Real estate developers and investors eyeing property markets overseas

By THE STAR

REAL estate players, including developers and property consultants, are benefiting from the growing globalisation of the property market with a free flow of investment and a boost in building opportunities.

Real estate has played a big role in spurring the economic growth of vibrant cities in China, India, Vietnam and the Middle East.

Sanctuary Cove in Gold Coast, Australia. The 474ha mixed development incorporates residential and tourist resort located south of Brisbane.

It is increasingly accepted as a popular investment tool and asset for many international investors, including Malaysians who have invested in real estate overseas.

Spreading their wings overseas will spur greater earnings growth for developers and give them an opportunity to break out of their comfort zone.

It is no wonder that Malaysian developers and consultants are making a beeline offshore to get a piece of the action in the robust regional property markets and, in the process, shoring up their image as international players.

Abundant opportunities await those who seek out the adventure of partaking in the buoyant markets of India, China, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and the Middle East.

Besides the big names such as IGB Corp Bhd, IJM Corp Bhd, Sunway City Bhd and Mulpha International Bhd, the list of the other emerging offshore players is growing longer.

Across the causeway, the Sentosa Cove development has attracted much attention from developers from around the world, including Malaysian players such as YTL Corp Bhd, IJM and IOI Properties Bhd.

To promote greater international participation in developing Sentosa Cove into a marina resort and waterfront housing enclave, project developer Sentosa Development Corp has invited established developers worldwide to partake in the development process.

The presence of so many established Malaysian developers highlights the attractiveness of Singapore’s hot property sector, which could get a further boost following the country’s decision to develop two integrated resorts.

Sunway City Bhd (SunCity) senior managing director Datuk C.K. Wong said going offshore was a good opportunity to enhance earnings and growth potential for local developers.

“Armed with the right skills and experience in designing and building quality projects, our developers will be able to value add and enhance the development potential of the overseas living environment,” he told StarBiz.

Wong said the developers partaking in projects abroad, such as in Sentosa Cove, also got the opportunity to benchmark against other international players by coming out with world-class products.

SunCity, which has ventured into India and Cambodia, expects a boon to its overseas earnings when its project in Hyderabad starts in the near future, marking a critical growth dimension for the company’s overseas expansion.

“The company is also working with landowners and property developers to seek out good development sites in other high-growth areas in Hyderabad, Bangalore and Pune,” he added.

Ireka Corp Bhd executive director Lai Voon Hon said that although Malaysia, with its growing global status, was still a good market for the company, there was significant growth potential in high-growth countries like Vietnam, China and India which Malaysian companies should not miss.

“Ireka’s venture overseas is very much a part of its vision to be a globally focused company. We believe that with the experience we have developed over the years in Malaysia and abroad, we are now poised to further export our expertise,” Lai said.

The company will explore various other high-growth regional markets to expand its development business.

Mah Sing Group Bhd president Datuk Leong Hoy Kum said the company was conducting in-depth studies on several opportunities, evaluating risks and returns before making its foray overseas.

“We are exploring high-growth countries, including Vietnam, China, India, the Middle East and Indonesia, which have a healthy appetite for property,” Leong said.

Meanwhile, real estate agents are also doing brisk business representing Malaysians shopping for properties abroad.

S.K. Brothers Realty chief executive officer Charlie Chan said Malaysians had become more affluent and were looking for foreign properties with good returns in countries with stable socio-political climates.

Popular countries to invest in include Australia, New Zealand, Britain and Singapore while properties in demand are those with good yields such as high-end luxurious condominiums, hotel condominiums or apartments, student accommodation and even resort developments.

“I don’t see these investments affecting (adversely) our local property market. Malaysians are still buying properties here to stay in and foreign buyers are also investing in our properties. Everything balances up,” Chan said.

Global Link Properties chief administrative officer (overseas properties) Norman Sia said the company had introduced over 500 projects in Australia and New Zealand to Malaysians in the last 10 years.

Sia’s advice to prospective investors: “It is important to look for properties in good locations for better rental income. Another factor to consider is the management of the properties. A well-managed property will garner higher returns.”

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