Haze worsens nationwide, 17 areas with unhealthy API
The haze situation has worsened in the country, with 17 areas in the peninsula including Klang, Shah Alam, Subang and Kuala Lumpur experiencing unhealthy Air Pollutant Index (API) readings of more than 100 yesterday. Bukit Rambai in Malacca reported the worst API reading of 171, while the only place with healthy API of 38 was Tanah Merah, Kelantan. However, a change in wind direction and speed is expected to ease the reduce the haze in the peninsula today, according to the Meteorological Department. The department is on standby for cloud-seeding. (The Star Online)

Pilgrims traumatised over collapsed crane tragedy
Pilgrims to the Kaaba at Mecca are traumatised by crane collapse tragedy on Friday, which has resulted in over 100 deaths and nearly 400 injured. Unusually strong winds had tipped over one of the massive cranes around the Grand Mosque that houses the Kaaba, crashing through part of the roof and upper floors and sending concrete slabs down on the pilgrims praying below. Traumatised witnesses saw body parts scattered amid pools of blood on the mosque’s white marble floor. The death toll reached 111 on Sunday, 394 treated after the incident and 158 injured remaining hospitalised. Saudi media reported that a committee has been established to investigate the incident. (New Straits Time Online)

A massive crane crashed into Mecca's Grand Mosque, killing over a hundred pilgrims and injuring about 400 others. (Photo from BBC)

A massive crane crashed into Mecca’s Grand Mosque, killing over a hundred pilgrims and injuring about 400 others. (Photo from BBC)

Property purchases by foreign buyers will benefit industry
Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) Chief Executive Datuk Seri Judin Abdul Karim said that foreigners buying property in Malaysia present a long-term investment benefit to the local property industry, as they are making a continuous commitment by paying taxes. The weaker ringgit has not only enabled foreigners to buy Malaysian properties at lower prices, but also make them change their money into ringgit for the purchase. Once they have properties here, they have to pay quit rent and other taxes. However, he cautioned that the government must ensure a balance between having enough affordable homes for Malaysians while encouraging foreign investors to put their money here through consistent policies. (Bernama)

OSK Holdings extends takeover bid for OSK Property again
OSK Holdings Bhd has extended the closing date for its general offer from Sept 15 to Oct 9, giving its minority shareholders an extra four weeks to make up their minds, in a bid to take OSK Property Holdings Bhd (OSKP) private. This is its second extension this month. It is understood that OSK Holdings needs an additional 2% to hit the 90% acceptance threshold for a compulsory acquisition. The takeover exercise, which also involves PJ Development Bhd (PJD), aims to consolidate the property business into the OSK group. (The Edge Markets)

1MDB energy unit buys RM65m Kedah land for solar power project
Edra Solar Sdn Bhd (formerly 1MDB Solar Sdn Bhd), a wholly-owned unit of Edra Global Energy Bhd, is acquiring land in Kedah for RM65 million cash from Bina Darulaman Bhd to develop a solar power generation project. The 260-acre land is located in Bandar Kuala Ketil, Baling, Kedah. Bina Darulaman expects to gain a profit of approximately RM26.7 million from the disposal. (The Edge Markets)

Increased prices for factory space in Klang Valley
Factory space within the Klang Valley are fetching higher prices this year, despite the soft property market. According to CH Williams Talhar & Wong (WTW) managing director Foo Gee Jen, prices of bigger lots have been steadily rising over the past 3-4 years, due to shortage of supply for larger lots dedicated to logistics and warehousing, compared to smaller lots which see lower take-up and occupancy rates. He said the development of industrial lots within Klang Valley was ‘overlooked’ as most developers now focus on residential projects. (The Star Online)

Rehda: Construction costs have increased 25%
According to the Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association Malaysia (Rehda), the weakening ringgit has resulted in a 20-25% increase in the cost of some construction materials, especially for high-rise properties. High-rise property items like lifts, escalators, precisioning and air-conditioning are still imported. The increased costs are due to suppliers asking to review rates due to the weakening currency. For landed residential properties, the increase would be minimal as majority of the materials would be locally sourced. (Malaysia Chronicle)

KSL Holdings to launch affordable properties
KSL Holdings Bhd aims to launch affordable properties priced below RM500,000 amid lower sales expectations and cautious market conditions. One of the launches will be for its Avery Park @ Taman Rinting development with a gross development value of RM139 million. Response for the project was encouraging as it managed to secure 30% booking just a few days after its launch in early September. In view of slower launches and the challenging property environment in Johor, the company has slashed its FY15 to FY16 sales by 24%. (The Edge Markets)