The Astaka in Johor Bahru city

JOHOR, one of the most developed states in Malaysia, has the second-largest population in the country at 3,230,440 as of 2010, which increased to 3,601,690 last year.

Economic activities comprise resource-based industries (palm oil and rubber-based products, herbal products, wood products, biotechnology, etc) and non-resource based industries (electrical & electronic products, marine & port-related industries, services, engineering (M&E) and petrochemical products).

PROPERTY MARKET PERFORMANCE

Last year was a rough one for the Johor property market. The continuation of economic and political uncertainties, no easing on banks’ lending policies and concern of oversupply in high-rise properties remain a burden to the market.

The negative factors dragged down the value and volume of transactions for properties and the market is expected to continue to be haunted by these factors this year.

According to data from the National Property Information Centre (Napic), the property market in Johor softened in the first half (H1) of last year. There were 20,680 transactions recorded worth RM10.87 billion - a decrease of 15 per cent in volume and 1.4 per cent in value compared to H1 2015.

The residential sub-sector retained its lion’s share, contributing 66.2 per cent of the total transactions followed by the agricultural sub-sector with 20.5 per cent, commercial (7.7 per cent), development land (3.9 per cent) and industrial (1.7 per cent).

RECENT MAJOR DEVELOPMENTS

1. GRID Collection at Sunway Iskandar, Johor

Sunway Property, the property division of Sunway Bhd, will be targeting young entrepreneurs and new start-ups for the GRID Collection at Sunway Iskandar, Johor.

The mixed development, planned for launch next month, consists of 41 retail units, 74 office units and 501 apartment units with a total gross development value of RM376 million.

2. Taman Sri Penawar, Bandar Penawar

MB World Group Bhd’s (MBWG) maiden township development, Taman Sri Penawar in Bandar Penawar, Kota Tinggi, has officially launched on March 11.

With an estimated gross development value (GDV) of RM1.9 billion, Taman Sri Penawar spans 190ha with 3,300 residential units and 380 commercial units planned. The township will be developed in phases by Cocoa Valley Development Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of MBWG. It is expected to be completed in seven years.

3. LBS Bina, YPJ Plantations to develop RM2.6b township

LBS Bina Group Bhd has teamed up with YPJ Plantations Sdn Bhd to jointly develop a mixed township in Kota Tinggi with an estimated GDV of RM2.6 billion.

According to LBS Bina, the project fits into the group’s property development strategy in enhancing its portfolio in township development and further strengthens its presence by allowing capitalisation of its branding in Johor. Biz Bina Development Sdn Bhd (BBDSB), a LBS indirect subsidiary, has entered into a joint development agreement (JDA) with landowner YPJ Plantations for the proposed development.

Measuring 220ha, the land is located near townships such as Kulai, Senai, Kota Tinggi and Bandar Tenggara. It is about 46km from Johor Baru and 29km from Senai International Airport.

4. Johor Halal Park

UMLand J-Biotech Park Sdn Bhd (UJP), a joint venture between United Malayan Land Bhd (UMLand) and the Johor government, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with The Cosmetic & Perfumery Association of Hong Kong Ltd and Persatuan Anggun Menawan Malaysia to bring in potential investors from Hong Kong, Macau and China to the Johor Halal Park (JHP) in Pasir Gudang.

JHP is a joint-venture collaboration between UMLand and Johor Biotechnology & Biodiversity Corporation (J-Biotech), which is a wholly-owned company of the state government. The park will be the 25th halal park in Malaysia and the first park exclusively for 100 per cent halal businesses.

5. Lee Chong Wei International Sports City

United Malayan Land Bhd (UMLand), via its wholly-owned subsidiary Seri Alam Properties Sdn Bhd, has inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Chong Wei Binajaya Sdn Bhd to develop part of the proposed Lee Chong Wei International Sports City.

According to a statement by UMLand, under the MoU, Seri Alam Properties will contribute a 6.62ha parcel of converted commercial land to Chong Wei Binajaya, where the latter will develop the commercial portion to form part of the proposed Lee Chong Wei International Sports City.

Located in Bandar Seri Alam, Johor Baru, Lee Chong Wei International Sports City is the brainchild of badminton star Datuk Lee Chong Wei. It is envisioned to be a one-stop ecosystem that blends sports and lifestyle elements.

6. Country Garden’s Central Park first phase launch

Central Park, a joint-venture (JV) project between Hong Kong-listed Country Garden Holdings Co Ltd and Damansara Realty Bhd, has soft launched Phase One of the residential developments in Tampoi, Johor.

The 21.4ha Central Park is located at Persiaran Aliff Harmoni Utama in Tampoi, about 10km from Johor Baru’s Customs.

Developed by the JV company DAC Properties, this freehold development has an estimated GDV of RM4.6 billion. Phase One offers 1,778 condominium units with five layout choices, ranging from one-bedroom to 4+1 bedrooms.


Sunway Iskandar key components

RESIDENTIAL SECTOR

The residential property market will remain challenging this year and developers will focus on clearing stock and selling products priced below RM500,000.

