Malaysians Remain Optimistic On HSR Despite Deferment

Residents of Malaysian towns, where the Singapore-Kuala Lumpur High Speed Rail (HSR) would pass through, remain optimistic despite the cancellation of the mega project, reported TODAYonline.

For instance, Yong Fun Juan’s firm originally intended to launch a 38-storey condo in Melaka costing RM200 million by end-2018. One of its selling points is that it will only be within 13km from the HSR’s future station in Ayer Keroh.

“We had printed the sales pamphlets with images of a high speed train and the station but when we heard the government’s announcement, we had to reprint them again without the images.”

Nevertheless, his company is glad that the 350km HSR project was only deferred, not terminated, even though they had to postpone the launch of their condo from later this year to 2019.

Similarly, attorney Chew Wee Kian, who owns a law firm, has revealed that many people from Kuala Lumpur and Selangor continue to invest in properties in the state due to the HSR and the RM43 billion Melaka Gateway project. The latter will comprise three artificial islands and a natural one that will house the Melaka International Cruise Terminal.

“I have not seen any adverse impact from these buyers as a result of the deferment,” noted Chew, who does conveyancing work for the sale of properties in Melaka. He also highlighted that those who have invested in properties there are still holding onto these assets given the strong possibility that the HSR will resume.

Earlier this month, Singapore and Malaysia officially agreed to postpone the rail project, with the latter paying deferment penalties by January 2019 to Singapore amounting to S$15 million (RM45.44 million).

Previously, the PH-led administration decided to defer the HSR due to the federal government’s huge debt of over RM1 trillion. “The people of Melaka especially those in Ayer Keroh understad the reasons for the deferment,” said Ayer Keroh assemblyman Kerk Chee Yee.

If the construction of the HSR resume, it is expected to commence operation by 1 January 2031, or four years later than the original target date of 31 December 2026.

The cross-border rail will come with nine stations. One in Singapore’s Jurong East, while the other eight are located in Kuala Lumpur’s Bandar Malaysia, Sepang-Putrajaya in Selangor, Negeri Sembilan’s Seremban and Ayer Keroh in Melaka, as well as the Johor’s two stations in Muar, Batu Pahat and Iskandar Puteri.

Upon completion, the HSR is anticipated to reduce travel time between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to merely 90 minutes.

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Malaysia Property Market Can Flourish Without HSR

Experts believe the axing of the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) is likely to have a marginal effect on Malaysia’s real estate market, reported The Edge.

“I think some of the HSR’s hype (of bringing added value to locations along the alignment) was misplaced and might have been over-optimistic,” said Savills Malaysia Executive Chairman Datuk Christopher Boyd.

One reason is that there are already many good cross-border transport links between the two countries such as railways and air transportation. Moreover, the high expectations did not exactly result in large-scale investments within the vicinity of the HSR’s proposed stations likely due to its redundancy with existing transportation systems.

“Studies overseas have shown that in many cases, the benefits that HSR links are able to bring are often overestimated. Stations along the alignment can actually pull value away rather than bring value in.”

“It would have been a nice and convenient thing to have but it is not an essential or must-have thing to have now. It will come in time when the market is really ready for it. So (the scrapping of the HSR) is not a catastrophe or severe loss for either Malaysia or Singapore. I don’t think that is going to be a very big impact on land value,” he noted.

In agreement is Association of Valuers, Property Managers, Estate Agents and Property Consultants in the Private Sector Malaysia (PEPS) President Foo Gee Jen.

“Not many people are buying big tracts of land around the station locations. The investments are more small scale. The losses would be more in terms of time and planning. There was not much speculative buying around where the stations are supposed to come up.”

However, he expects the scrapping of the project to impact growth corridors like Melaka-Seremban and Muar-Batu Pahat, particularly the Negeri Sembilan’s Malaysia Vision Valley.

While the termination of the HSR could weaken investor confidence given the loss of potential spillover benefits, the government may reconsider the large-scale project when Malaysia’s debt is reduced from RM1 trillion.

“It is prudent to call off the HSR and other mega projects that can be revived when the government is in a stronger financial position.”

However, plans for major developments and infrastructure along the HSR are likely to be cancelled or put on hold.

“And for those who have paid high prices for the properties that had been planned along the alignment, they may suffer a setback. The properties in those areas are expected to lose their premium and the prices will be realigned to the level of the vicinity, but the drop of prices is not expected to be significant as our property market is still holding up,” he added.

