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www.propertyinsight.com.my

AUGUST 2017

​C OVER STORY

KIP-ING IT PASSIONATE KIP GROUP’S VALERIE ONG BUILDS HER DREAMS AT KIP SENTRAL IN KOTA WARISAN

CELEBRITY CORNER MEL’S PLACE

A peek at fashionista Melinda Looi’s tasteful abode

MAIN FEATURE

AIRBNB TO THE RESCUE: Changing the property gameplan by doubling profits with short term rentals

AUGUST 2017 RM7.50(WM) RM9.00(EM) KDN PP 18181/04/2013 (033492)


Contents

INVESTOR NEXT DOOR

28 |

Revolution In Property Industry Via Virtual Reality

CEO of VR Lab and Space Solutions Plt Datin Shireen Tan reveals the importance of buying property by planning ahead once cash flow is sufficient

FEATURE

30 | The Impact Of The Shrinking Ringgit On Property Investment How will the depreciating ringgit and bank interest rates affect firsttime homebuyers?

INTERNATIONAL INSIGHT

32 | If Not London, Where Else Can You Invest? 06

STRATEGY

34 |

Making Income Sense

36 |

3 Tech Tools That Property Investors Cannot Ignore

CELEBRITY CORNER

Here’s how to be more competitive in an increasingly challenging market with the aid of technology applications

12 |

38 |

5 Reasons To Buy Your First Property When You’re Young

40 |

The Art OF Condo Living: Pets Not Allowed

COVER STORY

06 |

KIP-Ing It Passionate

KIP Group of Companies Director Valerie Ong shares on KIP Sentral’s mixed-use development comprising KIP Shoplots, Core SoHo Suites and KIP Mall in Kota Warisan, Sepang

Mel’s Place

Here’s a peek at fashionista Melinda Looi’s tasteful abode

MAIN FEATURE

15 | Airbnb To The Rescue: Changing The Property Gameplan 16 |

Brothers In Airbnb

Quick to spot emerging trends, Elvin Wong and Eric Wong are now operating on the lucrative short term Airbnb platform

Managing the balance between cash inflows and cash outflows are crucial in saving up for that first down payment and monthly instalments

Here’s how to navigate this thorny issue of keeping pets with other residents living in the same condominium block

42 | Want To Be A Winner In The Workplace And Property Market! Here’s some gems of insights of how to be the crème de la crème of your field of work and property investment

18 | Rental Yields Increase With Airbnb Living Space’s Ikhram Merican gave an in-depth insight on Airbnb as the next money-making strategy in property tourism PERSONALITY OF THE MONTH

20 |

Ace Of Architecture

PAM President Ar. Ezumi Harzani Ismail shares on the importance of open engagements with stakeholders to create better cities

HOME +

23 |

Increasing The Value Of Properties The DIY Way

In coping with the slowdown in the property market, more homeowners are now turning to MR D.I.Y. to renovate their residences, resulting in an uplift of values for their properties

ROOKIE INVESTOR

26 | From IT to Property Ed Aswandi shares his tips on how to get the best investment deals around 2 I August 2017

16


Editor’s Note

EDITORIAL Editor-in-Chief Dato’ KK Chua kkchua@propertyinsight.com.my Editor Yvonne Yoong yvonneyoong@propertyinsight.com.my

“JUST DO IT”. These three words have propelled an advertising campaign so massive for Nike that it brought the company from good to great in the blink of an eye. Unknown to them, the slogan, coined in 1988 by an advertising agency was about to shape history – moving beyond redefining the way people perceive sports equipment – to making a global statement. Not realising just how those three words would propel Nike’s astute fight for market share in the minds of consumers, it literally went on to change the world. Not only did the campaign win mindshare – it touched a common cord and resonated with people all over the world. “Just Do It” immediate became a universal slogan that people everywhere could identify with, winning their hearts in a special way. These three words secured Nike’s rise to stardom in further increasing its share of the competitive North American domestic sport-shoe business from 18% to 43% - raising worldwide sales from USD877 million (RM3.75 billion) to USD9.2 billion (RM39.4 trillion) – from 1988 to 1998. Fitting snugly into Nike’s branding, it hit such a powerful chord that The Age named the campaign as one of the top two taglines of the 20th century, crediting it as both “universal and intensely personal”. Famous athletes including Wayne Rooney, Michael Jordon and Kobe Bryant have graced its campaigns. The three iconic words of this powerful campaign have sealed Nike’s image for enabling people to attain greatness. Pointedly, it tells us not to procrastinate, which ties in with KIP Group of Companies Director Valerie Ong’s words:- “If you have a dream, don’t sit and wait. Don’t procrastinate. If you have a plan, execute it.” Turn to pg 6–pg 10. Flip over to our other cover and read about how B&G Property’s Dato’ Soo Kai Chee (pg 6–11) is raising the bar to make a landmark statement with its D’Pristine @ Medini integrated mixed-use development situated opposite Legoland in Iskandar Malaysia. BCB Berhad’s Tan Lindy also appears on this month’s Gatefold Cover and Developer of The Month pages with the group’s Versis Medini project taking the spotlight in Medini, Iskandar Malaysia. The group just won Singapore’s Institute of Parks & Recreation Innovative Green Awards 2017 under the Green Champions Category for its Elysia Park Residence in Iskandar Malaysia. “Just Do It”. Three powerful words that have the power to change one’s world that is applicable to just about any personal situation or corporate decision. Just like how Coke or Coca-Cola’s amazing campaign took the world by storm – and similarly, how Sunkist gave the humble orange juice its sunshiny, sexy spin. So, whatever the case, “Just Do It!”

Writers Mages PV Lingam Felicia Soon

CREATIVE Creative Director Sarah Tan sarah@propertyinsight.com.my Designer Megat Khuzamir

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT Sales marketing enquiries support@propertyinsight.com.my +6012 3788 683

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ENQUIRIES enquiries@propertyinsight.com.my

Yvonne Yoong Editor

On The Cover www.propertyinsight.com.my

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Property Insight Malaysia

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PropertyInsight

Although every reasonable care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this publication, neither the publisher, editors, writers nor employees or agents can be held liable for any errors, inaccuracies and/or omissions. The contents of this publication do not constitute investment advice. It is intended only to inform and illustrate. No reader should act on any information contained in this publication without first seeking appropriate professional advice that takes into account their personal circumstances. We shall not be responsible for any loss or damage, whether directly or indirectly, incidentally or consequently arising from or in connection with the contents of this publication and shall not accept any liability in relation thereto. The views by our contributors expressed here are their personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect Property Insight’s views. The publisher does not endorse any company, organisation, person, investment strategy or technique mentioned in this publication unless expressedly stated otherwise. The publisher does not endorse any advertisements or special advertising features in this publication, nor does the publisher endorse any advertiser(s) or their products/services unless expressedly stated to the contrary. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means, including photocopying and imaging without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Valerie Ong

Director, KIP Group of Companies

August 2017 I 3


NEWS & EVENTS

UDA’S OPEN HOUSE CELEBRATION

NAZA TTDI’S AIDIL FITRI OPEN HOUSE CELEBRATION Naza TTDI Sdn Bhd recently celebrated its Naza Aidil Fitri Open House at the Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Centre (MITEC) in Kuala Lumpur. The event was graced by YM Raja Muda Selangor Tengku Amir Shah ibni Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah, accompanied by Chairman SM Nasarudin SM Nasimuddin and Deputy Executive Chairman/ Group Managing Director SM Faliq SM Nasimuddin. The event saw dignitaries and guests treated to an extensive Raya spread.

SUNWAY GEO RESIDENCES HANDED OVER TO RESIDENTS Sunway Property handed over the keys to proud owners of Sunway GEO Residences following an appreciation ceremony held recently at the multipurpose hall of Sunway GEO Residences. More than 100 house owners were present to receive their keys which proved to be a great opportunity for them to meet and greet their new neighbours. Sunway Berhad General Manager of Customer Relations (Central Region) Alice Leow says, “Sunway GEO Residences’ joint venture with Mitsui Fudosan has enabled us to uplift our expertise and deliver quality homes to our purchasers.”

4 I August 2017

UDA Holdings Berhad (UDA) celebrated its annual Hari Raya Open House event at the Premiera Hotel, Kuala Lumpur recently. The event was held to forge prosperous business relationships with their clients, corporate allies, media and colleagues. UDA Chairman Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Shafei Abdullah along with UDA Managing Director Datuk Ahmad Abu Bakar presented cash tokens to students who fared well in their examinations.

SKYWORLD HOSTS CHESS TOURNAMENT FOR SCHOOLGOING CHILDREN SkyWorld Development Group (SkyWorld) recently hosted two weekends of friendly chess tournaments for schoolgoing children in line with its goal to connect with the community and provide healthier alternative activities. The tournaments were divided into two categories - a Chinese Chess Tournament and an English Chess Tournament. Over 1,000 children participated in the tournament co-organised by SkyWorld and Mega Chess Academy. “It was great to see the community coming together for a good and healthy cause. The tournament connected the community and taught youngsters about personal responsibility while enabling them to develop personal relationships with their peers,” says SkyWorld COO Lee Chee Seng.

KLAF 2017 IS BACK Pertubuhan Akitek Malaysia (PAM) or the Malaysian Institute of Architects recently launched its annual flagship event - the Kuala Lumpur Architecture Festival 2017 (KLAF 2017) at Publika, Solaris Dutamas in Kuala Lumpur on July 12, 2017. KLAF 2017 Royal Patron Yang Amat Mulia Tengku Zatashah Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah officiated the event which was witnessed by guest of honour Agensi Inovasi Malaysia Chief Executive Officer Datuk Mark Rozario; PAM President Ar. Ezumi Harzani and KLAF 2017 Director Ar. Ang Chee.


TOPPING-OFF FOR H2O RESIDENCES Titijaya Land Berhad (Titijaya) held a topping-off ceremony at Block A of its H2O Residences in Ara Damansara recently. The ceremony was attended by MBPJ Building Control Deputy Director Ismathinon Haji Abd Rahman, Executive Director Charmaine Lim Puay Fung, Project General Manager Harry Lim and YM Tengku Ahmad Izzat Tengku Abdul Rahman. H2O is a high-rise residential project that comprises serviced apartments and Small office Home office (SoHo) units built across 6.04 acres of freehold land. The Gross Development Value (GDV) of the project is RM794 million. The development focuses on forward-looking, modern living concepts including aquatic themed designs with various facilities. These include an aqua gym, a swimming pool with a marine life screen as well as a sunken garden to complement the concept. Titijaya Executive Director Charmaine Lim Puay Fung says, “We are thrilled to unveil H2O Residences. Despite the softening property market, we are optimistic about this new project’s prospects which are further enhanced by its central location and easy accessibility to nearby amenities.”

OFFICIAL SIGNING CEREMONY FOR HOMETREE The official signing ceremony between BCB Development Sdn Bhd and Kerjaya Prospek (M) Sdn Bhd was recently held at the HomeTree Sales Gallery in Kota Kemuning, Shah Alam. BCB Development Sdn Bhd Founder and Group Managing Director Tan Sri Dato’ Tan Seng Leong and Executive Director Low Kok Yung were present at the HomeTree signing ceremony along with Kerjaya Prospek (M) Sdn Bhd Executive Chairman Datuk Tee Eng Ho and Project Director Tee Eng Tiong. The gated and guarded project was awarded with a RM207.36 million contract with an estimated gross development value (GDV) of RM650 million. The project will be launched by end August and is due for completion in 2020.

UMLAND RAYA OPEN HOUSE 2017 UMLand Group’s Hari Raya Open House was successfully held on July 12, 2017 at its premises situated in Suasana Bukit Ceylon, Kuala Lumpur. Hosted by UMLand, the event was held to foster closer relationships between the subsidiary members of the group, members of the media and other guests. The event also served as a networking platform for the management team who wore Hari Raya attire in conjunction with the festive theme, even as guests tucked into the delicious Raya spread. August 2017 I 5


Cover Story

KIP-ING IT PASSIONATE KIP Group of Companies Director Valerie Ong shares on KIP Sentral’s mixed-use development comprising KIP Shoplots, Core SoHo Suites and KIP Mall in Kota Warisan, Sepang By: Yvonne Yoong

S

uccess agrees with Valerie Ong, Director of KIP Group of Companies. Behind her cover girl looks and charming disposition, she works hard at juggling her many business platforms including property, food and beverage (F&B), hospitality and fashion. Loving every aspect of real estate, Valerie belongs in the crème de la crème league of Generation Y developers. Smart and sassy, vivacious and bubbly, the fresh-faced beauty is a familiar face on the social scene, lending added glamour to various high society events. Recently appearing on Moët Hennessy’s grand celebration video clip, she shares some nuggets of insights into her life:“I start the day with meetings with my staff, consultants and contractors. If time allows (for it), I would go for site visits and end my day with good food and wine. “The particular achievement that I’m proud of is being able to juggle all of my businesses and yet not neglect my leisure time with my friends, family as well as my business associates,” she says. Valerie asserts there is never a 6 I August 2017

typical day at work as the projects she undertakes have varying property profiles, with each fresh day bringing on new challenges. This includes her maiden KIP Sentral mixed-use development in Kota Warisan, Sepang. Besides having her fashion business, she also owns The Point Restaurant & Wine Bar in Damansara, Kuala Lumpur which lets her experiment with her chef’s reconstructed dishes combining fine dining and local cuisine. “Basically, I started with a vision three years ago for a place and space where I can spend time with my peers as well as network. I’ve travelled a lot and have been to the finest of the finest three-star Michelin restaurants, and there’s also all

the street food which I love. I wouldn’t just restrict myself to only fine dining as I love Hokkien mee and bak kut teh.” Coincidentally, in conjunction with the launching of The Point’s new Wine Bar, it also received the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence 2017 from the acclaimed Wine Spectator’s Restaurant Awards, being one of the only seven restaurants to receive the award this year. And, that’s just a glimpse into the various platforms and businesses that Valerie juggles at any one time - although not necessarily in that order. True to form, she undertakes everything with classy exuberance. Her uniquely inimitable and gregarious style of doing things also has a trickle-down


Left: An artist’s impression of the overall development of KIP Sentral in Kota Warisan, Sepang which comprises KIP Mall, Core SoHo, KIP Sentral Shoplots and an upcoming KIP Hotel

effect of introducing fun into what would otherwise be strictly serious business in the world of bricks and mortar. Valerie acknowledges that being a female in this largely male-dominated industry is another challenge. “It’s tough as we are typically being stereotyped as not knowing much about the industry. Often, females are shy to ask questions when they don’t have certain knowledge, and they keep quiet. “I think it is very important to consult industry experts before making decisions. There is no secret in this industry as everything has been done or explored before,” she says opining one could consult industry experts or property gurus for answers.

