Good time to invest in property now

Better upside: (from left) Knight Frank Sdn Bhd international project marketing (residential) senior manager Dominic Heaton-Watson, Knight Frank Asia-Pacific research head Nicholas Holt, Sarkunan and capital markets executive director James Buckley at the event

KUALA LUMPUR: The slowdown in the local property market has bottomed out, with prices seen picking up later this year, according to property consultancy firm Knight Frank Sdn Bhd.

“We predict a stable rate in 2017 and we will possibly see better upside towards the end of the year or early next year,” Knight Frank managing director Sarkunan Subramaniam said.

“The market has had a few years of contraction and we feel that this year, what will clear up one of the major concerns of most investors is the political uncertainty,” he said at the launch of Knight Frank’s 2017 Wealth Report here yesterday.

According to the report, “political uncertainty” was among the top concerns of its respondents in Asia at 25%.

“We’re going to have elections possibly this year. Once they have cleared, there will be positive movement in the market and that’s why I feel now is a good time to buy property in Malaysia.

“Once the elections are out, the economy will generally start picking up and sentiments will improve. Capital will also start coming in,” he said.

According to the wealth report, potential fall in asset values was the highest concern among its Asian respondents at 30%, followed by rising taxes and tighter controls on capital movement at 28% and 27% respectively.

Going forward, Sarkunan said affordable homes would primarily drive the local property market.

“Affordable homes will still be a driver to an extent, but medium-to-high end properties will also pick up again. Also, when the mass rapid transit (MRT) lines come into the city, it will drive the commercial market there as well.

“We’ve had a lot of decentralisation push over the last 10 years and the MRT will bring office workers to the city.”

Sarkunan pointed out that locations with light rail transit (LRT) and MRT lines, such as Damansara Heights, have bucked the trend in terms of condominium values.

“Prices have actually increased compared with some of the other areas in Malaysia. Transport hubs or transport-orientated developments, such as Kota Damansara, have also seen improvements in prices.”

The Knight Frank 2017 Wealth Report tracks the value of luxury homes in 100 key locations worldwide, including 19 destinations from Asia Pacific.

According to the report, values rose globally by 1.4% on average last year, compared with 1.8% in 2015. Asia was the second best performing world region last year, with prices rising 5.1%.

Australasia was the strongest performing world region with prices rising 11.4% year-on-year.


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Global Reset 2016~2017

In a world facing challenges and uncertainties, embrace opportunities for success through innovation.

“I went looking for my dreams outside of myself and discovered, it’s not what the world holds for you, it’s what you bring to it. –Anne Shirley”

THE world is currently at a paradox. Tensions and uncertainty for the future are rising in times of prevailing peace and prosperity. While changes are taking place at an incredibly fast speed, such changes are presenting unprecedented opportunities to those who are willing to innovate.

Recently, most global currencies had weakened against the US dollar (USD). This may give rise to some concern, but it is worth placing in proper perspective that most countries would trade with a few countries instead of just one. Furthermore, we are living in a world with low economic growth, increased mobility and rapid urbanisation.

In such a global landscape, it is important to embrace change and innovation in a courageous way to shape a better future. In L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, Anne Shirley said, “I went looking for my dreams outside of myself and discovered, it’s not what the world holds for you, it’s what you bring to it.”

Paradox, change and opportunity

In the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report 2016-2017, World Economic Forum head of the centre for the global agenda and member of the managing board Richard Samans stated that at a time of rising income inequality, mounting social and political tensions and a general feeling of uncertainty about the future, growth remains persistently low.

Commodity prices have fallen, as has trade; external imbalances are increasing and government finances are stressed.

However, it also comes during one of the most prosperous and peaceful times in recorded history, with less disease, poverty and violence than ever before. Against this backdrop of seeming contradictions, the Fourth Industrial Revolution brings both unprecedented opportunity and an accelerated speed of change.