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Scrapping HSR a Wise Move, Time will tell

The new government’s final decision to axe the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) appears to be a smart move as the project’s high cost is likely to exceed its potential benefits, reported the Sun Daily.

“This project can take longer than envisaged to break even given the stiff competition with other modes of connectivity such as road and air. Much will depend on ticket pricing and ridership,” said AmResearch on Wednesday (30 May).

While there will be some negative consequence for terminating the HSR, the research house believes the negative effects are not tremendous.

For instance, the penalty of up to RM500 million to cancel the project is only about 0.45 percent of its RM110 billion total cost, which appears manageable.

“The move has given some breathing space on savings, especially with the high public debt at RM1.09 trillion or 80.3 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP),” it noted.

However, the axing of the HSR and the MRT3 project or Circle Line have significantly affected the share prices of Malaysia-listed construction companies, resulting in a collective decline of 10.87 percent or 24.42 points.

For instance, Gamuda’s stock price slumped 23 percent to RM3.18, that for Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd (MRCB) fell 16.8 percent to 57 sen, while YTL Corp’s slid 8.8 percent to 93 sen.

Earlier this month, a consortium consisting of Gamuda and MRCB have been appointed to build the civil infrastructure works of the HSR’s northern domestic portion, while a joint venture between YTL and THP bagged the southern segment.

AmResearch said the outlook of the local construction industry appears lacklustre as the new government reviews large-scale projects to trim down debt.

“Apart from the KL-Singapore HSR, we believe more mega projects could potentially be deferred, scaled down or cancelled.”

Furthermore, it said, the implementation of a more transparent public bidding system is expected to lower the profit margins of construction firms.

“Not helping either, are the prolonged downturn in the local property market that weighs on Gamuda’s property division, coupled with the uncertainty arising from the potential expropriation of Gamuda’s toll road and water concessions,” added the research house.

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MY Government Committed to JB-S’pore MRT Line

In view of the cancellation of the mass rapid transit (MRT) line 3 and the KL-Singapore high-speed rail project, Transport Minister Anthony Loke assured that the government will continue the Johor Bahru-Singapore MRT but subject to cost review, reported The Edge.

However, he declined to say if the decision to push through with the rapid transit system (RTS) project came from Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Set to commence operation by 31 December 2024, the RTS will connect Johor’s Bukit Chagar with Singapore’s Woodlands. The 4km rail link is expected to carry up to 10,000 passengers per hour each way.

The project’s cost is yet to be determined since it would depend on the rail alignment agreed upon by a joint venture to be set up between Singapore’s SMRT Corp Ltd and Prasarana Malaysia Bhd, which will also jointly hold a 30-year concession on the link.

Malaysia and Singapore inked a bilateral agreement on 18 January, signifying the two countries’ commitment to the project. The agreement outlines the technical, safety and security requirements; financing, commercial, procurement and regulatory frameworks; as well as immigration, customs and quarantine arrangements.

Calls for tenders for the RTS project is expected this year.

Damansara Realty Bhd on 8 May said it is partnering with China State Construction Engineering (M) Sdn Bhd to bid for the rail project.

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Iskandar Malaysia recorded RM9.33 billion committed investments for Q1 2018

ISKANDAR MALAYSIA – Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) today announced that Iskandar Malaysia (IM) had recorded committed investments of RM9.33 billion in Q1 of 2018, bringing the total cumulative committed investments to RM262.43 billion from 2006 until 31 March 2018.

Of this total, 59% or RM153.54 billion represent investments that have been realized.

To date, local investors had contributed RM160 billion (61%) to the total cumulative committed investments while the balance RM102 billion (39%) were contributed by foreign investors. The top five countries with highest cumulative committed investments into IM from 2006 to March 2018 are China, Singapore, US, Japan and the EU.

Datuk Ismail Ibrahim, Chief Executive of IRDA said that this reflects continuous investor confidence in IM as it moves towards its long-term development objectives. This is also evidence by the many visits to IM by various international parties.

Just today, IRDA received a visit by Frédéric Laplanche, Ambassador of France to Malaysia with his entourage, which included senior representatives from various French companies, who are here to exchange experience and ideas related to the Smart City agenda.