COMING INTO HER OWN At 29, Valerie is determined to excel in the world of real estate having already worked in the group for over six years now. Meeting her dad’s high expectations has certainly not been easy, given the fact that Dato’ Eric is a veteran in the industry. “I had to prove myself. The first year I came back after completing my studies in Australia in 2010, I learnt as much as possible about the business. In the second year, I made sure that I knew everything I needed to know and met as many people as possible. “I told myself that by the third year, I must achieve certain expectations that I

At 29, Valerie belongs to the inner circle of young developers considered among Malaysia’s crème de la crème of next generation property developers, who is coming into her own

August 2017 I 7


Cover Story

If you have a dream, don’t sit and wait. Don’t procrastinate. If you have a plan, execute it” - Valerie Ong

have for myself,” relates Valerie on how she joined the KIP Group in time for the launch of Harmony Park in Dengkil, Selangor.” During that time, Valerie was also involved in the planning details of 8scape in Johor Bahru as well as overseeing the inception and operations of KIP Hotel located off Jalan Ipoh in Kuala Lumpur. Today, Valerie oversees the hospitality aspects of the group. KIP Hotel is a 199-room lifestyle boutique hotel that caters to leisure and business travellers. “At price points ranging from RM148 to RM188 (depending on the season), KIP Hotel enjoys over 70% occupancy on average. Although the hotel rates are affordably priced, guests get to enjoy enhanced lifestyle facilities including a 24/7 gym and an Infinity Pool. “My interest has always been in the travel industry and property development. The property industry is interesting as it is based on market conditions and the economy. Furthermore, you are able to determine your own sector,” she shares. Giving herself an honest assessment 8 I August 2017

of her performance, Valerie thinks that she has done quite decently for herself. “I believe I have achieved what I have set out for myself. I’ve always been a curious person who is keen to learn. “My dad used to tease me saying that I’m a Jack of all trades and master of none. However, I was recently very happy to hear him say that I’m a Jack of all trades, without completing the quote. So, I’m glad to say I’m not a master of none,” she smiles. Dato’ Eric, who co-founded the KIP Group, has been sharing the finer ropes of real estate with her. The camaraderie between father and daughter is obvious. Valerie enthuses, “Working with my dad has been the best experience of my life as I have gained lots of knowledge and experiences besides having the chance to spend quality time with him,” she enthuses.

CHIP OFF THE OLD BLOCK

Valerie readily chips in to agree that she is a chip off the old block, heeding her

father’s best advice given to her which is to be patient, as experience comes with time. “We’re constantly learning to improve ourselves. No one is totally right, and we have to continuously take life as a learning curve. “To have a successful relationship, both parties need to put their egos aside and think about what’s best for the company,” she adds. Dato’ Eric shares his philosophy - “It’s not the millions one gives you, but the ten ringgit that was given along the way to get you to where you are today that is important.”

DIFFERENT MANAGEMENT STYLES

“KIP Group Founders Dato’ Eric and Dato’ Chew Lak Seong have been in this industry for over 30 years. They focus more on the company’s corporate side of things while Valerie manages the dayto-day operations of the group. “There is always healthy competition between the management and myself.


Top: KIP Hotel is a showcase of modernistic design with value-added facilities

We constantly provide or feed each other with information but separately process them for benefical conclusions,” adds Valerie. This was the case when an architecture team proposed a modern, nonconventional full-length glass facade for the group’s planned KIP Sentral Shoplots in Kota Warisan - with Valerie immediately warming up to the idea. “I thought the concept was something out of the norm especially in this area, with its design which features full-length glass windows fronting the main road. “Kota Warisan in Sepang is not exactly the city centre landmark but I thought bringing something new and fresh to the development would have a higher impact for the area. This would in turn, improve the whole integrated development (favouring the three other components in KIP Sentral) although the cost would be higher. It was a risk worth taking,” she enthuses. Valerie says that her dad was initially skeptical as it would substantially add to the development cost.

Left: Refresh yourself at the infinity pool

“When it comes to design, the extensive usage of glass costs more than the conventional way of constructing a shoplot,” she explains. The management eventually agreed to her request on condition that the units could sell. Valerie proceeded with the challenge and was amazed at the end results - with the shoplots being snapped up quickly a few years back. “I’m happy to say that we closed many sales for the shoplots with minimal marketing effort by utilising our database. People were calling us at all times, eargerly wanting to buy the shoplots which were sold out in three months. “In fact, this was the most exciting project that I’ve handled. At that time, I

didn’t even have a full-fledged team of my own yet but a sub-division to work with which was handling real estate marketing for the company. We did well for ourselves and that motivated me to circumvent any challenges that were in my way and tell myself that I could only go forward from here on,” she enthuses.

ZOOMING IN ON KIP SENTRAL

All of the 132 Phase 1 KIP Sentral Shoplots have already been sold and handed over to buyers on Sept 1, 2016. “To our surprise, there is a lot of demand and interest - with many businesses having started operations. “These include four hotels, supermarkets, convenience stores, retail outlets, banks, international fast food chains like Pizza Hut, Burger King and Domino’s Pizza springing up within six August 2017 I 9


Cover Story

months,” she says of its overwhelming success. Valerie is now promoting Core SoHo Suites housed in two towers within the freehold mixed-use development while securing tenants for its upcoming KIP Mall which is targeted to open in August. “Core SoHo is a very exciting project situated next to KIP Mall. The product mix that we have and the size of the studio units spanning 450 sq ft each is a right fit for the population there. “There are many universities around the area so we think it’s a very good size that is easy to maintain. The units are ideal for students and people working at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) 1 and KLIA 2,” she says. Core SoHo Suites is situated in the upcoming township of Kota Warisan, Sepang where other developers are also building. It is located nearby upcoming townships and renowned universities including Xiamen University Malaysia within a few minutes’ drive. Despite current market conditions, Valerie says there is ongoing interest, and she hopes to sell off all the Core SoHo units this year. An Alibaba Distribution Centre hub coming up nearby with established developers launching landed properties here also augurs well for KIP Sentral. “Having our mixed-use development in Sepang is a strategic move as ours is the first integrated entertainment, shopping

and lifestyle development in the area. “In fact, the availability of higher learning institutions has become one of the main catalysts for Kota Warisan’s development,” she opines. KIP Sentral’s hybrid communitycentric mall will serve the everyday lifestyle and entertainment needs of residents and the growing student population which was previously lacking. Competitively priced daily essentials and fresh produce can be purchased in a more conducive environment there. “The 13-storey Block B tower is already 95% sold, with 85% of the owners having signed the Sales and Purchase Agreement (SPA). “Meanwhile, the 15-storey Block A has just been launched in April this year. The Gross Development Value (GDV) of Core SoHo stands at RM140 million whereas Core Avenue, the shoplots below Core SoHo, has a GDV of RM50 million, bringing the total to RM190 mil,” she says. In all, both towers contain a total of 466 Core SoHo units, with each unit allocated one car park respectively. There will be three levels of car parks with a total of 778 parking bays. Facilities include a gymnasium, swimming pool, children’s playground, pocket gardens and multipurpose hall. Meanwhile, the maintenance fee is at 25 sen psf which works out to be a mere RM112.50 a month. Core SoHo Suites

will be completed by October 2019. KIP Mall, with its 200,000 sq ft of net lettable area located just next to Core SoHo Suites has already secured The Fresh Market, Econsave and even a KFC drive-through as its anchor tenants. Valerie anticipates its soft launch in August will be a huge boost to the area. International fast-food chains and various outlets including MBG Fruit Shop, MR D.I.Y. and Boat Noodles are some of the tenants at KIP Mall. These F&B, convenience stores and facilities will be available within walking distance, which is perfect for the catchment area.

SURVIVING THE INDUSTRY

“Being in the property department is actually very tough because it basically involves orchestrating different departments. In building a property, you will need consultants from various divisions,” says Valerie. “You would need Mechanical and Electrical (M&E), civil and structural engineers. You’ll need architects and different specifiers and you have to deal with the authorities. Sometimes, when you deal with the consultants, they might not want to deviate from their original plans so it can be taxing and very timeconsuming,” she explains. However, at the end of the day, the key is to remain positive. “Challenges may keep pouring in and you may want to give up. But, at the end of the day, persevere. “Think about it again. You have spent a lot of time in making things happen. Tomorrow is a better day. Make your dreams come true, persevere and do your best,” she advises. At the end of the day, her goal is to come up with better products – be it in property development, hospitality or F&B. Her definition of success lies in meeting her goals – big and small. In closing, the determined go-getter shares her formula for success stating, “Don’t sit and wait. If you have a dream, don’t procrastinate. If you have a plan, execute it.” Left: Affordable Core SoHo Suites for the Millennials

10 I August 2017


Celebrity Corner

Mel’s Place

Here’s a peek at fashionista Melinda Looi’s tasteful abode By: Felicia Soon & Yvonne Yoong Photos: Muhammad Zamir

P

roperty Insight recently had an exclusive chat with famous designer Melinda Looi who shared her love for sleek, minimalist interior designs. Looi also spoke about her two property acquisitions purchased with her German-born husband Dirk Luebbert who is the Group Chief Executive Officer of Mellooi Creation Sdn Bhd. Something Looi’s grandmother once told her left a deep impression on her until today which was the importance of having a house, whether you are rich or poor. That idea resonates with her till today, as she wants to ensure each of her four children aged between two years old to 12, are provided for in terms of having a property each. “I told myself that I may not give them money. But at least, I will try to give each one of them a property as I want to make sure that they each have a house of their own. As for the rest, they will have to earn it themselves. So, I do believe in the importance of owning your own properties,” she says. Looi shares further that she and her husband Luebbert are quite fussy themselves when it comes to acquiring their own properties. Having said that, she admits that finding the right properties has not been an easy journey for them. More than 10 years ago, Looi didn’t have a place to herself so she stayed in the old showroom just a stone’s throw away from Bangsar Shopping Centre, Kuala Lumpur with her helpers. Later, having settled down with Luebbert, they realised that they needed to stay in a proper place and started looking around by going to view many beautiful and expensive condominiums as well as newly launched developments while also surfing the internet for other possible options. 12 I August 2017


Top: Looi’s favourite place is in the kitchen when she entertains and cooks. Seen here with her two and a half year old daughter Myla Ellen Luebbert as they prepare ingredients for a meal. The hanging lighting is full of notes and photographs left by guests to her residence Bottom: The Hunter Douglas silhouette monochromatic blinds contrast strongly against the black-and-white painting by Andre Mendes from Brazil which Looi and her husband loved at first sight

Looi admits that she herself is not a fan of condominiums, preferring landed properties with land for gardening instead. However, the reason they finally decided to raise their family in a condominium unit was because of the comprehensive security features provided. “I work very late and I have kids so I thought we should stay in a condominium because of the security, facilities and so on. We discovered a unit in Petaling Jaya with a very high ceiling which we love so we booked the unit right away. We have been staying there for seven years since,” she recalls. “I don’t like to be trapped under a low ceiling as the place would feel very stuffy. We need a much bigger place as I have four kids now so we found a house in Damansara Heights, KL which we will renovate into a bigger space to ensure that they have their own space. “But, we haven’t had the time to think about how to go about the process and what kind of interiors and furniture we would need. So admittedly, it has been quite a journey for us when it comes to investing in properties.” Looi shares. When quizzed on why she choose Damansara Heights as her new abode, she explains that her husband Luebbert prefers to stay close to their showroom as he dislikes driving. Besides the convenience of staying close to amenities such as shopping malls, restaurants, hospitals and clinics which Looi believes is of upmost importance, one of her dreams is actually to own a kampung house. “It is one of my dreams to have a kampung house facing the paddy fields where I can plant my own vegetables. The house can be like a weekend getaway place for me and my family,” says Looi. Following the downturn of the August 2017 I 13


