Singapore: Malaysia's listed developer, Mah Sing Group, and Khalil Adis Consultancy have joined hands to hold a public forum to address confusions that arose from Malaysia's Budget 2014 measures announced on 25 October 2013 by Malaysian Prime Minister and Finance Minister Dato' Sri Mohd Najib Tun Haji Abdul Razak.
Held on 25 and 26 January 2014 at Mah Sing Group's property gallery in Singapore, the forum aimed to address concerns that the public may have regarding new policies specific to the Malaysian property market.
According to Mah Sing Group, Singaporeans accounted for 45 per cent of its overseas buyers to date in Medini in Nusajaya, Johor.
In addition, figures from Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) showed that Singapore is the top foreign investor with committed investment of RM9.183 billion as of October 2013.
IRDA's figures also showed that the total cumulative investment from 2006 to October 2013 is RM129.42 billion with the residential property sector forming 33.66 per cent of this investment.
The Malaysian House Index is now at an all-time high of 172.8 as of 2012, according to its National Property Information Centre (NAPIC).
As a result, the Malaysian government announced a slew of cooling measures to curb speculation and rising property prices in October 2013.
"Budget 2014 will stabilise the property prices in Malaysia, tackle speculative elements and bring about a sustainable growth for the real estate market," said Vincent Tan, Head, Singapore Office, Mah Sing Group Bhd. "We remain confident that Iskandar Malaysia will continue to be an attractive investment destination due to the strong Singapore dollar, first class infrastructure, enhanced connectivity by 2018, various catalytic industries in Nusajaya and strong support from the local government. In addition, the warm bilateral relationship between Singapore and Malaysia will bode well for Iskandar Malaysia."
"We hope by holding this forum, the public can better understand how the various policies affect them, thereby allowing investors to make a more informed decision. There are still investment hot spots within Iskandar Malaysia that are not affected by the cooling measures," said Khalil Adis, Founder, Khalil Adis Consultancy.
Property cooling measures affecting entire Malaysia
A slew of property cooling measures have come into effect in Malaysia as well as much later this year.
The new Real Property Gains Tax (RPGT), for instance, has commenced from 1 January 2014.
Non-Malaysian citizens and companies will be subjected to RPGT at a flat rate of 30 per cent for disposal within the five years and 5 per cent thereafter.
Effective 1 May 2014, foreigners can only purchase properties above RM1 million* in Malaysia.
However, projects that had already received its development order (DO) approval will be exempted.
This means foreigners can still buy below the minimum purchase price for projects that have already been launched even after 1 May 2014.
Property cooling measures specific to Johor
For measures specific to the state of Johor, the 2 per cent state levy of the property purchase price will be implemented as of 1 May 2014.
It was previously a flat rate of RM10,000.
Property tax for foreign-owned property will also be increased from the current rate of 0.14 per cent.
The Chief Minister of Johor Mohamed Khaled Nordin has not made any announcement yet on the new tax rate.
There is also a 7 per cent tax on the purchase price of a bumi-released lot acquired by a foreigner.
Medini granted exemptions
Only Medini in Nusajaya, Johor will not be subjected to the RPGT and minimum purchase price requirement.
Medini is a free trade zone in the Iskandar Malaysia region that has been granted exemptions from the RPGT.
This is expected to attract more funds as the area’s developer, Medini Iskandar, aims to attract US$800 million worth of funds for its initial public offering next year.
"There are incentives for businesses and foreign knowledge workers here. Businesses are entitled to ten years exemption from corporate tax and have the flexibility to employ knowledge workers working in the nine promoted sectors as outlined by IRDA, as well as those with approved developers and approved development managers status. Non-Malaysians are also entitled to 100 per cent foreign ownership. These investors friendly policies have made Medini an attractive proposition for foreign investors," said Tan.
In December 2013, Prof Datuk Ismail Ibrahim, chief executive of IRDA, told Reuters that Medini’s exemption from the RPGT will “certainly gives it an edge over others in Iskandar”.
* the minimum purchase price in the state of Penang is RM1 million for non-landed and RM2 million for landed residential properties.