Earlier this month, IRDA also received a visit by H.E Bai Tian, Ambassador of People’s Republic of China to Malaysia and his delegations and this time around, the purpose of the visit was to explore business and investment potential in Iskandar Malaysia.

“Visits such as these provide us with the opportunity to further highlight IM’s many strengths and opportunities and also act as a platform to strengthen relationship and exchange knowledge with other international parties and global players, in line with the region’s vision to become the preferred destination to invest, work, live and play,” said Datuk Ismail Ibrahim

Promoted sectors in Iskandar Malaysia

Manufacturing : RM 62.06 billion
Logistics : RM 6.69 billion
Healthcare : RM 4.11 billion
Tourism : RM 6.69 billion
Education : RM 2.76 billion
Creative : RM 0.59 billion
Financial Services : RM 2.09 billion

Supporting sectors

Residential properties : RM 48.86 billion
Utilities : RM 12.97 billion
Retail properties : RM 80.64 billion
Industrial properties : RM 20.92 billion
Emerging Technologies : RM 2.94 billion
Government (Infrastructure) : RM 10.67 billion

These investments continue to benefit the Rakyat of Johor and Malaysia with ample business opportunities for entrepreneurs and SMEs as well as the creation of more jobs. From 2007 to March 2018, a total of 746,457 jobs have been created in Johor and most of these came from the various sectors in Iskandar Malaysia including manufacturing, hospitality, food & beverage, and education.

“IM will also continue to focus on strengthening its soft and hard infrastructure with state-of-the-art facilities provided to the investors whilst at the same time benefiting the Rakyat,” said Datuk Ismail

In line with this, the public transportation system for this region will be enhanced by providing efficient and accessible public transport. IM will embark on the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system to accommodate the targeted increase in population of up to 3.0 million by 2025. The first phase of BRT will be ready by 2021.

Another important infrastructure enabler is connectivity and this will also be the focus in the third development phase as IM needs a smart ICT infrastructure to remain attractive to new and existing investors whilst at the same time providing convenience to the people of IM in as many ways possible.

IM is also poised to be the preferred regional logistics hub. Port of IM is one of the 5 Big Moves of Iskandar Malaysia Comprehensive Development Plan 2014 – 2025 (CDPii). IRDA envisions to position IM as a world-class dynamic logistics and maritime hub in ASEAN and Asia-Pacific.

Datuk Ismail added that for IM, the next seven years is not only about attracting new investments, but the investments must be inclusive in order for the local communities, businesses and talents to participate and reap benefits from the wealth generated from economic activities. With all these elements in place, the region will, in no time, achieve its vision of becoming a Strong and Sustainable Metropolis of International Standing.

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Savills Malaysia would like to reiterate that 2018 will be significant for the Malaysian property market, particularly with the new government’s promise of clean and fair governance. We anticipate the markets to have a knee-jerk reaction this week, and the 2nd quarter of 2018 to be relatively quiet for property transactions, with the onset of the Ramadhan fasting month next week. However, the outlook for Malaysia appears to be promising, as the new government sets to work to address some of the institutional problems that have held back Malaysia’s long-term prospects and deterred foreign investment.


The value of unsold units that have been completed in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor rose 44% in 2017. In the same year, the number of unsold houses in Selangor rose by 108% to 5,200 units.

We anticipate that renewed confidence in the market will encourage buyers who have been holding back. However, there will be a period of adjustment and consolidation required to clear existing stock before we see much evidence of price increases. Generally, we foresee that prices will firm up in 2019, and it will be early 2020 before developers can respond by stepping up supply. In short, particularly in Greater KL and Penang, there has never been a better time to buy.


Sadly, not even the new government has much influence on low global crude oil prices – and oil & gas players make up 33% of the office market in KL city center. While it will still take some time to absorb the 16.9 million sq ft of new space to be completed by 2020 – in the short term, we anticipate that with the uncertainties of the elections behind us, more potential upgraders will see their way clear to invest in a move to new premises. This could lead to an absorption of more than the 1.9 million sq ft we saw in Greater KL last year. In the medium term, we anticipate that new office take-up will increase in tandem with a growing economy and more foreign direct investment. Datuk Christopher Boyd (Chairman of Savills Malaysia) does not think that abolition of GST will have any meaningful impact on office rentals.