Celebrity Corner

economy, Looi acknowledges that now is a good time for people to invest in new properties. However, for those who want to sell their properties, she opines that now is not the right time as prices have dropped tremendously due to the ongoing economic uncertainty. She encourages those with extra money to consider purchasing a house in Bangsar or Damansara Heights in KL because usually, properties in these neighbourhoods will fetch good returns. Sharing her personal preference when it comes to interior design, Looi has opted for a clean white canvas look and setting against which she displays her collection of artwork and even her kids’ painting. However for her landed property, Looi would opt for a rustic style. “Most people always think that designers are very flamboyant especially if you do high-end fashion couture. But I think very differently when it comes to interiors and this is something about me that people don’t know. “I like the colour white because of its timeless look and feel of being clean. I also like things which are sustainable and will last long just like what I wear,” Looi explains. MELINDA’S PLACE IN THE KITCHEN As someone who loves to cook Asian food and make tong sui – literally translated to mean “sugar water” representing a collective term of sweet desserts for her staff, Looi says she finds solace in her kitchen after working at her showroom gallery. “My kitchen countertop is made of stone in a dark grey colour. It is quite rough because I don’t like it to be too clean and I don’t want it to be marble because you can get scratches on it. “So far, the material has lasted seven years and interestingly, the longer we use the countertop, the better it looks which is why I like natural materials. I want everything in my home to look natural and last longer. My kitchen is my favourite part of my house as it is big and spacious and we can sit up to 12 people in one sitting,” she muses. Taking pride of place in her kitchen is a unique hanging lighting which looks very much like a designer piece. “It is actually a normal lighting set 14 I August 2017

which I converted into something else as you can see in the photograph taken with my daughter Myla, or Lala as she calls herself. This is where I put up friends or visitors’ messages whenever they visit us at our home,” enthuses Looi. She further explains that guests to her house would write little notes and she will clip it unto the lighting fixture. Also known as the “Family’s Memory Chandelier”, there are also photos of her kids’ late grandfather, baby photos as well as the photo of the actual kitchen before the renovation works were completed. Although Looi prefers more vivid colours when it comes to the soft furnishings of her home, she opted for a sofa in black leather in place of a previous grey sofa. Not only does it complement the Hunter Douglas silhouette blackand-white blinds, it also accentuates the black-and-white painting by Andre Mendes from Brazil, says Looi. “My husband and I saw this painting at an art exhibition. Truth be told, it is the first painting which we both liked at the same time and it was also our first investment into a painting. We became good friends with Mendes, the artist from there,” she muses. The painting complements another piece in her painting collection. “We also have a piece from our late Ibrahim Hussein given to me by him and his wife Sim on my birthday 10 years ago.” Looi reminisces how spotless their house was when she visited him. Ibrahim told her he even painted the floor of his residence white. “Although time flies, the painting which is so colourful complements and enhances everything in the house,” shares Looi. Free-spirited in her design sense, a walkabout around Looi’s swanky showroom on Jalan Maarof in Bangsar, KL also proved to be a gem of a discovery. The gallery houses a treasure-trove of collectibles and designer dresses ranging from fairy-tale like gowns to bohemian clothing with a funky vibe right down to her signature avant-garde and vintage style she is famously known for. Quite unlike her preference for a sleek, minimalist look for her residence, her niche boutique showcase various facets of her personality to a tee.

Most people always think that designers are very flamboyant especially if you do high-end fashion couture. But I think very differently when it comes to interiors and this is something about me that people don’t know” – Melinda Looi

Melinda Looi is an award-winning fashion designer and the founder of Mellooi Creation Sdn Bhd – an avant-garde and vintage style couture showroom founded in 2002 and located in Bangsar, KL. Her brands include Melinda Looi Couture, Melinda Looi Prêt-à-Porter and MELL which are sold in Malaysia and in boutiques spanning Europe, Australia and the Middle East. Another sub-line - MELL BASICS comprise basics made from certified Organic Cotton and emel by Melinda Looi, a fashion initiative by Melinda Looi. Her delicate craftsmanship and ideas has won her many accolades. She was awarded the title “Designer of the Year” three times - twice at the Malaysian International Fashion Awards Malaysian International Fashion Week and at the Mercedes Benz Stylo Fashion Awards in 2009.


Main Feature

Airbnb To The Rescue:

CHANGING THE PROPERTY GAMEPLAN

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ust like GRAB and UBER are changing the way people travel, Airbnb is a popular overseas concept that has captured the imagination of travellers and is transforming the local property landscape. It has for one, changed the way agents and homeowners rent out their properties for the short term while enabling them to earn lucrative profits. Novelty concepts available for short term rental overseas are so advanced that they include innovative thematic offerings such as converted “Ship Houses”, “Aeroplane Houses”, “Tree Houses” and so on. Having arrived in Malaysia in July 2010, Airbnb has transformed the real estate gameplan, with short term rental of units catching on - albeit on a more conventional platform in terms of the lease of condominium units and other landed residences. Locally, the current Airbnb wave is catching on, spurred by the next trend in entertainment-led Airbnb units for rental that are seeing people renting out cafes and offices for a few hours even and so on, for the short term. It has taken off on such a fruitful scale that local Airbnb agents and hosts are exploring introducing short term rental stays overseas including in Japan for instance, to enable locals to experience short term stays with native Japanese, allowing them to savour their authentic way of life. Turn the pages to gain greater insights into the world of Airbnb right from the experiences of a few local agents and hosts who are currently operating on this lucrative short term rental platform and reaping double or triple profits as compared to conventional long term rental of units. August 2017 I 15


Main Feature

BROTHERS IN AIRBNB

(ROI) so I started operating a homestay business on the local iBilik platform as an agent. Finally, my friend who was also doing the same homestay business informed me about a new platform from Europe called Airbnb,” he says adding that he then registered as a host in 2012. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Quick to spot emerging trends, Elvin Wong and Eric Wong are now operating on the lucrative short term Airbnb m

PROFITING FROM AIRBNB

By: Yvonne Yoong

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ike two peas in a pod, brothers Elvin Wong, 34 and Eric Wong, 35, also share a passion for property. Starting off with direct sales, they later decided to become property agents, leasing out units for the long term. “We advertised on online property portals and got enquiries for a month’s stay or two but owners would decline. So, I figured that short term stays could be the new trend,” shares Eric. This spurred him to look for further opportunities that would cater to this need for short term stays. Eventually, he found an opportunity to fulfil this demand by venturing into the homestay business catering for short term stays. By then, both brothers had steadily amassed their own share of properties, with Eric having bought five units and Elvin already securing seven properties. In leasing out their units for the long term, they noticed that rentals might drop eventually, hence affecting their returns after paying off their monthly loan repayments. Eric cites the following example. “For the first two years, my studio unit at Damansara Perdana in Selangor which used to be rented out at RM1,600 per month dropped to just RM1,400 per month in the third year, so my cash flow also went down,” relates Eric. “At that time, my loan instalment was RM1,100 per month. With the drop in rental rate, instead of making a profit of RM500, the monthly return was only RM300,” he adds. Not content in settling for status quo, he started seeking new opportunities for increased revenue. “I wanted better return on investment

16 I August 2017

If you want to experience the Japanese way of life, just book via Airbnb to stay at a Japanese host’s house” - Elvin Wong

According to him, Airbnb came to Malaysia in March 2010. Currently, there are over 4,000 hosts in the Klang Valley with 18,000 Malaysian property listings under Airbnb. Landlords or agents are considered owners or hosts on this platform while short term tenants are referred to as guests. “Airbnb is one platform, not just for one (type of) property but for people who want to engage in the business. Airbnb is one of the marketplaces for people who want to run their homestay business to put up their listings and for people to do bookings,” opines Elvin. “Airbnb is open to agents. Basically, it charges commission from two parties – one being the guest and the other - the host. Guests are charged 12%


whereas hosts are charged 3% for every transaction. Also, anyone can register on this platform for free. For example, if RM100 a night is charged for the room rate, you will have to pay RM112 – with the additional 12% coming from guests while hosts are charged 3% per transaction,” explains Eric. Attributing Airbnb as low-risk in nature and easy to navigate online, another advantage is its security features. Should disputes arise between guests and hosts, this can be reported to Airbnb which has a host guarantee policy for whatever is lost or damaged which will be reimbursed. This gives a sense of protection for the owners of the units. Guests who have signed up with Airbnb would have authorised their credit cards with Airbnb so they could be reimbursed in the event of untoward incidences. “Airbnb benefits owners as there is another solution for ROI which is capable of bringing in double or even triple rentals despite the low seasons. People may patronise hotel stays as they want service, but with Airbnb, it’s a lifestyle. “Unlike hotel bookings, it offers three types of accommodation to choose from. One can opt to rent the Entire Home to

oneself or book a Private Room and share some common places. The third option is to choose a Shared Room to stay within a shared space like a common room.” “In Malaysia, there are options like high-rise condominium units and landed property in the form of terrace houses to rent from,” says Eric who is now renting out high-rise apartments via Airbnb. Elvin adds that the Malaysian model for renting properties is mostly confined to terrace houses and condominiums. This is in comparison to novel overseas offerings whereby one can rent thematic residences including converted “Ship Houses” or “Aeroplane Houses”.

SHIFTING TRENDS AND POPULARITY EVIDENT WITH HOLIDAY MAKERS

A similarity between overseas and local Airbnb guests sees many booking units for vacations. This trend is gaining increasing momentum here as well. The brothers have business models in Penang and another in Kuala Lumpur. “Prior to 2015, the Airbnb market depended on foreigners but since then, there are many locals making bookings,” adds Elvin of the shifting market trends.

With Airbnb having taken off so well, he says the new upcoming trend is entertainment-led Airbnb. “There are three types – the first is short term rental accommodation with good food and beverage (F&B) space. There are now many cafes which are being rented out short term, some even for a few hours. I heard one is coming up in July that can be booked online. “It’s not just accommodation but the trend also includes work space venue with the third being personal entertainment space,” he adds. Airbnb he says also offers practical solutions for developers facing the challenge of unsold units as they can get them fully furnished and rented out via Airbnb. They themselves have done this. Operating on the short term Airbnb platform requires owners to provide everything for their guests including blankets, shampoos, shower gels, towels, etc. that is akin to hotel stays. Elvin says that besides owning the property, one can also rent the unit to start their own Airbnb business by informing their landlords beforehand. He advises those interested in operating this business to have their own Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) of how to check in and out. The ambitious brothers are looking into promoting Osaka in Japan on this Airbnb platform to enable locals to enjoy short term stays with native Japanese, allowing them to savour their authentic way of life. “If you want to experience the Japanese way of life, just book via Airbnb to stay at a Japanese host’s house to experience how they live and what they eat. You can book the entire stay and become a host. “However, if you want to rent a house in Japan, you must get a Japanese guarantor which is not easy. The rate in Japan is lucrative as one studio which can fetch a monthly rental of RM2,500 in the long run there can be rented out at RM300 or RM400 per night so the returns are very high,” he sums. This he says, is the future trend of Airbnb operating on the local platform catered to the outbound market. Like GRAB and UBER, Airbnb operates on a sharing economy that is already transforming the way the property market does business. August 2017 I 17


Main Feature

RENTAL YIELDS INCREASE WITH AIRBNB Living Space’s Ikhram Merican gave an in-depth insight on Airbnb as the next money-making strategy in property tourism By: Mages PV Lingam

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anaging Director of Living Space Ikhram Merican is also a popular blogger turned prop-preneur and an award-winning property expert. His journey into the property industry started after he first sold his shares from a telecommunications engineering company, giving him the seed money needed for his property down payment. During that period in the year 2009, Ikhram saw an advertisement for foreign exchange (Forex) training which teaches participants ways to make quick money. Ikhram says, “I signed up immediately at the first preview. It costs me RM7,000 for the course fees.” Then, at the second preview, he met an online savvy internet marketer. They both got along and he learnt google techniques and search engine optimisation (SEO) ways from the marketer which enabled him to start his blog for business purposes. Thereafter, Ikhram started blogging passionately on property investment.

A CONTINUING JOURNEY

Ikhram’s journey into blogging about the property industry started in the year 2012. After the first four to five months, the blog picked up in terms of number of hits in tandem with increasing searches for property in areas spanning Damansara Perdana, Mutiara Damansara and so on. Ikhram’s article was also picked up by 18 I August 2017

one of the leading business publications which ran a centrespread story for him, after which people started to call to enquire more about properties in these areas. He then decided to become a real estate negotiator and joined Starcity Property Sdn Bhd. Ikhram was a highflyer, being the top negotiator of the company with record sales and the highest value of transactions. Most of his transactions then dealt with subsales for condominium units and landed properties. In the year 2014, Ikhram stopped property negotiations altogether due to softening market conditions. “The property market is cyclical and had softened then. I was looking for ways to stabilise my income and went to London to attend a property convention which led to my first encounter with Airbnb,” he shares. Airbnb is an online marketplace that also offers hospitality service among others. It enables people to lease or rent short-term lodging that cover vacation rentals, apartment rentals, homestays to even encompass the rental of hostel beds or hotel rooms. Besides Airbnb, a few other establishments are also using the same online booking concept. These include Expedia, Agoda, Trip Advisor, Home Away, Malaysia Homestay and more.

