Property Industry to Remain Tough Next Year

Posted on: 2015-12-28

Amid the challenging economic environment, the property industry is expected to remain tough next year as a result of the slowdown from the 2011-2013 property boom which saw home prices growing at double digits.

Even if the government's gross domestic product's (GDP) growth target remains intact at 4-5% this year, industry players opined that the price performance of the housing sector next year would be flat or at best, show a marginal growth.

UEM Sunrise Bhd's Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Anwar Syahrin Abdul Ajib, said 2016 was expected to see the full impact of the slowdown in consumer spending from the weakening ringgit, goods and services tax implementation and weaker consumer sentiment.

However, the property market's performance next year would also depend on the locations, product types and prices.

"Areas in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Penang with good infrastructure or upcoming public transportation and mid-range priced properties (below RM1 million) are likely to perform much better in terms of demand.

"In Johor, we expect demand for landed homes to be relatively resilient, especially for units priced costing less than RM500,000," he told Bernama.

Meanwhile, the property market in 2015 is considered to be soft, mainly due to the slowdown of the 2011-2013 property boom.

Since the second half of this year, there was a reported growing number of investors who were eager to dump their properties even at below market price.

According to the latest report by the Valuation and Property Services, the residential overhang and unsold situation in Kuala Lumpur was not encouraging.

The overhang numbers for condominiums in the first half of 2015 increased to 1,346 units worth RM1.23 billion, up by 28.7% in volume and 28.1% in value compared to the same period in 2014.

The report also revealed the increase of unsold "under construction and not constructed" units to 10,742 and 1,181 units respectively.

There were 9,291 transactions worth RM11.01 billion in the first half of 2015 in Kuala Lumpur, a decline of 7.4% in volume against the same period of 2014 while transaction value slipped by 6.5% after experiencing an 18.1% uptrend in the corresponding period.

Anwar said due to the stiff competition faced in certain locations for higher-end product segments, some developers were offering generous incentives to attract property buyers.

"Price movements depend on location, the product type and the unique selling proposition. If a product in the right price bracket is located in an area with good infrastructure, it is likely to grow in value.

"However, high-end properties in notable areas such as Mont Kiara, Kuala Lumpur, are still resilient. Mid-range homes near cities are high in demand which will help to maintain prices," he added.

On the converse, Anwar said, the rental market may face downward pressure next year as some house buyers who intended to sell their luxury apartments/ properties bought three years ago during the boom period, may find it difficult to get buyers.

"Many of them who bought their houses with Developers Interest Bearing Scheme will now have to pay their loans.

"If they cannot sell, they will have to rent out their properties and there will be an influx of rental offerings in the market which will then push down the rates," he said.

On UEM Sunrise's strategy moving forward, Anwar said, the company would go for areas closer to city centres in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, building apartments and condominiums with mid-range to upper mid-range prices.

For areas further away from city centres, he said, the property developer planned to build mid-range landed properties.

"The key here is to offer mid-range products as there is still demand in this segment due to demographics and income levels. We have studied the demographics in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Johor and Penang," he said.

He said despite the weakening of the ringgit which resulted in higher construction costs, the impact was somewhat mitigated as commodity prices especially steel bars, have also weakened significantly.

"Overall, we expect five-six per cent increase in costs if the ringgit continues to be traded at the current exchange rate (US$1=RM4.23)," he said.

Meanwhile, SP Setia Bhd will be concentrating on where the demand is, including mixed rise, landed and affordable houses.

Acting President/CEO, Datuk Khor Chap Jen, said the master developer of Setia Alam city would also be focusing on some of the underserved market, both local and overseas.

"We are ready to change our products to meet the demand in the underserved market. In the meantime, we are looking overseas because the local market actually has its limit," he said, adding that the company planned to expand its presence in Australia and the United Kingdom.

On revenue, Khor said, 70% was expected to be derived from its local business and the balance from overseas.

"We are targeting the revenue contribution from our overseas projects to reach about 40-50% next year," he added.

Eco World Bhd CEO, Datuk Chang Khim Wah, expected demand for its properties to remain intact as most of the projects were located near high-economic activities areas.

"As far as Eco World is concerned, all our projects are actually in strategic locations where there are job opportunities, public amenities, accessibility to highways," he said.

While most property developers are projecting a tough year for the industry  in 2016, Chang said, there was still light at the end of the tunnel.

He said Malaysia's economic fundamentals remained strong with the low unemployment rate, GDP growth target at 4-5% and salary increment next year to support the industry.


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