Leaving a legacy by buying a house first before a luxury car …


 

DURING big festive celebrations such as Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Deepavali and the recently celebrated Chinese New Year, it is common to see families with a few generations gathered together.

Our grandparents, parents, uncles and aunties would talk about the legacies left by our ancestors, and the stories often attract a lot of attention whether from the young or old.

Perhaps, the topic of leaving a legacy is something worth sharing as we embark on a brand new year.

For years, I have been touched by the catchy tagline of a renowned Swiss watch advertisement, “You never actually own a (the watch brand), you merely look after it for the next generation”.

While most of us can relate to the thought, not all of us can indulge in such luxurious watches or be interested in buying one. However, at some point in time, we may be looking at buying a property to pass down to our younger generations.

Whenever the topic of leaving a legacy is brought up, I would recall the lesson that I learnt from my late father. My father embarked on a long journey from China to Malaysia at the age of 16. With years of hard work and frugality at his peak, he managed to own a bus company, the Kuala Selangor Omnibus Co.

Other than his bus transport business, he only invested in his children’s education and real estate. He financed seven of his eight sons to have an overseas university education, and when he passed away, he also left four small plots of land in Klang and a company which had 34 buses.

As I look back now, what my late father invested in unintentionally was very beneficial to me when I came back from my studies as an architect. With the land he handed down and the knowledge he equipped me with, I intuitionally got myself involved in small real estate development, and later founded my property development company, Sunrise, in 1968.

Many people have thought of leaving a legacy. The crucial questions often asked are, when should we start planning for it, and how should we go about it?

For financial planning and investment, I always believe that the earlier we start, the better off we are. The same goes to leaving a legacy.

If you plan to buy a property, it is advisable to start earlier as it is more affordable to buy it now as compared to 10 or 20 years down the line especially with rising costs and inflation in mind. You can start with what you can afford first and focus on long-term investment.

It is proven that property prices appreciate over a period of time, especially when we plan to hand over assets to the next generation that easily involves a 20- to 30-year timeline.

As a developing nation which enjoys high growth rate, Malaysia’s property values will also appreciate in tandem with the economic growth in the long run.

Nowadays, we often hear youngsters comment on the challenges of owning a house due to the rising cost of living. I believe that besides starting with what you can afford, it is also important to plan your financial position wisely and to differentiate between investment and spending.

Investing in properties, commodities, shares, etc. is also a form of savings which can help to grow your wealth and to leave a legacy. On the other hand, money spent on luxury items may depreciate over time from the day you buy them. If we can prioritise investment over expenditure, it is easier and faster to achieve our financial goals.

So, if you haven’t already started to plan, do consider leaving a legacy by buying a house first before a luxury car, branded bags or expensive gadgets, as the latter are considered ‘luxury’, not necessity.

Even if you may not have a spouse or children at this point in time, it’s better to start now than later, as our financial commitments tend to grow bigger as we progress into the next stages of our lives.

Most of us hope our lives matter in some way that can make an impact on our loved ones. The idea of leaving a legacy can take many forms, such as equipping the younger generations with knowledge and values, or leaving them fond memories.

Those are all important to work on and they leave a footprint to those lives you touch. If you are also planning to hand over physical gifts, always remember to start earlier with what you can afford, and focus on long term investment.

By Food for Thought Alan Tong

Datuk Alan Tong has over 50 years of experience in property development. He was the world president of FIABCI International for 2005/2006 and awarded the Property Man of the Year 2010 at FIABCI Malaysia Property Award. He is also the group chairman of Bukit Kiara Properties. For feedback, please email feedback@fiabci-asiapacific.com.

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Cars are more expensive than houses? A house can buy how many cars?


IN about 3 weeks’ time, we will be celebrating the New Year.

Each New Year comes with new resolutions and new goals. Some would plan to own big ticket items such as a house or a car as part of their resolution. If your plan is to own a new car, finish reading this article before nailing down that resolution.

Owning a car in Malaysia is expensive. In one of my previous articles, I highlighted that Malaysia was ranked second in the world where owning a car is expensive.

But what many do not know is by how much, relative to homes. Yes, homes in Malaysia are expensive too, but relative to Australian homes and cars, our cars are 10 times more expensive than those sold in Australia compared to homes. Let’s do some simple math together.