Most of developers, including some of the major names in the industry, have revised their marketing approaches to overcome the current soft market conditions.

Easy payment schemes including zero down-payment packages were commonly offered by developers while rebates, discounts and freebies like free legal fees on sale & purchase agreements and sometimes even on loan documents, as well as kitchen cabinets and wardrobes, air-conditioning units, water heaters and electrical appliances were commonly made part of the sales package.

The performance of residential property market in Johor was mixed across all segment in the first half of last year.

COMMERCIAL SECTOR

According to the Napic data, the commercial market in Johor softened in H1 2016, where 1,583 transactions totalling RM 1.77 billion were recorded.

This was a decline of 33.6 per cent in volume while value showed a slight increase of 6.4 per cent.

The overhang and unsold under-construction properties saw a marginal increase. The number of shops overhang increased by 1.7 per cent to 1,517 units while value increased at higher rate of 26.6 per cent to RM743.99 million (H2 2015: 1,492 units worth RM587.51 million).

Generally, prices of shops were stable with movements recorded in choice areas. Shops located near established housing schemes and higher learning institutions enjoyed capital gains.

Double-storey shops in Bandar Indahpura, Kulai, were transacted at higher prices ranging between RM1.25 million and RM1.4 million due to their strategic location near AEON Mall.

In the rental segment, a similar trend was recorded, in which the rental of ground floor shops in focal area served with good infrastructure and road linkages showed an increase in rental.

Upcoming malls in Johor Baru include;

1. Midvalley Southkey Megamall

Under construction and touted to be the largest shopping centre in the south of Malaysia, Midvalley Southkey Megamall will house many other facilities aside from the usual medley of retail shops. Patrons can look forward to a cineplex, bowling alley, and more leisure activities.

2. Paradigm Mall

The six-storey shopping centre will be a comprehensive mix of retail and food & beverage outlets plus entertainment facilities, one of which is an indoor ice-skating rink spanning 20,000 sq ft - the largest in Johor.

Other notable tenants include a gourmet supermarket and family karaoke. Visitors can also stay in the on-site four-star hotel to continue their shopping adventures the following day. The mall will be completed this year.

3. Capital 21

Slated to open in middle of next year, Capital 21 takes its inspirations from all over the world. It offers its patrons 21 floors of retail therapy, modelled after each of the world’s capitals. The thematic destination also has a world museum on the 11th floor, as well as two hotels for shoppers and tourists to stay in.

4. IKEA

Expected to be complete by the end of this year, it is the first IKEA in the southern region and is located off Jalan Desa Tebrau. It joins two other IKEAs in the country - IKEA Cheras in Kuala Lumpur and IKEA Damansara in Petaling Jaya.


Paradigm Mall

OFFICE SECTOR

The purpose-built office segment saw slightly better performance with an average occupancy rate of 80.8 per cent in H2 last year against H2 2015 of 79.9 per cent.

The annual take-up was positive at 11,934 sqm (Source : Napic).

The rental market was stable with few exceptions. Marginal rental movement of between 5.4 and 7.9 per cent was seen in Merlin Tower, Menara Tabung Haji and Menara Landmark in Johor Baru.

Menara Wisma Muafakat, which houses Bank Simpanan Nasional’s new state headquarters in Jalan Abdullah Ibrahim is just completed, entering the market with an added supply of office spaces in Johor Bahru.

INDUSTRIAL SECTOR

The industrial sector contributes a small portion to the overall market activity in Johor.

According to Napic, there were 358 transactions worth RM931 million recorded in H2 last year, indicating a decrease of 47.6 per cent in volume and 28.1 per cent in value.

The industrial overhang situation was equally less encouraging as the numbers increased. There were 141 overhang units worth RM260.72 million recorded in H2 last year, an increase of 34.3 per cent in volume and 44.7 per cent in value against H2 2015 (105 units worth RM176.24 million).

Construction activity showed mixed movement in second half 2016. Eco World Development Bhd has plans for a mixed development project in Senai that includes a mixed eco township and an integrated gated industrial hub. The project, known as Eco Business Park II, is located close to the Senai Airport, and will have affordable houses for settlers.

OUTLOOK FOR 2017

The overbuilding of high-rises in the state has resulted in a mismatch due to a spike in launches several years ago for higher profits.

However, realising this situation, the state government froze all new applications for high-rise developments.

Developers have been concentrating more on affordable housing in the last two years. The property market has seen falling volumes last year except for two categories.

The first category is niche areas and products that offer unique features such as waterfront properties. Buyers in this category are not affected by the economic slowdown and are buying more than a house. They are buying features and concepts. An example is Senibong Cove.

The second category is affordable houses priced between RM250,000 and RM500,000 and recent new launches within this price range have received good response.

However, we are cautious about this year’s prospects. We expect the mismatch to be slightly balanced as developers have been changing their plans to provide more homes priced at RM500,000, or clearing their existing stocks.

There is demand for housing, but there is no supply to match it. Another problem is getting end-financing.


Home buyers and investorss looking for properties to buy at the NSTP MyRumah Property Showcase in Johor Baru.

Story courtesy of Henry Butcher

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