Cautious first half for property sector, new launches retreat
Malaysia’s property developers were more cautious in launching new residential and commercial units in the first half of 2017 (1H17), with the domestic real estate market recording a significant drop in overall new launches in the period. Rehda’s latest Property Industry Survey 1H17 noted that the challenging property market resulted in new launches in the first six months of 2017 to drop by 32%. The new launches in 1H17 represented only 42% of the respondents’ initial target, but on a year-on-year basis, new property units had increased by approximately 27%. (The Star Online)

Govt incentives needed to protect developer margins
Amid rising construction costs in a slower property market, Rehda is calling on the government to provide more incentives to help developers protect their crumbling margins. Many developers have reported decreased gross profit margins to less than 15% this year, down from 18% last year. Incentives such as lower tax, higher density, waiving development charges, or lowering the conversion premium have been suggested. (The Edge Markets)

Malaysia needs to enhance transparency, professionalism to draw foreign investors
Malaysia needs to enhance the transparency of government policymaking, market professionalism and data information in order to attract foreign institutional investors to its property sector. International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI)-USA Secretary-General Bill Endsley said a higher level of transparency would enable foreign investors, as outsiders, to have a better understanding of the functions of the local market. According to the Global Competitiveness Report 2016- 2017, Malaysia’s transparency of government policymaking is ranked 22nd among 138 economies. (Malay Mail Online)

Rehda urges GST cut on construction materials, stamp duty on residential units
Rehda has called on the government to reduce the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on construction materials and stamp duty for residential houses to help tackle the affordability issue. The 6% GST introduced in April 2015 has resulted in higher construction cost, which has been passed on to house buyers. Although residential properties are exempted, they are not zero-rated, meaning developers cannot claim back the input tax, thus passing on the cost to buyers. Construction services and materials also attract 6%. Another component of affordability is stamp duty. (The Sun Daily)

Eco World: Tenants to begin operations at Ardence Lab in FY18
Eco World Development Group Bhd (EcoWorld) has unveiled 18 tenants for its Ardence Labs, which is scheduled for operation in the first quarter of 2018. The group is positioning Ardence Labs as a pop-up lifestyle hub for the residents of Eco Ardence itself and the surrounding community of Setia Alam. Spread across 27 acres, it will comprise a show gallery, food and beverage and retail outlets, working and event spaces and two football fields. The works for Ardence Labs have already begun and is expected to complete by January next year. Ardence Labs is part of the commercial component of Eco Ardence, which was launched in September last year. (The Edge Markets)

An artist’s impression of Ardence Labs at Eco Ardence (Image from The Star)

MRCB bags infrastructure jobs worth RM204mil
MRCB has secured two infrastructure construction jobs for a total contract sum of RM204.7 million. The first is for the construction and completion of elevated stations and other associated works at the Cyberjaya City Centre and Putrajaya Sentral (Package S210) for MRT Corp Sdn Bhd, worth RM145.8 million. The second is a RM58.9 million contract to construct Larkin Indoor Stadium in Johor Bahru for Johor Land Bhd. The indoor stadium job is expected to take 18 months to complete. (The Edge Markets)

RM5mil for Port Klang low-cost flats upgrading works
Residents of the Taman Kem low-cost flats in Port Klang will be given a RM5mil allocation for repairs and maintenance of their homes. Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Tan Sri Noh Omar said the allocation was justified based on the 36-year-old flats’ poor condition. Besides repair works, the money would also be used to paint the buildings. (The Star Online)

All homes may be required to equip fire extinguishers
Every home in the country may be required to be equipped with a fire extinguisher in the near future. The Fire and Rescue Department is in the midst of drawing up plans to introduce this legal provision, which currently only exists in some state laws, at the federal level. Once passed, those who purchased houses from 2012 could ask from their housing developers for a fire extinguishing unit. Others would need to buy it themselves. Currently, only Sabah, Selangor, Terengganu, Penang and Sarawak have provisions for such safety precautions. The proposed law will also require all residential buildings constructed after 2012 with 10 floors or more to be equipped with a fire detector and other fire-fighting equipment. (NST Online)