Johor property market to stay bullish

THE Johor property market is expected to remain bullish driven by the growth of Iskandar Malaysia in the years to come. Upcoming infrastructure projects such as the proposed Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail link (HSR) will add to the draw of Iskandar.

"Since it was initiated six years ago, Iskandar Malaysia has received a warm response for most new property launches from both local and foreign buyers," Malaysia Building Society Bhd (MBSB) senior vice-president of corporate business Nor Azam Taib tells City & Country.

The completion of several catalytic projects in Iskandar sent strong signals to investors of the good growth prospects of the area. One recent investor in the area is Kuok Brothers Sdn Bhd, which put in RM182 million.

"Iskandar would not only enlarge the economic pie of Johor, but also enhance Malaysia's strategic position as an investment destination in the Asean region," says Nor Azam.

He adds that there is growing international recognition of Iskandar's position as Malaysia's future engine of growth as the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore HSR and the rapid transit system that will link Johor Baru and Singapore, will enhance connectivity between the two countries.

According to Kumar Tharmalingam, executive director of Sunway Bhd, with the travel time from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore expected to be reduced to 90 minutes door-to-door via the HSR compared with the current four to five hours drive, more businesses are expected to explore opportunities in both countries.

"There will be a lot of businesses benefiting from the HSR, among them are financial services, real estate, and oil and gas companies located in Singapore.

"There will also be more inter migration of professionals between the two countries and more joint-venture trading, manufacturing and services as talent flows from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur and vice versa," he says.

Kumar adds that the economic benefits to Malaysia will be exponential as investments move from Singapore to Malaysia. "Economic connectivity will push up the quality of life in Kuala Lumpur and other parts of Malaysia as well as bring real benefits to both countries. The HSR will ease the pressure on living space in Singapore."

Meanwhile, Sarkunan Subramaniam, managing director of Knight Frank Malaysia, says we can expect more growth areas to emerge along the HSR's proposed stops. As three of the stops will be within Iskandar, the region is expected to remain as the one growth area in Malaysia to have three sub centres.

Nevertheless, Sarkunan says, "Although Johor, as Malaysia's biggest attraction for foreign investors in the future, could be a long-term possibility, Selangor will be tough to beat as its infrastructure development is decades ahead."

From January to March, Iskandar recorded RM5.06 billion in new investments with a cumulative committed investment of RM111.37 billion from 2006 to end-March 2013. Property development contributed RM40.02 billion, comprising residential, retail and industrial products.

This story first appeared in The Edge weekly edition of May 6 - 12, 2013.

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