City&Country: Affordable homes in Seremban good for GUH

Gerald and Cindy moved from Petaling Jaya, Selangor, to Seremban in Negeri Sembilan about six months ago as they decided that their two young children would have a better quality of life in a smaller town, as well as to better manage their escalating expenses.

“For a much bigger house in Seremban, the rent is only RM500. The children seem happy with the space, finally being able to use their bicycles instead of keeping them in storage. My husband travels to Kuala Lumpur for work but it takes an hour, the same amount of time he spent in traffic jams in the city before,” says Cindy.

Affordable landed homes usually mean having to stay further from the city, and Seremban it seems is one choice. A property agent in Seremban, Sky Su of Oriental Realty, says rents and property values here have risen over the last few years, more so after Jusco Shopping Centre in Seremban 2 was completed about four years ago.

“We see more buyers from the Klang Valley buying properties in Seremban lately. Here, they can buy a landed property, for example one that is 24ft by 70ft, for about RM350,000. It’s so much more affordable than properties in the Klang Valley,” he tells City & Country.

Su says the current commercial growth areas are within Seremban 2, citing places such as Biz Avenue and the recently completed Uptown Avenue, both just minutes away from Jusco, as well as Senawang Taipan in Senawang.

Residential homes there have seen a rise in value as well. “Taman City Homes in Seremban 2, which were launched in 2008 at RM180,000, were recently transacted at RM250,000. Another example is the 2-storey semidees in Taman Acacia in Seremban 2, which were launched in 2008 for RM350,000 and recently changed hands at RM550,000,” Su observes. The semidees in Taman Acacia, with built-ups of about 2,200 sq ft, are located just five minutes away from Jusco.

This augurs well for developers in Seremban, one of which is GUH Holdings Bhd. City & Country recently spoke to its CEO and managing director Datuk Kenneth H’ng Bak Tee at the developer’s 500-acre Taman Bukit Kepayang township in Seremban.

GUH Holdings has a rather interesting history, going back to 1961 when it was Textile Corp of Malaya Ltd. It changed its name to Textile Corp of Malaysia Bhd when it was listed in 1968. In 1985, it acquired Grand United Holdings Bhd via a reverse takeover, which was then controlled by former MCA president Tan Koon Swan.

The company was named GUH Holdings in 2005. Today, it is primarily involved in electronics manufacturing, which contributes some 90% to its profit. Property development contributes 5% to 6%.

It manufactures printer circuit boards (PCBs) at its factories in Penang and China. PCBs are found in numerous items, including air-conditioning units, toys, home appliances, amplifiers, audio/visual products and projectors.

The company is also involved in power generation in Cambodia and has an oil palm plantation in Kedah. H’ng says there’s a plan to increase the contribution from its property division to 15% to 20% in future, although he declined to give a time frame.

When the group acquired Grand United Holdings, the acquisition included a 500-acre project known as Taman Bukit Kepayang. “There was already a master plan for Taman Bukit Kepayang. What we did was to incorporate a lifestyle concept into the original plan,” H’ng says.

Changes to the original plan include adding jogging paths and gazebos for the residents. H’ng says 260 of the 500 acres have been developed thus far. “Taman Bukit Kepayang was launched long before we took over the company. I believe it will take another six to seven years to completely develop the project.” Taman Bukit Kepayang has a gross development value (GDV) of RM1 billion.

Taman Bukit Kepayang
Properties in Taman Bukit Kepayang have seen an increase in value over the years. H’ng says 2-storey linked homes, launched in 2002 for RM180,000, were recently transacted at RM320,000. Semidees, with built-ups of 2,522 sq ft and launched in 2007 at RM330,000, recently changed hands at RM450,000.

H’ng concedes that recent launches at Kepayang Heights were priced higher than those in nearby developments. “We have the advantage of being very strategically located, close to amenities, highways and the main town,” he says, adding that Jusco is just minutes away.

“Just like many developers in Seremban, we tend to launch in smaller numbers and in phases. The first phase of Kepayang Heights comprised 26 semidees, 2,522 sq ft in size and priced from RM330,000. Subsequent launches included 2½-storey linked houses with built-ups of 2,981 sq ft, 2½-storey semidees with built-ups of 3,498 sq ft, as well as 2½-storey bungalows with built-ups of 4,330 sq ft.

“There has been a very gradual increase in property prices here. While the majority of our buyers are from Seremban, there is quite a number who work in KL but live here. Most of them buy the properties for their own use,” he explains.

Kepayang Heights is the developer’s first guarded development there. The 24 acre feature bungalows, semidees and terraced homes. There is emphasis on security (with guard a house, fencing and security guards), modern living (water features and landscaping), and healthy living and cohesive community (jogging track, playground and gazebos).

On Nov 27, the developer launched the first phase of Kepayang Commerce Square, which comprises 30 shopoffices with a GDV of RM25 million on 9.6-acre tract within Kepayang Heights. The shopoffices, with built-ups of 4,946 to 6,539 sq ft, are priced from RM768,188. At press time, 20 units of shopoffices had been sold. There are three phases in total, and the developer expects to launch the next two phases in 2011. Only the first phase of the commercial project is on a build-and-sell basis.

The developer plans to launch a few phases - a total of 37 acres with a GDV of RM183 million - in 1Q2011. These include 60 units of 3-storey shopoffices, 325 units of 2 and 2½-storey terraced homes and 40 units of 2 and 2½-storey semidees.

“Future projects in Taman Bukit Kepayang include F&B outlets and a mall. Work on the mall is expected to begin in 2012, with a concept similar to The Curve in Mutiara Damansara or Sunway Giza in Kota Damansara. We may even emulate the third phase of Juru Auto City (in Prai, Penang),” H’ng says, adding that the retail mall will be in a prime location directly opposite the new Tesco hypermarket. The developer may also keep some of the units for recurring income.
“We are is not as established as the big boys, but we will look into spending money on branding, with more advertisements and billboards, for instance,” he says.

H’ng says the developer is looking for land in Johor, the Klang Valley and Penang for future developments, and reveals that it is in the midst of negotiating for a site in Kuala Lumpur, where it has a residential development in mind.

This article appeared in City & Country, the property pullout of The Edge Malaysia, Issue 835, Dec 6-12, 2010

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