Khazanah Research Institute (KRI) reported that the median house price in Malaysia is about RM250,000. This is the cost of two Honda Civics (priced at RM110,000 per car).

In Australia, the median house price is A$660,000, while a Honda Civic costs about A$30,000. This means, a median-priced Australian house of A$660,000 can buy 22 Honda Civics, versus a median-priced Malaysian house of RM250,000 which can only buy two cars of the same model. Yes, our homes may not be cheap but our cars are more expensive in comparison.

I further compared Malaysia against the United States and United Kingdom. A median-priced house in US and UK can buy 12 and 16 Honda Civics respectively, which is still more affordable compared to the two which can be bought with a median-priced Malaysian house.

The story does not end here. In addition to the cost of purchasing a car, there are many other financial commitments that comes along with owning a car. These include petrol, parking, toll charges, maintenance, and repair costs. Then, there is the cost of depreciation which ranges from 10 per cent to 20 per cent per year. It does not help that most of these supplementary expenses are frequently being increased. Our cars are indeed costing us a lot.

It is undeniable that a car is a necessity to those who have limited access to public transportation. Until our public transportation system is good enough, people will still need private vehicles to move from one place to another.

Unfortunately our cars are so expensive that the rakyat, especially the younger generation, are forced to put off buying a home until they can afford it. In the meantime, that “wait” causes house prices to appreciate, thus making it even more unaffordable for these people to own a home. This vicious cycle will continue until the government has a permanent solution to address both public transportation and affordable housing.

Perhaps, it is also timely to revisit the rationale behind our National Car Project which was introduced in 1982 to bring a higher level of industrialisation in Malaysia. Since its inception, the price of national and non-national cars have progressively increased through increase in car taxes and excise duties.

The price of non-national cars in Malaysia generally cost 50 per cent to 100 per cent more than the price of the similar make of car in other countries. On the other hand, one of my managers came back from his Aussie trip and shared that a Proton Preve in Australia is RM11,000 cheaper than one that is acquired in Malaysia.

Originally, the National Car Project was a form of protectionism for the national car industry. After more than 30 years since its inception, it has now become a burden to the rakyat, by eating more and more into our disposable income. The National Car Project has served its original purpose, and it is time that we review it.

So now, instead of jotting down my resolution, my wish list for 2016 is for the Government to rationalise and reduce the taxes imposed on cars. This will put more money back into the rakyat’s pockets to start their home ownership journey much earlier. Concurrently, the Government can continue to channel and reinvest some of these funds to build a comprehensive and effective public transportation system in Malaysia which will greatly reduce the rakyat’s dependency on private vehicles.

And for those who still wish to buy a car, think twice as owning a car is too expensive and unaffordable – it may also cost you your home.

By Datuk Alan Tong Food for Thought
 
Food for thought  By DATUK ALAN TONG


> FIABCI Asia Pacific chairman Datuk Alan Tong has over 50 years of experience in property development. He was FIABCI World president in 2005/06 and was named Property Man of The Year 2010. He is also the group chairman of Bukit Kiara Properties. (email atfeedback@bukitkiara.com) 

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Save Penang Hill from the greedy


Uphill battle: A hiker passing by a vegetable farm on Penang Hill overlooking Air Itam.

Treasured heritage seems to be losing its charm to illegal farms and development

THE stall at the Air Itam market in Penang is said to offer the best asam laksa in Malaysia.

Rain or shine, it pulls in the crowd.

The ingredients for the dish such as ginger bud (bunga kantan), mint leaves (daun pudina), laksa leaves (daun kesum) and kalamansi limes (limau kasturi) come from Penang Hill, which is less than 200m away.

Farmers who cultivate the land at the hillslope sell their produce at the wet markets on the island.

The fertile hillslope from Air Itam to Paya Terubong is cultivated with vegetables and fruits.

Demand for the produce is so great that farmers are illegally clearing the hillslope to expand their farms.

About 2km from the market along Jalan Paya Terubong, there is a trail leading to a hillslope.

Lately, hikers and mountain bike enthusiasts have been using the trail to reach the 135-year-old Cheng Kon Tse Temple, nestled on the slope of the hill.

Travellers can see vegetable farms and fruit trees on both sides of the trail.