While the market is likely to remain well supplied in Greater KL, we see the likelihood that retail turnover will pick up in areas where GST is lifted from merchandise, and not replaced by a sales tax. We hope that luxury goods will fall into that category, making Malaysia a major tourist shopping destination. Mr Allan Soo (Deputy Executive Chairman of Savills Malaysia) opines that the groceries, food and beverage, and mass prestige fashion brands will see positive impact from the lifting of the GST.


Datuk Paul Khong (Managing Director of Savills Malaysia) believes that renewed market confidence will boost foreign direct industrial investment. Coupled with surging domestic consumption, the prospects for the industrial and logistics market are very positive.

Look out for rising industrial rents which have lagged behind recent strong increases in industrial land values. Good news for REITS and other funds which are focused on this market sector.


Institutional investors, particularly overseas investors, dislike uncertainty. With GE14 behind us, we are preparing for a major uplift in domestic and foreign interest in commercial investment properties. Malaysia has extremely liberal policies related to foreign investment in commercial property and can offer attractive yields. The prospects of appreciation in the Ringgit and strong economic growth will now make Malaysia an outstanding regional investment opportunity.

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Developers selling Land to cope with hard times

Some major developers have started selling land in non-prime locations over past few months, while some are exiting local markets amidst Malaysia’s soft property sector and the uncertainty caused by the upcoming general election this year, reported The Malaysian Reserve.

For instance, Sime Darby Property recently revealed that it intends to sell 768.9ha of land in Sabah and Kedah, in a bid to focus on developments in the country’s central region.

Another major real estate developer, UEM Sunrise, also disclosed plans to sell 164 acres of land in Johor to Country View this year – valued at RM107 million. Previously, the company sold several sites in Johor’s Iskandar Puteri area and Canada for a total of around RM551 million. This accounted for 19 percent of its RM2.9 billion revenue in FY2017 compared to gross earnings of RM1.84 billion in the prior year.

According to Nawawi Tie Leung Property Consultants Executive Director Brian Koh, developers usually dispose pieces of land in remote locations and those that do not generate earnings when times are bad.

He explained that some developers have bought land outside the central region for future expansions when business was good. “But now, when the sector is not as vibrant, they need to consolidate on a strategic level and reaffirm their respective positions in the main market.”

However, the central region is also suffering from an oversupply of properties, and it’s uncertain if the existing un-occupied units can be absorbed by the market.

Meanwhile, property consultancy MacReal International’s Principal Partner Michael Kong noted that it’s a strategy of developers to focus their resources on sought-after locations at the expense of far-flung areas.

Developers are now trying to minimise their losses after “getting hints from the media and statistics announced by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) and the National Property Information Centre (NAPIC) on the present glut,” he explained.

Nevertheless, developers’ recent actions are expected to help the overall economy, particularly their market research and shift towards affordable housing.

“With more market studies, they are trying to understand the supply, demand and dynamics of a location for new launches, rather than continue developing townships outside Kuala Lumpur where demand is less,” noted Kong.

This year, a market recovery is unlikely to occur during the first six months due to the existing cautious sentiment due to the looming 14th General Election.

“I don’t think we will see any quick recovery in 2018. I believe that there would not be any sharp changes in property prices, particularly in the primary market. Things would most probably clear up for either a positive or negative by 2H 2018,” he added.


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Upbeat over 2018 propspects in Iskandar?

Real estate developers in Malaysia are currently facing issues this year, one of which is a large number of unsold completed houses, but they are bullish that the market’s situation will improve by 2018.

“Everyone builds, thinking the market would be good, but now we are facing a bit of a headwind,” said Sunway Iskandar Chairman Tan Sri Dr Jeffrey Cheah.

But with the correct policies and interventions from the government, he is confident that the mismatch in supply and demand in the residential sector could be addressed.

“All of us are facing challenges. But, I think the government is very proactive, and is now looking at unsold units as well as how to help developers.”

According to UEM Sunrise CEO and Managing Director Anwar Syahrin Abdul Ajib, the prevailing supply and demand imbalance is caused by out of place housing projects.

“We see at times development in areas that are not suitable due to a lack of infrastructure and such. In the case of UEM Sunrise, we consider areas with existing infrastructure and where people want to go to such as Putera Harbour and Nusa Idaman.”

The duo said this after officiating the opening of the new Coastal Highway Southern Link (CHSL) in Iskandar Puteri on Monday (27 November).

The 5.2km road, which connects the Second Link Expressway with the Iskandar Coastal Highway, halves the travel time to five minutes from Medini to the Sultan Abu Bakar Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Complex.

