Property inventory worsening, but builders with unsold units still building

  • Business
  • Thursday, 10 Jan 2019

PETALING JAYA: The level of unsold property inventory is continuing to worsen despite the fact that developers have been aggressively unwinding their unsold units over the past two years.

RHB Research in a report yesterday said a number of developers have still launched various new projects to boost property sales despite holding slow-moving inventory and existing projects.

“Based on the latest financial data, unsold and ongoing projects and revenue, as well as unsold and ongoing projects and sales target ratios for many companies have worsened, as property sales and billings from newer or ongoing projects have been slow, while older projects with low take-up rates are being completed.”

For some developers such as Sime Darby Property Bhd, IOI PROPERTIES GROUP BHD and UEM SUNRISE BHD, RHB Research said unsold and ongoing projects are much higher at two-to-three times of their annual turnover.

“Having said that, overseas projects may have partially contributed to the amount of unsold and ongoing projects, as revenue is only recognised upon completion of the developments.”

Based on checks, the research house said a number of developers have cited that their unsold inventory is largely concentrated in Iskandar Malaysia, due to weak demand and slow release of bumiputra units.

“According to the Real Estate & Housing Developers’ Association’s survey in the first half of 2018, the glut is mainly in the high-end segments such as detached and semi-detached units, as well as the high-rise segment in Johor.

“Affected areas in the Greater Klang Valley are Puchong, Shah Alam and Seremban.”

With slow-moving property sales and diminishing prospects of property price growth, RHB Research believes some developers may start to incur impairment charges on unsold inventory, particularly for companies that have high exposure and have already launched many projects in Johor.

“For now, we do not think the risk of developers incurring impairment charges will be widespread, as property prices in the Klang Valley area are still holding up well.

“However, we are more cautious about developers who had bought their landbank during the peak cycle in 2012 to 2014, as their land cost, and hence holding cost, would be much higher.

“These developers will be more eager to accelerate their sales by reducing selling prices via hefty discounts.”

On the outlook for 2019, the research house said property sales are expected to remain flat in 2019, as many developers remain cautious amid subdued sentiment levels.

Given the sluggish property market outlook, RHB Research said most developers would either lower or maintain their sales targets for 2019.

“Apart from the slow projected gross domestic product growth for 2018 to 2019F (RHB’s forecast is 4.6% for 2018 and 2019) due to the cancellation of a few mega infrastructure projects, the confidence level remains low, given the volatility in crude oil prices and the ringgit.

“Meanwhile, the low visibility of local and foreign direct investments has not helped to spur market sentiment.”

The research house said the bulk of property sales this year is expected to be generated from the affordable segment.

This is underpinned by the fact that the government has announced a stamp duty waiver for the purchase of residential properties priced below RM500,000 and for first-time purchases of homes valued at between RM300,000 and RM1mil in the first half of 2019, as part of the National Home Ownership Campaign. Many buyers, as a result, held back their purchases in the fourth quarter of 2018 in order to enjoy the incentives in 2019.”

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