Creating the conditions necessary to reignite growth could not be more urgent. Incentivising innovation is especially important for finding new growth engines, but laying the foundations for long-term, sustainable growth requires working on all factors and institutions identified in the Global Competitiveness Index.

Leveraging the opportunities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution will require not only businesses willing and able to innovate, but also sound institutions, both public and private; basic infrastructure, health and education, macroeconomic stability and well-functioning labour, financial and human capital markets.

World Economic Forum editor Klaus Schwab stated in The Fourth Industrial Revolution that we are at the beginning of a global transformation that is characterised by the convergence of digital, physical and biological technologies in ways that are changing both the world around us and our very idea of what it means to be human. The changes are historic in terms of their size, speed and scope.

This transformation – the Fourth Industrial Revolution – is not defined by any particular set of emerging technologies themselves, but by the transition to new systems that are being built on the infrastructure of the digital revolution. As these individual technologies become ubiquitous, they will fundamentally alter the way we produce, consume, communicate, move, generate energy and interact with one another.

Given the new powers in genetic engineering and neurotechnology, they may directly impact who we are, and how we think and behave. The fundamental and global nature of this revolution also pose new threats related to the disruptions it may cause, affecting labour markets and the future of work, income inequality and geopolitical security, as well as social value systems and ethical frameworks.

A dollar story

When set in a global landscape where there is uncertainty for the future, when compared to other countries, Malaysia’s economy is performing quite well.

ForexTime vice president of market research Jameel Ahmad said, “When you combine what is happening on a global level, the Malaysian economy is in quite an envious position.”

For 2016, the USD has moved to levels not seen in over 12 years. The dollar index is trading above 100. This was previously seen as a psychological top for USD.

The Malaysian ringgit (MYR) is not alone in the devaluation of its currency. All of the emerging market currencies have been affected in recent weeks.

Similarly, the British £(GBP) has lost 30% this year, falling from US$1.50 to US$1.25 per GBP. The Euro (EUR) has fallen from US$1.15 to US$1.05 in three weeks.

The China Yuan Renmenbi (CNY) is hitting repeated historic lows against the USD. The CNY is only down around 5%.

Jameel believes that the outlook for the USD will be further strengthened. While the dollar was already expected to maintain demand due to the consistent nature of US economic data, the levels of fiscal stimulus that US Presidentelect Donald Trump is aiming to deliver to the US economy will encourage borrowing rates to go up.

This means that it is now more likely than ever that the Federal Reserve will need to accelerate its cycle of monetary policy normalisation (interest rate rises).

Most were expecting higher interest rates in 2017. Trump has also publicly encouraged stronger interest rates. However, when considered that Trump is also promising heavy levels of fiscal stimulus, there is a justified need for higher interest rates, otherwise inflation in the United States will be at risk of getting out of control.

The probability for further gains in the USD due to the availability of higher yields from increased interest rates will mean further pressure to the emerging market currencies.

With populism resulting in victories in both the United States’ presidential election and the EU referendum in the United Kingdom in 2016, attention should be given to the real political issues in Europe and the upcoming political elections in 2017, such as those in Germany and France.

Jameel said, “Until recently, political instability was only associated with developing economies. We are now experiencing a strong emergence across the developed markets. This might lure investors towards keeping their capital within the emerging markets longer. Only time will tell.”

In Malaysia’s case, the economy is still performing at robust levels, despite slowing headline growth. Growth rates in Malaysia are still seen as significantly stronger than those in the developed world.

There are going to be challenges from a stronger USD and other risks such as slowing trade, but the emerging markets are still recording stronger growth rates than the developed world.

Adapting to creative destruction

In a world where changes are taking place rapidly, the ability to adapt to changes plays an important role in encouraging innovation and growth. Global cities are achieving rapid growth by attracting the talented, high value workers that all companies, across industries, want to recruit.

In an era where 490 million people around the world reside in countries with negative interest rates, over 60% of the world’s citizens now own a smartphone and an estimated four billion people live in cities, which is an increase of 23% compared to 10 years ago, these three key trends are shaping our times.