VACATION TRAVEL IDEAS The idea of bringing Airbnb to Malaysia struck him as a brilliant concept. When two of his clients wanted to sell off their Regalia Suites and Residences units in Kuala Lumpur, he offered instead to take over and rent them out instead using Airbnb as a platform. With both the clients agreeing to this, they started this venture by listing the units and hosting agents to engage on this Airbnb platform. “I have almost 40 units of properties listed and running on Airbnb now. I’ve discovered that the best way is to lease out my units as the returns are between 30% and 40% profitable,” opines Ikhram. The furnishings for the units are arranged by the owners themselves, and if this is not agreed upon, then Ikhram will not put up the units for rental. To date, Ikhram counts his 18 units at Regalia Suites and Residences on Jalan Sultan Ismail in KL as engaging the Airbnb platform. In all, at the development itself, there are about 200 to 300 units operating on a vacation rental host platform. While the maintenance services may have been affected due to the popularity of these huge numbers and raises some security concerns, he says that nevertheless, the units remain very popular due to the area being a popular vacation spot for tourists and residents alike.


OVERCOMING CHALLENGES

Ikhram shares that one of the major problems faced by Malaysians is price competition. “About four years ago, it was possible to get RM7,000 to RM8,000 price rentals for a studio suite but now, it’s barely RM2,000 resulting in a steep drop in pricing,” says Ikhram. In addition to this, there are also challenges coming from the residents and joint management bodies of various apartments. Some of the challenges stem from bad hosts, owners or managers who spoil the market by not screening the occupants beforehand. This may lead to parties and crowds to disturb the harmony of the

property with loud music into the night. Notwithstanding this problem, he says that about 90% of the residents still abide by Airbnb house rules. Commenting on the bad experience he encountered on the second month he engaged the Airbnb platform, he recalls that a renter from Klang misused the unit by bringing in alcohol and placed a barbeque pit in the centre of the living room of his premium unit to his dismay. Having said that, he says the good outweigh the bad and Airbnb to him is reliable even though some repeat clients can directly contact the hosts for their future stays. This is due to the value added services Airbnb provides for its users. For instance, if there are disagreements or queries, Airbnb can step in and resolve any sort of complication arising from the use of the property. Furthermore, offline vacation booking satisfaction is not high as compared to booking via Airbnb as the latter can step in to assist should any problem arise. In terms of tenant management, the top factors here include occupancy and pricing factors. High occupancy he says oftentimes coincides with low pricing periods. “This has been captured via research based on different rental prices. During holiday seasons, weekends or events especially, the prices of the units can be maximised,” he says.

BUSINESS OUTLOOK

Ikhram runs his Airbnb management

I’ve discovered that the best way is to lease out my units on Airbnb as the returns are between 30% and 40% profitable” - Ikhram Merican

business with a small team of ten comprising maintenance helpers, housekeeping personnel, guest relation and registration officers. He believes that in the future, this business would be easily accessed by about 1 billion internet users globally. He also foresees that property developers would begin to cater for products which are more Airbnbfriendly too. Ikhram shares that an Airbnb study conducted two years ago in Italy, showed that it successfully contributed EU3.4 billion (RM16.66 billion) amounting to approximately 0.22% of its gross domestic product (GDP) while supporting around 90,000 job opportunities. Malaysia, which now ranks at number 11 for tourist arrivals he believes, stands to benefit from Airbnb’s arrival here which has been supporting the tourism industry on a huge scale. “Property investors and buyers should know that Airbnb is a concept which could increase the investment value of property with good returns,” says Ikhram. August 2017 I 19


Personality of The Month

ACE OF ARCHITECTURE PAM President Ar. Ezumi Harzani Ismail shares on the importance of open engagements with stakeholders to create better cities By: Mages PV Lingam

Although the property market has softened, property prices have not shown any signs they would dwindle. It is good if people do not rush to dispose their properties” -Ar. Ezumi Harzani Ismail

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alaysian Institute of Architects (PAM) President Ar. Ezumi Harzani Ismail exudes a calm and pleasant disposition. A veteran in the field of architecture, the Director of Akitek MAA Sdn Bhd is however also resolute at heart in carrying out his objectives. He says his motivation stems from his childhood which was inspired by his late great grandfather who was a strict but a diligent and disciplined man. “My life principles are based from his ways of doing things,” he shares. Ezumi says his great-grandfather was a carpenter who single-handedly built the family’s kampung house in Kelantan which he grew up in. He recalls admiring the intricate craftmanship mainly utilising natural resources like timber, nibong and bamboo from the nearby village forest. He also credits his late father who was an art teacher in several colleges from 1970 - 1992, as being an inspiration to him. He was chiefly instrumental in having encouraged Ezumi to take up art. In addition to this, his art teacher Faridah Paimin during his college years further inspired his interest in this subject matter. When he entered university, he discovered that there was an option to pursue architectural studies at the School of Housing, Building and Planning (HBP) in University of Science Malaysia. He found this to be a good option since the coursework had elements of design for him to express his artistic inclinations.

EARLY START

Ezumi recalls his early years of trials and tribulations before becoming an architect. Petroliam Nasional Bhd 20 I August 2017


1 (Petronas) sponsored his first degree in HBP (Architecture) which is equivalent to the Board of Architects Malaysia (LAM) Part 1 qualification. To qualify as a full architectural graduate, one has to also qualify LAM Part 2 as a master degree programme. Unfortunately, Ezumi did not manage to secure a second scholarship. Therafter, he pondered to find a solution. He finally managed to secure a job to finance his Part 2 programme. In 1997, Ezumi decided to move to Kuala Lumpur and joined Akitek MAA Sdn Bhd as a design architect. However, during the Asian Financial Crisis of 1998, he was retrenched. “I was fortunate when an international company hired me as their project architect. There, I gained skills in interior design works for a hotel chain,” he says. It was only a short span before he rejoined Akitek MAA. He then decided to be a professional architect by obtaining the LAM 3 qualification. In 2005, he became Partner and Director of Akitek MAA.

2

HOT PROPERTY INVESTMENT TIPS

LED BY FIRM DECISIONS

Ezumi is a believer in leading by example. “Being the President of PAM, I prefer to get the facts prior to decision making Therafter, I will make a firm stand based on the decision taken,” he adds. Ezumi expects his subordinates to be efficient. Everyone has different interests and capabilities hence, he expects any task given to be handled well.

His admiration for the works of Hijjas Kasturi, a postmodern architect who designed Menara Tabung Haji, and Dato’ Mir Shariman who designed Menara Dayabumi together with Kam Pak Cheong have helped intensify his interest in architecture. Commenting on the homefront, Ezumi wishes he can have more hours in a day. Although he has a busy schedule, dinner with his family is a priority. “My weekends are mostly spent at home but I have to admit that sometimes, I also work from home too,” he adds.

3 PROJECTS UNDERTAKEN BY AR. EZUMI HARZANI ISMAIL 1. Ministry of Transport Malaysia 2 & 3. Pusrawi Hospital 4. The Curve, Mutiara Damansara 5. Ministry of Transport Malaysia

Ezumi agrees it is always good to invest in properties although he is not a bigtime investor himself. To him, a good deal is made more certain when a potential buyer has done his homework beforehand. Being involved in the real estate industry, he has the advantage of getting information on new developments around the city ahead of time. His advice to first-time property buyers is to bear in mind that the first property buy is not necessarily the property that one would live in for the rest of one’s life. “Start with a property that you can afford now instead of saving and waiting too long for that perfect home at the perfect location,” adds Ezumi.

POSITIVE OUTLOOK

The property market has softened in the August 2017 I 21


Personality of The Month

4 past three years but it didn’t come as a surprise for Ezumi. Unlike the recession of 1997, he says people are now better prepared in facing the current slowdown. “Although the property market has softened, property prices have not shown any signs they would dwindle. Therefore, it is good if people do not rush to dispose their properties,” says Ezumi. He opines that a slight drop in the pricing of high-end residential properties can rebounce later. This keeps price balance in place and can stabilise market price too.

An analysis done by the World Bank he says shows that signs of a global recovery will come around. “A spectrum of recovery is coming whereby China’s currency will rebound and the recovery of the palm oil market will take place. In addition, improvements in the capital market too are good signs of economic recovery,” shares Ezumi. Nevertheless, he says the market will still remain soft for the rest of 2017, with property prices expected to remain steady. This makes it a viable period to buy properties, he reiterates.

The government, Ezumi adds, has made wise moves to invest in infrastructure development which includes mass rapid transit (MRT), light rail transit (LRT) extension lines, highways, upgrade in utility supplies and more. All these additional infrastructure developments will add to the value of properties in the surrounding areas, he opines further. “Developers are also ready to kick-off Transit Oriented Developments (TOD) projects in view of the pending economic recovery and investors are getting ready to grab the coming opportunities,” says Ezumi.

PROSPECTIVE PLANS

5 22 I August 2017

Ezumi’s objectives for PAM is to elevate the architecture profession to a higher level, being an affiliate of the construction industry. Following the lead of previous agendas set by the past PAM President, Ezumi will continue the good plans already set in place via pursuing current goals with intensified engagements with policy makers and members of related professions in the real estate industry. He also encourages members to advocate quality of services and professionalism in carrying out their responsibilities. In the long run, Ezumi hopes that engagements among the stakeholders and the public can raise further awareness on the importance of architecture to create better cities in the future.


INCREASING

THE VALUE OF PROPERTIES THE DIY WAY In coping with the slowdown in the property market, more homeowners are now turning to MR D.I.Y. to revonate their residences, resulting in an uplift of values for their properties

By: Felicia Soon

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The rise of this do-ityourself trend is attributed to the fact that consumers are always looking for ways to maximise the value of their properties. Refurbishing and renovating their homes are ways to boost property values”

he current downturn of the economy has greatly impacted many industries. With the exception of the agricultural sector, all other industries including the property market have experienced a slowdown. Generally, the performance of the property market hinges on market sentiment. A few industry experts also opine that the market is likely to remain soft and slow-moving for the next few years. As such, this has resulted in many homeowners now looking to tighten their spending even as they adopt a wait and see attitude before purchasing more properties. The more savvy among the homeowners are also choosing to spend on home improvements to refurbish their homes in the hope of increasing the value of their properties. MR D.I.Y. Trading Sdn Bhd Head of Marketing Andy Chin shares that refurbished units will more likely attract good quality tenants for the longer period as most tenants would want to stay in properties that are well-maintained. Hence, the convenience of just dropping by to various MR D.I.Y. branches is all that is needed. Easily available are low-cost fixes to the homes that can add immense value to the property. These include fixing new taps, replacing door knobs and converting the ambiance of the residence with light-emitting diode (LED) lighting bulbs. Upgrading the home with kitchen appliances or adding new wallcoverings to the living room can also add wonders to the overall ambience setting. The benefits of a refurbished rental property is it can be let out quickly, fetch higher rental yields and maximise income for homeowners. “Your property should appeal to a wide audience yet stand out in order to gain people’s attention,” says Chin. “ Choosing appropriate home improvement fixtures and appliances that can save you time, are easy to budget but will still add the ‘wow’ factor for tenants, is the best way to increase the value of your property. By managing your property refurbishment costs correctly, you should be able to get a good return on investment,” he adds.

DIY IS A GROWING TREND IN MALAYSIA

The “do-it-yourself” (DIY) concept has picked up in popularity all over the world in the last couple of decades. Malaysia is no exception and many homeowners are now choosing to do their home improvements by themselves rather than hiring contractors to do this. Chin believes that the rise of the DIY trend is due to the fact that homeowners are always looking for ways to maximise the value of their properties. 23 I August 2017


curtains or wallcoverings. Thus, you do not have to spend a bundle on making a major upgrade. Instead, you can make small incremental changes in the next couple of months by sticking to one upgrade per month and work progressively from there.

UPGRADING THE KITCHEN Hence, refurbishing and renovating their homes are ways to boost property values. According to him, studies have shown that the average home improvement could add a healthy 10% to the property value. Chin shares that the MR D.I.Y. branches nationwide tend to especially attract smaller types of repairs such as minor plumbling works or adding a new coat of paint to the walls. He adds that research shows that most of the time, these smaller maintenance jobs provide a sense of personal fulfilment to homeowners, whenever they manage to complete their tasks.

THE NEED FOR BUDGET PLANNING

A common mistake made by many homeowners is that they tend to engage themselves in home improvement projects without first analysing their specific needs. Many fail to plan ahead to ascertain how much they should spend on their home improvement projects. When planned properly, a simple renovation with a few tweaks here and there costing some RM850 can transform the ambiance of a place quite substantially. With this, the unit could be rented out for a much higher price. This works well rather than having spent too much on remodelling a home August 2017 I 24

that is too expensive for the specific neighborhood wherein it is located.

SUCESSFUL RENOVATION CASE STUDIES

HW Low Machinery Enterprise owner Eric Low shares from experience that when looking for generic branded tools for long term use, he found MR.D.I.Y.’s pricing overall to be very affordable. “On the whole, you can get anything here - from the smallest tool to even children’s toys - making this store a family-friendly place for people looking for various quality accessories and furnishings that are affordably priced under one roof.

SMALL IMPROVEMENTS PAY OFF WELL

Are you torn between improving your home renovations by spending less versus making more expensive upgrades that you know will increase your home’s resale value? You will be surprised to learn that doing a little bit of both will actually pay off handsomely in the end. Chin advises that you should start by making two lists. The first comprise practical upgrades for your home such such as replacing old faucets, fixing the lighting and changing door locks, etc. while the other would be to beautify the home like changing the style of the

Ask any interior design expert and they will tell you that the best upgrade with the greatest return comes from refurbishment done to the kitchen. A mini-remodelling exercise can be done to your kitchen by changing the paint on your cabinets or adding in new pots of artificial flowers and plants which are a great alternative to fresh flowers when it comes to decorating. This is because it saves time maintaining and replacing withered flowers.

