Creativity now the hallmark of developers


  • Business
  • Saturday, 23 Jul 2005

Creativity is a hallmark of developers who have built up their reputation in the industry. Projects that sell well have some common traits that are able to attract buyers' attention, including practicality, refreshing project concepts and community-friendly features.  

Equine Capital Bhd is a developer with a creative streak and buyers can look forward to more lifestyle changing products with new launches in Bandar Putra Permai in Seri Kembangan, Selangor, and Bandar Cassia in Batu Kawan, Penang.  

Meda Inc Bhd is banking on the good response to its Malacca orchard resort project, Natural Heritage Orchard and Country Resort, to venture into more similar schemes in the future.  

DATUK PATRICK LIM Executive chairman Equine Capital Bhd  

StarBiz: Your outlook on the property sector 

Lim: Malaysia stands out as one of the resounding success stories in terms of home ownership for the masses. Nowhere, except Singapore, can we see a developing nation that has the majority of its population owning homes.  

The Government’s policy in which a symbiotic relationship between the financial and private sector is tied together by government legislations through the Housing Ministry has resulted in home ownership on an unprecedented scale.  

Our unique build-and-sell concept coupled with the liberal and extensive financing by the Housing Ministry has seen even the lowest level of society able to purchase homes.  

The Government’s pragmatic approach to labour, particularly to the import of foreign labour, has also allowed the industry to access an abundance of cheap and affordable workforce that further assists it to grow. 

Datuk Patrick Lim giving the thumbs-up to Equine's latest semi-detached house range called The Rise in Seri Kembangan.

The Government has also been prudent to encourage the usage of local products and local system construction methods. This has resulted in 95% homes being made from local products, a positive spinoff which is incalculable. 

 

StarBiz: Opportunities and challenges for the sector going forward 

Lim: As the economy matures, the property industry has not only grown in size, but has broadened its base and become robust. The growing affluence of the people coupled with their global outlook mean that there are infinite opportunities for developers to offer innovative, new products and lifestyle concepts. 

The opportunities are endless and it is now a very diverse industry. One cannot speak of a particular property, but more of a particular niche, for instance landed, strata, single family and multi families, professional or urban dwellers. It is an exciting time for the industry as not only is there infinite opportunity, but the market stability to purchase property has never been greater.  

The industry’s biggest threat will remain the stability and continuity of supply of labour and availability of cheap and abundant financing. Should this remain stable, the domestic market will continue to grow smoothly.  

 

StarBiz: Government policies that have contributed to the industry’s performance 

Lim: The property market for consumers is both strong and growing. If costs of major components including labour and financing can be capped, the market’s expansion will certainly give the industry a big boost. The industry would benefit from incentives to boost foreign ownerships. There are already programmes like the Silver Hair programme. This could probably be enhanced by the provision of better healthcare facilities coupled with innovative insurance schemes. 

More transparency, ease and certainty in regulations governing the purchase and disposal of properties may encourage foreign investment within certain sectors. 

 

StarBiz: Ways to bring about better opportunities and a more robust property market 

Lim: In order to encourage domestic demand for properties, measures which promote ownership of second homes such as negative gearing with appropriate tax schemes, would certainly accelerate demand for second homes in higher value units. Allowing greater tax deduction for individuals in such schemes would encourage people to gear up, invest and seek rental returns.  

Another area that can be improved would be better reporting of industry indices information. The recent provision to allow the set-up of real estate investment trusts (REITS) augurs well for commercial and other rentable properties. I believe you will see a higher level of investment in rentable properties and also better quality properties being developed as REITS depend on quality and stable rental income. 

 

StarBiz: Property sector that offers the best potential for your company 

Lim: At Equine, innovation remains a mainstay of our ability not only to be competitive, but also to stay ahead of the pack. Innovation is achieved mostly by thinking out of the box and also by having paradigm shifts in the way we approach traditional issues of space, cost and efficient use of productive resources. 

We are the first and only developer which installs closed circuit television (CCTV) in housing estates which are linked to police stations. This innovation was actually used to solve a crime recently.  

We seek innovation from many other industries with the objective of providing the consumer with the ideal living environment. Our products are one of the first which allows customisation. We have devised production and management systems which allow a customer to choose different interior colours, the number of rooms, as well as variation in fittings and sizes.  

Re-looking at the normal layout of townships has also allowed us to introduce urban pathways, which allow the entire communities to move on foot, or cycle around entire townships. The Equine group is also exploring various alternatives to provide air conditioning to the entire townships. These and many more lifestyle changing innovations are what our customers have come to expect and can look forward to when they choose to be a part of our Equine Community.  

