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Improved property sentiment in Malaysia [19-02-2013]  
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In its industry survey on the second half of 2012, Real Estate Housing Developers Association (Rehda) has found that two-thirds of the developers responding intended to launch their residential properties below the RM500,000 price mark in the first half of this year.

The survey also found that the average residential selling prices nationwide are expected to range between RM250,000 and RM350,000, with Kuala Lumpur property selling in the range of RM500,000 to RM1mil and Negri Sembilan and Kelantan selling at the cheapest end at RM100,001 to RM250,000.

In Peninsular Malaysia, Selangor and Penang can expect the most expensive residential launches going at above RM1.5mil. Selangor, however, will also have property sold within the RM350,001 to RM500,000 range.

The survey also showed improved property market sentiment and outlook for the first half of this year.

Speaking at a briefing on the survey, Rehda president Datuk Seri Michael Yam said that one of the key trends among buyers now were green features and good branding.

“Buyers are now more discerning of brands, design concept and how they can build the lifestyle they want around their homes,” he said, noting that the young demographics in Malaysia was important.

While the secondary property market continues to do well, Yam believes there is more capital appreciation potential buying into the primary market.

“The potential of upside is better if you buy a new unit (because) the primary market is not delivering as many units as the market wants,” he said, estimating the shortage of new units to be around 100,000.

Malaysia’s homebuyer profile was largely domestic buyers for owner occupation, Rehda pointed out.

On the outlook for the first half of 2013, Rehda national treasurer Datuk N.K. Tong said there was an upward trend in future launches, as 60% of respondent developers planned to launch projects in the first half of this year compared to 48% in the previous six-month period.

“Among those who are launching in the first half, 61% anticipate to sell above 40% of their total units within the period,” he said of the 21,409 units planned for launch.

Residential property would still be the anchor of the industry, dominating 96% or 20,074 units in the forecast period.

Among the 172 respondents, 67% had projects with unsold units after six months from the date of launch. And within that group, 4% had more than 50% unsold units. More than half of these units were above the RM500,000 price range.

Elaborating on the survey, Tong said the main reasons for unsold units were the increasing number of unreleased bumiputra lots and low demand for higher-end property.

“The number of unreleased bumi units have grown from 39% in the first half to 47% in the second half of the year,” he said, adding that developers from Selangor, Johor and Penang had higher unreleased bumi units.

To this, Yam said there needed to be a revision in the policy for bumi lots to ensure that bumi titles were properly catered to those eligible.

“Likewise, low-cost housing schemes need to be reviewed, as the demand for low-cost housing is also not as strong anymore as people have stigmatised it,” he said.

According to the survey, most developers revealed that the cost of doing business had also increased by between 10% and 20% as compared to the first half of 2012, with labour shortage being cited as the biggest challenge.

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