No extra charge for card purchases, BNM tells retailers
Retailers cannot impose surcharges for payments using debit and credit cards, says Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM). It said the prohibition on surcharges was monitored and enforced by banks that provided e-payment facilities to merchants. Consumers who encounter such merchants are advised to lodge a complaint to the respective bank or card issuers. It has been a practice by a number of merchants to charge an additional 2% to the bill when purchases are made using a debit or credit card. (The Star Online)

Govt spends close to RM40mil under MyDeposit
The government has spent about RM40 million under its First House Deposit Financing Scheme (MyDeposit) that has benefitted more than 1,474 people since April 2016. The scheme is aimed at helping the middle-class households with income between RM3,000 to RM15,000 a month to buy their first homes under private housing projects. Other government schemes to assist Malaysians in owning a home include MyHome, Skim Pinjaman Perumahan, My First Home Scheme, BSN MyHome (Youth Housing Scheme), Rumah Selangorku and Perbadanan PR1MA Malaysia. (The Malaysian Reserve)

UEM launches Kondominium Kiara Kasih Rumawip project
UEM Sunrise has launched their first Rumawip project in Segambut. Aptly named Kondominium Kiara Kasih, the latest Rumawip project is located near the affluent Mont Kiara township. The single tower 40-storey-condominium consists of 719 units, with each unit comprising three bedrooms, two bathrooms along with a parking bay and other amenities. The project sits on a 2.14-acre freehold plot and has a GDV of approximately RM217.5 million. (Malay Mail Online)

High-rise project planned in place of Serani Row
Six multi-storey towers with almost 4,000 serviced apartment units are planned for Jalan Raja Chulan in Kuala Lumpur, taking over the spot where Serani Row once stood. The area was recently demolished and cordoned off for development. The proposed development comprises two 80-storey towers, two 66-storey towers, and two 60-storey towers. A 10-storey parking facility and a three-storey commercial podium are also in the plans. (The Star Online)

An aerial view of the now flattened site for the planned six towers near the Bukit Nanas forest reserve and KL Tower. — Photos: MOHD FAIHAN GHANI/The Star

Malaysian REITs down as investors turn cautious
Share prices of Malaysian REITs fell yesterday despite a positive market breadth, as cautious investors trimmed positions in a rising interest rate environment. Sunway REIT lost as much as 3.8%, Pavilion REIT declined 2.9%, while KLCC Property Holdings Bhd inched down 1%. A local analyst said some investors are being cautious as they are expecting higher interest rate and a weak distribution per unit (DPU) growth, which both work against REITs whose valuations were not cheap to begin with. (The Edge Markets)

Empire City Damansara 2 land to be carved into smaller plots
Mammoth Empire Holdings (MEH) Sdn Bhd has scrapped plans to sell its 64-acre tract earmarked for the development of Empire City Damansara 2 (ECD2) in Petaling Jaya in a single block. Instead, the master developer is keen to carve the land worth RM800 million into smaller lots to be sold and/or potentially developed in joint ventures with other builders. In October last year, MEH had called for bids for the land. The 64 acres, comprising three adjoining and contiguous commercial plots, were purchased by MEH nine years ago for about RM187.53 million. (The Edge Markets)

Crest Builder to bid for more government land projects
Construction and property player Crest Builder Holdings Bhd will continue to bid for development projects on government land, unperturbed by the more than two-year delay in developing such projects in Jalan Dang Wangi and Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, and Kelana Jaya in Petaling Jaya. Joint ventures with government agencies that hold the land will give Crest Builder entry into prime and strategic plots at a low cost, enabling it to expand its property development business. The company has two TOD projects, namely Dang Wangi LRT TOD and Kelana Jaya LRT TOD, as well as a redevelopment project for the Malaysian Rubber Board (MRB) in Jalan Ampang. (The Edge Markets)

A Google office in Silicon Valley

Google-leased office building bought for nearly US$170mil
A big Mountain View office building leased by Google has been bought for nearly US$170mil (RM665.77mil) in a transaction that highlights the allure of owning a building whose tenant is the internet giant. Public documents also show the building was leased in late 2015 to Google. The sale price is a marked increased from 2017, when the site’s assessed value was US$60.4mil (RM236.54mil). It’s partly the Google effect, but also reflects the difference between a building leased on a long-term basis to a credit tenant versus an empty building. (The Star Online)

UK property investments thriving despite Brexit
Despite the looming referendum for Britain to exit the European Union (EU), property investments in the United Kingdom are expected to thrive, according to global real estate services provider, Savills. There will be continued demand for residential and commercial properties due to limited supplies in London. Properties yield in the UK are still at a competitive level, particularly for commercial properties which are higher than other major cities in Europe. The office leasing market in London is very encouraging and expected demand for rentals will be high in the long-term, with future developments currently being built. Plenty of rental properties become available at completion, which would trigger some growth in housing prices. (NST Online)