Penang’s lively market

Many estate agents and developers generating interests in primary and secondary markets

While the property market in Malaysia may be subdued, Penang is still generating interests among buyers and potential investors.

Raine & Horne Malaysia senior partner Michael Geh says: “Although sentiment is generally cautious, both interest and transactions within the Penang property market is ‘still active’.”

“In the primary market, there are still a lot of estate agents and developers generating interests,” he tells StarBizWeek.

Geh says this is especially the case for affordable homes.

“For middle and upper-end properties, there are still a few projects that are generating interests from genuine buyers,” he says.

“The market is still active. There is activity but transactions have slowed down.”

In terms of the secondary market, Geh says properties in “good locations” are still popular.

“Within the secondary market, there are a lot of enquiries for properties in good locations. In the not-so-good locations, there’s stagnation in both price and activity.”

Geh says demand for landed properties in Penang is still strong.

“For the high-rise properties or those that are highly speculated on, there has been stagnation.”

Malaysian Institute of Estate Agents Penang branch state chairman Mark Saw says the property market has been slowing over the past two years due to the cooling measures brought about by the Government.

“Until year-end, things should be slow – assuming that the global economy does not tank. But the market is still active in certain areas.”

He says landed residential properties and the hospitality segment in Penang are “still doing fine”.

“Hotel operators are still looking at Penang as a potential location to set up operations,” Saw says, adding that it is “business as usual” for players within the industrial sector.

“Within the industrial sector, there has been no real slowdown. I mean, we’ve not seen any factory closures.”

For residential properties in Penang, Saw says there had been a “swing towards affordable housing” in the past couple of years.

“In the top end of the market, developers have been more cautious as loans have not been as forthcoming. However, those developers with good stock are still able to continue launching new products.”

Looking ahead, Geh feels the market will “swing” in the final quarter of the year.

“The third quarter tends to be a little bit quiet. It’s in the fourth quarter that I think things will swing, and I believe it can go either way.

“This will depend on various factors, such as sentiment, or if Bank Negara comes out with an announcement that could affect the local property sector. But I think it will swing for the better.”

Saw meanwhile believes that the rental market will remain competitive for the rest of 2016.

“For those speculators and investors who purchased their properties some five years ago, looking to flip (for profit), those properties are coming into the market now and they might have problems selling, especially those having difficulties in servicing their loans.

“So instead, they will try to rent it out. But with a lot of these stocks coming in, it will be more of a tenant’s market than a landlord’s one.”

Penang in 2015

According to the National Property Information Centre, residential property transactions recorded a marked decline in market activity in 2015 by 16.9%.

The state saw a substantial decline in new launches by 47.5% or 2,348 units.

According to Rahim & Co in its Property Market Review 2015/2016, completion of Penang’s second bridge (Sultan Abdul Halim Muad-zam Shah Bridge) in 2013 has spurred growth in Batu Maung, Sg Ara, Teluk Kumbar and Batu Kawan areas.

“A new project to be launched in 2016 is the RM10bil Eco Marina project in Batu Kawan. Eco Marina, by Eco World Development Group Bhd, will include high-rise and landed properties on a 299.64 acres with a golf course adding prestige to the area.

“The development will be gated and guarded. Other projects by the same developer are Eco Terraces in Air Itam, Penang island and Eco Meadows, Bukit Tambun near Juru/Batu Kawan area.”

Other upcoming projects it cited are the Straits Garden Condominium, Platinum III (from RM428,000), D’Zone Condominium and three-storey detached houses in Baymont Residences (RM3.18mil) in Teluk Kumbar.

“There are also The Tamarind@Seri Tanjung Pinang, Raintree Park 2 comprise of two-storey terraced, two-storey semi-detached houses and Avenue Garden, a 17-storey serviced apartment by Tambun Indah and several others.

“An international school has recently been completed at Simpang Ampat within Pearl City development by Tambun Indah Land Bhd.”

According to CH Williams Talhar & Wong (WTW) in its Property Market Report 2016, 287 units of landed properties came into the market in 2015 in Penang Island alone.

It said prices of newly-launched houses continued to increase, reaching a new benchmark in their respective locations.

WTW added that terraced and semi-detached houses in established neighbourhoods such as Seri Tanjung Pinang in Tanjung Tokong and Island Park & Island Glades in Greenlane, still command strong demand in the secondary market despite the increasing prices.

“Transacted prices of 2½-storey terraced houses and three-storey semi-detached houses in Seri Tanjung Pinang have surpassed RM2mil and RM3mil per unit, respectively.

“However, the hike in prices is expected to taper off in the near future with more new houses entering into the market.”

On the mainland, WTW said demand of landed residential developments remained strong in 2015 underpinned by the improved infrastructure.

“A number of major property players venturing into Seberang Perai for the first time has excited the local market with new housing products. For instance, Ecoworld, positioned as a pioneer in sustainable and green developments launched its maiden residential project known as EcoMeadows in Bukit Tambun.

“With its lush green landscape, gated and guarded concept as well as proximity to the expressway, a typical terraced unit was priced at RM700,000 per unit, a new price benchmark to the market.”

As for high-rise residential properties, WTW said a number of projects were completed in first half of 2015. These included The Address at Bukit Jambul (124 units), Vertiq at Gelugor (318 units), Sierra Residences at Sungai Ara (300 units), Gardens Ville at Sungai Ara (476 units) and The Latitude at Tanjung Bungah (218 units).

Luxurious condos

“A newly completed luxury condominium development located at Batu Ferringhi, known as By The Sea, was developed by Selangor Dredging Bhd.

“It comprises 138 units with floor areas ranging from 1,037 sq ft to 3,012 sq ft.

For new projects launched in 2015, one luxury condominium project that was launched was Shorefront Residence by YTL Land.

“Situated along Lebuh Farquhar which is within the city of George Town, the luxurious condominiums offered 115 units with floor areas ranging from 1,400 sq ft to 3,400 sq ft.”

It said average transacted prices of condominiums in the sub-sale market increased marginally in 2015.

“Moving into 2016, the market is likely to experience slower growth with transaction activities expected to slow down.

“With more affordable flats and apartments being launched and under construction, a spike in the existing supply of high-rise residential units is expected within the next three to five years.”

WTW notes that high-rise residential developments make a strong inroad in Seberang Prai over recent years, with the majority being in the town area especially Butterworth in Seberang Prai Utara.

“Existing condominiums developments that are actively transacted in the secondary market in the past five years included Habour Place and Casia Condominiums.

“Bukit Mertajam is emerging as the next hotspot for high-rise residential developments with a majority of projects in the pipeline and due for completion.”

Condominiums developments remained as the main development trend in Seberang Prai, says WTW, with a number of serviced residences and Soho (small office home office) projects being proposed that are pending approval.

“Prices of a typical condominiums unit have increased around 9% since 2014 to RM370 per sq ft on average.

“The coming few years will see the mushrooming of skycrapers in Butterworth and Bukit Mertajam as several property players plan to develop integrated developments comprising condominiums, serviced residences or Soho together with shopoffices and hotel in these locations given their robust and established business sentiment.”

It says take-up rates of newly-launched projects are likely to taper off as the rental market in Seberang Prai is less demanding in comparison with the island. - The Star

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