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One morning, when Gregor Samsa woke from troubled dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a horrible vermin. He lay on his armour-like back, and if he lifted his head a little he could see his brown belly, slightly domed and divided by arches into stiff sections. The bedding was hardly able to cover it and seemed ready to slide off any moment. His many legs, pitifully thin compared with the size of the rest of him, waved about helplessly as he looked. "What's happened to me?" he thought. It wasn't a dream. His room, a proper human room although a little too small, lay peacefully between its four familiar walls. A collection of textile samples lay spread out on the table -

Samsa was a travelling salesman - and above it there hung a picture that he had recently cut out of an illustrated magazine and housed in a nice, gilded frame. It showed a lady fitted out with a fur hat and fur boa who sat upright, raising a heavy fur muff that covered the whole of her lower arm towards the viewer. Gregor then turned to look out the window at the dull weather. Drops

One morning, when Gregor Samsa woke from troubled dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a horrible vermin. He lay on his armour-like back, and if he lifted his head a little he could see his brown belly, slightly domed and divided by arches into stiff sections. The bedding was hardly able to cover it and seemed ready to slide off any moment. His many legs, pitifully thin compared with the size of the rest of him, waved about helplessly as he looked. "What's happened to me?" he thought. It wasn't a dream.

His room, a proper human room although a little too small, lay peacefully between its four familiar walls. A collection of textile samples lay spread out on the table - Samsa was a travelling salesman - and above it there hung a picture that he had recently cut out of an illustrated magazine and housed in a nice, gilded frame. It showed a lady fitted out with a fur hat and fur boa who sat upright, raising a heavy fur muff that covered the whole of her lower arm towards the viewer. Gregor then turned to look out the window at the dull weather. Drops

Liam Barnes
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More business needed around Malaysia-Singapore rapid transit line

Job creation will reinvigorate property scene Permas Jaya in Johor Malaysia. Yusoff Jalil/Shutterstock
Permas Jaya in Johor Malaysia. Yusoff Jalil/Shutterstock



While Singapore and Malaysia are set to be closer than ever through the construction of the Rapid Transit System (RTS), the areas around the line still lack new economic activity to foster a fast-growing real estate market.

“The RTS is very close to Bukit Chagar. Just within a kilometre of it we have got some malls, we have got some low density residential," Ku Swee Yong, CEO of International Property Advisor, told Channel News Asia. "We haven't heard of many business investments announcements, such as let’s say, manufacturers within 30 kilometres who are hiring many staff."

The new line will stretch from Bukit Chagar in Johor Bahru, Malaysia to the Woodlands North station on the Thomson-East Coast Line in Singapore. The RTS will cross the Straits of Johor via a bridge elevated 25 metres high above water level, the prime ministers of Singapore and Malaysia revealed in a joint news conference last week.

More: Iskandar Malaysia is not oversupplied, says Johor prince

"We've settled on a high-bridge," said Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. "This was a major point — how are we going to cross the Straits of Johor — high bridge, low bridge (or) tunnel."

The two leaders hoped to sign a bilateral agreement on the RTS toward the end of 2017.

Despite widespread excitement over the project, analysts have exhorted investors to buy Johor properties with added forethought. "They need to do a lot of due diligence checks,” Chris Koh, director of estate agency Chris International, told Channel News Asia.

“We're talking about ensuring that they're buying a property there — whether the developer is a sound developer, one with a reputation to complete their projects. One has to be also familiar with Malaysia law - the property laws behind buying a property there," he said.

Read next: This USD100 billion city near Singapore ‘scares the hell out of everybody’

 

This USD100 billion city near Singapore 'scares the hell out of everybody'

Chinese developers are swamping the market

[caption id="attachment_58398" align="alignright" width="740"]Johor Bahru, Malaysia. Hamdi Bin Zainal/Shutterstock Johor Bahru, Malaysia. Hamdi Bin Zainal/Shutterstock[/caption]

Rather than join the fierce, oft-expensive competition for land in Singapore, Chinese property developers are on a building spree outside the city-state.

Companies such as Country Garden, Greenland Group, and Guangzhou R&F Properties Co have set their sights on Iskandar Malaysia in the hopes that the economic growth corridor close to the Singapore border would be the next Shenzhen, the city near Hong Kong that experienced zippy growth over the past decade.

Although the take-up has been decent for Iskandar developments — 8,000 apartments have been sold in Country Garden's massive, USD100-billion Forest City project in Johor state so far — the concerns of a glut are all too valid to some experts.

"These Chinese players build by the thousands at one go, and they scare the hell out of everybody," Siva Shanker, head of investments at Axis-REIT Managers, told Bloomberg. "God only knows who is going to buy all these units, and when it's completed, the bigger question is, who is going to stay in them?"

More: Iskandar Malaysia’s new multi-billion dollar eco-city is pretty ambitious

Investment growth in Malaysia stood at 2 percent year-on-year in the third quarter, compared with 6 percent in the previous quarter, Bloomberg reported. Residential sales values in the country dwindled by almost 11 percent last year, with the drop in the city of Johor Bahru alone recorded at 32 percent, government data showed.

