More developers will invest overseas

More Malaysian developers are expected to invest abroad to diversify their source of earnings and avoid tough industry rules at home.

"Increasing affluence would accelerate these outward investments," The Real Estate and Housing Developers' Association Malaysia (Rehda) president Datuk Seri Michael Yam Kong Choy said after Rehda's first half 2011 property update yesterday.

Recently, SP Setia Bhd said it is buying land in Melbourne, Australia, for RM81 million cash, its second foray into Melbourne.

Other developers that have been investing overseas include Berjaya Land Bhd, Lion Group, Sunway Group, PJ Development Holdings Bhd, WCT Bhd, Glomac Bhd and Gamuda Bhd.

Yam also said more individuals will invest in properties overseas as part of their portfolio diversification strategy.

In the last few years, property developers from Australia and the UK have been showcasing more of their products in Malaysia.

Yam also thinks that more regulations and legislation imposed by the authorities would accelerate such overseas investments.

Rehda vice-president and ex-chairman of its Selangor branch Mustaza Mohamad said there are too many laws governing the property sector in Malaysia.

"This is a very rigid industry. We need to have flexible policies. Whether the Ministry Of Housing And Local Government, Bank Negara Malaysia or state authorities, we need to know if the policies are good for us or not," he said.

Rehda council member and head of property operations at Sime Darby Property Bhd, Wan Hashimi Albakri, said Malaysia should be a more free market economy.

"Developers are pressured to sell cheaper houses. But in reality, there are no more cheap houses as the cost has gone up from 30-odd per cent to more than 80 per cent in the last few years.

"The government should be putting in more money in peoples' pockets. There should be more wealth creation. Banks also should take a haircut for those buying properties," he said. - By Sharen Kaur (Business Times)

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