There are nutmeg trees, kalamansi lime trees, papaya and banana trees.

The vegetables include lemon grass, lady fingers and sweet potato.

As one continues walking up, a large swathe of hillslope which had been cleared near the telecommunication towers comes into view.

The bald patch can be seen from the Paya Terubong road below.

The slopes on Penang Hill have been cleared by farmers over the past few decades.

Such illegal hillslope clearing has been raised by environmental groups but there has been no firm action from the authorities.

A former Penang Island City Councillor claimed that he had provided pictures of the clearings to state leaders and that he had also raised the matter with the Consumers Association of Penang and Malaysian Nature Society.

“The press should continue to highlight the issue so that something is done finally,” said the former councillor who did not want to be identified for fear that the farmers might go after him.

“Penang Hill is our heritage. But no one seems to bother,” he said.

Besides Penang Hill, bald patches are also appearing on hills in several parts of the island.

Bukit Relau in Jalan Bukit Gambier has been dubbed “botak hill”.

There is also hill clearance in Bukit Kukus in Paya Terubong and Bukit Laksamana, a water catchment for the Teluk Bahang Dam.

More and more hillslopes are going bald because of developers and contractors who cleared the land without the authorities’ approval.

The clearings are done on weekends and smoke can be seen from far when the trees are burnt.

A large swathe of land has also been cleared at a place referred by hikers as level 45 station.

It should not be difficult to nab the culprits since there are cemented trails all over the hillslopes in Air Itam and Paya Terubong.

When The Star reported on Feb 14 last year that more bald spots could be seen, a state exco member said they had pictures of the illegal activity and that action would be taken against the culprits but till now, no one knows what the action is.

It is troubling that all this is happening under a state government which emphasises on Competency, Accountability and Transparency.

Penang Hill seems to be losing its charm.

Yet, the state government seems to be focused on mega projects and land reclamation.

At a state assembly sitting last month, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the Penang Island City Council was using drones to check on illegal hill clearing and CCTVs would be installed next year to monitor illegal earthworks.

The spate of hill clearings has prompted the Penang Forum, a coalition of public interest NGOs, to hold a forum on Save the Hills of Penang tomorrow.

Hopefully, the outcome from the event will reach the right ears.

There is a compelling need to save the hills from greedy farmers and developers.

Comment by K. Suthakdar

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Kuala Lumpur property: KSK Land ups the ante with iconic 8 Conlay


 
KSK Group Bhd chairman Tan Sri Kua Sian Kooi with daughter Joanne who is KSK CEO & KSK Land Sdn Bhd MD

Flexibility: 8 Conlay units have the flexibility that allows residents to live their story the way they desire.

Fresh from announcing that its branded residence for Tower A at 8 Conlay project will be sold at a record RM3,200 per sq ft, Kempinski Hotel Kuala Lumpur has now been recognised under the Government’s Economic Transformation Programme.

IF 8 Conlay’s RM3,200 per sq ft (psf)selling price has set tongues wagging for possibly setting a new pricing record in luxury living, here is another development to add to the several “firsts” the project has notched since it was announced some two-and-a-half years ago.

Kempinski Hotel Kuala Lumpur, which is a component of 8 Conlay, has been recognised as an entry point project under the Tourism National Key Economic Area (NKEA) of the ETP – the Government’s initiative to propel the economy into high-income status by 2020.

Kempinski Hotels, Europe’s oldest luxury hotelier, is the hospitality partner of 8 Conlay’s owner and property developer KSK Land Sdn Bhd.

The hotelier will provide services for the project’s branded residence towers as well as manage the hotel tower.

“We got it (the endorsement) recently,” declares a proud Joanne Kua, who is the managing director of KSK Land.

According to the 30-year-old, the recognition is a sign of “quality assurance” that will place 8 Conlay on the global map.

“Even though we are in the ETP because of Kempinski Hotel Kuala Lumpur, Kempinski is also servicing our branded residence.

“This means there is a level of service that we need to adhere to for the entire development. This has always been what we have been reiterating at KSK Land, where every development we undertake has to be of good quality, and the service we provide to customers is always on top of our minds,” Joanne tells StarBizWeek.

“Being the owner of Kempinski Hotel Kuala Lumpur, we are proud to be pushing the boundaries by bringing the Kempinski brand into the Malaysian market because we are one of the few – if not only – fully integrated branded residence developments in the KLCC area.”

