REIT Index launch will help spur more diverse offerings
Bursa Malaysia hopes the newly launched Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) Index will spur the REIT market with the creation of new offerings such as alternative REITs and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). The index has the potential to provide a further boost to liquidity in the market and provide greater visibility for the development of a wider range of REITs such as those related to renewable energy or child care centres. Products like ETFs with REITs as underlying will have more liquidity, which would attract more asset owners and provide an option for investors who do not want to invest in individual REITs. There are currently 18 REITs listed on Bursa Malaysia, including four syariah-compliant REITs. With the launch, Malaysia joins developed markets like the US, Hong Kong, Japan, Australia and Singapore in having a dedicated REIT Index. (The Sun Daily)

Association seeks tax-free dividends for REITs
Although Malaysia imposes a lower rate of withholding tax on dividends paid to retail investors of REITs compared with many other countries, the Malaysian REIT Managers Association (MRMA) is of the view that a total tax exemption should be given to attract more investments. The government currently imposes a 10% withholding tax on REIT dividends to local and non-resident individual investors. Listed REITs in Malaysia are exempted from annual tax assessment if they distribute 90% of the year’s total income to unitholders. Modest-to-flat growth for REITs is expected in the near term, due to the continued subdued residential and commercial real estate market. (The Edge Markets)

Report: Many affordable homes in Klang Valley, but buyer awareness low
Thousands of affordable homes costing between RM200,000 and RM250,000 are available in the greater Klang Valley, but few buyers know about it, according to The Star. Rehda president Datuk Seri Fateh Iskandar said there must be one authority providing big data to generate more awareness that these properties are available nationwide. The paper cited an undated property industry survey indicating that the majority of affordable housing are located in the outskirts of the greater Klang Valley, while first time buyers prefer locations like Hartamas, Damansara or KL city centre. (Malay Mail Online)

Subang Jaya (still) on waiting list for city status
MPSJ will have to wait a little longer before its application for city status is tabled at the Selangor State Assembly. It filed for the status last year, but the request was unlikely to be discussed this year as there were other councils waiting their turn. “Subang Jaya is considered a younger township in comparison to them, and the state government is still monitoring our progress,” said MPSJ president Mohd Zulkarnain Che Ali. “The main criteria we need to fulfil is improving our roads and drainage systems as well as other infrastructure,” he added. (The Star Online)

Mah Sing launches affordability campaign for 4 new projects
Mah Sing Group has launched its ‘Reinvent Affordability’ campaign yesterday, rolling out its business plan to develop more affordably priced homes to cater to the market’s supply demand gap. The ‘Reinvent Affordability’ campaign covers Mah Sing’s 4 upcoming new launches namely M Centura, Sentul, M Vertica, Cheras, M Vista, Penang and Fern phase 2 in Meridin East, Johor. The campaign also encompasses Mah Sing’s RM23mil Rewards Reloaded Incentive which comes in the form of cars, furnishing packages and interior decoration vouchers. (NST Online)

Bandar Universiti Pagoh (Image from Sime Darby)

Sime Darby Property plans two new launches in Bandar Universiti Pagoh
Sime Darby Property Bhd is planning two upcoming launches in its Bandar Universiti Pagoh (BUP) township in Pagoh, Muar. First in line is its second commercial development launch, the Sarjana Promenade shoplots, which comprise 171 units on 30 acres of leasehold land. The other is Harmoni Permai, the third phase of homes in BUP which comprises 491 units of leasehold 2-storey linked houses. It is slated to launch in March 2018. The next phases of BUP comprising research and development centres, commercial hubs, residential developments and a managed business park, among others, will be developed in phases over 10 to 15 years. (The Edge Markets)

Pavilion REIT reports 3.2% drop in NPI
Pavilion REIT’s net property income (NPI) dropped 3.2% to RM78.16 million for 3QFY17 compared to a year earlier, due to higher property operating expenses. Its total property operating expenses increased by 17% as a result of higher maintenance cost incurred. This included continuous air conditioning system improvement and upgrading works, replacement of pumps, escalator handrails and steps at the Pavilion Kuala Lumpur Mall, as well as the sponsorship for the 2017 SEA Games. It declared a DPU of 1.96 sen. (The Edge Markets)

Nudging the construction industry towards digitisation
According to McKinsey Global Institute’s Industry Digitisation Index 2015, the construction and agriculture sectors are among the least digitised. Meanwhile, the most digitised industries are the information and communications technology sector, media, professional services, finance, insurance and even wholesale trade. Only a very minimal part of construction and real estate industry is digitised, such as sales and marketing, with most of the industry’s processes still in analogue form. (The Edge Markets)

SPAD recognised by International Association of Transportation Regulators
The Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) has been honoured with the first ever International Best Practices Award for Transportation Innovation, Reform, and Multi-Modal Planning by the International Association of Transportation Regulators (IATR). “SPAD’s efforts to formulate coherent policies and implement national reforms from a previously fragmented land public transport landscape including the recent future-friendly e-hailing regulatory framework aimed at providing Malaysians with a variety of mobility options resonated with the desires of many transport regulators elsewhere,” it stated. (NST Online)

New routes and app for PJ City Bus service
MBPJ will be adding two new routes covering Damansara Damai and Bandar Utama, and acquire at least 10 new buses, to expand its PJ City Bus service. The new routes – PJ05 and PJ06 – will cover the northern parts of Petaling Jaya, though the route alignment and bus stops are yet to be determined. The PJ City Bus is a free bus services launched in May 2014, which are disabled-friendly and equipped with free WiFi. The PJ City Bus App allows users to find out bus routes, locate the nearest bus stop and track the estimated bus arrival time. (The Star Online)

PJ City Bus App (Photo from The Star)