Published October 31, 2013

[B][SIZE="5"]Homebuyers spoilt for choice in Iskandar[/SIZE][/B]

[B]Builders step up unveiling of new launches amid rising demand, stiff competition[/B]

By pauline ng

In Kuala Lumpur

NOW considered one of Malaysia's hottest real estate spots, Iskandar Malaysia has been pulling in developers looking to cash in on the demand for properties there.

Local developers may have had a headstart, but they are now facing stiff competition from larger builders from Klang Valley and beyond Malaysia.

The rivalry has led to a mushrooming of options for buyers. In the next two to three years, thousands of units are scheduled to be completed, given the number of projects launched in the last year or so amid bullish sentiment and robust sales. For example, Afiniti Medini, a mixed-use residential-commercial development, sold 88 units in just 51/2 hours.

This enthusiasm has prompted builders to step up the unveiling of new launches. In the coming months, these will include Bandar Raya Development's Emerald Bay Puteri Harbour, a waterfront project, Sunway Group's mammoth RM30 billion (S$11.8 billion) Sunway Iskandar integrated township and Eastern & Oriental's RM3.5 billion "wellness-themed" Avira in Medini Central.

By virtue of their huge land banks in the economic zone, two developers will continue to play a major role in Iskandar's development. They are the state-owned UEM Sunrise (previously UEM Land) and Iskandar Waterfront Holdings (IWH).

UEM Sunrise

This is the new name of UEM Land following its acquisition of high-end condominium builder Sunrise. UEM Sunrise is the master developer for Nusajaya, where it holds 10,400 acres in its land bank.

The company is involved in residential projects such as:

East Ledang: Launched in 2008 with a gross development value (GDV) of RM1.67 billion, this project sits on 111 hectares and features 31 manicured and landscaped gardens, including a lake and wetlands.

The current phase - landed properties comprising townhouses starting at RM1.2 million and grand pool villas from RM3.9 million - will be completed by 2019.

Imperia: Located in Puteri Harbour on one hectare of freehold land, the RM337 million mixed development includes a 35-storey residential tower with a sky clubhouse. It has the distinction of being the first residential building in the state to be bestowed the Provisional Gold Certification under the Green Building Index.

[email protected] Harbour: This RM1.15 billion GDV mixed-use project launched last November encompasses residences, service apartments, offices and retail outlets. Its attractions include a contemporary, holiday-resort environment and views of private and public marinas, especially from the 35-storey Teega Residences.

About 60,000 square feet has been set aside for landscaped grounds and facilities, which include a skypark and floating gym.

Iskandar Waterfront Holdings (IWH)

IWH was specifically incorporated as the master developer of 1,618 hectares of prime waterfront land in Johor Baru. Its land bank is located in Iskandar's Flagship A, where JB city and Danga Bay are.

Before the incorporation of IWH, Credence Resources Sdn Bhd - the private entity holding 60 per cent of IWH while Kumpulan Prasarana Rakyat Johor holds the balance - had been involved in developments such as Danga Island, Danga Utama, Danga View Apartments and Casa Almyra.

IWH has now embarked on a number of developments in joint venture with other builders, such as:

Tropicana Danga Bay: The RM8.3 billion, fully integrated mixed development is a joint venture with the Dijaya Group (Tropicana Corporation) on 14 hectares along the Danga Bay waterfront. To be built over eight to 10 years, it will have office and commercial blocks, a luxurious hotel and a convention centre.

Six residential towers will also be built atop a "destination shopping mall". About three hectares will be given over to recreation, greenery and water features; the project will also have a network of shaded sky bridges walking paths.

Its residential offering takes the form of Capri Residences, serviced apartments housed in six tower blocks on eight hectares. The first tower with 396 units was launched this year.

Senibong Cove: This is a high-end waterfront residential project. It is modelled after the Gold Coast's Hope Island Resort and is being built in partnership with Australia's Walker Group.

Spread over 84 hectares of freehold land near Bandar Baru Permas Jaya, the master plan envisages 2,500 units being developed over 10 years along with a marina, clubhouse, commercial complex and recreation club.

Country Garden @ Danga Bay: IWH's joint venture with one of China's top 10 developers, Country Garden Holdings, this mammoth project has a GDV of RM18 billion.

A development of such a scale is a first in Malaysia, although it is considered "normal" for a Chinese developer. To be built on a 23-hectare site over the next five to six years are more than 9,000 serviced condominium units and apartments ranging from 402 square feet to 1,522 square feet. There will also be a shopping mall and a commercial boulevard.

Though the project is to be built over three phases, with the last to be completed by 2018, Country Garden opened all units for booking this year. Most have been booked, but sales and purchase agreements have been signed on only 6,000 units, with the most sought-after ones promised a 180 sea view.

Mah Sing

This Kuala Lumpur-based developer has a track record in Iskandar going back to 2000, when it built its first township in Sri Pulai Perdana. It recently acquired 547 hectares in Pasir Gudang with more townships in mind:

Meridin @ Medini: This is a RM1.1 billion development with homes, small office versatile offices (SoVo) and retail and commercial elements.

Its location in Medini enjoys a number of exemptions for foreigners, such as there being no floor price limit. The other plus point is that it is a stone's throw from the theme park, Legoland.

Phase 1 of the Meridin Suites Residences comprises three towers. The final one, launched only recently, offers 161 units of two to three-bedroom units. The built-up area starts at 968 square feet.

Phase 2, comprising the SoVo, hotel and retail element, is expected to be unveiled soon.