Knight Frank head of commercial John Snow and Newmark Grubb Knight Frank president James D. Kuhn shared that the era of low to negative interest rates has reduced investors’ expectations on what constitutes an acceptable return. The financial roller coaster ride that led to this situation has made safe haven assets highly sought after.

A volatile economy has not stopped an avalanche of technological innovation. Smartphones, tablets, Wi-Fi and 4G have revolutionised the spread of information, increased our ability to work on the move, and led to a flourishing of entrepreneurship.

Fast-growing cities are taking centre stage in the innovation economy and in most of the global cities, supply is not keeping pace with demand for both commercial and residential real estate.

Consequently, tech and creative firms are increasingly relying upon pre-let deals to accommodate growth, while their young workers struggle to find affordable homes.

As the urban economy becomes increasingly people-centric, regardless of a city being driven by finance, aerospace, commodities, defence or manufacturing, the most important asset is a large pool of educated and creative workers.

Consequently, real estate is increasingly a business that seeks to build an environment that attracts and retains such people.

Knight Frank chief economist and editor of global cities James Roberts said, “We are moving into an era where creative people are a highly prized commodity. Cities will thrive or sink on their ability to attract this key demographic.

“A characteristic of the global economy in the last decade has been the phenomenon of stagnation and indeed decline, occurring alongside innovation and success. If you were invested in the right places and technologies, the last decade has been a great time to make money; yet at the same time, some people have lost fortunes.

“The locations that have performed best in this unpredictable environment have generally hosted the creative and technology industries that lead the digital revolution, and disrupt established markets.” The rise of aeroplanes, automobiles and petroleum created economic booms in the cities that led the tech revolution of the 1920s and 30s. Yet elsewhere, recession descended on locations with the industries that lost market share to those new technologies like ship building, train manufacturing and coal mining.

In a world where abundant economic opportunities in one region live alongside stagnation elsewhere, it is not easy to reconcile the fact that countries that were booming just a few years ago on rising commodity prices are now adapting to slower growth.

Just as surprising are Western cities that are now thriving as innovation centres, when they were dismissed as busted flushes in 2009 due to their high exposure to financial centres.

Roberts said, “This is creative destruction at work in the modern context. The important lesson for today’s property investor or occupier of business space, is to ensure you are on-the ground where the ‘creation’ is occurring and have limited exposure to the ‘destruction’. This is not easy, as the pace of technological change is accelerating at a speed where the old finds itself overtaken by the new.

“However, real estate in the global cities arguably offers a hedged bet against this uncertainty due to the nature of the modern urban economy, where those facing destruction, quickly reposition towards the next wave of creation.”

The industries that drive the modern global city are not dependent upon machinery or commodities but people, who deliver economic flexibility.

A locomotive plant cannot easily retool to make electric cars, raising a shortcoming of the single industry factory town. Similarly, an oil field in Venezuela has limited value for any other commercial activity.

However, a modern office building in a global city like Paris can quickly move from accommodating bankers in rows of desks to techies in flexible work space. Therefore, there is adaptability in the people in a service economy city which is matched by the city’s real estate.

In the people-driven global cities, a new industry can redeploy the ‘infantry’ from a fading industry via recruitment. Similarly, the professional and business service companies that served the banks, now serve a new clientele of digital firms.

In contrast, manufacturing or commodity-driven economies face greater barriers when reinventing themselves.

Today, landlords across the world struggle with how to judge the covenants of firms who have not been in existence long enough to have three years of accounts, but are clearly the future.

Consequently, both landlord and tenant need to approach real estate deals with flexibility. Landlords will need to give ground on lease term and financial track record, and occupiers must compensate the landlord for the increased risk via a higher rent.

Another big challenge for the Western global cities will be competition from emerging market cities that succeed in repositioning themselves away from manufacturing, and towards creative services. The process has started, with Shanghai now seeing a rapid expansion of its tech and creative industries.

