Developers need to be more innovative

The local property industry is facing a double whammy as a result of the rising oil and food prices that are threatening to cripple household income and the people's quality of life.

On one hand, buyers’ sentiment has turned cautious as they need time to adjust to the higher fuel price and rising inflation.

Developers, on the other hand, can no longer absorb the rising construction costs and are left with no choice but to pass them on to consumers.

With the rising cost of both labour and raw materials, developers have discounted the possibility of property prices coming down as they have to maintain a certain margin of profit to survive.

The widespread knock-on effect of the higher oil price and rising inflation will be felt across various industries, including the property sector.

The impact of rising prices will be greater on households with smaller income and lifestyle changes will be more evident for this group.

Developers have to be more creative and innovative in maximising value for house buyers.

Niche developments to target this market, and well-planned townships that allow residents to live, work and play in the same place should see good take-up.

Good property companies with innovative products and the flexibility to adjust to the current market needs should emerge stronger while those that are slow to respond will face an uphill task to attract buyers.

With affordability being the main concern, especially for first time home buyers, developers need to come out with better designs that embrace practicality and sustainability.

Developers and town planners need to focus on more efficient designs and value engineering to bring costs down.

Innovative features and concepts, such as ecologically friendly, energy-saving homes, will add more value to the projects and help to stretch the ringgit further.

Developers that are known for their quick response to market changes, such as SP Setia Bhd and Mah Sing Group Bhd, are already mulling more innovative designs, cost-efficient and energy-saving homes in their projects.

Only limited units of such products will be available in each phase and they will be targeted at buyers looking for value buys.

In planning for more energy-saving homes, Mah Sing believes it is not merely installing solar panels or using recycled water, but getting to the basic of product designing to enhance energy efficiency.

Windows extension to the floor enables cross ventilation for cooling and allows natural lighting while large volume ceiling space in pitch roof, extended roof eve and deep-set balconies will contribute towards cooling the interior of the house.

Extensive landscaping and tree planting will provide shading and reduce sun glare.

At the same time, selection and specification of building materials should be based on ecologically-sustainable designs.

With rising crime rate, another major concern for the house-buying public is security. Gated and guarded landed residential properties in good locations, which are priced attractively, will certainly attract buyers.

Although high-end property products with good upside potential will still have a strong following among high net-worth buyers, developers should pitch in their corporate responsibility by planning more quality housing products that are affordably priced to lighten the people's burden. - By The Star

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