 

StarBiz: New projects from your company 

Lim: In February, we successfully launched Permai Place, a mixed single and double storey shop offices project. The Sovereign, our up-end semi-detached homes spanning 40ft x 80ft was launched last week. The Sovereign sits on very prime land within a gated and guarded community. Up and coming towards the end of the year, we will be launching 300 apartment units and early next year, another 200 units of high-rise apartment. 

Later this year, we will be launching a new concept called Driv-Tru-Mall, which houses the Jaya Jusco shopping centre as the anchor tenant together with other retail and food and beverage outlets . 

In Bandar Cassia, Batu Kawan Penang, launches include Studio S&M, comprising 589 affordable homes and Clover Plus, the 3-storey cluster link homes and Callisia 2-storey terrace homes . 

Other launches include Mestika Square Offices in Taman Mestika, Cheras, and 200 low-cost apartment units in Taman Mega Jaya, Cheras. 

ONG BOK SIONG Executive director and chief executive officer Meda Inc Bhd 

StarBiz: Your outlook of the property sector for the second half of 2005 

Ong: The property market remains robust for selected properties in the higher range. Established developers in prime locations are enjoying good results. With the present trend, more and more projects are emphasising on fresh concepts, modern designs and improved lifestyles in gated communities. 

Medium range properties are stable, with some projects generating good sales response due to their prime locations. Landed properties are moving towards the gated community concept and becoming more exclusive, and yet affordable, as shown by the increasing number of new launches.  

However, most developers are rather cautious and will undertake the necessary feasibility studies before embarking on any new projects in view of the high number of new projects launched of late. 

 

StarBiz: Opportunities and challenges for the sector going forward 

Ong: In view of the country’s political stability and upside in currency exchange, it is therefore an opportunity to attract foreign investors to invest in Malaysia.  

This is evident when investors from the Middle East, who are familiar with the culture here, have begun to show interest in Malaysian properties. 

With renewed interest, it is therefore important to offer attractive and hassle-free packages to attract foreigners.  

Ong Bok Siong... with the introduction of the Silver Hair programme, which was later improved to Malaysia My Second Home, more foreign investors are encouraged to make Malaysia their second home.

The Malaysia My Second Home campaign has attracted some foreign investors to deposit funds into fixed deposits to qualify for this programme. We feel the campaign may be able to generate even greater interest if these investors can qualify for the programme through the purchase of properties. 

Although Malaysia has an attractive currency exchange rate vis-a-vis other foreign currencies, which equate to very affordable properties for the foreign purchasers, the authorities need to pay more attention to the implementation of uniform policies with regard to such purchases by foreigners.  

This will provide a form of security and assurance to these purchasers. Fast-track approvals and no-fuss services would be ideal to encourage more such investments.  

Challenges ahead include the shortage of construction labour and rising material costs, which have impacted the property development industry.  

Reigning in these issues are important for the sector to move forward. Any drastic impact may affect the profitability of property projects and cause the price of property to increase. 

 

StarBiz: Government policies that have contributed to the industry’s performance 

Ong: With the introduction of the Silver Hair programme, which was later improved to Malaysia My Second Home, more foreign investors are encouraged to make Malaysia their second home. 

However, it would be ideal if more strategic programmes are implemented to protect the interest of these investors and promote their confidence in our system. 

 

StarBiz: Ways to bring about better opportunities and a more robust property market 

Ong: To provide some form of incentives to property buyers, such as stamp duty waiver, which has provided a push to the market when it was introduced previously.  

There have also been calls for the Government to grant income tax deduction, higher financing margin and lower interest rates as well as lower real property gains tax to purchasers of properties. 

 

StarBiz: Property sector that offers the best potential for your company 

Ong: We have generated positive sales for our resort related projects in Natural Heritage Orchard and Country Resort (Nusadusun) in Malacca. The first two phases have been very well received due to the attractive packages offered and the small numberof players in this niche product. 

With the recent change in working days for civil servants , it is believed that tourism-related activities will be very active and boost the hotel and tourism related industry. The increase in our Nusadusun sales is mainly due to our success in educating these buyers to own a resort home away from the city where they can stay during their off days. 

Besides the strategic location of our Semantan Avenue project in Damansara Heights, the innovative packages offered to buyers have also made the project a big success. 

 

StarBiz: New projects from your company 

Ong: Preparations are under way to launch our new phase of homes in the Malacca Orchard Resort project and affordable landed properties in prime locations, including Johor Baru and Kuching.  

We are also making efforts to bring about improvements in our hotel and shopping mall businesses. 

  • This is the final article in the series on CEO Property Outlook for the second half of 2005

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