The 2018 Forum: Will Malaysia face a property winter in 2019?

The StarProperty.my 2018 Forum on 1st December brought together another inspiring line-up of speakers to dispel myths surrounding the property market and reveal the trajectory of 2019.

Beginning with an overview of Malaysia’s economic performance in comparison with the ASEAN region and the rest of the world, Jeffrey Cheah Institute on South-East Asia director of the economic studies programme Dr Yeah Kim Leng described the nation’s apparent property dilemma as part of a global economic cycle that has seen property prices fall by 13% to 15% around the world. In Dr Yeah’s own words: there are “reassuring signs of growth, but sustainability over the long-term remains to be proven.”

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In the midst of what seems to be a grim global environment, Malaysia is apparently still among the most affordable and promising places to invest in property. Properties here are still increasing in value with each passing year – but the increases are steady. In 2018, Malaysia has shown the lowest increase in property prices among the five largest ASEAN members (around one percent), compared with the regional average of five percent – an insight that paints talk of a property bubble as unwarranted fear-mongering.

Syarikat Ong managing partner and tax expert Agnes Wong takes a magnifying glass to Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng’s Nov 2 tabling of Budget 2019 in Parliament, extracting key details demonstrating that the new government’s attempts to house the nation are on track – albeit in a time-frame that may be less than optimal. Some of the proposed concessions such as stamp duty waivers will only be in effect for a period of six months – and given the holiday periods in the first half of 2019 – there is a daunting shortage of time for homebuyers to take advantage of the temporary reprieve from taxation.

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Agnes also had some thoughtful insights on the effects of the 21st century on the property landscape. Citing the successes of new disruptive technologies such as ride-hailing platforms and co-working spaces, she said, “The digital economy will not just disrupt businesses, it will will alter the landscape of townships.”

Ho Chin Soon Research Sdn Bhd founder and chairman took to the stage to exhibit some of his most treasured birds-eye views – using both vintage and recent photographs captured via drones to present slices of breathtakingly rapid growth in Penang, Kuala Lumpur, and Iskandar. In addition to presenting the spread of urban development, Ho’s valuable perspectives also helped to demonstrate the pitfalls of restricted development and to disrupt concerns surrounding deferred mega-infrastructure projects such as the High Speed Rail (HSR).

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Using photographs captured from both sides of the causeway, Ho Chin Soon’s images demonstrated that even with the postponement of the HSR, development around Singapore marches on. The veteran suggested that Johor Bahru and – with the HSR – vast swathes of the mainland as far north as Batu Pahat may eventually be known as “the 29th district” of the island nation. Ho predicts that in a few short years, the prices of properties in JB, especially those surrounding the upcoming Woodlands North MRT station on the Thomson East Coast line, may exceed even those in central Kuala Lumpur.

MCT Bhd senior general manager and seasoned property investor Teoh Eng Poh presented a case for commercial property owners to be positive in the current climate. According to Teoh, the need for China’s burgeoning online platforms (especially those operating in ride-hailing, hotel stays, and travel) to expand beyond their noted dependance on domestic revenue could benefit the owners of unused commercial properties in Malaysia.

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Stirring the audience into a near-frenzy with his buoyant personality and animated presentation, Teoh calls on Malaysian property owners to adopt a more positive mindset in light of China’s needs. Teoh suggests that with a recognition of China’s wealthy middle-class and untapped potential in Malaysia’s service industry, Malaysia’s appeal as a tourism destination could rival that of Thailand and Vietnam – an insight that had almost every investor in attendance rethinking the possibility of utilising their residential properties as hotels instead.

Environology dot com Sdn Bhd director and consultant Stephen Chin utilised I-Ching (Yi Jing), a set of divination principles derived from ancient Imperial Chinese texts (such as the Book of Changes), to forecast the ebbs and flows of 2019. While Chin’s predictions suggest that caution and perseverance will be the keys to survival in a tumultuous year to come, the nature of 2019 will present opportunities for industries embodying the geomantic element of wood to grow.

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The day’s events closed with a panel discussion moderated by StarProperty.my assistant general manager Ernest Towle and attended by UMLand Group chief executive officer Datuk Charlie Chia, Asian Land Realty Sdn Bhd director Warrick Singh, Eaglenest Realty principal Ong Poh See, and Ho Chin Soon – during which attendants posed their questions and voiced their concerns. The panel discussion saw fears assuaged and inspirations bolstered by a common understanding that despite the apparent gathering of dark clouds, Malaysia is prepared – perhaps more than most citizens would readily admit – to weather the storm.

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A house is a pillar of strength that unites the family, and this collective unit forms the backbone that defines the nation. Since the end of WWII and the beginning of our nation’s independence, the concept of housing has evolved over the years. From the emphasis on practicality and functionality, today's developments amalgamate the concept of living, accessibility, space and functionality into a harmonious union.

The StarProperty.my Awards 2019 is here for the fourth time to celebrate the developers and projects that laid the foundations of our nation. If you are interested in participating in the award, register at bit.ly/spawards2019.



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