(From left) GreenRE executive director Ashwin Thurairajah, City & Country editor Jacqui E Chan, The Edge Media Group editor emeritus Au Foong Yee, Sime Darby Property Bhd general manager of safety and sustainability Mohd Razif Mohd Yusoff, Henry Butcher Malaysia (Mont Kiara) managing director Low Hon Keong, Zerin Properties chief executive officer and managing director Previndran Singhe, CBRE | WTW chairman Foo Gee Jen, Rahim & Co International CEO of estate agency Siva Shanker, The Edge Media Group publisher and group CEO Datuk Ho Kay Tat, Keller Williams Malaysia deputy regional operating principal Jonathan Lee, Knight Frank executive director of research and consultancy Amy Wong, and Gamuda Land executive director of product management unit Jess Teng. (Photo by Shahrill Basri/The Edge)
PETALING JAYA (June 24): With the market heading to a road of recovery, certainly the real estate market is full of opportunities for homebuyers, homeowners and property investors to tap into — that seems to be the common theme of The Edge Malaysia RealTalk 2023 forum, which was held at the Sime Darby Convention Centre in Petaling Jaya, Selangor on Saturday (June 24).
With the theme "Navigating Risk, Finding Opportunities", the forum was part of a two-day event by The Edge Malaysia and YTL Cement’s Embracing Sustainability in Construction and Real Estate Symposium on June 23 and 24.
Attended by 221 participants, the forum on Saturday was organised by The Edge Malaysia and YTL Cement, with Gamuda Land and Sime Darby Property being the event partners. The Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) Malaysia was the knowledge partner.
The Edge Media Group publisher and group chief executive officer Datuk Ho Kay Tat remarked in his opening speech that the global economic slowdown, which started from the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 and the Ukraine-Russian war in 2022, has impacted the Malaysian real estate market, and subsequently led to higher interest rates and mortgage rates. Despite the uncertainties, he noted that there are still opportunities to look for in times of crisis.
“There will always be demand for homes and real estate to do business. There's no doubt that property has historically been a very good hedge against inflation. Indeed, history has also shown that the best opportunity often presents itself in times of uncertainty and crisis. The key is to identify where the risk and opportunity are.”
The forum featured four sessions by CBRE | WTW chairman Foo Gee Jen, Keller Williams Malaysia deputy regional operating principal Jonathan Lee, Henry Butcher Malaysia (Mont Kiara) managing director Low Hon Keong, and Rahim & Co International CEO of estate agency Siva Shanker respectively.
Meanwhile, there was also a panel session moderated by Knight Frank executive director of research and consultancy Amy Wong, and featured four panel speakers — Zerin Properties CEO and managing director Previndran Singhe, GreenRE executive director Ashwin Thurairajah, Gamuda Land executive director of product management unit Jess Teng, and Sime Darby Property Bhd general manager of safety and sustainability Mohd Razif Mohd Yusoff.
Foo, in his talk titled “Market Review: The Next 12 Months”, pointed out that the market has been flattish for the last 12 months, with only a few key activities that are noteworthy to point out, such as the opening of the Mass Rapid Transit Line 2, which was a good news for the real estate market — especially for transit-oriented developments — as ridership has increased tremendously since its opening.
On his outlook for the market, he shared that the residential sector remains a good investment with the surge of urbanisation in the Klang Valley, Penang and Johor Bahru, and demand for industrial assets, especially in the manufacturing industry, is something to look forward to.
For the second session, on the topic of “Opportunities in Ageing Properties”, Lee shared that property value decreases over time due to an unchanging way of the utilisation of space. Additionally, he stated that there could be an opportunity to create value in ageing properties, as there are lesser competition in buying or renting aged properties — an opportunity to redefine and set a new standard in the area and the ability to unlock the intrinsic value of the asset.
When it comes to property management, Low shared during his session titled “Maximising Returns with Effective Property Management Strategies” that there are several crucial points for a well-managed property to create value.
“Interaction between all stakeholders in a strata scheme is very important and very crucial,” he said.
“Financial sustainability is the key. Make sure [you] have a good collection to have enough both sinking funds and maintenance funds. I can assure you that a poorly-managed property will definitely affect the value or rental of the property or investment.”
Speaking on the topic of “Where and What to Buy”, Siva explained that homebuyers of today look beyond the "location, location and location" mantra. These days, elements such as modern design, an integrated township, gated and guarded, aesthetics, community engagement, and comprehensive and world-class facilities are what buyers are looking for.
Additionally, he foresees a few locations around the country as hotspots for property investment.
“If you are looking at property investment, the Klang Valley is still the pinnacle. Penang is a good place to invest in, with [property value] getting expensive on the island and moving towards the mainland. As the spectre of Covid-19 disappears slowly, there will be more activities in the Iskandar Puteri region. Ipoh [meanwhile] is gaining fast traction as a retirement village.”
Unfortunately, he noted that the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia has not been doing well, though he noted that Kuantan might be boosted by the East-Coast Rail Link (ECRL).
Meanwhile, sustainability and green buildings were the keywords during the panel discussion entitled "Buying into Sustainable Developments”.
Ashwin stated that there are three things that homebuyers should consider during their property-hunting journey — reduced environmental impact, lower cost of operation, and a development that is better for the well-being of the occupants.
Then, Gamuda Land’s Jess shared the benefits of green homes that bring comfort and financial savings to residents. Additionally, she stated that Gamuda Land has come up with a green building framework for its future homes, which will have an add-on sustainable feature to future-proof the homes.
For Razif, he highlighted that homebuyers should look into the leadership of the property development they are eyeing to understand the commitment of the leaders towards sustainability. Additionally, he also pointed out that a home with sustainable features will help the homebuyer save costs in the long run.
Lastly, Previn shared that the biggest challenge faced by homebuyers and investors these days when it comes to the sustainability factor in property investment is their perception that property is a short-term play, where they only focus on the yield and return, in addition to limited availability of information. However, he explained that convincing homebuyers to purchase a sustainable property is not a huge challenge, as buyers are getting more educated and sophisticated.