It has been a quiet year for the Penang housing market in 2016. The cooling measures and tighter credit environment have continued to negatively influence the local market. While many are hoping to see a recovery soon, recent disappointing economic performance has further dampened market sentiment. Buyers are adopting a “wait-and-see” strategy as they remain uncertain of the economy’s future.
The delay in the issuance of advertising permit and developers license (APDL) has also contributed significantly to the decline of property transactions in Penang. Without the APDL, developers are not able to sell and promote their projects, nor can they finalize sales and purchase agreements.
The chart above makes it clear that home sales have slowed down over the past three years and are expected to continue that trajectory in 2017. To get a sense of just how much sales have dropped in the past two years, consider the latest data from NAPIC, which indicates that the total housing transactions in first half of 2016 have dropped 13.5% and 25.8% compared to the same period in 2015 and 2014 respectively.
Prices rise despite slower market
Unfortunately, slowing transactions don’t mean that home ownership will become more affordable. PenangPropertyTalk.com experienced record website traffic in 2016 with over 1.79 million visits, beating 2015’s record of 1.61 million by approximately 10%.
There is actually a straightforward explanation for this: People’s obsession with home ownership is not fading, but they are adjusting their risk appetite and waiting for the right deal.
The figures below show the average transacted value for the three most common residential property types (condo, two-to-three storey terrace and semi-detached) in Penang. Undeniably, house prices have generally seen an upward trend, with the exception of condominium and terrace houses located in south-east district of Penang Island.
The landed house prices on the Mainland have shown steady growth over the past two years as upgraders are looking for bigger space for their growing family. The average transacted value for a semi-detached house in Penang Island also registered double-digit quarter-on-quarter growth in Q3 2016.
Deep-pocketed investors look at investing in landed houses as solid investments not only because it comes with a solid land, but also because it is less speculative as many make these their homes. Certainly, the scarcity of land will continue to drive up property prices, particularly for landed houses.
Opportunities during slow markets
The supply of affordable housing has influenced a fundamental shift in the Penang high-rise market, moving it out of rapid recovery and into a new normal where slow growth will stay for the long run. Thus, first home buyers can look forward to a more stable market with ample time to make the right decision. If none of the existing projects appeal to you, keep a lookout on the upcoming affordable houses located in Bayan Baru, Gelugor and Jelutong this year.
Concerns about further depreciation have also kept many people from buying houses during slow markets. However, by recognizing the opportunities that slow housing markets present, prospective buyers can break away from the pack and take advantage of good deals. If you scout around, you will find almost all the developers are now sweetening their deals with freebies, discounts, rebates and other innovative financial assistance schemes.
Penang Mainland – Full of possibilities
As land becomes more expensive on the island, developers are moving to build on the mainland where the abundance of land offers greater opportunities. Exclusivity and lifestyle will be the key development theme — a differentiation strategy which influences the expectation of a new living standard.
EcoWorld’s maiden project at Simpang Ampat, Eco Meadows, is a perfect example of how differentiation plays a vital role in influencing a buyer’s perception of value, setting it apart from the neighboring projects. Prices start from RM700k when it was first launched in late 2015, almost double the price of the surrounding houses and on par with the houses in a remote area of Penang Island. The project is nearly sold out now.
Infrastructure plan is too early to assess
The Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP), the biggest infrastructural undertaking in Penang’s history, was one of the hottest topics discussed in 2016. It will be the greatest catalyst for the property market in the northern region, and it will help to create a more equitable housing situation for all by making remote township more accessible. Unfortunately, these plans are still too nebulous to have any material effect on the housing market in 2017.
Highlights in 2017
For first home buyers, keep a lookout on a few more affordable options coming up at Bayan Baru, Gelugor, Jelutong and Batu Ferringhi, including two projects by PR1MA. Choose wisely within your means. A branded location does not necessary mean the right location for you.
Properties in a prime location with a price tag of around RM700k-RM800k are expected to enjoy good take up rates. If you have that budget, stay tuned for the upcoming condominium by IJM — 3 Residence and Waterside Residence, and the mixed development by Temasek — BPO Prime at Bayan Baru. Looking for high-end options? Check out the upcoming Marriott Residences at Gurney Drive, Penang Straits Residence at Seri Tanjung Pinang or wait for the new launch of landed properties by E&O property.
Gated and guarded communities on the Penang Mainland remain the ideal lifestyle choice at relatively affordable prices. Check out some of the existing projects before they get out of reach. The upcoming gated and guarded development by EcoWorld (Eco Horizon) and Aspen (Viluxe) at Batu Kawan will set a new price benchmark for properties in Mainland.
Still wondering would the property market recover in 2017 or 2018? Let’s put aside the word “recovery” and recognize the current market as a new normal. New growth will start from here.
– Ken Lim