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A state of fitness

THERE is a growing trend towards a healthier lifestyle among Malaysians. This can be seen in the expansion of fitness and wellness centres, demand for organic food and health supplements, and the amount of fitness equipment and products that have flooded the market.

In the property sector, developers too are finding that it pays to offer a healthy lifestyle concept to buyers and residents.

Many builders, especially the younger generation, are aware of the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and follow their own fitness regimes.

City & Country recently invited several top property executives to tell us how they keep themselves and their companies in top form. They share the belief that keeping fit physically translates into better work performance.

On what they foresee for the local property market, they were generally optimistic and expect a more active market after the 13th general election, which must be held before April next year.

Magna Prima Bhd CEO Datuk Rahadian Mahmud Mohammad Khalil, who hits the gym often and is into Muay Thai, believes the Malaysian property market will continue to remain healthy. He sees strong demand for properties that will be coming up in some of the growth areas where infrastructure projects are being implemented.

Holding a similar view is Wing Tai Malaysia Bhd's Lim Hooi Yen, head of marketing and sales, property division. Lim, who attends regular Pilates classes, says, "Our property industry in general will still be very steady and resilient next year and the years to come, but no doubt some sectors and locations may fare much better than the rest."

The implementation of major infrastructure initiatives like the mass rapid transit (MRT) project has drawn interest to areas once off the radar of property investors, a development that Chan Chee Kian of Ireka Development Management Sdn Bhd is looking forward to. "We are excited about the prospect of the MRT coming into service in the Klang Valley, which we believe - together with other projects like the River of Life - is going to bring life and growth to areas which were under-served in the past," says chief investment officer Chan, who is an avid runner.

PPC Glomac Sdn Bhd project director Choong Wei Min, concurs. "The outlook for 2013 is still selectively optimistic where certain areas will experience rapid growth and demand," he says. Mega projects in the Greater KL area, such as Menara Warisan, the MRT lines and Tun Razak Exchange, will attract investors and boost the property market, says Choong, a sports enthusiast who visits the gym regularly.

Meanwhile, Mah Sing Group Bhd's Jane Leong says developers will need to hone in on buyers' needs and wants and provide products that suit their lifestyle and aspirations. Malaysians still believe that property makes good investment sense, hence demand for property will remain strong, she says. Leong, who is deputy general manager of business development and investment, enjoys group classes like body combat.

As for Colin Tan of Hatten Group Sdn Bhd, he says the market may slow down in the first quarter but will pick up after that. Tan, who is managing director of the Melaka-based developer, visits the gym and runs to stay in shape.

Datuk Lai Yeng Fock, who heads several special purpose vehicles, including YNL Properties Sdn Bhd, sees the market as being in a state of consolidation and adjustment. "The financial institutions and the government have imposed several steps to curb speculation and I think that is healthy for the market," says Lai, a former national cager in the 1980s, who takes brisk walks daily to keep fit.

The Malaysian property market looks to be in a healthy state, and it looks like some in the industry are ensuring that they keep in peak condition and are ready to face any challenges the new year may bring.

This story first appeared in The Edge weekly edition of Dec 24-31, 2012.

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