City & Country: Investment Forum on Real Estate 2014 Round Up: Infrastructure and GST to influence market

THE eighth edition of The Edge Investment Forum on Real Estate that was held at The Royale Chulan Damansara in Mutiara Damansara on April 19 drew an enthusiastic crowd of more than 650. Registrants were already making their way to the hotel’s ballroom as early as 8am, an hour before the forum was to start. Free for readers of The Edge Malaysia, the event with the theme “Buy, Sell or Hold?” brought together six property industry experts to share their views on the market.

A takeaway from the speakers and the panellists at the forum was that property prices will not fall but continue to rise because demand outstrips supply.

Others included the fact that the property hot spots in Peninsular Malaysia will be determined by infrastructure projects, such as new highways and the recently approved MRT Line 2, and that there are still investment opportunities in London if you look towards areas along the city’s biggest infrastructure project, Crossrail. From the panel discussion, all the experts concurred that house prices will increase and managing them could come down to innovation and good design.

According to Zerin Properties CEO Previndran Singhe, whose topic was “Are property prices falling? What to expect in 2014”, property prices in Malaysia will not decline, but continue to rise.

In his talk, he said property prices are not falling this year. In fact, they are expected to increase moderately with less supply coming into the market.

Moreover, there were fewer loan applications due to banks taking a more cautious stance and developers scaling back their launches.

Previndran advised the audience to buy, sell and hold, if one could do all three.

“Buy where there is good value and infrastructure coming up. Sell if your investment goals are met, such as where your capital appreciation is enough so you can put your capital into something bigger and better. Hold if you have a landed property that is freehold and in a good location,” he said.

Those looking for property hot spots were encouraged by Ho Chin Soon Research Sdn Bhd director Ho Chin Soon to “follow the infrastructure” in his presentation, entitled “Are there any more hot spots — where to put your money?”

Ho, who never fails to entertain his audience with his insightful talk, spoke about where the possible hot spots will be, thanks to new infrastructure projects.

“For Penang, in the years to come, you should look carefully at Batu Kawan and Gurney Drive as there will be possible reclamation projects.” He added that a new highway will be built to complement Gurney Drive while the Royal Malaysian Air Force base land in Butterworth is receiving much attention due to the proposed undersea tunnel project.

“In Iskandar Malaysia, they have announced the high-speed rail (HSR) and the rapid transit system (RTS) while in Greater Kuala Lumpur, the centre of gravity is headed south, driven by the recently approved mass rapid transit (MRT) Line 2, among other new infrastructure works,” said Ho.

According to him, the proposed HSR, which will run from Bandar Malaysia to Gerbang Nusajaya, Iskandar Malaysia, will open up areas along the route. As for the RTS, Stulang Laut is a potential site for a station, but this is dependent on where the Singapore government plans to build the stations.

Those looking to park their money abroad would have found Knight Frank Asia Pacific head of research Nicholas Holt’s talk of particular interest. In his talk, “Investing in London — is it too late?” he told the audience that prime central London continues to be the main focus in the UK. He also urged investors to look at areas along the Crossrail infrastructure project in central London.

Holt, who is based in Singapore, highlighted that it is still not too late to buy London properties even with the general election and capital gains tax for non-residents coming next year. He was invited to speak on this topic because there has been much interest in the London property market in Malaysia of late. This has also been spurred on by the Battersea Power Station regeneration project by a consortium of S P Setia, Sime Darby and Employees Provident Fund, which has garnered plenty of coverage in Malaysia.

The panel discussion that followed after tea saw Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association president Datuk Seri Michael Yam, Master Builders Association Malaysia (MBAM) immediate past president Kwan Foh-Kwai and Sunway Bhd’s property development division joint managing director Ong Pang Yen discuss the topic “Homes to cost less — is it possible?” Home prices, they agreed, will not fall but increase by at least 5% due to construction costs and limited supply coming into the market in the future. The discussion was moderated by The Edge Communications Sdn Bhd managing director Au Foong Yee.

Those who missed out on the Q&A sessions sent in their questions via email after the forum. Turn to page 28 to read the responses from the speakers.  

This article first appeared in The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on April 28 - May 4, 2014.


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