BEAUTIFYING YOUR BATHROOM

Among all the rooms in your house, the bathroom is the workhorse as there is a lot of wear and tear here. You may want to keep it functioning well and make proper upgrades along the way, says Chin. He shares that one of the lowest cost option is to conduct a makeover for the existing bathroom fixtures by replacing taps, shower screens and toilet seats, chromed items including towel racks, shower mixers and toilet paper holders. These bathroom accessories tend to fade over time, given the humid weather. Chin adds that poor plumbing is the biggest frustration for those seeking to enjoy a proper shower. Homes that have old systems can be plagued by poor water pressure, rattling pipes as well as discoloured and distasteful water. Hence, upgrading the plumbing system by including new


faucets and shower heads are ways to boost property values.

SMALL IMPROVEMENTS PAY OFF WELL

If your house is on the market, a bright and clean home can attract buyers like a magnet. By keeping your property clean with MR D.I.Y. cleaning products, you can do several things at once. Firstly, you can stay on top of maintenance issues, spotting potential problems before they become expensive ones. Secondly, you don’t allow dirt and junk to build up over time. Lastly, things like mold won’t become a nuisance to your household as a clean house is healthier for your family. MR D.I.Y. bestsellers for home improvement include LED bulbs, cylinder and door locks, water taps, shower heads, wallcoverings, storage containers, mirrors, clocks, curtains and curtain accessories.

IS D.I.Y. SUITABLE FOR EVERYONE?

According to Chin, one of the biggest challenges faced for those attempting to do DIY is a lack of home fixing skills. Most of the time, people will hire a home contractor to repair different areas of their homes. However, with the help of Youtube channel and DIY blogs on the internet, wherevy “DIY or Fixing Your Home Tutorials” can be accessed easily, DIY has become easier to carry out. There is a difference in comparing MR.D.I.Y. and western hardware retailer says Chin. In some countries, Westerns consumers, are able to approach DIY in more advanced ways while most Malaysians are still in the amateur phase. “However, they are gradually advancing from amateur to intermediate stage in terms of DIY at home. We foresee that Malaysians will eventually become as good as Westerners in years to come.” He further explains that the high labour cost in Western countries is one main reason why they prefer to build and fix everything by themselves. In Malaysia, labour cost is much cheaper. Hence, consumers will have the option to hire local labour to undertake their repair works and installations.

“Therefore, you will notice that most of the hardware products we are selling at MR D.I.Y. comprise basic items such as cylinder locks, water taps and gardening tools which are not too complicated to install,” says Chin. He adds that if the local market require similar products as advanced as those in Western countries in the future, MR D.I.Y. will then they will change their business model based on this market need. Although simple DIY is for everybody, some home improvement endeavours should never be attempted as DIY projects such as cutting the tree in your backyard or trying to fix the roof.

BACKGROUND OF MR D.I.Y.

Founded in the year 2005, the first MR D.I.Y. outlet was opened in Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman in Kuala Lumpur as a traditional hardware retail store. As a one-stop retail business for the whole family, MR D.I.Y. goes by the tagline “Always Low Prices”. It offers over 20,000 products ranging from household items such as hardware, gardening and electrical tools to to stationery, sportswear, car accessories and even jewellery, cosmetics and toys. Today, MR D.I.Y. is the largest home improvement retailer in Malaysia with 290 stores nationwide. It has an annual turnover of RM1.25 billion and employs over 5,000 employees while serving 110 million customers annually. Compared to other home improvement retailers, each outlet’s layout is flexible. The average size of each store is about 10,000 sqft, with its stores located at shopping malls and shoplots all over the country. On top of that, their products are competitively priced way below the competiton. The brand’s quality products are sourced directly from reputed manufacturers, while ensuring that the pricing is always the lowest. MR D.I.Y. opened in Thailand first followed by Brunei. MR D.I.Y. will open 110 stores in Malaysia and 50 stores in Thailand this year. By the end of 2017, MR D.I.Y. will have 360 stores in Malaysia and 65 stores in Thailand.

GREAT VALUES UNDER RM20 AT MR D.I.Y. WALLCOVERINGS/ WALL STICKERS Refresh your rooms with wallcoverings or wall stickers. This is one of the most often used DIY home improvement upgrades that can change the way one decorates and turns the home into a warm and cosy place. Cost of wallpaper: Price starts from RM8.90 STORAGE CONTAINERS/HOOKS Consider adding hooks or containers to your home for an instant storage upgrade. Storage containers/hooks can easily be added to any room to increase space storage area by allowing you to hang up or store items like your bathroom towels and robes. Cost: Around RM6 each, depending on size WATER TAPS/FAUCETS/TOILET SEATS & FULL COVERS Water taps or faucets are a key part of your home for obvious reasons - They dispense water. Faucets add convenience to the bathrooms and kitchens while saving time, water and money. Therefore, keeping your water taps and faucets in working condition is of great importance. Cost for water taps: Price starts from RM11.90 Cost for toilet seats: Under RM20 CURTAINS/ CURTAIN ACCESSORIES Windows are always the point of attraction in homes. Curtains are also important in dressing windows and providing privacy. Cost of curtain accessories: Price starts from RM2.30 KITCHEN TOOLS Kitchens are areas used for food preparation which you tenants simply cannot do without. Add value to your tenants’ kitchen experience by adding utensils. At MR D.I.Y., kitchen utensils including cutlery, knives, chopping boards and pans can be bought at cheap prices. Cost for basic kitchen equipment including cutlery sets (spoons, forks and plates): Under RM10 Cost for knife set (with chopping board and peeler): Under RM20

25 I August 2017


Rookie Investor

From IT to Property Ed Aswandi shares his tips on how to get the best investment deals around By: Mages PV Lingam

With positive public sentiments, government initiatives, development and infrastructure planning, I expect the property market to recover by the first or second quarter of 2019” - Ed Aswandi

E

d Aswandi who hails from Sungai Nibong, Selangor is an Information Technology (IT) Engineer who has a decade’s working experience in various sectors such as banking, stockbroking, network and telecommunication engineering. Ed, who was actively into investments including secondary businesses covering Amanah Saham Berhad, unit trust, equities, agriculture business, agricultural land and homestays, was also interested in property investment. About two years ago, he joined six Bumiputra friends to form the Jaegers investor group with the aim of buying properties together. Jaegers is made up of members who called themselves Daimyo – a Japanese term that means “great lord of small regions”.

26 I August 2017

The group shares knowledge and information by conducting seminars for its Bumiputera members on matters concerning property investments and how to buy for their own occupancy. “There are three categories of properties in the market; namely underconstruction, sub-sale and auction properties. However, Bumiputera investors or buyers tend to be more focused on sub-sale and auction properties as compared to underconstruction properties,” says Ed. Ed also co-authored Kitabul Daimyo – a book focusing on benefits and strategies for acquiring under-construction properties. Ed’s area of concentration for property acquisition falls under the Greater Kuala Lumpur South (GKL South) territory.

INVOLVEMENT IN INVESTMENTS

“I’m probably a late bloomer especially in undertaking property investments. My initial investment was in oil palm as well as investment shares including Initial Public Offering (IPO) and Amanah Saham Bumiputera (ASB),” says Ed. His property investment journey started in the year 2009, when the intention was to buy an under-construction two-storey house before his marriage in 2010. Ed’s first property purchase comprised one unit at Vista Emas in Bangi, Selangor which was developed by the HR Group of Companies. “I purchased the unit from a buyer whose loan was rejected by the bank. It piqued my interest because I obtained it at the original price of RM302,000 after 10% discount,” he shares.


After a year, that sub-sale property price escalated to RM420,000, and fetched him 39.07% capital appreciation. Looking at the positive returns, Ed then decided to sell Vista Emas and went on to buy another property. “I began to think that real estate investment could bring in good returns leveraging on only a small capital by using “other people’s money” (OPM) he says which can also be seen in the example of taking a loan from the bank to purchase a property. He also shares that in order to make good profits from properties, the techniques have to be applied at the right place and time as well as using the right technique within a short time frame. His diversification technique of not putting all the eggs in one basket has proven useful.

the sub-sale market as well as other new projects of the same type within a similar segment, radius and surroundings. Also, enlist the amenities, accessibility, pricing, package, location, demand, rental market and infrastructure of the area, etc.

FINANCIAL STRENGTH

Strengthen your credit score and ascertain your financial capabilities in terms of the limit given on the loan as well as ascertain the Debt Service Ratio (DSR). Be sure to complete the financial document preparations as well. Remember that the amount of reserves you have can serve as holding power during the digestion period of the property being constructed, before it can be rented out or sold.

TARGET THE FIRST PHASE

STRATEGIC GAME PLAN

Ed reiterates that making a good decision in buying property is like putting a special touch to a piece of art. In buying under-construction properties or for any other kind of properties, there should be proper planning and strategy done beforehand. There also needs to be an entry and exit plan as outlined by the guide below:-

Purchasing the earliest phase of underconstruction projects helps give one a winning edge because the initial phase will be offered at the lowest rate and will be the first to be completed. The property price for the initial phase will be priced less than the following phases which will be more expensive. In addition, choose the best units during the first phase can work out as a strong unique selling point for investors.

GOALS

Ascertain the purpose of purchasing a property.

LOCATION

Focus on familiar areas in terms of demographics and ascertain factors such as supply and demand, market value, rental market, development and economic planning.

HOMEWORK AND DEVELOPMENT UPDATE

Identify before if there are any new developments coming in the area beforehand.

TARGET SEGMENT

Target property segments and end consumers who are potential future tenants or buyers.

DO UP A COMPARISON CHECKLIST

Establish a comparison checklist for existing properties including those from

DEVELOPER’S BACKGROUND CHECK

Do a background check on the developer you are looking to buy from by checking on available information like project history, credibility, quality, reputation and their popularity.

appreciation. The act of balancing the concept of pairing is vital. Terrace houses usually give negative cashflow in terms of rental but they tend to have good capital appreciation,” shares Ed. Having said that, not all terrace units fetch lower. For example, a two-storey terrace house can be rented out as per room or per bed basis. One can also opt to turn it into a homestay. “In addition to six under-construction properties and one sub-sale property, my portfolio also includes homestays, bungalow lots, agricultural and palm oil land among others,” says Ed. Ed shares that the property market in Malaysia in recent years has become a buyers’ market. Similarly, many projects offer affordable homes and attractive packages focusing on mass market properties. “With positive public sentiments, government initiatives, development and infrastructure planning, I expect the property market to recover by the first or second Quarter of 2019,” opines Ed who will focus on investment as a fulltime business and continue to share, educate and look for new investment opportunities in under-construction property with formidable investment group including Jaegers. Ed says that fresh graduates and youths should invest in gaining knowledge and prepare themselves for investments in property by reducing personal loan or credit card usages and staying away from any get-rich-quick schemes or scams. With this in mind, investors would be able to plan ahead and make the correct property investment decisions.

GO FOR A SITE VISIT

It would be a good site to drop by the site for a location visit to ascertain the actual location and condition of the area. Ed believes that having a right technique strategy can make a huge difference in property investment. This will make a huge difference in enabling one to buy a house without any capital or to place a small down payment, etc.

PROPERTY TIPS FOR INVESTORS

“I prefer quality above quantity. It is useless to own a lot of properties but receive low rental yields and capital August 2017 I 27


Investor Next Door

REVOLUTION IN PROPERTY

INDUSTRY VIA VIRTUAL REALITY CEO of VR Lab and Space Solutions Plt Datin Shireen Tan reveals the importance of buying property by planning ahead once cash flow is sufficient By: Mages PV Lingam

Property & Tenant Management; Internet Services; F&B; Education and Electrical Consulting Works; together, they form a dynamic management team.

