E-bidding platform to spur auction market
Auctioned properties are an often overlooked segment when it comes to real estate investing in Malaysia. However, the auction process is often viewed as non-transparent or rigged by syndicates that attempt to inflate prices. To address such issues, the Chief Registrar’s Office of the Federal Court of Malaysia (CRO) will launch eLelong in December. The online platform is designed to facilitate the virtual bidding of auctioned properties and aimed at transforming the auction process. The platform aims to eliminate syndicates working with insiders, and the larger number of bidders will deter them from manipulating the auction market. The CRO hopes that the implementation of eLelong will increase the transparency of all public property auctions conducted by the High Court of Malaysia, which will invite more prospective bidders nationwide. (The Edge Markets)

Intense competition in construction sector
A high number of recent packages from the DASH and SUKE highways were awarded to unlisted contractors, posing a new threat to Malaysia-listed construction companies. Nomura Research said that such development will raise intense competition among existing players. Based on Nomura’s proprietary indices for pure-play (which derive a bulk of earnings from construction) and diversified contractors (such as IJM and Gamuda), pure-play contractors have outperformed the big-cap diversified contractors, which grew by 58% and 5% respectively. The outperformance of pure-play contractors could be due to property cooling measures, which have caused downgrades in the property segment for diversified big-caps. The second half of the year also saw a record low number of new projects – a drop of 40% – mainly from the residential and commercial segments. (The Star Online)

Penang road collapse forces six-week closure and evacuation
A part of the hill road linking Mount Erksine and Vale of Tempe Road in Tanjung Bungah, Penang has collapsed, forcing authorities to close a 3km stretch of road for at least six weeks. The collapse was attributed to recent heavy rainfall and movement of the earth underneath the road, and further compounded by heavy vehicles using the road. Residents living nearby have also been told to evacuate the area as it could be unsafe. Penang Public Works Department director Salleh Awang said the cracks were serious and drastic measures needed to be taken to fix the damage. (The Star Online)

The collapsed hill road in Tanjung Bungah, Penang (Photo from The Star)

The collapsed hill road in Tanjung Bungah, Penang (Photo from The Star)

Developers urged to build more homes priced RM250,000 or below
The federal territories ministry has urged property developers to build more houses priced at RM250,000 and below, which would help more Malaysians to enjoy a better standard of living at prices that they can afford. Based on Bank Negara Malaysia’s Annual Report 2015, a property is considered affordable if a household can finance it with less than three times its annual household income (house price-to-income ratio of 3 and below), suggesting that houses priced up to RM165,060 are considered affordable to a median Malaysian household. However, only 21% of new housing launches in Malaysia in 2014 were priced below RM250,000, the report added. (The Edge Markets)

Iskandar Malaysia progress and development on track
Johor offers good growth prospects and business opportunities for domestic and foreign investors, especially in the country’s first economic growth corridor Iskandar Malaysia. It has attracted strong interest from investors since its inception in November 2006, which recorded about RM208bil in total cumulative committed investments to date. Iskandar Malaysia is three times bigger than Singapore and two times the size of Hong Kong, and it is divided into five flagship zones. (The Star Online)

Malaysia eyes new infrasturecture development projects in Saudi Arabia
Malaysia has identified several new infrastructure development projects in Saudi Arabia that can be carried in partnership by companies from both countries, including construction of roads in Makkah and Jeddah. Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said Malaysia is also keen to forge smart partnership with Saudi Arabian companies to construct other infrastructure in Saudi Arabia. The initiative was prompted by Prasarana’s success in handling Makkah Metro, which had been recognised by the Saudi Arabian government. (New Straits Times Online)

Developer charged for failure to maintain sewerage system at Ampang apartment
A housing developer was charged for failing to maintain the private sewerage system of an apartment in Ampang three years ago. The company was charged with failing to maintain and upkeep the private sewerage system of the Pangsapuri Berembang Indah so as not to allow it to be a nuisance or harmful to health. The charge carries a maximum fine of RM50,000. (Malay Mail Online)

Cash conservation needed for Metro’s long-term property development
Singapore’s Metro Holdings is conserving its cash for its capital intensive property division, saying it maintains a long-term focus towards property development and investment which have long development cycles. The company added that its key business strategy lay in expanding its property portfolio and geographical presence. Insufficient cash will hinder its potential capital deployment into property development and future investment opportunities, as well as impact its income streams. (The Edge Markets)