Prospects for property sector positive this year, says Chor

KUALA LUMPUR: Prospects for the property sector this year are positive due to the healthier performance of the domestic economy and further stabilisation of external economies, Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Wira Chor Chee Heung said on April 23.

For the first three months of the year, the total number of property transactions was 91,979 valued at RM25.294 billion, up from 79,024 transactions worth RM16.922 billion in the first quarter of 2009, he said.

The Malaysian property market recorded a modest performance last year, with a total of 337,859 transactions worth RM80.997 billion compared to 340,240 transactions valued at RM88.34 billion in 2008, he told reporters after launching the Valuation and Property Services Department's publications here.

Among the publications were "Property Market Report 2009", "Laporan Status Pasaran Harta Tanah Suku Keempat Tahun 2009", "Laporan Stok Harta Tanah Suku Keempat Tahun 2009" and "Laporan Indeks Harga Rumah Malaysia Suku Ketiga-Keempat 2009".

"The government has introduced various measures under the recent budget to stimulate and promote the property market and there is also a need to attract foreign direct investments (FDIs)," Chor said.

He said with a high level of FDIs, the demand for housing, office and retail space in terms of sales and revenue would also increase.

Asked about Islamic Real Estate Investment Trusts (I-REITs), Chor said the government had been engaged with other government agencies to look into Islamic REITs.

"We have started to see many investors, especially from the Gulf Region, investing in REITs," he said.

Earlier in his speech, Chor said various steps had been taken to make REITs more attractive, such as the lowering of tax on REIT dividends and liberalisation measures announced in April last year.

He said the launch of I-REIT guidelines by the Securities Commission in August last year also supported the setting of Syariah-based REITs.

"With all these, I am confident that retail investors will take the opportunity to invest in REITs. I expect in the medium term, the number of REITs listed on Bursa Malaysia will increase from the existing 13," he added.

Last year, the residential property sub-sector dominated the market, making up 62.6 per cent in the total transfer of ownership and 51.7 per cent in the value of the ownership transfer.

Chor said in the primary market, developers had launched 45,909 residential units compared to 48,830 units in 2008.

He said that Selangor was ahead of the other states with 8,430 new residential units, followed by Johor with 7,099 units.

During the period, the number of unsold residential units was reduced by 13.2 per cent to 22,592 units compared to 26,029 units in 2008 while in the industrial building sub-sector, the unsold units declined by 4.3 per cent to 641 units from 670 units in 2008, Chor said.

He said for the shophouse sub-sector, the unsold units however increased by 10.2 per cent to 5,265 units from 4,776 units in 2008.

Chor said for the office and business complex sub-sector, performance was steady in 2009 as indicated by the Business Confidence Index and Consumer Sentiment Index which went up by 100 points.

He said that the report on Malaysian house prices indicated that prices rose by 1.5 per cent compared to those in 2008. -- Bernama


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