Unsold residential units to increase in 2016
Property developers expect the number of unsold residential units to increase in 2016, as launches over the past two years come on stream amid a slowdown in demand. The local property market has been dampened since the introduction of cooling measures in 2014 to curb property speculation, in addition to the goods and services tax (GST) in April last year. The impact of GST, recent downsizing of companies and rising living costs have contributed to the problem, leading to slow buying activity and oversupply. However, a survey by Rehda found that unsold units improved slightly to 62% in 2H2015 compared with 78% in 1H2015. (The Edge Markets)

Unsold residential units in 2014 & 2015

Unsold residential units in 2014 & 2015

Experts rule out possibility of property crash
During a Q&A session during the Property Market 2016: What to Expect? forum session organised by the Real Estate and Housing Developers Association (Rehda), two issues were brought up, namely whether the Malaysian property market is in a crash, and would the situation improve by end of the year. Rehda deputy president Datuk Soam Heng Choon said that there was no crash, unlike the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997/1998, in which half of buyers reneged on their purchases, prices were down by 30%-40% and non-performing loans (NPLs) were high. These were the indications of a crash, but the current property market was merely going though a lull. Forum speaker Christopher Boyd, Savills executive director, said a crash is marked by a sudden sharp drop in prices and a sharp rise in interest (currently about 4.5%), compared to the double-digit interest rates in 1998, while Hamirullah Boorhan, Maybank head of community financial services, says the 1997 crisis was marked by a lot a property auctions and high NPLs. Four of the five industry speakers also agreed that things would get better, or at least bottom out, in the second half of the year. (The Star Online)

CIDB, REHDA make green pact to promote sustainability
The Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) Malaysia and the Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association (REHDA) have signed a collaboration agreement to promote low-carbon and sustainable practice, as well as to increase deployment of the sustainability rating tool Malaysian Carbon Reduction and Environmental Sustainability Tool (MyCREST) amongst developers and construction industry players in Malaysia. “By encouraging the adoption of MyCREST, developers will consider green practices at all stages of their developments and mandate sustainable practices from a top-down approach. Ultimately, this will help to reduce the level of carbon emissions generated by the construction industry in Malaysia.” The collaboration would be a good example of how the private and public sector can work together to push the green building and growth agenda. (Property Report)

Diversification paying off for PPB
PPB Group Bhd’s venture into neighbouring markets for access to quicker growth for its core business segments has paid off over the years, and delivered both value and growth to its shareholders. Despite having close to 70% of its earnings from a 18.55% stake in Singapore-listed Wilmar International Bhd, PPB’s management had decided to expand its business segments to include investments in the grains and agribusiness, film exhibition and distribution (FED), property, environmental engineering and utilities, and consumer products segment. It also has operations in Vietnam, Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand, China and Singapore. Although its profits for FY15 was driven in part by foreign exchange gains, the company still managed to register 10% year-on-year growth in revenue compared to FY14. (The Star Online)

PDRM instructed to focus on crime in Sarawak
The Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) has been instructed by the Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to focus on the increase of certain crimes in Sarawak, including rape cases and unarmed robbery. The Inspector-General of Police (IGP) and heads of departments at Bukit Aman have been asked to look into aspects which need improvement in order to reduce such cases. There has also been an increase in motorcycle-theft and house break-ins. The DPM also called on non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to continue helping the police reduce crime rates nationwide. (The Malay Mail Online)

Tourism ministry targets 30.5mil tourists this year
The Tourism and Culture Ministry is targeting 30.5 million tourist arrivals to Malasia this year, which will generate about RM103 billion in earnings for the country. Tourism minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz said the target was achievable due to strong partnership between government and private sectors as well as various initiatives to support the industry. The Visit Sibu 2017 campaign which was launched on Saturday and aims to promote Sarawak, which is blessed with rich diversity and a major tourist attraction, could also contribute to tourism. (Malaysian Digest)