Leveraging on the expertise of real estate stakeholders
By Yanika Liew
This year's panel of judges comes from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds, adding prestige to this year’s StarProperty Real Estate Developer Awards. The group includes two architects, an engineer, an interior designer, a landscaper, a surveyor, a town planner, a valuer and a property content specialist, all of whom have extensive property industry experience.
The selection of this year's panel considered judges with extensive years of experience for the three new categories introduced this year – the Digital Strategist Award for the best digital marketing strategies undertaken by property developers; the Highlander Award for the best property development in the highlands; and the Placemaker Award for property development with the best placemaking facilities.
Furthermore, the judges' diversity provides the StarProperty Awards with more comprehensive judging criteria as well as provided feedback on this year's awards as well as future ones to ensure that the event's prestige continues to rise. This makes the awards more interesting in the future. The panel of judges was drawn from a variety of organisations with ties to the real estate industry. As real estate stakeholders, their contributions to the StarProperty Awards were critical.
The judges include:
- Association of Valuers, Property Managers, Estate Agents, Property Consultants in the Private Sector (PEPS) president Subramaniam Arumugam
- Institute of Landscape Architects Malaysia president associate professor Dr Nor Atiah Ismail
- Malaysian Green Building Council past president associate professor Sarly Adre Sarkum
- Malaysian Institute of Architects (PAM) immediate past president Datuk Ezumi Harzani
- Malaysian Institute of Interior Designers (MIID) president Lai Siew Hong
- Malaysian Institute of Planners president Datin Noraida Saludin
- Royal Institution of Surveyors Malaysia vice president and Property Surveying Division immediate past chair Aziah Mohd Yusoff
- The Institution of Engineers Malaysia (IEM) vice president Abdul Razak Yakob
- StarProperty content manager Joseph Wong
With great regard to the winners, Institution of Engineers Malaysia vice president Abdul Razak Yakob said that the awards brought another level of recognition to the property developers, showing that the project they have put together was worthy to the consumers.
With industry expertise that spans decades, Abdul attested that the judges who came from technical backgrounds have provided their input into this recognition, as a testament to how good the projects were from the technical professional point of view.
“The post-covid built environment industry needed inspiration and out-of-the-box challenges. The Star Property Awards brought another benchmarking of property product to the buyers and investors,” Institute of Landscape Architects Malaysia president associate professor Dr Nor Atiah Ismail said.
“The winners have shown that property in Malaysia is a healthy industry, a new perspective of healthy living with great landscape surrounding the house. The residential area is not just a cocoon of living, but a living in style,” she added.
“It has helped to identify top companies that have shaped the built environment in Malaysia. This will encourage all developers to create better development with the highest values for the industry,” Malaysian Institute of Interior Designers (MIID) president Lai Siew Hong said.
This was a universal sentiment among the judges, such as Malaysian Institute of Architects (PAM) immediate past president Datuk Ezumi Harzani, who agreed that the awards recognised the developer and team’s hard work in producing properties of the highest standard among the developers.
Lai also noted that the awards would provide much-deserved recognition to these leaders for their significant contribution and impact on the environment of tomorrow, thereby encouraging the creation of socially responsible architecture and developments that are efficient, sustainable and inclusive.
“Each set of consumers want different things. By giving them various categories, consumers can zoom in on the type of property that they are interested in. Furthermore, it provides all areas levels of the developer to be evaluated fairly against the type of property they are showcasing. Clients will search for them, the best in the category,” Abdul said.
“This will push excellence in the property sector because developers can compete fairly for the type of consumer they are targeting and developers will try to perform the best they can to perform,” he added. “The StarProperty Awards were an innovative way to boost the property market and push the boundaries of excellence,”
In agreement with Abdul, Malaysian Green Building Council past president associate professor Sarly Adre Sarkum said that the awards provided a relevant benchmark in terms of design excellence and sustainability, which would drive awareness, especially in terms of the purchasers and users so that the market evolves into a more mature, responsible and sustainable market.
“One of the key criteria that is important is sustainability, especially with regard to propagating the idea of building green and mitigating climate change. This fundamental understanding still needs to be spread through the general public for far greater adoption within the building industry,” he said.
Similarly, Ezumi noted that the awareness of sustainability and sufficiency as part of the judging criteria encouraged the property developers and designers not to overly design more than necessary, instead having the property built with inclusivity in mind.
“The recipients receive good media coverage and it increases their profiles, it gives higher awareness and public confidence to their brand. At the same time it motivates the developer’s staff to produce better products,” Ezumi said.
The focus on sustainability and green initiatives in property development could also be extended to public and government efforts, according to Royal Institution of Surveyors Malaysia vice president and Property Surveying Division immediate past chair Aziah Mohd Yusoff.
Into greater policy
“We hope that the government will also recognise these awards and take the winning projects as benchmark development for infusing more initiatives and encouragement to both private and public sectors,” Aziah said.
“Personally, I feel that the government should take heed from the success of these projects to implement meaningful green initiatives by, for example, seriously considering methods like building information modelling (BIMs) for the efficient interaction between developers and authorities and make green building mandatory like in Singapore or elsewhere,”
“More concerted efforts are required to make environmental, sustainable governance (ESG) or sustainability issues more effective and cheap to implement,” she added.
Agreeing with Aziah, Atiah said sustainable landscape development is a must in any development.
“These awards are bench-marking for the multiple ideas of macro and micro landscape design. The world is going for a greener environment and a more sustainable landscape approach is required. The Star Property Awards provide a professional yardstick of the sustainable landscape approach for the industry,” Atiah said.
“What is noticeable is that most of the new projects that are appearing in the market is that every project has some form of sustainability in it. This could be in part that the buyers are now seeking these attributes as part of their demands and the developers are going with the flow. But I am pleased to say that just as many are making conscious efforts to do their part for the environment rather than just thinking of ringgit and sen,” said StarProperty content manager Joseph Wong, adding that the StarProperty looks into these aspects, it is good for the industry,
Such awards benefit both its recipients as well as the industry as a whole, with Sarly acknowledging that recognition to those who deserve it was important in the creation of a movement towards better quality of buildings in the country.
“We need the general public to understand the significance of building right and ensure that the people who do are rewarded and given recognition accordingly,” he affirmed.
Towards the future
With an eye already on future iterations of the StarProperty Awards, he noted that projects may differ in their execution from the artist's rendition and submitted plans.
“My worry is that some projects may not materialise as per their plans. Perhaps some onsite verification needs to be involved so as to ascertain the veracity of their contender’s claims,” he said.
However, Wong pointed out that more and more property developers are beginning to be aware that they cannot differ too much from the artist's impressions as their buyers can take them to court. "There is precedence set in court as a result of a developer who delivered a project that did not resemble the brochures and advertisements. Even the colour of the paint used was different," he said. "Even if they added an artist's impression onto their advertorials, brochures or any other published materials, they cannot escape the law if they deviate too much from the original design. This is because the buying decision was also based on the images which appeal to the buyers, and thereby, enticed them to make the purchase."
Meanwhile, with the continual improvements to both the criteria and the judgings, the StarProperty Awards were regarded as a road to progress.
“The StarProperty Awards are really setting up the idea of property Awards in the built environment industry; creating benchmarking towards the best property industry in Malaysia and Internationally recognised as one of the best places to invest, live and work within,” Atiah said.