Kempinski Hotel Kuala Lumpur is slated to open its doors in 2020, coinciding incidentally with the planned “Visit Malaysia Year” in that same year.

In terms of numbers, Kempinski Hotel Kuala Lumpur is projected to bring in RM19.8mil in gross national income or GNI in the year 2020, which is expected to grow in the following years. Job-wise, the hotel is expected to create some 780 employment opportunities when it opens its doors in January 2020, while committed private investments amount to RM360mil, shares Joanne. This RM360mil is the cost of developing the hotel minus the land cost.

Shedding more light on the ETP recognition, the KSK Group director for corporate strategy and investments Pankaj C Kumar says that these numbers have been audited by the panel of auditors at the Performance Management and Delivery Unit or Pemandu, the driver of the ETP initiative.

“We started engaging with them early last year. Under the ETP’s Tourism NKEA, the Government’s plan is to increase the number of four- and five-star hotels, as well as increase the room rate in Malaysia, which is still relatively lower as compared to the region. They also want to create more vibrancy within the KLCC and Bukit Bintang areas,” says Pankaj.

Kempinski Hotels chief executive officer (CEO) Alejandro Bernabé says the ETP recognition raises the profile of its upcoming hotel in Kuala Lumpur. “For us, this creates even bigger expectations not from the construction point of view, but from the deliverance of (service) expectations. With the opening of the hotel in 2020 coinciding with a planned Visit Malaysia Year, we have to ensure we get it right from day one, as we cannot afford to let the honour of the country down,” he says in the joint interview. Bernabé was in town for the launch of 8 Conlay’s signature sales gallery on Wednesday. During the launch, phase one of 8 Conlay’s branded residence units known as YOO8, serviced by Kempinski, was officially open for sale. A private viewing for a select few of around 200 comprising the who’s who of the corporate circle was held on the same evening of the launch.

With piling works having begun at the four-acre site, it seems to be all systems go despite the expected slowdown seen in the property sector by analysts.

And in what is seen as a “coup of sorts” in positioning and differentiating 8 Conlay, the company has teamed up with the crème de la crème of brand partners like internationally-celebrated design company YOO, local architect Ar Hud Bakar and Bangkok-based landscape design firm TROP other than the world-class hotel management services of Kempinski.

8 Conlay unveiled

8 Conlay owes its name to the auspicious address it sits on in Kuala Lumpur’s Golden Triangle. The development comprises of two YOO-interior designed branded residence towers of 57- and 62-storey blocks that will be connected via two sky bridges on levels 26 and 44. The development is complemented by a 68-storey five-star Kempinski Hotel, serviced suites and a lifestyle retail component.

YOO8 comprises two spectacular towers of 1,062 luxury branded residence, ranging from one to three-bedroom units.

Tower A of YOO8 will feature 564 units covering 700 square feet to 1,308 square feet selling at an average price of a whopping RM3,200 psf.

According to the company, 70% of Tower A has been reserved, with 80% comprising Malaysians.

Meanwhile, Tower B of YOO8 will feature 468 units to be launched some time next year.

Can 8 Conlay usher KSK into the competitive world of property?

8 Conlay’s selling price of RM3.200 psf, which is RM500 psf higher than the indicative RM2,700 psf it was only recently looking at, begs the question of whether it can sell in a soft market. Being the maiden venture for KSK Land, all eyes are on the company and its young and petite head honcho, Joanne. After all, 8 Conlay’s entry into the branded residence space is coming after a hiatus of similar launches in the city.

 

Joanne: ‘Price is reflection of interest.’

Joanne: ‘Price is reflection of interest.’

KSK Land is the property arm of KSK Group Bhd, which has insurance as its other core business. KSK Group was formerly known as Kurnia Asia Bhd that was privatised in 2013.

Joanne, who is also KSK Group’s CEO, is the daughter of the 62-year-old KSK patriarch and executive chairman Tan Sri Kua Sian Kooi.

While Joanne is playing a bigger role as the face of property in the KSK stable, it is no secret that senior Kua remains the driving force of the group.

KSK had sold its Malaysian insurance business in 2013 and diversified into property in the same year. It still operates insurance businesses in Thailand and Indonesia.

