AGAINST worries of a property glut and a sector in the doldrums, firms especially those that had prepared their platforms earlier are getting sales even during this movement control order (MCO) period.
While affordability remains a key issue, the availability of spare savings, the desire for long-term investments and government measures to stimulate spending are factors behind consumers’ choices.
Making properties affordable has become a priority as the segment between RM350,000 and RM800,000 attracts the most buyers.
With focus on the digital journey, these firms are committed to enhancing their processes as they see this to be the way forward.
The IOI Properties Group has notched RM180mil in sales domestically during this MCO period while Mah Sing saw RM40mil transacted in the first two weeks of April.
“Digital sales have been encouraging mostly from domestic buyers; we have always believed that the shift from the traditional brick-and-mortar way to the digitalisation of our sales process is inevitable, ’’ said Mah Sing CEO Datuk Ho Hon Sang.
The company has set up digital platforms across its operations for vacant possession, data analytics, defect and management.
Sales initiatives include stepping up its digital campaigns and incentives for buyers, viewing of virtual showrooms and training of its sales team via video conferencing on the Microsoft teams app.
Prior to the MCO, the internal sales force was boosted through partnerships with external sales agents that had a larger network.
Tie-ups with players in the digital boom such as Lazada, Ringgitplus and Fave will help to position the company for future sales.
To strengthen its digital marketing, Mah Sing will streamline its processes from awareness to bookings and conversations in a single platform.
The next step is to digitalise the home ownership journey, from sales and marketing, construction management, quality assurance, customer experience and property management.
“Our commitment to adapt and leverage on the strengths of innovative marketing strategies has enabled us to weather the storm during this MCO, ’’ said Ho.
The pandemic has compounded the problem of unsold units as people are more concerned over their livelihoods than buying properties.
It might help if end financing, real property gains tax and stamp duty could be relaxed, said Areca Capital CEO Danny Wong.
Sales in Johor has slowed down for the IOI Properties group but those in the Klang Valley have not been affected much by the MCO; in fact, some products have moved faster during this period due to more aggressive sales packaging.
IOI Properties has set up its in-house digital marketing team four years ago; with its e-Marketplace platform, it plans to accelerate sales through analytics aided by artificial intelligence features.
WhiIe IOI Properties’ sales in Johor are mostly in the high-end segment; properties ranging between RM350,000 and RM800,000 are the most appealing in the Klang Valley. Its recent launch of high-rise condominiums at IOI Palm City in Xiamen, China, had an 80% take-up rate.
Even with affordability being impacted by pay cuts, unemployment and business stoppages, there might be some people who are relatively unaffected like government servants and those looking for more attractive investment yields.
This is especially in the current low interest rate environment, which is likely to prevail in the next year or two, according to IOI Properties.
About 81% of Mah Sing’s target sales for this year are in residential properties below RM700,000; properties priced between RM500,000 to RM700,000 at strategic locations with easy access to amenities and lifestyle infrastructure remain in high demand.
While the short-term outlook is expected to be challenging, government aid for the vulnerable sectors may spur consumer sentiment.
“The medium to long-term outlook is expected to be resilient as Malaysia has entered this unprecedented period from a position of strength, ’’ said Ho.
The cashflow from these sales will help tide over this period of economic slowdown.
Columnist Yap Leng Kuen notes that thorough preparation is required for the digital journey.