"I am very concerned because the market is joined at the hip, if Johor goes down, the rest of Malaysia would follow," said Shanker. "If the developers stop building today, I think it would take 10 years for the condos to fill up the current supply. But they won't stop."

There are now more than 350,000 private homes in the pipeline for Johor state, according to Bloomberg, citing data from the National Property Information Centre.

"Land is plentiful and cheap," said Alan Cheong, senior director of research & consultancy at Savills Singapore. "But buyers don't understand how real estate values play out when there is no shortage of land."

Read next: 10 reasons why you should invest in Iskandar Malaysia

Malaysian developers turn to foreign investors

The big woo-athon for overseas buyers begins

malaysia

A weak ringgit, growing oversupply and slow local sales saw developers courting foreign buyers, sending their agents to road shows abroad to promote their projects.

And with China as their biggest market, some agents travel to different Chinese cities on a monthly basis.

To reduce staff count, developers outsource the marketing aspects to agents. Most of them even use the services of multiple real estate agencies.

Metro Homes Sdn Bhd director K.L. See, who has been promoting a number of Malaysian properties abroad in the last three to four years, said the market has changed over the last couple of years.

“Malaysians are not actively buying. But developers have a holding cost. They have already delayed launching their projects and they see the weak ringgit as an opportunity to offer their projects abroad. So instead of waiting around, they proactively use multiple channels to sell to foreigners,” said See.

He noted, however, that marketing abroad can be costly.

“To run an event in Hong Kong for the weekend in a five-star hotel costs between RM500,000 and RM1 million. Developers may have three or four core local agents who work with overseas agents.”

He revealed that Malaysian agents’ commission range from three to five percent of the unit price while Chinese agents’ commission stands at seven to 10 percent. The company usually sells 10 to 15 units on a successful weekend against two to three units on slow days.

Read next: For sale - Malaysian history

“Foreigners buy in order to earn on the foreign exchange. They also hope to profit from capital appreciation from their property investment,” he added.

Meanwhile, a marketing personnel of a developer with a project in KLCC said the huge investments by Chinese developers in the country, particularly in Iskandar Johor, will benefit Malaysian developers.

“Who do you think developers like Country Garden and R&F Group are selling to? They are targeting the Chinese back home. So they have huge advertising campaigns in different Chinese cities and this is a huge endorsement for Malaysia,” she said.

According to her, Chinese buyers in KLCC are average people, who are amazed by the price competitiveness here given that an average apartment in China costs RM5,000 psf.

A prime landmark in Shanghai or Beijing could go as high as RM20,000 psf, said See. A typical two-bedroom apartment could go for around RM8,000 psf, said Savills.

“So to these Chinese buyers, a non-branded but new unit priced at RM1,500 psf-RM2,000 psf is very attractive and they get a landmark project,” said the source.

This article originally appeared on PropertyGuru.com.my on November 23 2016.

Read next: These secondary Malaysian markets buck the property slump

For sale: Malaysian history

Restoring heritage properties isn't worth it to some Malaysians

[caption id="attachment_58009" align="alignright" width="740"]A mural in the old quarter of George Town in Malaysia. Lev Levin / Shutterstock.com A mural in the old quarter of George Town in Malaysia. Lev Levin / Shutterstock.com[/caption]

More heritage home owners are selling their properties in Penang, and it's not just because of beguiling offers from foreign buyers.

Layers of bureaucracy, combined with growing costs, have discouraged many from paying for the upkeep, let alone the restoration, of historic houses in the Malaysian state. Some owners report waiting for two years to obtain government approval for restoration works, according to the Property Development, Construction and Management Committee of the Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber’s heritage and tourism spokesperson Michael Geh Thuan Peng chalked up the mass selloffs to heavy conservation red tape. “This is just one of the factors that caused some of these heritage building owners to sell off their inheritance,” he said.

The buyouts, involving mostly Singaporean companies, are occurring despite prohibitive selling values of pre-war properties in Penang, reported Free Malaysia Today. Prices for antique properties in the state start at MYR2 million (USD457,000).

More: What’s next for HCMC’s vanishing cultural heritage?

The chamber announced yesterday that it would conduct a study on issues that impact the preservation of heritage buildings in the state, especially in George Town, a former British colonial trading post. Findings of the study will be finalised by January.

A UNESCO world heritage site, George Town is slated to pass new regulation laws that will cap rental rate increases at 200 percent. Commercial tenants have been skipping the city in the past few years due to skyrocketing rents.

George Town World Heritage Inc (GTWHI) launched this week a pilot case study of the proposed rent regulation laws. The study "will involve going from house to house to get stakeholders' response to the proposed rent regulation act," GTWHI general manager Ang Ming Chee said.

Read next: How a dilapidated Penang shophouse became a dream second home

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