KUCHING: Faced with intense competition, property developers have been on a drive to market its units with unique architectural designs to gain a bigger slice of the market.
However, developers have occupy most, if not all, of their attention into the ‘hardware’ aspects of development, forgetting that after-sales service (software) plays a greater role in sustaining the player’s brand-name in the long-run.
“It is a very competitive playground out there. Property developers are so caught up with the design of their products and its quality that service itself is neglected. In the past, traditional developers are only concerned about the number of units sold with very little emphasis on the management afterwards,” said Amber Skyline Sdn Bhd (Amber Skyline) executive director Wee Ai Na to The Borneo Post.
A member of the Wee Boon Ping Group, branding consultancy firm Amber Skyline has been on a vigorous mode to market and brand its clientele’s portfolios on both regional and global landscape. The group has been forming strong alliances with real estate networks, one being Remax Singapore.
With years of experience within the real estate segment of the Asia Pacific region, occupancy rate, as Wee observed, in Malaysia has been ‘ridiculously’ low as compared with other countries like Singapore.
“Perhaps one of the main issues that differentiates the local properties and projects in other more developed nations like Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan is our low occupancy rate. We actually did a survey where in Malaysia, occupancy rate on average is trending at about 30 per cent to 40 per cent. Singapore, on the other hand, is standing at an average rate of 80 per cent where it is owner-occupied, and the remaining 20 per cent is out for leasing.
“That is what a developer should expect upon completion of their projects. Given the densely -populated Kuala Lumpur, I think 30 per cent or 40 per cent occupancy rate is unjustifiable. Hence, it is a completely different ball game seen here in both countries. A good infrastructure is nonetheless integral in this sense, but there should also be more initiatives on the part of the developers,” she lamented.
‘Software’ development, as Wee opined, should be warranted more emphasis amongst property developers. This would include tie-up with services solutions provider to run corporate leasing and branding exercise to attract not only domestic customers but international investors as well.
She cited China as an example of a nation that had gone through the same path that Malaysian was heading.
“The same thing happened to China about 10 years ago when they started to boom. They can copy very well on the architectural and technological part of the business (hardware) to the point that they became very technically inclined and could not catch up with the intangible part of the deal, in the sense of value-added solutions were lacking.
“Take into example, in terms of law, what was passed here in Malaysia could be the same compared with Singapore; but why is it that the development and progress in the neighbouring nation different? This boils down to the enforcement role of the state. If we are implying enforcement into the property market per se, solutions provider in Malaysia is pretty weak,” she underscored.
Singapore, although smaller in size, possessed a comprehensive marketing real estate system that was mature and transparent, according to Wee.
“They have very good agencies that provide very good link-up. At one touch, the whole world can view the records of the market, which is what international investors are seeking for – they like transparencies. They must feel at ease with the database of the market in terms of the clarity of these database and how clean it is without going into the country.
“How reliable are these source of information and how easy can they obtain these information from the platforms are amongst aspects that will attract foreign investments. These platform areas in Malaysia need to be improved,” she underlined.
Adding to this was councillor of the Malaysian Institute of Real Estate Agents, Alex J Gomez, who stressed that developers in the country had been adopting the same approach over and over again.
“What we are seeing is that developers are continuously striving for that excellence in presentation that they do not give much importance to the buyers after they sold their products.
“Branding exercise should be pursued more firmly because people are generally cautious of uncertainties hovering within the external market. A lot of the retail outlets and even residential units are empty and take-up rate had been sluggish so to speak.
“Taking into account the situation, our government has started its move to seriously begin attracting investors abroad through Malaysia Property Incorporated (MPI). While this is a good starting point, more still needs to be done,” he said to The Borneo Post in a recent phone interview.