The comments from Sunway and UEM Sunrise follow a report from Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) on 17 November that the number of unsold dwellings across the country had reached a record level of 130,690 units in Q1 2017.

This is not only the highest level in ten years, but exceeds the historical average of 72,729 units per annum between 2004 and 2016. Residences costing more than RM250,000 also accounted for 63 percent of these properties.

By proportion, Johor saw the largest number of unsold units at 27 percent, followed by Selangor (21 percent), Kuala Lumpur (14 percent), and Penang (8 percent).

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2017 Home purchasing trends in Iskandar Malaysia

An analysis of latest transactions, top neighbourhoods and preferred residential products in Iskandar Malaysia:

Source: Google Maps

• Terrace homes in Skudai, Kulai and Pasir Gudang showed impressive capital appreciation, recording above average figures of 9.4%, 13.1% and 21.5%, respectively.
• Asking rental yield for apartments appears promising amid a sluggish property market – the top 5 transacted areas provided monthly returns above 5%.
• Properties within the RM260,000-RM340,000   price range were most popular among purchasers – Which begs the question, is this the standard for affordable properties in IM?

• The period of evaluation is from April 2016 – March 2017.
• Terrace homes comprise of single, double and triple storey houses.
• The price of apartments vary across Johor, in most areas they consist of mid-priced units, ranging between RM150,000-RM300,000. However, apartments in newer areas such as Iskandar Puteri have higher than average selling prices.
• The data used to calculate asking median rent are obtained from listings. Only monthly rents within the evaluation period are used to determine the median – this final figure is then used to calculate asking rental yields in each area.
• The type of properties displayed in the “What were potential purchasers searching for” infographic is based on the search tab category in data showed that terrace homes appeared as the most transacted product in the landed residential category in Iskandar Malaysia (IM) while apartments were the preferred product among purchasers of high-rise residential units.

For analytical purposes, we will focus on these two products, of which key figures were extracted for the top 5 performing areas within the IM region, for terrace homes and apartments, respectively.

Terrace Homes

Top 3 projects in each area



Save for Iskandar Puteri which suffered a slight drop of 0.7%, the other areas performed remarkably well in terms of year on year (y-o-y) capital growth. This positive trend is contrary to the public’s perception that property prices are devaluing, says Samuel Tan.

Skudai and Kulai are secondary towns within Greater Johor Bahru and have always been very popular among the locals. Price growths of 9.4% and 13.1% are not unreasonable and could be explained by the suburb effect – where locals and city centre folk are drawn to the cheaper housing alternatives available in these areas.

Meanwhile, the substantial appreciation of 21.5% seen in Pasir Gudang is mainly attributed to the mushrooming of new developments in the area, particularly the Eco Tropics project by EcoWorld and Mah Sing’s Meridin East township. These developers are offering housing concepts and products that are fresh and new to the region, at higher-than average price points – a lake garden community with Meridin East and Eco Tropics will be the first gated and guarded development in the Kota Masai area. These ‘new kids on the block’ will inevitably influence the secondary market and pull up its prices as well.

Tebrau is a very mature area – property prices there have been increasing steadily since 2014. It’s boom period kicked in earlier compared to other areas – hence, the smaller growth rate of 4.8% in the recent year. On the other hand, being a greenfield or new development, Iskandar Puteri is still in its ‘teething stages’ – with newly completed units coming onstream property prices are still adapting to market movements. Hence, the slight drop in property values is not alarming.

The rental yields ranging between 3.9% to 5.5% are commendable and appear attractive to investors as the returns are similar or higher than the current fixed deposit rates. In light of economic hiccups and market fluctuations, these healthy yield rates testify that real estate remains as a good investment vehicle.

Apparently, more people in IM are purchasing pricier properties. And yes, we have the data to show.

Top 3 projects in each area





Samuel notes one common thread that runs across all these schemes – they are self-contained townships or something similar. Zooming into Iskandar Puteri, the top 3 neighbourhoods – Bukit Indah, Nusa Bestari 2 and Nusa Bayu are commanding robust median prices in the range of RM376-RM460 per sq ft. This is attributed to their proximity to the Woodlands Causeway and the Tuas Second Link, a boon for those who commute daily to Singapore for work. In addition, these residential enclaves are complemented by various supporting infrastructure and amenities – from banks to clinic and grocery stores. Despite their higher than average median prices, convenience is the main driver for the huge demand for properties there. Meanwhile, housing units in the other 4 suburbs offer good value for money deals. Good connectivity links to the JB city centre is a main selling point too.