The big Western centres still lead in services, but the challenge from emerging markets cities did not end with the commodities rout. They are just experiencing creative destruction and will emerge stronger to present a new challenge to the West.

From Mak Kum Shi The Star/ANN

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Malaysian property market correction to continue in 2016, its economic cycles the past 25 years


Malaysia’s Q3 Property Market Update

Check your risk appetite and start investing as this is as good a time as any to invest in real estate be they physical assets, property stocks or real estate investment trusts (REITs).

Industry experts held this view during a panel discussion entitled “Where to put your money – real estate, stocks or REITs?” at The Edge Investment Forum on Real Estate 2016 (REIF 2016) on April 30.

For housebuyers especially, this is a good time to buy as the market correction which started last year will continue this year, said panellist Sunway Bhd managing director of the property development division for Malaysia and Singapore Sarena Cheah.

She said the banking sector is well-capitalised while non-performing loans are declining, which means borrowers still have the ability to service their loans.

Cheah noted that property prices have been on the uptrend for the past 10 years with an average capital appreciation of 8% to 9% from 2005 to 2015, buoyed by a healthy employment rate and low interest rate.

“Property price growth for 2015 had dipped 2% compared with 2014, but the compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of capital appreciation had achieved 12%,” she shared.

“Property investment is a safe investment as it is one of the basic necessities. Strong demand will continue to support the capital appreciation of properties,” she added.

However, she advised investors to study the location, the developer and the future growth potential of a property or project before buying.

Also on the panel were Kenanga Investment Bank Bhd head of equity research Sarah Lim and Axis REIT Managers Bhd chief executive officer and finance director Leong Kit May. The Edge Communications Sdn Bhd and The Edge Property Sdn Bhd managing director Au Foong Yee was the moderator.

Lim expected property prices to plateau for the next few years before the next upcycle.

“The big rally in transaction volume and prices in 2010 to 2012 was supported by the baby boomers who were in their late 30s or early 40s. The next upcycle will depend on the next generation which would be the Millennials,” she explained.

In the near term, Kenanga Investment Bank has placed an “underweight” rating on the property sector as it expected property stocks to be volatile and eventually be range-bound due to the absence of catalysts, while earnings risks remain.

However, steady defensive big-cap players such as UOA Bhd and S P Setia Bhd have light balance sheets and high exposure to areas in the Klang Valley while Sunway Bhd and Eco World Development Group Bhd are worth looking at, she said.

Among the small to mid-capital players to look out for is Hua Yang Bhd – it is undervalued and has high yields.

Lim also noted that Malaysia’s residential supply is outpacing demand in the wrong segment as there is insufficient supply for residential properties priced between RM250,000 and RM500,000.

“Residential developments priced below RM500,000 constitute less than 35% of most developers’ upcoming projects,” she said.

Meanwhile, REITs could be the cornerstone of a portfolio of quality assets for investors who are looking for lower risk and stable income from rental properties.

“A REIT is a listed vehicle that invests in a portfolio of income-generating properties. Rents collected from tenants, less expenses, are distributed on a regular basis to provide stable yields to unit holders,” said Leong.

She noted that the current dividend yield for Malaysian REITs is at 6.69%, compared to fixed deposits which is at 3.31% and the Employees Provident Fund’s yield of 6.40%.

“The benefits of investing in REITs include the predictability in income stream in the form of distribution income, having a liquid proxy to physical property investment, transparent daily pricing, high level of disclosures and transparency, low entry cost and professional management,” she added.

On the future performance of MREITs, Leong said the company foresees no future interest hikes which augurs well for REITs as a higher interest may affect the trust companies’ ability to pay higher dividends. – The Edge Property

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Malaysia’s property market seen next high in 2018

Property market next high
SK Brothers Realty Sdn Bhd general manager Chan Ai Cheng (filepic) believes the market would bounce back as soon as the Government decides to “boost the sector,” namely, measures promoting the industry. “We hope the market will return within the next two years,” she said.