A quick check with property consultants indicate that the Banyan Tree branded residence is being transacted at prices between RM2,500 and RM3,000 psf, while St Regis was approaching the RM3,000 psf mark as at July estimates.

As for Four Season’s Place, a property consultant puts the going figure between RM3,000 and RM3,500 psf. “At RM3,200 psf, 8 Conlay is trying to position itself in the likes of Four Seasons. However, Four Seasons sold its units much earlier and it would be interesting to see if 8 Conlay is able to match Four Seasons, given the current market situation,” says the property consultant.

Joanne, however, remains optimistic that 8 Conlay would do well and prove the sceptics wrong.

“The price is a reflection of interest coming from the market. At the same time, if you were to compare what’s around the KLCC area, the pricing will justify the product.

“In terms of value, our location on Jalan Conlay is a strong point as in the branded residence market, buyers buy for location, which itself is capital preservation,” she says, pointing out that branded residences command a 30% higher value than luxury apartments based on a recent Knight Frank report.

Bernab: ‘Kempinski Hotel Kuala Lumpur in the ETP raises the hotel’s profile.’
Bernabé: ‘Kempinski Hotel Kuala Lumpur in the ETP raises the hotel’s profile.’

The disproportion between local and foreign buyers is due to the lack of marketing so far. “With the launch of the sales gallery, we are only now officially going out to market. We are eyeing all major cities like Singapore, Shanghai, Beijing, Taipei, Korea, Hong Kong, Japan and the Middle East.”

The project is eyeing an equal spread of local and foreign buyers.

Locally, she shares that interest has been coming from surprisingly “young professionals who are well-travelled and know of Kempinski”.

“A branded residence is something one buys for capital appreciation for the long term. The buyers are a discerning lot and yearn to have a certain lifestyle.”

In terms of benchmarking, Joanne says that 8 Conlay is being benchmarked with other similar branded residences around the world and that prices in Malaysia are still relatively on the low side.

“If you look at branded residences in London, they are really about infusing three components. One is a five-star luxury service provider which you cannot deviate from. The second is the design element. When you partner a good name for design, buyers feel “safe” knowing that what is to be given is of a certain quality and level.

“The third is the architecture component, which often tends to be overlooked. But people who buy a branded residence are discerning buyers who look for offerings that are limited and unique.”

A unique proposition

Joanne describes it as providing a seamless experience for buyers all the way from the outside to the inside.

“When the thought process began to develop 8 Conlay, we looked at the branded residence space around the world and asked ourselves what was really available here. This is when we decided that we had to differentiate ourselves from the rest and would be able to do it,“ says Joanne.

This in essence sealed the company’s partnership with Kempinski. “What is unique about Kempinski is that in every hotel in the different cities it operates, there is a combination of its heritage and the owner’s identity, which I think is a strength many hoteliers don’t have. That’s one of the reasons why we like Kempinski because of the flexibility that allows for both parties’ personalities to stand out. That makes a very good hotel,” says Joanne.

She shares that the affinity to Kempinski is not altogether a new idea to KSK.

“The (Kua) family has had experience with staying at different Kempinski Hotels as we travelled a lot. So, when we were looking to partner a hotelier, Kempinski naturally popped into our chairman’s mind fairly quickly,” she says.

At the same time, Kempinski was also scouting for opportunities in Kuala Lumpur as part of its expansion into this part of the region.

Water theme: A unit designed around the ‘water’ element. Upon entering, one is treated to the magnificent view of KL City Centre beyond the foldable doors.
Water theme: A unit designed around the ‘water’ element. Upon entering, one is treated to the magnificent view of KL City Centre beyond the foldable doors.

“Kempinski is quite exclusive. We choose our projects very carefully and make sure we work with partners that share the same common values.

“We are looking for exclusivity and authenticity and benchmark ourselves with the top residences in the world because customers who buy these residences have choices being well-travelled,” adds Kempinski’s Bernabé.

He reckons that having other branded hotel residences around 8 Conlay is not competition, but rather a good thing for the person who lives there because “if you live in a branded residence, you would want your neighbourhood to be of the same calibre”.

Drawing strength from brand partners

Joanne says 8 Conlay’s strength is the diversity of the international brand partners it has teamed up with, which would serve as an advantage as it markets overseas.

