Economic Report 2015/2016: Residential property deals 2.6% lower in 1H2015
According to the Economic Report 2015/16, residential property transactions fell 2.6% in the first half of 2015 (1H2015) and the value of transactions dropped 9.7%, compared to the same period last year (1H2014) which recorded a 2.3% increase in number of transactions and 19.4% growth in value. Residential properties accounted for 64% of total transactions in 1H2015. Transactions dropped in four major urban areas – Kuala Lumpur (6.4%), Selangor (1.8%), Johor (17.9%) and Penang (14.2%) – in tandem with the property sector slowdown. New launches dropped 44.1% in 1H2015 compared to the previous corresponding period, and housing loan approvals also fell 32.9%. Meanwhile, the all-house average price in Malaysia hit the RM300,000 mark in 1H2015 with Selangor, Penang, Sabah and Sarawak continuing to exceed the average price since 2004. (The Edge Markets)

Homes still expensive for middle-income group
Even though price growth for properties have slowed down recently, many properties are still deemed unaffordable for middle-income earners. With property prices rising significantly in recent years, real estate is not expected to be more affordable for the middle-income segment. According to MIDF Amanah Investment Bank Bhd economist Izzuddin Yusuf, the idea of affordable housing has changed to a point that it is considered affordable so long as the buyer is eligible for a bank loan. Property prices are currently at a level that is still unaffordable for ‘real demand’, meaning those who buy in order to live in the property. (The Malaysian Insider)

1MDB Real Estate warns of fake project manager
1MDB Real Estate has warned that a third party not linked to or authorised by 1MDB or the government is purporting to be the project manager for its Bandar Malaysia and Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) developments. The third party, called Khidmat Runding Jatipadu, has issued letters for offer of appointment without authorisation from 1MDB, its subsidiaries and the government to companies. The letters bore the government of Malaysia logo, which was improperly obtained, and under the letterhead of Perbadanan Bandar Malaysia, which does not exist. Both Bandar Malaysia and TRX are managed solely by 1MDB RE, while real estate services company CH Williams Talhar and Wong (WTW) is the only authorised party for proposals. (The Sun Daily)

Penang property market will remain resilient on sustained demand
Despite the recent slowdown, Penang’s property market is expected to stay resilient due to sustained demand, particularly from Penangites working abroad who are planning to return, and prospective retirees. There are a few categories of investors in Penang: owner occupiers, investors for cultural developments, those in the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) scheme and those working abroad but planning to return and settle in Malaysia. For the last two categories, properties in Penang would be cheaper, thus the demand would remain constant, said Penang Insitute CEO and head of economics studies Dr Lim Kim Hwa. (The Malaysian Insider)

Encorp takes on RM235mil JV project in Perth
Property development and construction firm Encorp Bhd, a subsidiary of Felda Investment Corp, is planning to undertake a joint-venture commercial and residential development project in Perth, Australia with an estimated GDV of A$75.41 million (RM235.95mil). Its unit, Encorp Development Pty Ltd (EDPL) had signed a development and management agreemwnt with Tew Investments Pty Ltd (TIPL) to form a JV to develop a 11,000 sq m freehold land in Tea Tree Cockburn Central. The land owned by EDPL will be developed into a multi-level mixed-use commercial and residential project comprising about 165 apartments, and expected to complete within 36 months. (The Star Online)

Logging topic of debate in Karak landslide
The Karak Highway was officially opened to traffic again yesterday afternoon, following a landslide on Wednesday evening. Environmental group, Persatuan Pelindung Khazanah Alam Malaysia (Peka), has led the charge against logging in the area, which is debated to be responsible for the disaster. Peka yesterday claimed to have evidence of logging activities in the area, which caused the landslide. Besides being home to exquisite species of trees like chengal and meranti, the area was also a primary forest acting as a water catchment area, and reduced number of trees due to logging would cause the water to overflow and trigger a debris overflow or landslide. Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim, who visited the site later yesterday, dismissed the allegation that logging was the cause of the landslide. (The Malay Mail Online)

National shuttler Datuk Lee Chong Wei wins the China Open men's singles title (Photo from The Star)

National shuttler Datuk Lee Chong Wei wins the China Open men’s singles title (Photo from The Star)

Chong Wei defeats Chen Long, wins China Open
Lee Chong Wei bagged the China Open men’s singles title for the first time on Sunday, after defeating China’s Chen Long 21-15, 21-11 in a 50-minute men’s singles final at the China Open in Fuzhou. He is the third Malaysian singles player to do so on Chinese soil, following Wong Choong Hann in 2002 and his wife Wong Mew Choo in 2007. A day before, Chong Wei played superbly to beat five-time world champion Lin Dan in the semi-finals – his first win over the Chinese in about four years. (The Star Online)

Manhunt underway for Paris terrorist attacks
Investigations into the Paris terrorist attacks began across Europe on Sunday, as French authorities seek an eighth suspect who might have fled after the attacks on Friday night, which killed at least 129 people. Authorities found three Kalashnikov rifles — the kind used in the attacks — in an abandoned car that was used as a getaway car for the shooters. The authorities had initially said there were eight attackers, but on Saturday night said that only seven attackers had died — six by blowing themselves up and one in a shootout with police. (CNBC/The New York Times)

A man mourns outside the Le Carillon restaurant the morning after a series of deadly attacks in Paris , November 14, 2015. (Photo by Christian Hartman | Reuters)

A man mourns outside the Le Carillon restaurant the morning after a series of deadly attacks in Paris , November 14, 2015. (Photo by Christian Hartman | Reuters)