‘Next market high’ for property seen in 2018

PETALING JAYA: A combination of pent-up demand, improved buyer sentiment and overall business environment is expected to spur the local property market to its “next market high” in 2018.

PPC International Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Siva Shanker said conditions have been improving albeit slowly, with the implementation of the goods and services tax (GST) not really having much of an impact as originally expected.

“GST came and went and everyone is still carrying on. But the general perception is that business is slow. When things are slow, the first thing that suffers will be property, because it is a big-ticket item.”

Siva said property transactions, not prices, have been spiralling since 2012.

“But we believe things (transactions) are improving already and we expect 2018 to be the next market high,” he said.

SK Brothers Realty Sdn Bhd general manager Chan Ai Cheng believes the market would bounce back as soon as the Government decides to “boost the sector,” namely, measures promoting the industry.

“We hope the market will return within the next two years,” she said.

Chan admitted that property transactions this year have been a little slower compared with the same period in 2014.

“From our marketing activities and road shows so far, it (transactions) has reduced compared with last year. There’s a bit of hesitation.

She added that the central bank’s tighter lending rules has had an impact on transactions.

“Year-to-date bookings have been about the same as last year, but conversions into sales are not the same.”

An AmResearch report last week reaffirmed an “overweight” outlook for the local property sector.

“While we expect residential prices to continue moving sideways in 2015, a return of pent-up demand towards end-2015 – barring external shocks – is possible as the market is still awash with liquidity.

“Besides that, property cooling measures and post GST impact appears to have already been priced-in, given the steep 52% discount that property stocks within our coverage currently trade at vis-à-vis their respective net asset value.”

In terms of property sub-segments, Siva feels that high-end condominiums are oversupplied within the Klang Valley.

“With that, owners will have problems selling. The landed (residential), industrial and commercial sectors, I believe, will be alright.”

He said the office subsector was also oversupplied – but added that it wasn’t a worrying situation.

“In the short-to-medium term, the oversupply will be absorbed. This is normal. Not every building will be fully taken up – it usually takes a while to get tenants anyway.”

In terms of pricing, Siva said secondary property prices were between 20% and 40% cheaper than new launches.

“It’s the secondary market that’s doing better now. But the focus should be on affordable homes, namely those below the RM500,000-range.

“Landed property within this price range is grossly undersupplied,” he said.

Source: By EUGENE MAHALINGAM The Star/Asia News Network


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Stupid fellow ! Dr Ling, former Malaysian Transport Minister slams Attorney-General

Ling Liong SikUTAR Council Chairman Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik speaking to the media regarding UTAR Initiatives and Developments at the Sg Long Campus, Kajang on Tuesday.

KAJANG: There was nothing wrong in the land purchase for the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) project, said former transport minister Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik.

“The Cabinet was correct in deciding on that. It’s only the A-G (attorney-general who) thinks it’s a wrong decision. Stupid fellow,” he said at a press conference here yesterday to announce Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman’s (Utar) latest initiatives and developments.

Dr Ling also said the land was sold to PKFZ at RM21 psf. He added that the land is now valued between RM70 to RM80psf, saying that it was already a profit.

Dr Ling and another former transport minister Tan Sri Chan Kong Choy was charged for cheating the Government over the PKFZ project. Both were later acquitted.

Dr Ling was acquitted on Oct 25 last year on three charges of cheating the Government over the PKFZ land deal. The trial began in August 2011.

Justice Ahmadi Asnawi, in delivering the judgment last year, held that the defence had managed to raise reasonable doubt into the prosecution’s case over the main and two alternative charges against Dr Ling.

Justice Ahmadi added that there was no evidence on who initiated the PKFZ project involving the procurement of the land.

The court found that Dr Ling’s evidence was corroborated by the testimony of former prime minister and then-finance minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Justice Ahmadi added that it was apparent Dr Ling merely signed off documents presented to him by his officers and later made the presentation to the Cabinet.

