China's One Belt One Road set to transform Malaysia's real estate market over the long term

KUALA LUMPUR: China’s One Belt One Road (Obor) initiative is expected to have a transformative effect on Malaysian real estate over the long term.

Orkney Holdings Sdn Bhd executive chairman Rafiq Jumabhoy said there will be opportunities for property development and services at nodes as well as industrial and logistics opportunities at international hubs.

Speaking at the PropertyGuru Malaysia Real Estate Summit 2017 today, he said there will also be Chinese and regional demand for Malaysian-based services over the long term.

However, new skill sets will be needed to take advantage of these opportunities. These include specialised operational skills, service management capability and an asset management mindset.

Rafiq said Malaysia’s advantage is its young population which means great forward demand for housing and others, but due to technological changes, assets that are being built for Malaysia will need to be rethought.

He said the country’s people are smart and need to recognise the benefits of having a different mindset.

“We need to have training, financial infrastructure that supports new kind of development, and think long term,” he added.

Having an asset management mindset rather than a developer’s mindset would result in a different treatment of the asset, Rafiq said.

For example, one would be more concerned about the design, layout and functionality of an asset if one was managing it, compared with a developer who intends to build and sell the asset.

On risks from China’s investments here, Rafiq recommends more dialogue between the government and the private sector to improve the capability of the government to negotiate.

Commenting on Malaysia’s real estate outlook, he said it is patchy as some parts of the country is doing well. “But I think there will be a lot of oversupply. Creating a blanket statement would be wrong, but I think in Iskandar and Kuala Lumpur we can see it.”

"However, in a Selangor setting you can't be definitive that it's going to be an oversupply, because there is still an undersupply," Rafiq said.