What were people buying?


The three most popular sizes for terrace homes were:

1) 750-1,000 sq ft 
Traditionally, these are single-storey terrace homes which can accommodate at least 2 bedrooms and possibly an en-suite room cum study room. Units at the end of the spectrum, i.e measuring 1,000 sq ft should be able to house 3 comfortably sized bedrooms. Homes of these sizes are popular among small families and first-time home owners due to the affordable entry point. Some of the government-driven schemes such as PRIMA fall within this size range too.

2) 1,501 – 2,000 sq ft 
These are typically double-storey terrace homes and can comfortably accommodate 3 to 4 bedrooms with at least 2 bathrooms, making it very suitable for the average Johorean household, consisting of 6-8 people. Newly completed units of this size will cost roughly RM400,000 in an average area whereas those more strategically located will bear higher price tags.

3) 1,251 to 1,500 sq ft
Properties in this category are basically large single-storey terrace homes or more compact double storey terrace units. Again, their popularity is due to the affordable factor. Nevertheless, developers are no longer constructing homes within this price range, hence transacted sales moving forwards will only occur in the secondary market.


Preferred price ranges (RM)

More than a quarter or 26.3% of the transactions occurred in the RM260,000 and RM370,000 category. As defined by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) these are considered as affordable housing. When compared against the median household income of Johoreans, most can afford to purchase homes up to this price point. Coming in a close second at 23.3% are homes priced above RM470,000. According to Samuel, these purchases would have occurred in the larger, more populous areas like JB. Most double-storey terrace home in the suburbs are already going for RM450,000 and above, with deluxe offerings priced beyond RM1 million.

You get what you pay for – which is why these homes are desirable to those who could afford them as they offer quality, comfortable sizes, strategic location and quality finishes. Another quarter or 29% trended in the price categories not exceeding RM260,000 – one can only deduce that these are for the low and low-medium cost houses.

Future Trends

Within JB, the immediate purchasing trend will be for properties ranging from RM450,000 to RM800,000, shared Samuel. With the stringent loan requirements, however, home buyers must be prepared to cough up more cash for a down payment. This consumer challenge will put a constraint on developers’ selling prices. A similar trend of dampened prices can also be expected for the secondary market. The current emphasis on assisting first-time-house-buyers will see the launching of more properties costing below RM400,000. As can be seen in the few recent government budgets, various schemes have been introduced to assist millennials and civil servants in achieving their home ownership dream.


Key figures for top 5 areas



Samuel points out that capital growth values for apartments in Iskandar Malaysia are relatively lower than their landed counterparts. This could be attributed to the current oversupply of such products in the local market. Notwithstanding that, it is a pleasant surprise indeed to witness a positive growth rate.

Masai showed the highest y-o-y capital appreciation of 8.6%. The most plausible explanation for this growth trend is the emergence of new apartments in an area which never had many modern residential strata buildings before. Iskandar Puteri showed a marginal growth of 2.6% as this area is still new and property prices there require time to stabilise.

In terms of rental yield, all 5 areas showed commendable rates ranging from 5.6% to 8.0% per annum. Except for Iskandar Puteri and JB, the other regions recorded figures exceeding the market’s standard of a profitable figure, i.e 6%. The above average percentages were probably due to the lower market value of sub-sale units vis-à-vis the monthly rental. Meanwhile, Iskandar Puteri and JB have many higher-priced, new apartments/service apartments and in the current buyers/tenants’ market, it is only normal for the rental yields to be lower.
Top 3 projects in each area



Advice for Homebuyers & Investors
1. Due diligence must-dos include product details, accessibility to convenience, cost of repairs, security concerns as well as the quality and cost of management and maintenance.
2. Find out the ratio of local and foreign purchasers – having more locals within a project/neighbourhood holds more appeal as house prices there tend to be more stable.
3. Considering the current oversupply of high-rise units in IM, investors should be more discerning than usual when making a purchase.
4. Only purchase in popular areas – where tenant demand is high and sustainable.
5. Look for projects with a good concept and a strong management team.





What were people buying? 