“Tower A is designed by Steve Leung and YOO. Steve Leung is akin to the “Andy Lau of design” in Hong Kong and China, while Kempinski has a strong presence in the Middle East and China,” says Joanne.

“For interior design, we have YOO which is not new to the branded residence segment. It knows what it means to take on the little details that people don’t see in space optimisation. This is why we market our residence fully furnished because that is the strength we want to show in one of our brand partners.

“And as far as the Kempinski name for service is concerned, you can only experience it if you have stayed in one of the Kempinski Hotels and understand the service standard it brings to the table.”

Incidentally, for Kempinski, YOO, Steve Leung and TROP, this is their first time in Malaysia. “The good thing about this is that it gives us a fresh pair of eyes, where we can innovate and do something different.”

Joanne says the company is also not strategising to compete with other players for its retail component. “In fact, we like it that Pavilion is close to us because it provides options for our buyers.

“We are not building a mall, we’re building a retail lifestyle quarter. We are going with the design first, as it needs to complement the whole development and be an attractive point on its own,” she says.

Taking a leaf out of its insurance book

Joanne believes that 8 Conlay’s unique concept will pan out as planned.

“When we conceptualised the project, our chairman Tan Sri Kua made it clear that he wanted to grow into a conglomerate. It’s not that we woke up one morning and decided that we wanted to go into property. The root of our business is in insurance, which is a long-gestation project. There is no denying that property is also for the long term, so there is no right or wrong time to go into this business.

“In insurance, we come from a base where it is all about customer service. So, when looking at property, we also looked at it from a completely different angle … we put ourselves in the customer’s shoes and decided what we could do differently.

“When we decided which direction we wanted to go into in property, the message was very clear – to make sure we added value to the customer.”

“Creating extraordinary living spaces is what we do. KSK Land is formed on this philosophy and our job here is to create something extraordinary for 8 Conlay.”

On her taking on a mammoth project at a relatively young age, Joanne says she does not see her role from a gender perspective. “Any CEO would face the same challenges as me. The important thing is mutual respect, and in KSK, we are a family. We work together and celebrate together.”

By Gurmeet Kaur The Starbiz

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High cost under new law may affect property investors’ profit margin


Strata regime: Return on investment will always be a consideration as higher cost would certainly affect the possible margin of profit in today’s buyers’ market.

Counting the cost: Investors’ profit margin may be affected under new law

PROPERTY has topped the list of investment options for those who have extra cash. Property investors and those who prefer other instruments, are trying to gain maximum returns on their hard earned money.

Property investment has gained momentum because of the price boom in the last 10 years as seen by the massive development and high take-up rate.

Because the bulk of these properties are stratified residential properties, legislations have been updated for a more efficient delivery of strata titles. Essentially, these new legislations provide more protection to house buyers.

Among these are the Housing Development (Control and Licensing) (Amendment) Act 2012 (“HDAA”), Strata Titles (Amendment) Act 2013 and Strata Management Act 2013 (both “Strata regime”). The Strata Management Act came into effect on June 1, 2015.

Return on investment will always be a consideration as higher cost would certainly affect the possible margin of profit in today’s buyers’ market. While having new legislations are good news for house buyers, these new legislations could also impact the cost of any investment in strata residential property.

For a start, there is now higher compliance cost for the housing developers, as there is an increase in the amount to be deposited in the housing development account.

There is also the new requirement to maintain the common property defects account prior to the delivery of the keys to the house buyers.

This means that under the new regime, developers will have a higher compliance cost, which may indirectly result in fluctuations of property prices. This means developers need to be financially strong and there is the possibility that they may incur financial costs as they try to maintain a feasible and sustainable cash flow.

This will discourage the smaller players. Having fewer choices is definitely not good news for the investors.

In addition, there is also a higher transactional cost for those who plan to flip their properties.

The earlier issuance of strata title upon delivery of vacant possession will require investors to fork out expenses related to the stamp duty before selling the completed property to the next buyer.

In other words, there is no longer savings on the stamp duty on transfer for those investors who bought directly from the developers. This lowers the return on investment, not to mention having to bear with the longer and complicated process of double transfers for those who are eager to dispose of the property on delivery of vacant possession.