HOW IT ALL STARTED

Student Lounge

C

o-founder and CEO of VR Lab Bhd and Space Solutions Plt Datin Shireen Tan Chwee Wei, also dubbed the VR Queen specialises in Strategic Marketing and Brand Building for the virtual reality (VR) establishment. VR deals with virtual gadgets for property developers and investors which enable them to actually experience a three-dimensional look and feel of upcoming new properties. This virtual reality tool can simulate presentations for property developers, architects and property investors to enable them to get a substantial outlook of what they are paying for or committing into. “This platform would save time, money and energy for potential buyers as they 28 I August 2017

would be able to visually experience the space virtually. They can even do their advance bookings of their units by way of using the virtual gadgets from anywhere in the world,” she says. Besides running Space Solutions Plt for property and tenant management, Tan is also the founding member of Malaysian Proptech Association. This business model on the other hand, relates to creating exponential growth and exploring property technology (proptech) opportunities via also incorporating corporate, education and entertainment elements. Working hand-in-hand with her husband Dato’ Jack Tang, Founder of Virtual Reality, Shared Hosting Services;

Tan, well-versed in tenancy and property management matters, shares her experience, having started the business ventures with her husband in the year 2000. During this period, they went through a few property market downturns but survived. Tan says every property market downturn face different challenges. Fortunately for them, when the whole market was facing a downturn as a direct effect of the the Asian Financial Crisis spillover in 1998, their company on the other hand, did considerably well. This was because their business revenue came from the US. In 2012, Tan ventured into strategic investment planning via a Property Investors Network (PIN) attended by professionals like bankers, lawyers, valuers, architects and more. “Our involvement in the Information Technology (IT) industry in the early days generated revenues that were derived from the US although the business was operating in Malaysia. We undertook our first property management project when we bought over 11 units for students’ stay in Lagoon View, Bandar Sunway,” says Tan. The freehold condominium which she purchased at approximately RM250,000 per unit managed to fetch up to RM3,000 each for a five-room apartment which


Student Apartment Unit

proved lucrative. Speaking from experience, Tan, who lives by the saying, “home now or homeless” opines that the property market changes and gets tougher every 10 years. She says people tend to wait for better times and miss the chance of making profitable investments. A mistake done once can take about a cycle of ten years’ to recover from,” opines Tan. “It is all about buying without cash and playing up on the leveraging game. The strategy is to master market knowledge first,” says Tan who prefers to hold on to her properties which are mostly residential in nature. Tan only owns a very small fraction of commercial properties as she feels that the monthy loan instalments payments for the units tend to be way higher than rent. She notes that there tends to be only an increase of 5% - 10% in the monthly rental yield although the commercial value could appreciate by some 10% - 20%. Therefore, Tan says it is more profitable to rent than buy. If the location is strategic for commercial activities, she anticipates that it would take a ten- years cycle before booming with the first decade not being too stable in terms of rental yields. Tenant rotations could tend to be high so rental values could prove unstable. The game plan for commercial investment she says revolves around building a strategy which also takes into account the age factor. Hence, she encourages investors to start their investments early so that they can stretch

the period of loan payments longer. The extra advantage Tan has lies in doing research on the student market beforehand. Having done her research, she would approach developers to discuss market movement and rental rates with them. Her strategy then is to discuss the entire floor plan with selected developers before buying those units to leverage on which would be the best way to get future rentals for the student market. She currently has units at Nadayu28 Residences developed by Nadayu Properties Bhd and Dk Senza Residence undertaken DK-MY Properties Sdn Bhd in Bandar Sunway, Selangor which she rents out to students. Out of Nadayu28’s 400 units of condominiums, Tan who is part of the Joint Management Body (JMB) committee is managing 200 of the units and overseeing more than 1,000 rooms since each unit comes with five bedrooms. Apart from that, Tan also owns and manages student units at Residensi Laguna in Subang Jaya, Lagoon View, Bandar Sunway and has also bought units at a new development in Subang Bestari, Subang Jaya. The latter development enables students to pay hostel rates while enjoying hotel room concepts. Sharing a few investor tips, she says due-diligence is key. One should also accumulate market and property knowledge at all times. Tan says that a majority of people would just follow the herd mentality and fail to see the uptrend. However, the minority of smart investors or market leaders would go in

A mistake done once can take about a cycle of ten years to recover from. Now, the properties are overvalued with rebates” – Datin Shireen Tan

early and exit before the property market starts to decline. She says that her investment plan for next year would be to concentrate on business growth. Each property cycle has a cooling period so holding power is crucial for investors. If not, owners, for want of cash, would desperately hold on to the properties with no existing tenants to and would try to sell the unit fast – failing which, in a worst case scenario, would result in foreclosure. The current downturn she says is a good time to get good deals and seek appropriate property buys. Banks have been conservative with only 30% approval for loans but they also have their business quota to achieve she adds. Thus, it would also be wise to survey the banks which are open to receive business. In summary, Tan says it is wiser to start investing in properties as early as possible and to have a good amount of cash flow to support and sustain the investments. August 2017 I 29


Feature

THE IMPACT OF THE SHRINKING RINGGIT ON PROPERTY INVESTMENT How will the depreciating ringgit and bank interest rates affect first-time homebuyers? By: Felicia Soon

T

he value of the ringgit is a key indicator of how trade and investments are faring in Malaysia. A depreciating ringgit can mean that trade activity is actually slowing down and that many investors are taking their investments out of the country. The ringgit started declining in late 2014 when it experienced its worst two-day depreciation (since the 1997-98 Asian Financial Crisis). A combination of factors have caused the ringgit’s value to drop of late. Firstly, the global oversupply of petrol has caused Brent crude oil prices to fall to around USD40 (RM172) per barrel. As Malaysia is heavily dependent on oil exports, the collapse in crude oil prices has affected the local currency. The falling value of the ringgit has also been linked to the gradual increases in interest rates by the US Government. Federal Reserve Policy Maker John Williams who gave a presentation to the University of Technology Sydney in New South Wales, Australia says that gradually raising interest rates to bring monetary policy back to normal helps keep the economy growing at a rate that can be sustained for a longer time.” On home ground, the impact of a weakened ringgit even has a spillover effect on the construction industry, inevitably impacting the whole real estate sector as well. This is because it affects more than just a rise in the cost of materials as other issues and challenges may also negatively impact the industry in the coming years if the currency continues to slide down. In addition, the weakness of the ringgit will make things harder for Malaysian employers. Some opined that foreign workers now can earn similar wages in their home countries after converting the ringgit to their own currency.

RINGGIT SLUMP: ARE YOU THE BENEFICIARY OR THE VICTIM?

In retrospect, the falling value of the ringgit has raised several concerns for Malaysians. These days, many new homebuyers also want to know whether the devaluing of the ringgit will affect their property value in the long and short term. Frankly speaking, the effect of a depreciating ringgit can go both ways and affect the property market either positively or negatively. Cheng & Co Wealth Management Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ng Chee Yong states that the weakening of the ringgit can result in properties here appearing more attractive to overseas buyers including those from Singapore, Hong Kong and so on. This may result in rising sales from oversea purchasers who have had their eye on the local property market for some time now and are seizing the opportunity to invest in the local market. 30 I August 2017

Malaysians may feel anxiety with the devaluation of the ringgit and may decide to adopt a wait and see attitude by not venturing into the property market” - Ng Chee Yong

Incidentally, he believes that this will also not affect developers’ cost when it concerns the Malaysian property industry so long as they do not use imported goods. Ng acknowledges that Malaysians may feel anxiety arising with the devaluation of the ringgit and may decide to adopt a wait and see attitude by not investing in the property market as they will want to gauge the medium to long term impact on their household income first. Malaysia Property Incorporated (MPI) Former Vice President (I) David Shieh Chong agrees that foreign investors will be able to benefit from the weakening of the ringgit’s value. “Most people I believe, will buy based on sentiment and confidence in the overall economy as well as taking into consideration job security and prospects. However for investors, the buying process could be more opportunistic and related to bargain hunting,” says Chong. Tied up with the issue of a declining ringgit is the compounded issue of goods and services tax (GST).

GST IMPACT: WILL HOUSES BECOME COSTLIER?

On the other hand, the depreciation of the Malaysian ringgit and impact of GST are also justifiable causes for concern. Since the implementation of GST on April 1, 2015, inflation has been on


MORE FALLEN RINGGIT WOES

Most people I believe, will buy based on sentiment and confidence in the overall economy as well as taking into consideration job security and prospects” - David Shieh Chong

the rise. According to Ng, the Malaysia Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose at 3.9% on a year-on-year basis in May 2017 as per information sourced by the Department of Statistic Malaysia. As such, he opines that inflation will dampen the confidence level of Malaysians. As further explained by Ng, in terms of purchasing big ticket items including investing in property, it is important for people to have a roof over their heads. He suggests the government could introduce a “First-Home Grant” policy similar to the one implemented by the Australian Government on July 1, 2000 to assist those wanting to buy their first home. In additional, the government he says, should implement more Perbadanan PR1MA Malaysia (PR1MA) schemes that are well-accepted by the market to assist those from the medium and lower income bracket to own their respective homes. Nevertheless, there are many factors at play regarding property prices which will rise and fall based on the laws of supply and demand. When the demand for property is high, prices tend to rise. Subsequently, when the number of available properties increases, prices will usually drop. Nowadays, the local market, especially the high-end segment, appears to be feeling the pinch of over-supply made worse by the tightening measures on loan financing.

Interestingly, the ringgit has depreciated about 6% against the dollar since Donald Trump’s surprise win in the US election as the new President of the US last year. It was in fact, the worst hit among Asian emerging markets. Besides interest rates remaining unchanged at 3%, Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) has also taken steps to restrict offshore foreign-exchange trading to curb the currency’s slide. These measures have helped provide stability for the ringgit, though uncertainties in the global economy, the Malaysian fiscal deficit and the fear of capital controls have resulted in volatility in the regional financial and foreign exchange markets. The commercial property sector is also expected to remain soft in the next couple of years as it will take time to increase demand for these units with the introduction of new initiatives. Although there is a substantial amount of new supply for commercial properties, most of these purchases tend to be of a speculative nature. Given the importance of attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) into Malaysia to further spur economic growth, the government could introduce more investmentfriendly measures to attract such resources into the country via capital gains tax on property to encourage foreign investment. Despite the property market expected to remain flattish this year, demand from first-time home owners have always been there with affordable houses continuing to gain attraction. According to Jabatan Penilaian Dan Perkhidmatan Harta (JPPH), as of last year, more than 65% of the residential transactions were priced RM300,000 and below. Hence, developers should build more affordable units to capitalise on market demand for affordable homes. Property market prices have skyrocketed over the last few years as investors, speculators and short-term purchasers have taken advantage of the weak ringgit and market volatility with prices almost doubling in certain locations. In some countries, the real estate bubble has long since burst. So how long more can we see property prices increasing in Malaysia, with many landed homes, condominiums, as well as serviced apartments being priced out-of-reach for most Malaysian citizens?

OVERCOMING THESE CHALLENGES

Despite much pressure from the current financial situation and the slowdown effect it has had on the property market, developers have yet to show any signs of reducing their prices. Today, even with strong demand for affordable properties, many developers are just maintaining their prices at status quo. Independent Economist Lee Heng Guie says, “Malaysians are still adjusting to the rising cost of living due to GST, so if the ringgit continues to weaken, consumers will definitely be affected.” Having said that, the property market could be the main commodity people seek as it offers stability and capital appreciation for the long term. The concept of wait and see does not work for property investment because property prices would go up with time and hardly declines. As more developers are now offering attractive rebates on new launches targeted at the younger generation, it is advisable for first-time homebuyers to take advantage of such offerings as well. August 2017 I 31


International Insight

If Not London, Where Else Can You Invest? I

t is a universally acknowledged truth that prime property prices in London are too high. when even the bankers start to agree, you’ve arguably reached a tipping point. The continuing question of course is:- If not London, where else can you invest? As residential property investors, our perspective has to always be focused on the macro as well as the micro realities of the market. In order to read the health of a country or a city’s market situation and the opportune point in the cycle to invest, it is important to keep one eye on the commercial and corporate markets as well as to consider occupational requirements. Understandably, with the uncertainty of post-Brexit regulations shaking even the staunchest London-loving occupiers, businesses have begun to look elsewhere, both within the UK and elsewhere in Europe.

POST-BREXIT EFFECTS

A huge consideration for most office occupiers when selecting an office location deals with access to a valued talent pool. As “soft skills” as it may seem, selecting a place where young, educated professionals want to live at is still a primary factor. In addition, it is also vital that the city infrastructure’s is modern and capable of servicing an expanded population. This is particularly true of more “flexible” industries like insurance or banking which will be more affected by the potential lack of access to the single European market required to function successfully. The case for Dublin has been made loudly, vociferously and early. The 32 I August 2017

Guardian ran a light-hearted analysis of the differences and similarities between Dublin and London for the banking sector as early as last year. However, the Irish capital has been working to make that comparison less an absurdity and more a reality. A lot of effort has been put into researching the types of things likely to appeal to the bankers and people working in the finance sector. These include property prices, lifestyle considerations, commuting time and connections to international markets. Dublin has the benefit of affordability, a common language and geographic closeness to the UK and of course the all-important continuing inclusion in the European Zone (Eurozone). The International Financial Services at the Industrial Development Authority of Ireland tasked with attracting foreign investment have described Brexit as a “historic opportunity” for the financial sector. However, Ireland seems to have felt overwhelmed by the task - both of competing with other European cities which are keen to “aggressively” attract unsettled financial institutions and with the prospect of success. Credit Suisse has been an early adopter, having already moved an office there. They even have a team of traders in place, although most occupiers are still back of house - perhaps an indicator that Dublin’s appetite is not yet sufficient to create a new financial hub as their encouragement of and attractiveness extends to only a certain type of occupier; back office or insurance businesses, for example. They have every reason to be wary. After all, a few new faces could change the whole economy, and it is an economy

still in many ways, reeling from the last financial crisis. Ireland was hit hard in the crash of 2008 so the government and regulators are understandably reticent to open up their market to any similar risks.

COMPETING IN THE EURO MARKETS

Ireland is a small economy, only making up approximately 10% of the size of the UK. It is unlikely to be able to accommodate the risky balance sheets that trading banks in London need to attract investments to make a viable market. An indication of this inability lies with their current and projected lack of actual regulators. Ireland’s central bank is struggling to hire and retain enough staff to deal with the potential growth in the authorisation of relocated firms. The necessary continuing supervision in line with European Union (EU) regulations is not currently accounted for either. At the end of 2016, the central bank had almost 100 fewer full-time staff than it was authorised to hire although it had set itself to expand by a further 10% in 2017.


About The Contributor

Dan Toh is the Founder and CEO of Running Stream. He started it in 2007, and grew it into a unique boutique firm equipped with a proprietary methodology and a strong and passionate consulting team to assist investors across Asia with their global property portfolios.

