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Consultants, agents ease the way into Iskandar

Talks and trips to help investors with info about opportunities there

Published on Oct 16, 2013

By Yasmine Yahya


DEVELOPERS, agents and consultants are laying on regular talks and guided excursions across the Causeway so increasingly keen investors can learn about real estate opportunities in Iskandar.

The options - they range from basic introductory seminars to "property clubs" for the savvy - are a response to the growing numbers of Singapore-based buyers venturing into the area.

Property research firm Ascendant Assets is among those offering a primer for investors keen to learn what Iskandar is all about.

Its regular weekend training course starts on Saturday with a basic guide on issues such as rules governing foreign purchases of Malaysian property, the risks and opportunities in Iskandar and the criteria for obtaining loans.

The Sunday class includes a trip to Iskandar to meet officials from the Iskandar Regional Development Authority and inspect key sites.

Ascendant Assets director Getty Goh is aware that such courses are now a dime a dozen in Singapore, but he feels his firm offers a neutral perspective as it is not ultimately aiming to sell property.

"We don't act as marketing agents. We advocate for people to be careful and not overpay, and we urge them not to go into Iskandar thinking that this market is as vibrant as Singapore's in terms of short-term capital appreciation," he said.

"We help them put things in perspective - the Malaysian officials only expect Iskandar to be fully developed in 2025, so investors should go in with that horizon."

Some investors are already clued in on the basics and want to get down to the business of finding homes they can buy.

These are more likely to go straight to developers, most of whom run regular excursions to Iskandar for potential customers.

Developer Mah Sing, for example, holds such trips every weekend.

"A lot of the people we get are already very knowledgeable about Iskandar, some even know more than our own salespeople," said a spokesman. "Most of them are interested in viewing our project in Medini, The Meridin @ Medin i, as it is near EduCity and many people are keen on EduCity."

Medini is an area of Iskandar being developed into an urban township consisting of luxury condominiums, hotels, hospitals and EduCity, an education centre that has drawn international universities.

Then there are those in between - savvy investors who already know a lot about Iskandar but may not be keen to buy just yet. Property clubs are the way to go for this group.

These are run by real estate agents or consultants who organise talks and trips in their free time. The talks are often free, and in return the agent gets to amass a group of potential clients.

There is no data on how many such clubs exist, but industry players say they are increasingly common.

Real estate agent Ryan Khoo runs one - Alpha Marketing.

"It started as a dinner gathering for property enthusiasts. Once, we invited a Malaysian property expert to speak during the dinner and that's when we realised people wanted more of this," he said.

Now there are about 2,000 people on Alpha Marketing's mailing list.

It holds dinner talks every once in a while, inviting various experts on different markets.

Membership is free and so are the talks, but Mr Khoo organises monthly tours of Iskandar that cost $120.

If members end up buying units at the projects he has helped to market through the talks and tours, he gets a commission from the developer.

"Iskandar is by far the most popular subject," Mr Khoo said.

"Ever since late last year, we've had a lot of news about it and a lot of it looks positive so people naturally want to find out more."

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