The new template of the prescribed sale and purchase agreement HDAA (Schedule H) also requires that the payment shall be in compliance with the schedule of payment and no person shall act as stakeholder to collect such payment.

In simpler sense, the developer is no longer allowed to collect booking fee from the investors for their preferred unit and the unit they have selected is only secured upon the signing of the sale and purchase agreement with the 10% payment.

As such, there is no turning back once you have signed on those dotted lines and there is no way to secure your unit of choice with lower amount while you are working on the full 10% deposit.

Another cost that will burden property investors is the maintenance fees charged by the management office when they get their keys to their properties. The new strata regime has provided for the possibility of limited common property usage and the exclusive use of certain facilities – a privilege – which comes with a price tag. If the management adopts any limited common property, they are looking at a two-tier service charges and sinking fund, with one for those who have the use of one set of common properties and the other for the use of limited common property, to be enjoyed only by a selected few.

Despite monetary cost, time cost is also a factor for investors. A purchase into a strata development now calls for more involvement in the management as the management corporation of the development is formed much earlier now with the possibility of having the title and the keys delivered at the same time.

The new strata regime requires the active participation of all owners, as the tenure of the office bearer is limited. Other owners are required to sit in the management corporation committee on subsequent years. Despite the fact that taking up the responsibilities of committee members offers monetary gains, any misconduct or negligence may now result in a penalty.

The new restrictions on advertisement and representation by the developers also mean that the investors are required to spend time on research and do their own due diligence to better understand the investment. There is no longer permitted representation such as time/distance from a particular venue, projected monetary returns/gains and rental income. Thus, before making decision to invest, the consumers have to do more personal research on the investment.

While property investment remains feasible over the longer term, investors are advised to take these legislations into consideration to come out with a realistic projection of investment return.

By CHRIS TAN Real Legal

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  • General duties of a proprietors according to the Third Schedule of Strata Management Regulation 2015 WHILE last week’s article cove…

Property prices will hold as ringgit falls to new low against USD and S$


PETALING JAYA: The depreciation of the ringgit will not lead to real estate prices crashing.

The Malaysian Institute of Estate Agents (MIEA) president Eric Kho said property remained a sound investment despite the current economic climate.

“Holding property is always better than holding cash,” he said.

Kho acknowledged that demand for primary or new developments had slowed but not as a result of weakening currency.

He said the slowdown was due to Bank Negara guidelines for banks to be more prudent when providing loans as well as increased construction cost due to the Goods and Service Tax (GST).

Kho said construction cost had increased by up to 15% and some developers were holding back on launching new properties.

He said developers who had launched projects were offering huge discounts to attract buyers.

Kho said there was also a slowdown in the secondary market and those looking to buy could expect to pay between 5 and 10% less, depending on location.

Kho, however, expected this situation to be temporary and said property would eventually appreciate.

– The Star/Asia News Network

Ringgit falls to a new low

PETALING JAYA: China’s central bank adjusted the yuan downwards for the second consecutive day, sending markets and currencies reeling.

The ringgit continued its fall against the US dollar, hitting a new low of RM4.0275, largely due to the devaluation of the yuan.

All currencies in the region also continued with their decline against the US dollar.

On a year-to-date basis, the ringgit is the worst performer among its Asian peers, and is down 13.33%. This is followed by the Indonesian rupiah, South Korean won and Thai baht at 9.88%, 8.35% and 6.99%, respectively.

Comparatively, the yuan is now down approximately 4.61%.

The impact on the ringgit is worse compared to other countries because Malaysia is viewed as a net exporter of energy and prices are depressed now – hovering below the US$50 per barrel mark.

Stock markets across the region fell with the Jakarta Composite Index leading the pack by falling 3.1% followed by Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index which dropped 2.38%.

There was a “bloodbath” on Bursa Malaysia where about 90% of the 1,000-odd stocks listed closed lower.

The benchmark KLCI fell for the fifth consecutive day, shedding 26.8 points yesterday to close at 1609 points. Since last Thursday, the index has been down by 116 points.

On Tuesday, the People Bank of China (PBOC) moved the guiding rate for the yuan 2% downwards and yesterday it set it at 1.6% lower. The guiding rate is the band within which the yuan is allowed to trade.