The governor, rather euphemistically, has termed this a “challenging target”. Paris sent a delegation to London with the sole mission of attracting banks and businesses to trade and relocate across the channel. Likewise, London’s financial companies are likely to be considering some European diplomatic missions of their own as these delegations continue to court new investment opportunities. Cities and regulators are circling occupiers and the residential market is hovering on the outskirts trying to read the mood and market sentiments while being ready to pounce on any early indication of a critical mass of banks. Paris is looking to lure 20,000 workers, says Arnaud de Bresson, Managing Director of Europlace, the French capital’s lobby group. The main reason to disregard this threat is the crippling 75% tax that would hit any of the big earners in the company. Worker protection, strikes, high taxes and a history of political upheaval all combine to make France an unappealing home for migrating institutions. In addition, there are already hundreds of

thousands of French people working and living in London, begging the question: What makes Paris think it will be able to attract new talent if it can’t keep a hold of its own nationals to begin with? Other cities such as Luxembourg, Frankfurt and Berlin have been pitching for assembled banker occupiers, each promising to be the new all-access, lowregulation financial capital of Europe. The strongest argument I can find for staying in London is perhaps the most obvious: Collective bargaining. It has taken over 100 years for the banking sector to get to where it is in London. This can be seen in the volume of banks represented while trading out of the city has gained them a unique voice in regulation and politics.

BUSINESS BEYOND THE UK

Successive governments have also courted them and together, they have found a beneficial position that will not easily be replicated. It may be that the perfect storm of Brexit, the elections and souring property prices in the capital

are making the usually loyal band of banks look out of London. However, if it is cheaper office space that they want without losing the vital workforce of young and not so young professionals, I would be surprised if they go beyond UK’s shores. “The UK property market seems to be Brexit-proof,” said Alex Gosling, CEO of online estate agents HouseSimple.com in analysing the current situation. “It has coped remarkably well with the economic turmoil in the months following the vote to leave the EU,” he comments. As we have remarked before, the chronically low stock levels and the continuing appetite for rentals are likely to support the market throughout the unstable Brexit negotiations or snap elections. With all of the above in mind, we do not expect office occupiers to desert the UK in alarming numbers, and in fact, we see a real opportunity for business hubs outside of London to attract new types of businesses and with them, a new breed of renters to support an exciting residential property market. August 2017 I 33


Strategy

MAKING INCOME SENSE

Managing the balance between cash inflows and cash outflows are crucial in saving up for that first down payment and monthly instalments

M

anaging the balance between income and expenses has always been a tricky affair as exemplified in this article that aims to make income sense by exploring a subject matter close to people’s hearts. An honest assessment and management of your financial situation is the first step towards accumulating the down payment for your property to begin with. This starts with cash flow management, ascertaining one’s cash flow position by balancing income and other sources of revenue against expenses. The importance of planning and establishing a budget to set boundaries to what can be spent and saved also plays a crucial role towards ensuring you have a healthy financial disposition. Therefore, we will explore these two topics in greater detail below.

CASH FLOW MANAGEMENT

Managing your cash is important to ensure that you have complete control over your finances and this is the first important step towards planning the purchase of a house. Good cash flow management with the help of a proper budget will allow you to save enough for your housing loan down payment and enable you to pay off your monthly installment consistently. This will eventually help to reduce your cost of borrowing for the long term.

WHAT IS CASH FLOW MANAGEMENT?

Cash flow management is the process of monitoring, analysing and adjusting your personal cash flow. Your personal cash flow comprises two main components namely income (inflows) and expenses (outflows). A cash flow statement is thus a basic tool to check your financial health and assess your financial position. 34 I August 2017

Proper management of your cash flow ensures that you will always have sufficient income to pay for all your expenses and puts you in a good cash position. The following are some examples of different sources of income as opposed to the various forms of expenses:ACTIVE INCOME

Is derived from your employment or business ventures. The moment you stop working or doing business, your active income also stops. Examples of active incomes are salary from employment and profit from businesses.

PASSIVE INCOME

Is derived from your savings or investments. Passive income is received regardless of your employment status. Examples of passive incomes are income from interest or profit from rental, dividends and royalties.

FIXED EXPENSES

Fixed in nature. These expenses are generally necessities and the amounts incurred are normally the same every month. Examples are housing loans and hire purchase installments, rental payments, insurance premiums and childcare expenses.

VARIABLE EXPENSES

Vary from month to month. Like fixed expenses, most variable expenses would also be considered necessities. Examples are food, clothing, utilities, mobile phone bills and essential household items.

DISCRETIONARY EXPENSES

Optional expenses. Most discretionary expenses are items which are considered non-necessities or nice-to-have. Examples are dining out, branded clothing, air-conditioning, cable television, travel, entertainment and non-essential household items.

WHAT IS YOUR CASH POSITION?

Spending exactly what you earn does not contribute to a good cash position. It is therefore important to have a positive cash flow (surplus) to allow sufficient savings for the down payment of your first house.

TOTAL CASH INFLOWS > TOTAL CASH OUTFLOWS = CASH SURPLUS

KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK! TOTAL CASH OUTFLOWS > TOTAL CASH INFLOWS = CASH DEFICIT

YOU MAY WANT TO REVIEW YOUR SPENDING To be in a good financial position means it is advisable to have surplus cash at all times. So, how can you manage your cash flow to achieve surplus cash? One of the most effective ways is through the workings of a budget.


WHAT IS A BUDGET?

A budget is a plan for managing your cash flow. It can be used to estimate your future income and expenses. To put it simply, a budget lists all your expected cash inflows and outflows to assist you in making prudent financial decisions.

About The Contributor

BENEFITS OF HAVING A BUDGET

01. Live within your means CASH FLOW BUDJET

02. Cultivate a savings habit 03. Save for financial emergencies 04. Enhance your net worth

Do remember that your budget is based on your income and expenses. As each person’s income and expenses differ, your budget should also be based on your needs and wants.

Dr Desmond Chong Kok Fei is a Trainer & Head, Financial Education Department, Agensi Kaunseling and Pengurusan Kredit. He has over 25 years working experience in marketing and management, covering both local and oversea market. His significant working experience with accountants in delivering comprehensive financial planning service has help many companies and individual to achieve their plan. He is a Registered Financial Planner RFP and Shariah RFP and he obtained doctorate in business administration in year 2003

Some of the needs can be categorised as food, shelter or home, clothing, quality time with family, car or motorcycle, mobile phone and computer. Meanwhile, wants can be categorised as fine dining, resort-like-bungalow, branded clothes, overseas vacation, luxury or sports car, advanced feature phones or computer.

SPENDING WISELY CULTIVATING A SAVING HABIT

A budget also can helps you develop a saving habit. Without a saving plan, it will be hard for you to achieve your plan to buy a house by saving the down payment.

01 ALWAYS PAY YOURSELF FIRST

Save at least 10% of your income Making your s avings a utomatic through s alary deduction scheme or other similar arrangements

02 MOTIVATE YOURSELF WITH A FINANCIAL GOAL 03 MAKE SAVINGS YOUR CHALLENGE 04 WINDFALLS

Every time you get an extraordinary income- such as a bonus or cash gift- set aside part of it into your savings account immediately If you get a pay rise, keep t o your current standard o f living and put the additional money towards your savings

The key to a successful budget is to spend less than what you earn. When you have the urge to buy something, pause and ask yourself the following questions:-

• CAN I AFFORD TO BUY IT? • DO I REALLY NEED IT? • IS THERE SOMETHING CHEAPER? • CAN I DELAY BUYING IT? CONCLUSION

Good cash flow management with the help of proper budgeting will ensure cash surplus and cultivate moneysavings habit. In the next issue, we will learn about Personal Net Worth statement. This statement together with the Cash Flow Statement, will enable one to work out one’s personal financial ratio. August 2017 I 35


Strategy

A

s the internet and mobile apps become common features of people’s lives, it is not surprising to see them widely being used in the property business ranging from property developers to real estate negotiators and the banking sector. In the last 10 years, such use of the internet and mobile apps has really taken centre stage in the property industry. However, some property investors have not taken to this change so well. This is because traditional property investors have relied on “less complete information” to make money in the business.

36 I August 2017

3

TECH TOOLS THAT PROPERTY INVESTORS CANNOT IGNORE

Here’s how to be more competitive in an increasingly challenging market with the aid of technology applications


Admittedly, the technological tools available today have levelled the playing field. There are so many websites and mobile apps that have made life easier for property investors, especially for those who are just coming on board. Here are just three tech tools, among a gazillion of tools out there which property investors today cannot ignore:-

PROPERTY LISTING WEBSITES

In the old days before the internet, property investors would buy newspapers just for their property listing advertisements in order to find that great deal. They would back then typically spend an hour or two every day running their fingers down all the property listing albeit their small fonts. Fast forward to today and you will find various property listing websites on the internet that will enable you to even view the inside of the unit without having to step out of the comfort of your home. In addition, you can use these websites to get the selling price comparison and conduct the necessary research to find a great deal. If you are looking to buy property for passive rental income, you would need to determine if a particular property would give you positive cash flow after deducting all the necessary expenses such as bank loans, maintenance costs, etc. These websites would be able to help you do the necessary research in the blink of an eye - from comparing purchase price to renting out a unit for a particular development or neighbourhood. This will help you determine whether the property you are looking at is a good buy or not. Among the property listing websites, there are many useful tools to make life easier for property investors. One of the common tools is a loan calculator. With a loan calculator, you can easily get information like the monthly payment which you need to pay the bank for the housing loan. Some websites may even include data such as the trend for selling, rental rates or even an analysis of the property itself.

PROPERTY DEVELOPERS’ WEBSITES Property

developers

nowadays

will

not only prepare regular marketing materials like brochures, newspaper advertisements, television commercials and radio advertisements for the launch of their new developments. In addition to these items, they are also investing in their online presence. A majority of the developers realise that having a strong and positive online presence is good for the branding of their developments and for the developers themselves. Some of them will go out of the way to ensure their websites stand out from the crowd of other competing property developments. This is where the internet can work to the advantage of smaller developers. If the website is well-thought-out, then it is natural for visitors to have a better impression of the property development and developer concerned as compared to one that is designed in a less organised manner by a well-established property developer. For property investors, such websites are very much welcomed. This is because now, from the comfort of one’s own home, one can browse the internet for information pertaining to new property launches. As a result, one can instantly eliminate property developments that does not match your requirements. A great advantage is eliminating the need to physically drive from one property showroom to another while narrowing down one’s search for the ideal property. In the not too distant future, property developers would be able to take advantage of emerging virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies which will evolve and become even more sophisticated with time. With these technologies, you can “visit” the showroom of the property without even being physically present there.

MAPPING AND SATELLITE IMAGING

In the olden days, property investors would invest in a good map book to get an overview of the property which they were considering to buy. This was especially relevant when the process then involved buying properties that were already built. Property investors not so long ago would use maps to ascertain if there were undesirable elements located nearby

About The Contributor

Calvyn Laang regularly conducts training on property investment to share his vision that investing in property is not only for the rich but is also for everyone. He believes that investing in property is the best investment vehicle for an average wage earner to retire earlier if he or she chooses to. For more information on his “Secrets to Successful Real Estate Investing” training seminar, log on to http://PropertyInsiders. com.my or contact him at calvyn@ PropertyInsiders.com.my or whatapps 016-992 1800.

the properties they were interested in purchasing such a sewerage pond for instance or schools (this can be viewed positively or negatively), public transportation, etc. Today, one can make use of tools such as Google Map and Google Earth to do just that and more. The added advantage of these internet tools is that they enable users to zoom in or zoom out to view the property and its surrounding vicinity. In addition, with this feature, one can also determine how easy it is to access the property using the highway systems. The other great tool developed by Google is Google Street View. Using this tool will enable one to “physically walk the streets” to source for their potential ideal investment property. This tool is especially useful for those who intend to invest in another state or even overseas. So, there you have it - the three important tech tools that a property investor cannot ignore. Having said that, these tools are there to assist you in your decision-making process. After all, nothing beats the intuition you get while walking down the street by yourself and talking to potential neighbours. Until next time, happy investing! August 2017 I 37


Property Strategy

5

REASONS TO BUY YOUR FIRST PROPERTY WHEN YOU’RE YOUNG

W

hen is the best time to buy your first property? This is a million-ringgit question that has plagued many, especially those from the younger generation. So the question begs itself - is there a right answer to this ongoing rhetoric in the minds of many? The answer to this question really depends on one’s priorities in life. It’s a given that some would rather choose to spend their savings on a new car purchase, collectibles, the latest gadgets or travelling rather than purchasing their first property. If you were to ask them why they are not buying their first property, they will either say that they can’t afford it or that they are not ready yet. Here are 5 reasons why you should buy property when you’re young:-

38 I August 2017

YOU’RE STILL YOUNG

Some might argue that when you’re young, it’s hard to buy your first property because you have little savings, are inexperienced or have different priorities. A growing number of the younger generation could even have poor credit ratings or may have chalked up a huge credit card bill. However, if you address this question from a different perspective, you will realise that buying that first property when you’re young will enable you to have longer housing loan tenure and higher loan margins. What’s more, you’ll have more choices and lesser liabilities if you manage to start your asset acquisition ahead of the competition. Being part of the tech-savvy generation, you will have time to scout around for the best buys, so start young!

