong notes. Once completed, this fully stratified and guarded community will feature 1,500 homes, comprising terraced courtyard houses, semi-detached houses, villas and mid-rise condominiums.

“The word we use throughout the whole master planning and the design of the houses is ‘chill’,” says Chong. “We want our homes to be a place where you can chill out, so what you see is a tropical resort design taking advantage of the water.”

The 3-storey courtyard homes (built-up: 3,262 sq ft) are priced from RM2.5 million to RM3.5 million, and the 4-storey courtyard homes (built-up: 4,321 sq ft) from RM3.5 million to RM5.2million. The semidees are priced from RM3.5 million to RM5 million (built-up: 4,285 sq ft) and the villas (built-up: 5,387 sq ft) from RM6.5 million to RM8 million. The condos have not been priced at the moment. There is also a residents only clubhouse for gatherings and other occasions.

Landscaping has been carefully planned to include sandy beaches where families can experience that beachside feel, in addition to greenery around the development.

A harbour master is located near the entrance to the development to allow boats in and out of Emerald Bay. There is also an inlet and outlet valve so that water can flow freely into and out of the project to allay fears of stagnant water.  For those concerned about the corrosiveness of sea water, Chong says all materials used in building the homes are marine grade.

The launch of Phase 2 of Emerald Bay is slated for 3Q2014.

The landscape has been designed to include sandy beaches. Chong: A lot of demand is being created in the Iskandar region.





Market outlook

The property market in Iskandar Malaysia is expected to soften in the coming months. However, Chong believes it is in a state of correction and will eventually find its equilibrium.

“Johor over the last couple of years has been doing a bit of catching up,” he says. “It was a bit quieter than our major cities. The focus is now on Johor and Iskandar, and things will find their own equilibrium eventually.

“I think we have a market that is a bit more selective. Obviously not everybody is out of pocket. When people can buy, they should because land prices are going up. If you buy, you have to be selective and do your homework. Buy something you like and want. The days of speculative buying have been tempered quite a bit.”

Says KGV International Property Consultants’ executive director Samuel Tan, “Iskandar Malaysia continues to do well, attracting both local and foreign investments.

“There is also evidence of job creation as seen in the opening of the Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios. In its first production, there was huge demand for downstream local skills.

“The government announced the creation of another three nodes like Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios for the creative industry, Danga Bay for hospitality and Vantage Bay for healthcare. With these, it is hoped more investors will be attracted to Iskandar Malaysia.

“Indeed, the last two quarters saw the entry of mammoth property players from China, such as Guangzhou R&F Properties, Greenland Group and Hao Yuan Investment Pte Ltd.”

Tan also explains Emerald Bay is located in Puteri Harbour in Nusajaya, which was a greenfield area where infrastructure was built prior to the 2008/09 financial crisis, which basically makes it ready for development, he says.

Puteri Harbour comprises several key components, some under construction and others that have been completed. Those under construction are mainly high-end serviced apartments, including Teega by UEM Sunrise, Pinetree Residences by Tiong Nam Properties, Somerset Puteri Harbour by UM Land, and Puteri Cove Residences by Pacific Star Group, Tan says.

Attractions there include Traders Hotel, Hello Kitty Indoor Theme Park, Puteri Harbour Clubhouse, the private and public marina and newly completed CIQ building. A short distance from Puteri Harbour is the distinctive Kota Iskandar , which is Johor’s new administrative centre.

With these components, Tan believes that Emerald Bay is in good position to do well.

“Since it is a niche development and with not many houses launched at any one time, the developer is expecting a good take-up.  The present property market is not expected to have any adverse effects on Emerald Bay,” he says.

While concerns about a property glut in Johor may worry some, projects such as Emerald Bay, located within key locations in Iskandar Malaysia, look  to hold steady in a cautious market.

This article first appeared in The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on May 19 - 25, 2014.


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