First for Knight Frank in Sabah, Sarawak

KOTA KINABALU: Knight Frank Malaysia launched a new office in Kota Kinabalu yesterday. This is the first independent global property consultancy firm to make its presence in the Sabah and Sarawak real estate market.

“This is indeed an exciting time for Knight Frank Malaysia. This opportunity allows us to extend our boundaries into new frontiers and take our property services to new levels,” said Knight Frank Malaysia managing director Sarkunan Subramaniam. “We’re enthused and honoured to be able to bring international standards of the property industry to Sabah. We believe the state will flourish from our expertise in key service lines: commercial agency, investment sales, retail consultancy and leasing, project marketing, residential agency — sales and leasing, residential and commercial property and project management, valuation, and research and consultancy.”

Due to Sabah’s lower capital value base, availability of financing, low interest rate environment and a transparent legal and title system, the state is quickly gaining regional interest from major real estate developers and investors.

“With the maturation of the property market there is much potential to be tapped in new territories,” said Knight Frank Malaysia executive chairman Eric Ooi. “This is a great opportunity for Knight Frank Malaysia to bring professional services of international standards to developers, tenants, owners and vendors in the Sabah region.”

The performance in the tourism, agriculture and aquaculture, and oil and gas sectors have been an impetus for urban and rural property development, both for domestic demand as well as the increasing number of expatriate relocations to Sabah.

With an estimated population growth of more than one million by 2020, according to the Sabah Economic and Development Investment Authority (Sedia), the development and property values in Kota Kinabalu are set to increase. The expanding population is due to migration from both within Borneo and internationally, supported by Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) applications and the growing oil and gas industry which is expected to create more than 23,000 jobs.

Knight Frank Sabah will be managed by associate director Ginn Lai and resident branch manager Stephenie Wong, and joined by adviser Datuk Peter Yong.

Being in the real estate industry for 16 years, Lai has global experience in project marketing, property and facilities management, commercial and retail agency, hospitality, and development feasibility analyses.

From left: Lai, Sarkunan and Wong believe there is much potential in Sabah as the property market is mature and growing.

“As the rest of developed Asia struggles with heated property markets, Sabah is at the tipping point with a confluence of Borneo’s unique offerings and strong property drivers,” said Lai. “Sabah today is well on its way to becoming 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 is 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 in Kota Kinabalu.”

Meanwhile, Wong, who was born and raised in Sabah, has a solid background in valuations and estate management with over six years of experience in the property sector. She has managed various forms of valuations, including hotels, resorts, golf clubs, islands, arcade malls and offices, and specialises in land development valuation in Sabah.

Yong has vast experience in the local real estate sector and is on the board of many prominent companies in Sabah.

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on August 8, 2014.


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