1) 750-1,000 sq ft
The lion share of purchases or 41.6% were transacted in this category. Samuel shares that this floor area can comfortably accommodate 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. Also, the living and dining/kitchen areas will be pretty spacious, thus very appealing to families with several children. Prices for new apartments in the JB city centre will range between RM800,000 and RM1.2 million whilst those in the suburbs fall within RM550,000 to RM1.2 million. The higher end ones are usually luxury units with high-quality finishes.

2) 751-1,000 sq ft
These typically feature 2 bedrooms and 2 baths. Larger units might even have an extra bedroom. First time home buyers and young couples especially are the main fans of such ‘starter’ units.

3) 501-750 sq ft
Such units are likely studios or one bedroom apartments. During the property boom in the 2013- 2015 period, numerous developers launched smaller- sized units, which received good response as the price points were very affordable. It is no surprise why these units are popular among those looking to get a foothold on the property ladder as well as investors looking for healthy rental yields. Current prices range from RM250,000 to RM900,000.


As enumerated earlier, the RM260,000-RM340,000 price range takes the crown for most purchases. Typically older apartments of over 10 years old with a floor area of roughly 1,000 sq ft are sought after by small families as they feature 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. 19.7% of transactions were garnered for properties priced between RM340,000 and RM420,000. Again
these would be apartments nearer to the city with a floor area of roughly 1,000 sq ft. Given the constant variables with the previous category, these pricier units offer a better location and/or higher quality finishes and more attractive facilities.

There aren’t many property options within the RM220,000-RM260,000 category except for basic apartments in lesser-known suburbs. These cheaper units would appeal to the masses, especially to households with a monthly disposable income of less than RM5,000.

Future trends

Given the current residential overhang, particularly for high-rise units in Johor, the state government had frozen all new applications for service apartments since 2014. Projects being constructed are expected to see completion in the next 2 years. This incoming supply means that it will take some time for the market to digest the excesses, explained Samuel.

Several scenarios are expected to play out in the next few years – developers with unsold stock will be prompted to offer more freebies including cheaper selling prices and special packages to entice purchasers.

As more units flood the market, investors will be competing over a limited pool of tenants, giving rise to a tenant’s market. With the exception for some premium apartments, owners of most schemes will find yield accretion a challenge. Securing a tenant in the first place will not be an easy task, given the supply-demand mismatch.

However, with the serviced apartments freeze as mentioned, there may be a new pent-up demand for apartments from 2020 onwards. Considering the developments in technology and innovations such as Industrialised Building System, the new breed of apartments will be quite different from their predecessors.

In line with consumers’ demand, we can expect to see more uniquely designed homes with carbon-free and environment-friendly features as well as the utilization of artificial intelligence and Internet of Things (IoT).

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RTS to Shorten Travel Time Between JB and Singapore


The Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link connecting Singapore’s Woodlands with Bukit Chagar in Johor Bahru is expected to ease the travelling time between both countries.

On Monday (22 September), state-owned transport firm Prasarana Malaysia and Singapore’s SMRT Corp have signed a memorandum of understanding to create a joint venture to design, fund, build, operate and maintain the 4km rail line.

Next Tuesday, both entities will jointly hold a briefing to update would-be bidders on the tender process. The governments of Singapore and Malaysia will also sign a legally-binding agreement with the project’s full technical details by December 2017, and launch the tender thereafter.

Upon completion by December 2024, 10,000 commuters will be able to travel across both countries per hour using the RTS link. This is expected to speed things up as about 126,000 cars cross the causeway between Singapore and Malaysia per day, making it one of the busiest crossings in the world.

The improved transportation system is anticipated to attract more people to live in Johor, particularly in the Iskandar region, where home prices are more affordable.

This is because it would be easier to make the daily crossing into Singapore, where wages and exchange rates are higher but property prices are more expensive.

In turn, this is expected to reduce the oversupply of houses in the Iskandar region, where many China-based developers are undertaking major developments like Country Garden’s US$100 billion Forest City project which consists of four man-made islands.

As of July 2017, the government of Johor Bahru approved a total of 344,977 units. However, the Penang Institute said in August that about a third of this remains unsold.

Collectively, China-based Greenland Group and Country Garden account for 12 percent of the overall number of residential properties in Johor Bahru, but two-thirds are still looking for buyers as these units were mostly marketed to people from mainland China before Beijing restricted money outflows to overseas real estate.

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