PROPERTIES ARE STILL AFFORDABLE IN MALAYSIA Affordable housing means many different things to different people across the Asia Pacific region. In every country, the cost of land is the issue. Do you know why? The Asian population of 4.47 billion represents 59.69% of the world’s total population, according to data obtained from the United Nations. However, Asia only has 30% of the world’s land mass. Hence, definitions and situations vary in this respect. For example, in India, a home with a built-up area smaller than 400 sq ft falls under the affordable category for its poorer citizens. In Hong Kong however, many new homes of that size - or smaller – are on the market for more than HK$1 million (RM550,000).

1 2


House prices in Malaysia are also likely to be influenced by factors such as locality, public facilities and the branding of the development. However, with a decent source of income, it will not be too difficult for someone to secure a mortgage loan to purchase property. The good thing is, the price of properties psf in Malaysia is still affordable and much lower as compared to many other countries in Asia including neighbouring Singapore, China, Korea or Japan. Furthermore, it is not too difficult for a young person with a decent source of income in Malaysia to secure a mortgage loan to purchase property.

POSITIVE RENTAL YIELD

Rental yield is a measure of returns on property investment. In other words, it relates to the profit you make. There are many factors that can affect rental yield such as property prices and regional disparities. These include considerations such as capital appreciation, interest rates, rise in demand and a fluctuating housing market. In a nutshell, in order to secure positive rental yield, your rental income value will need to be higher than your mortgage loan instalment. For example, if you purchase a RM350,000 property and made a 10% down payment, your loan amount will be RM315,000. If you take a 90% loan margin for a 35-year loan tenure with an interest rate of 4.43%, your monthly mortgage loan instalment would be approximately RM1,477 (figure taken from imoney.my). Within established townships such as Cyberjaya or Puchong, it is very possible to to secure a monthly rental of RM1,500 and above in today’s context. And, if you have purchased an underconstruction property that will be completed in a few years, your chances of getting higher rentals are a lot better. Occasionally, in the first few years of letting out a property, the mortgage payments may be higher than the rental yield. However over time, a secure investment will offer both capital growth and good rental yield.

3

BORROWING POWER

Let’s face it. When you are young, you tend to feel like time is on your side. Financial health checks will likely not mean much to you. Therefore, Central Credit Reference Information System (CCRIS) which provides credit reporting frequently used by financial institutions to determine an applicant’s creditworthiness won’t likely be part of your vocabulary. Likewise, Credit Tip-Off Service (CTOS) is another term that probably won’t registered a bell. This represents the Credit Reporting Agency under the ambit of the Credit Reporting Agencies Act 2010. That is, until you decide to buy a big-ticket item such as a car or a house and need positive feedback from both. That’s also when you would need to know about your Debt Servicing Ratio (DSR) and Loan-to-Value (LTV) ratio. With proper care concerning your financial status, you will wield one of the most powerful tools in property investment in Malaysia, which is the market. In a nutshell, in order to secure positive rental yield, your rental income value will need to be higher than your mortgage loan instalment. Buying a property with that kind of loan margin allows you to reduce your capital outlay or cash upfront payment, thus reducing and spreading out your risk. However, this is one tool you will need to utilise with care because you only get one or two chances at most.

4

GROWING MARKET

Greater KL is defined as an area covered by 10 municipalities surrounding Kuala Lumpur. Each respective area is governed by local authorities including Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Shah Alam, Petaling Jaya, Klang, Kajang, Subang Jaya, Selayang, Ampang and Sepang comprising Cyberjaya/Salak Tinggi. With the population of Greater KL exceeding 7 million people, the need for housing is increasingly growing very rapidly particularly within the southern Greater KL region. Aa a result, the demand for affordable housing is pushing property developers to plan new townships in these areas.

5

About The Contributor

As the Head of Project Marketing in CBD Properties, Timothy Low is responsible for the planning, creation, implementation, and management of marketing and sales campaigns of the Project Marketing division. He has experience working with some of the top property developers in Malaysia, Singapore and Australia where he is involved in everything – ranging from project inception (design, branding, positioning) to post-sales deliveries. He is also accountable for driving sales results that are aligned with clients’ goals through direct involvement with his sales team

Cyberjaya is one such example. More than 25 property developers are currently building new properties in Cyberjaya, which is currently home to approximately 100,000 people. New universities and schools, transportation hubs and job opportunities are attracting people to move to this new city. Hotspots such as Cyberjaya is where opportunities for good property investments abound. Check it out by logging on to www.investcyberjaya.com. Going back to the question I asked earlier:- When is the best time to buy a property? I would stress that the earlier, the better (or better still - the younger, the better). The moral of the story suggests that one ideally would buy one’s first property as early as possible to gain a headstart into the world of property investment. Although there are no guarantees that all will turn out well, by investing early, one will definitely gain a headstart in terms of acquiring a lot of knowledge and experience. And, always remember that, the later you buy, in all probability, the smaller the size of the unit will likely be. August 2017 I 39


Strategy

THE ART OF CONDO LIVING:

PETS NOT ALLOWED Here’s how to navigate this thorny issue of keeping pets with other residents living in the same condominium block

D

uring a recent event organised by a local media revolving around health and living, one of the participants, a caregiver of a Parkinson’s disease sufferer, decided to voice her opinion about the restrictions of keeping dogs in a condominium. Her rationale was that having dogs as pets is therapeutic and recommended by medical professionals, and hence, it should be allowed. Furthermore, as far as her argument went, guide dogs are well-trained and will not pose a disciplinary problem in condo living. The perennial argument about keeping pets in condominiums or apartments has always been long drawn and sometimes, without resolution. Previously, it was strictly prohibited to keep pets in the context of condominiums. The rationale is that pets such as dogs, cats, monkeys and other exotic species may present a health hazard or be a nuisance to neighbours. And, while the new Strata Management Act 2015 extends allowance to keep pets, condominium residents still need to comply with the by-laws enforced by local authorities where they live.

40 I August 2017


HERE ARE TWO EXAMPLES:Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) specifically states that only smaller dogs are allowed in stratified homes; namely the Miniature Pinscher, Bichon Frise, Pekingese, Papillon, Poodle (Toy), Japanese Chin, Maltese, Pomeranian and Chihuahua. Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) prohibits the keeping of dogs in any highrise building. Therefore, residents should refer to their respective local councils for more information on this matter. If the local council does not have a by-law that imposes such restrictions, tenants need not seek consent from the condominium management. And, if the condominium management refuses to comply, owners may file their case at the Strata Management Tribunal. Having said that, here are several points to be considered when owners want to keep their four-legged pets - specifically cats and dogs, in condominiums. This is besides pets such as fishes, hamsters and turtles are normally confined within the unit itself and do not cause any inconvenience to neighbours. Here are two real cases as a consideration.

CASE ONE: MAIMED CAT

A resident chose to stay on the ground floor of a condominium for convenience during a time when the original bylaw prohibited pets. However, several years down the road, the Management Committee changed the by-law because the Committee Members themselves kept cats as pets. With this ruling in effect, he found sis furniture damaged by his neighbour’s cat and the poo it left on his flower pot in the veranda resulted in an undesirable aroma wafting into his unit whenever he opens the veranda door. The very same cat also slept on some of the residents’ cars. One of the residents who is terrified of cats almost went into a fit when she wanted to go to work in the morning to find the cat nicely curled up on her bonnet. Various complaints were made to the Management Committee who

had several talks with the cat owner. However, the cat owner was unable to control nor discipline the cat. One fine day, the cat was found somewhere in the condominium compound with all of its four legs broken.

About The Contributor

CASE 2: THE BARKING DOG

In the same condominium, there is another owner who is a dog lover but who refrained from keeping a dog in an attempt to be considerate towards his neighbours. However, a resident who lives across his block keeps several small dogs and occasionally, one of them would break free and roam the compound. This resulted in occasional dog poo at staircases and other areas, which became an irritation for affected residents. Again, complaints went to the Management Committee. And yet again, the situation could not be resolved. Finally, it was a case of, “If you can’t beat them, join them”. In the end, the first owner got his son a puppy for his birthday. Unfortunately, the puppy turned out to be rather vocal. It has since then, been yelping and barking aloud at different times of the day. The harmony of this condominium was strained by such two cases. The drama was heightened at another block where the owner kept more than 10 cats. The stench of cat urine was detected even at the top floor when the wind blew in that direction direction, with the odour unbelievably detectable at the guardhouse situated two blocks away. Pet Matters to be Considered by the Management Committee and Residents Therefore, it would be ideal if condominiums can be designated as either a non-pet residence or pet-friendly residence. This would help new owners to decide whether the condominium is suitable for them to stay in. A separate clause can also be included for pets which are recommended for residents with special needs, with the terms and conditions properly laid out. Planning ahead in this manner will greatly reduce friction amongst residents. Condominium living is after all, community living within close proximity. Hence, proper consideration

Linnet Lee is the CEO of Financial Planning Association of Malaysia (FPAM). She obtained her Certified Financial Planning (CFP) Certification and Islamic Financial Planning (IFP) Certification through FPAM, and has been its member since 2002. She can be contacted at www.fpam.org.my

must be given to those who live in the community. If like-minded people stay together, it may work out to be more harmonious that way.

THE MORALE OF THE STORY IS ….

Prospective homeowners, if you are planning to buy a condominium to stay in, look beyond merely having a savings plan and investing your savings in the condominium of your choice. You will also need to consider whether you are you planning to keep pets. If so, check out the condominium’s pet policy. Also, be prepared to have a game plan should this policy change. Some back-up options should the policy change include: Moving out and renting your current unit if you still like the property and want to keep it Being prepared to sell off the property and move out Joining in the Management Committee and working very hard to adopt and keep the best pet policy Whatever your decision, do remember that nothing is permanent. Even the Strata Title and Management Acts can change so just be prepared for any changes and keep a positive outlook. In the meantime, do your homework before making that property purchase. Happy home hunting! August 2017 I 41


Property Strategy

I WANT TO BE A WINNER IN THE WORKPLACE AND PROPERTY MARKET!

to do better?” As expected, not a single hand went up. The message was signed, sealed and delivered. Winners associate with winners. They are not obsequious towards the concept of mediocrity but are committed to excellence. This gives them that clear distinguishing point, separating them from the crowd.

Here’s some gems of insights of how to be the crème de la crème of your field of work and property investment

I am privileged to be part of a few dynamic investor groups. We are mainly active over WhatsApp group chats and we meet up for the occasional “Teh Tarik” sessions as well. Sadly, some of them just stay “dormant” and silent. They do not bother uttering a single sound nor do they not bother to network. From this perspective, they may not seem to be interested in building sincere friendships though that may not necessarily be the case. However, when a potentially great property deal is being discussed, these “dormant parasites” suddenly arise from their slumber and say, “Eh! Good deal, please pass the relevant information to me lah!” Hence, it is time to change the lackadaisical attitude of expecting to be served and start contributing and exchanging information for the greater good of the rest of the group. Slothful attitudes and an entitlement mentality of expecting good deals to be handed over on a silver platter must change. Otherwise, if everyone else were to adopt this attitude, nobody will benefit. And, should the lackadaisical attitude not change, they may not even realise it, but they may even have the audacity to wonder why the world has left them behind.

I

was just recently reflecting on my career and property investment journey. That got me thinking about what I have done right so and areas which I could further improve on. From here, I discovered that there is a clear demarcation about what winners do which set them apart from many others. Hence, I would like to share my thoughts and case studies on some of the simplest things that winners do which give them the cutting edge. These are just my observations, and I do not claim that they are the gospel truth.

INCIDENT # 1 (THE SALES TEAM THAT NEEDED A WAKE-UP CALL)

A few years back, one of my responsibilities was overseeing a telemarketing sales team comprising about 60 people. As a unit, their performance was just average, and I knew they could do better. I remember addressing them during the performance review and asked them the following question:- “Guys, how many of you here know the names of the Top 3 sales people?” Every person in the room raised their hand. And, that was all sixty of them. I then continued asking, “How many of you bought the Top 3 guys lunch before and asked them for their advice on how 42 I August 2017

INCIDENT # 2 (THE INVESTOR GROUP THAT NEEDED A WAKE UP CALL)

SO, WHAT DO WINNERS AVOID?

I say this respectfully but I would suggest you don’t waste your valuable time with people who are not contributing to your growth. Life is too short to hang around with people who are not going anywhere. In essence, you are not being responsible if you are hanging out with

About The Contributor

Mark Chua is the bestselling author of the book “WHO SAYS”. He was a former senior vice president of a bank and an ongoing avid lover of properties. He is living proof that one can be successful in both their careers and property investments. He can be reached via hello.markchua@gmail.com or www.facebook.com/MarkChuaMY

time wasters half the time who have no goals and dreams. Avoid them like the bubonic plague. The “destination disease” is also contagious. If you hang around them long enough, their lack of ambition and energy may eventually even rub off on you.

AND, WHAT DO WINNERS DO THEN?

Winners should find successful people and learn as much as they can from them. Successful people may not necessarily just be loaded multi-millionaires. That would be a rather myopic and shortsighted view to adopt. As for me, I like to associate with inspirational people and those who are genuinely happy when I succeed. People who challenge me to do better and who straighten me out whenever they sense mediocrity in me. People who love me for who I am, and not what I am. In a nutshell, you have a destiny to fulfil. You are not like everyone else. You are a cut above. You are called to excellence. Having said that, if you’re the smartest and most successful one in your group, then your group is too small. Winners do this - They surround themselves with smarter and more talented people than themselves. Do not be intimidated by them. Instead, be inspired by them to rise higher.


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Property Insight August 2017 - B  
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