He said that when the Cabinet decided to approve the purchase of the land by Port Klang Authority (PKA) from Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd (KDSB), the Cabinet knew that the value of RM25psf did not include the total amount of interest payable and that interest of 7.5% would be payable over and above RM25psf.

Besides that, Justice Ahmadi said that the purchase of the land was not decided over a single Cabinet meeting but rather it was deliberated periodically between March 1999 and Nov 6, 2002.

Utar plans training hospital 

KAJANG: Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (Utar) plans to open a specialist training hospital in Perak that will be named the Sultan Azlan Shah Hospital.

Utar council chairman Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik (pic) said the specialist training hospital would be located near the university’s Kampar campus, though he stopped short of mentioning any time frame for construction.

“The hospital will offer treatment using traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) as well as Western or conventional medicine,” he told reporters yesterday to announce the university’s latest initiatives and developments.

Dr Ling said the hospital, which would serve the public, would be used to train medical students.

According to the Utar website, the university has been accepting students for its Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) programme since May 2010, while it was also the first institution approved to offer a bilingual TCM degree programme in Malaysia from May 2011.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Dr Ling said the land for the hospital had been donated to Utar by Perak ruler, Sultan Azlan Shah.

Utar president Prof Datuk Dr Chuah Hean Teik said the university would help to build and operate the hospital.

Separately, MCA president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai announced that Dr Ling would helm the newly set up MCA Higher Education Institutions Coordination Committee.

The committee is tasked with streamlining the courses offered by the four educational initiatives of MCA: Tunku Abdul Rahman University College (TARUC), Tunku Abdul Rahman University (Utar), Kojadi Institute and the Institute Of Childhood Education Studies and Community Education.

Liow noted that they were “overlapping” courses offered by TARUC and Utar, especially after the former was upgraded from a college to university college last year.

Asked on why Dr Ling was picked for the post, Liow said: “He is a veteran who has shown his commitment and contribution to the development of the two institutions.

“Now we want to further develop the MCA higher learning section, and we need a lot of effort to synchronise and synergise to ensure that we can perform better in this area,” he added.


The Star/Asia News Network

No asset bubble, said Malaysian Central Bank governor

Malaysia has addressed many issues, risks 

Bank Negara_Zeti
Zeti:‘There is confidence in the financialsystem.’- EPA  

KUALA LUMPUR: There is no reason to believe that Malaysia has seen the formation of an asset bubble that is about to burst, as the country has addressed many of the issues and risks related to it, says Bank Negara governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz.


She said three series of macro prudential measures had been introduced this year to avoid the very risk of the formation of such a bubble asset.

She was responding to a question on whether Malaysia was experiencing an asset bubble that would burst if China’s economy tumbled and as global interest rates rose, as reported recently by the foreign media.

“Conditions between now and in 1997/1998 are different. We are now on a growth path,” she told a press conference in conjunction with the South East Asian Central Banks (Seacen) 30th Anniversary Conference on Greater Financial Integration and Financial Stability and launch of the Seacen Financial Stability Journal.

Zeti said domestic demand was driving Malaysia’s economic growth and the country was not at the epicentre of the recent global financial crisis.

“Our financial intermediaries remain resilient and the supply of credit was never disrupted,” she added.

She said financial intermediation was continuing and financial markets continued to function.

“There is confidence in the financial system. This is the result of the focus over the last decade on financial reforms that have strengthened the foundation of our financial system.

“We believe that credit growth has moderated to a sustainable pace that supports the growth of the economy. In this regard, we continue to monitor conditions,” Zeti added.

Meanwhile, in her opening address at the conference, Zeti said the modernisation of the Asian financial system had been accompanied by a significant strengthening of the regulatory and supervisory frameworks.

She said it had also been accompanied by improved financial safety nets, a more effective surveillance of financial stability risks and stronger legal underpinnings.

