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This article first appeared in City & Country, The Edge Malaysia Weekly on December 30, 2019 - January 5, 2020

Katherine Tan Seok Ying (35)

Executive director of Iconic Worldwide Bhd and co-founder of Iconic Group of Companies

Started in 2011; Bachelor’s Degree in Accountancy, Murdoch University, Perth, Australia


Iconic Group was founded by Datuk Tan Kean Tet in Penang in 2011

Has completed property developments and hotel projects in Seberang Prai and Penang island.

Total GDV of ongoing and pipeline projects is RM382.81 million.


What is your view of the current property market?

For developers, the challenge is to construct and price houses in an affordable range for homebuyers while making reasonable profits to rationalise the capital investment and risks involved. Furthermore, developers have been facing a significant increase in costs in terms of construction materials, labour, professional fees and land prices. However, the effort of the government to actively review its policies and address the overhang issue has breathed new life into the housing market.


What are the issues in the property market that need addressing?

The ongoing uncertainty in the global economy, higher living costs and slower increase in median household incomes have swayed demand towards more affordable homes. As developers, we need to be able to innovate and adapt well to the market by introducing new ways of providing quality offerings while reducing prices.

More effective construction processes also need to be implemented while data should be better utilised to determine consumer preferences and ascertain supply and demand.

At the same time, the government has to continue to invest in high-impact infrastructure projects, such as rail and highway developments, in order to open up new areas and generate fresh business opportunities. This will help create a multiplier effect in the economy by creating more jobs and putting money into the hands of the people.


What new ideas will disrupt the Malaysian property market?

Property types and prices have a history of lagging behind market trends due to imperfect sharing of information and lack of data usage. In Malaysia particularly, demand data is lacking in the local property market, resulting in mismatched supply, which subsequently leads to the overhang of property units.

If developers and the government work together on the development of machine learning in property, future price fluctuations can be predicted and data-driven insights can be accessed to help boost sales.

The rise of mobile apps in real estate is also a notable phenomenon, where integrated property management services, such as plumbing, cleaning, contracting and security, can be utilised by residents through their smartphone.


What do millennials want when it comes to property?

Millennials make up the largest market segment in Malaysia and the majority of this age demographic comprises first-time homebuyers and upgraders. Good location, high accessibility and conveniences, and affordable pricing are some of the most sought-after features of a project.

Our company, Iconic Group, operates on the premise of keeping in sync with trends as well as the creation of sustainable value. Thus, our success stems from our ability to offer exceptional property developments at competitive rates and confident investment projections.

In residential projects, in particular, we strive to achieve a balance between profit margins and value creation for the benefit of the majority of the M40 and B40 population. An example of this is our 100% sold Iconic Vue, which is a unique sea-view affordable housing project in Batu Ferringhi, Penang, just a five-minute walk from the Golden Sands Resort.


What in your opinion is the outlook for the property market in 2020?

With the introduction of the Home Ownership Campaign and rent-to-own schemes, the performance of the property market in 2019 has exceeded expectations and the outlook for its recovery continues to look promising. With the help of the government in introducing more catalysts to rejuvenate the industry and addressing the overhang issue, we are all hoping for a stronger property market next year.

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