By THE STAR
Penang is on the verge of a property boom that will drive the state’s growth into a vibrant regional hub for north Peninsular Malaysia.
Coupled with the entrance of major Klang Valley-based developers like SP Setia Bhd, E&O Property Development Bhd, Mah Sing Group Bhd, IJM Properties Sdn Bhd and Sunway City Bhd, it will further spur and change Penang’s property landscape where the locals will enjoy better designs and concepts.
Although the state’s economy is largely driven by the electronics and hospitality industries, the property sector is emerging as an important activity with many new projects underway or are on the drawing board.
The impending roll out of infrastructure projects under the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP) will be a boon to the real estate sector as new areas are open up for development.
The state has been allocated a RM6.6bil development budget for various projects, including the second Penang Bridge, Penang Outer Ring Road (PORR) and monorail project.
If the projects are conceived and implemented as a holistic infrastructure master plan to upgrade the state’s road and transportation connectivity will be a big spin off to the state’s economy.
SP Setia group managing director Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin said the improved transportation network from various infrastructure projects would open up new frontiers of development that were formerly inaccessible, such as Batu Kawan and Balik Pulau.
“Places near the site of the second Penang Bridge are also coming alive with renewed interest from developers. More developed areas in the southern part such as Sungai Ara and Bayan Lepas will continue to attract keen interest due to its proximity to the airport and free trade industrial zones,” Liew told StarBiz.
E&O Property Development Bhd marketing and sales director K. C. Chong said the 9MP projects would benchmark Penang to be on par with some of the world’s more modern cities.
A number of factors have contributed to Penang’s “hot” property status – strong property demand and prices, high urbanisation rate and a household income that is above national average.
Of the population of 1.6 million people, nearly a third are between 25 to 44 years old – a good catchment market for property.
Mah Sing president Datuk Leong Hoy Kum said Penang’s “nostalgic charm” had endeared it to the people, including foreigners and Penangites who resided outside the state.
“Its island state appeal makes Penang a natural tourist attraction and it is no wonder that the state tops the list in attracting participants of Malaysia, My Second Home (MM2H) programme,” Leong said.
The exemption from real property gains tax and relaxation of Foreign Investment Committee guidelines for foreign buyers have promoted greater foreign buying interest for properties in the state.
Despite the many pluses, Penang is still a relatively untapped market with room for more innovative and better design projects as products offered have not caught up with changing market trends.
There are immense opportunities in both the residential and commercial property sectors with an acute need for better design products that will promote a better quality of life among the people.
Until a few years ago, most of the housing projects are the usual barrack-style houses or high-rise apartments with basic amenities.
Except for some new project launches, there is a lack of creative lifestyle products such as gated communities and resort-style developments.
In the commercial sector, there is also a need for better-planned office buildings, shopping complexes and food and beverage facilities.
Reflecting their growing affluence and changing lifestyle, Penang folks are now keen to upgrade to better planned and designed projects that offer them good security, amenities and environment.
Having the right address has become a measure of one’s status and achievement in life and so good projects in the right location will do well for developers.