“These reforms supported the transition towards more market-oriented financial systems that are anchored in stronger institutions, risk management capacity and governance,” she added.

“Our financial institutions are supported by stronger financial buffers to withstand adverse developments and shocks.

“Significant strides also continue to be made in strengthening consumer protection frameworks, promoting financial inclusion, and enhancing market discipline,” she said.

She also said these developments continued to support the region through the recent episodes of turbulence in the global financial markets.

“The region has also made important strides in enhancing monetary and financial cooperation arrangements to address regional financial stability issues and global policy spillovers.

“Much has been accomplished in the areas of surveillance arrangements, financial safety nets and crisis prevention, management and resolution,” she added.

On the Asian financial integration model for the ten Asean economies, Zeti said it was focused on strengthening pre-conditions through collective capacity building to promote more open market access.

“It also focuses on progressively reducing barriers to facilitate cross-border trade, developing the market infrastructure and an enabling environment to promote the efficient and effective intermediation of cross-border financial flows.

“It also focuses on establishing appropriate safeguards for the stability of the financial system,” she added.

Meanwhile, Bank Negara and the Bank of Korea jointly announced the establishment of a bilateral local currency swap arrangement. It is designed to promote the use of local currencies for bilateral trade and strengthen financial cooperation between Malaysia and South Korea, Bank Negara said in a statement.

This arrangement allows for the exchange of local currencies between the two central banks of up to five trillion Korean won or RM15bil.

The effective period of the arrangement is three years, and could be extended by mutual agreement between the central banks. – Bernama

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Malaysia’s property market still growing strongly

KENNY TanMalaysia’s property market still has much room to grow and will benefit from the high property prices in Singapore, said founder and principal trainer of Singapore-based School of Infinite Potential, Kenny Tan (pix).

“Malaysia(‘s property market) still has much growth. The market here is exciting and there is a lot of potential and resources. Malaysia can become a really solid country with its hardworking people,” he told SunBiz in an interview.

Tan, who is also ERA Realty Network Pte Ltd group division director and a practising real estate agent, said property prices in Singapore have driven buyers to Malaysia due to its closeness in terms of proximity and culture.

“A lot of Singaporeans buy their second home or investment properties here. There is a lot of interest here, especially in Iskandar Malaysia (Johor). There is a lot of interest from Singaporeans, but we always advise them to do research prior to investing,” he said.

Tan said while Singapore’s property market has gone through a few rounds of corrections, property prices in Kuala Lumpur have been constantly rising since 2004.

Although the issues in Europe and the US have resulted in expatriates pulling out and weakening the rental market, there has been a good influx of foreign interest from South Korea and Japan.

“There is still a lot of opportunities for real estate agents in this segment,” he added.

Meanwhile, the cooling measures introduced by the Singapore government has also helped attract interest to Malaysia, with Malaysian property developers taking the opportunity to ramp up their marketing efforts in Singapore.

However, there is still strong demand in Singapore’s properties despite the cooling measures, especially from Chinese investors, said Tan.

“(It’s just that Singaporean) investors are now taking their time to buy instead of rushing in and chasing prices. There are still transactions (in Singapore properties),” he added.

On property buying trends in Malaysia, Tan said it is moving towards online buying, selling and marketing.

“Technology provides convenience and productivity, one can search for properties online at any time and anywhere. This is already happening in Singapore and we foresee that happening in Kuala Lumpur over the next two to three years.

“There is an evident trend that Malaysia is moving towards that direction with the various online forums and property portals,” he said.

Tan said going online means buyers can do research before viewing properties or meeting up with agents, saving time and money. At the same time, real estate agents know the calls they get are more likely to be hot leads rather than cold calls.

“However, there is still a segment of buyers who still use newspapers to search for properties. For example, the older generation and those who are less internet-savvy.

“In Singapore, buyers who want to buy landed properties do not search online. There is still a certain type of buyer who like traditional media thus it is important to have both (mediums),” he added.

By Eva Yeong

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