KUALA LUMPUR:  Despite the current downturn in the property sector, there are still homebuyers scouting for properties as seen at the three-day Malaysian Property Exhibition (Mapex) here which ended on March 8.

"Visitors to Mapex were interested to find out and take advantage of value deals offered by the developers which took part in the show," said Mapex organising chairman Datuk Michael Yam.

Although Yam could not provide the total sales recorded at the exhibition as he has yet to receive reports from participating developers, it is understood that one exhibitor Sime Darby Property recorded RM75 million sales.

The exhibition was held at the Mid Valley Exhibition Centre. With the theme Value Buy @ Mapex, this was the first in a series of exhibitions to be held throughout Peninsular Malaysia this year.

 More than 6,250 properties, mainly residential properties in the Klang Valley were put up for sale at the exhibition. More than 42 developers exhibited the properties - priced between RM100,000 and RM300,000 – with total value of more than RM2.2 billion.

Due to the economic downturn, this Mapex attracted fewer developers. The exhibition took up just one hall of the venue compared with previous shows which took up two halls.

"Since our last show in November last year, there has been a waning interest by developers to take part in Mapex as many of them withheld their launches. In fact, many of the developers reduced their marketing activities to concentrate on selling their balance stock," he explained.

However, Yam said there were some participating developers who offered incentives to attract the buyers at Mapex.

"Nowadays, developers absorbing stamp duty and legal fees. In order to make it a value buy for buyers, many developers also give a minimum 5% discount. Now that interest rates have gone down, the people can afford to buy properties although they are still cautious," he said.

The Real Estate and Housing Developers' Association, the organiser of Mapex, also provided cash rebate amounting to RM1,000 to the first 20 buyers at Mapex.

The RM60 billion stimulus package, which included incentives for house buyers, Yam hoped it would boost buyers' confidence to acquire properties now.

"The problem does not lie with consumers' affordability levels but their confidence levels," he explained. The tax incentives included a tax deduction of up to RM10,000 per annum on housing loan interest for three years.

On the softening property market, Yam expected developers to focus on selling their remaining stock for cashflow.

Due to the cautious outlook of the economy, he said this could reduce demand in the marketplace. Hence, developers had to give better quality products and better value for buyers.