The downward movement is viewed as a devaluation of the yuan and the biggest currency movement for the world’s second largest economy since 1994. Although China abandoned its currency peg in 2005, the central bank manages the yuan in a tight range.

The devaluation of the yuan has sparked concerns that China’s economic slowdown was more severe than anticipated and the central bank had to devalue the currency to export its way out of the situation.

Independent economist Lee Heng Guie said that the devaluation that has sparked a global currency war may end up with no winners.

The impact on depreciating ringgit is likely to be felt most by companies which import their raw materials, consumers and parents with children studying overseas.

BY RAHIMY RAHIM, RAZAK AHMAD, AND L. SUGANYA The Star/Asia News Network

Ringgit hits new record low of 2.9109 to Singdollar

Malaysia’s ringgit hit a new record low against the Singapore dollar on Friday (Aug 14).PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE – Malaysia’s ringgit hit a new record low against the Singapore dollar on Friday (Aug 14), after the Malaysian unit slumped to a fresh 17-year low versus the US dollar.

With the fall in oil prices increasing concerns over the country’s exports, the ringgit lost as much as 2.6 per cent to 4.1180 per dollar, its weakest since Sept. 1 1998.

It recovered some ground to trade at 4.0660 to the US dollar at 2:04pm, bringing its loss this week to about 4.5 per cent.

Malaysia pegged the ringgit at 3.8000 in September 1998 and maintained it until 2005.

Against the Singapore dollar, the ringgit tumbled 1.55 per cent to 2.9109 as at 11:45am from its close of 2.8665 on Thursday. The ringgit pared its losses to trade at 2.8944 as at 2:04pm.

Better-than-expected economic data on Thursday failed to dispel the gloom with the benchmark stock index falling 1.5 per cent on Friday morning, heading for its lowest close since 2012. Fve-year government bond yield rose to 3.982 per cent, its highest since November 2008.

Oil prices fell with crude futures hitting six-and-a-half lows, exacerbating worries about Malaysia’s exports. The country supplies liquefied natural gas and palm oil.

Malaysia has also had to draw heavily on its foreign exchange reserves to defend its currency amid a political scandal, a yuan devaluation and slumping oil prices.

Bank Negara governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz said on Thursday the central bank will need to rebuild the reserves that have fallen below US$100 billion for the first time since 2010.

“Foreigners are still selling,” said Ang Kok Heng, chief investment officer at Phillip Capital Management Bhd. in Kuala Lumpur, told Bloomberg News. “Unless the ringgit stops weakening, I don’t know how long the selling will continue.” – New Straits Time

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Illegal estate agents on the rise


The Board of Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents Malaysia (BOVAEA) is concerned that the number of cases involving illegal real estate brokers will increase if the problem is not addressed soon.

To curb the problem, the board will be working with the relevant government agencies in order to trace and bring these criminals to justice.

In a statement, BOVAEA revealed around 50,000 illegal real estate brokers are duping innocent Malaysians into parting with their hard earned money.

To earn quick cash, these unscrupulous characters impersonate developers’ representatives, property investors, unregistered salespersons, community leaders, foreigners and even housewives.

Last week, a certified negotiator discovered his photograph was printed on name cards under different companies which were being distributed to unsuspecting shop lot owners, who were duped into paying the necessary sales and rental deposits.

“We are afraid the number of cases will increase with desperate property owners trying to cope with the slowdown in the property market,” said BOVAEA Estate Agency Practice Committee (EAPC) chairman Eric Lim Chin Heng.

Lim said they were shocked at property owners’ apathy on determining the authenticity of the people representing them. BOVAEA underscored that estate agency practice is regulated by law.

“Anyone who is not a registered estate agent or is not a certified real estate negotiator is breaking the law. More importantly anyone using the services of anyone who claim to be agents without the authority to practice is not protected by law,” he explained.

To avoid being at the losing end, Lim urges potential property sellers and buyers to check the tags instead of relying on the name cards alone.

“There is a Quick Response (QR) code on each tag so customers can scan the code with their smartphones to find out the background of the agent, the firm they represent, their REN No and their identity.”

Under the Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents Act, those caught abetting an illegal agent can also be fined RM300,000 or face three years imprisonment or both, said Lim.

Farah Wahida, Editor of PropertyGuru, wrote this story. To contact her about this or other stories email farahwahida@propertyguru.com.my

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