E-smart homes the way forward: Property experts

27 Apr 2020 / 11:15 H.

PETALING JAYA: Building e-smart homes with greater internet access is the way forward for property developers as work-from-home (WFH) has become the interim norm because of the movement control order (MCO).

With companies forced to make the shift from traditional operating methods to full or partial WFH, the distance of houses from work areas and business centres might not be a key factor in future property purchases, industry experts said.

“Digital systems and technology will be a critical factor not just for branding and sales, but also in developing maximum efficiency in business and operations,” Kwasa Land senior manager Mohd Radzman Othman said.

On whether the WFH concept would make properties outside the Klang Valley more attractive, Radzman said these dwellings will offer more to buyers at the same price of a smaller unit in the Klang Valley.

“The proviso here is that the location must have (internet) and smart connectivity.”

Kwasa Land, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Employees’ Provident Fund, has embarked on an information and communications technology and smart city project with 5G connectivity.

Its Kwasa Damansara project comes with an e-portal that integrates apps for e-education, e-medical, e-utilities and others.

However, WFH needs to be the new normal for the majority of the workforce rather than a contingency measure, PropertyGuru Malaysia country manager Sheldon Fernandez said.

“It remains to be seen how the business and employment landscape will change.

“Given that property is a long-term financial investment and commitment, it is highly likely that WFH will be emphasised only as a contingency measure rather than the norm, when we return to (normal).”

On whether there will be an increase in the appeal of small office/home office (SoHo) properties, Fernandez said the trend has been on the wane for some time following its heyday post-2009, due to pricing, renting and financing issues.

“Web traffic to SoHo properties on PropertyGuru dropped drastically this month by 83.2% from figures in March.

“While SoHo units may see some interest among smaller enterprise owners seeking to future-proof operations as well as larger players undertaking contingency planning, the trends leading to their decline in popularity must be addressed before they can see more widespread uptake.

“This will be truer following the Covid-19 outbreak and MCO, due to their impact on rental rates and sentiment.”

Meanwhile, Wordlabs Business Network (WBN) chief executive officer Sritharan Vellasamy said even without the Covid-19 pandemic, disruptive technology would impact property markets as we become more digital in our approach to interaction, purchases and work.

“As e-commerce grows, properties in industrial areas will gain more ground,” he said. “Bigger distribution centres in cheaper locations and smaller and less retail space in prime areas will be the norm.

“The unexpected and rapid switch to WFH will accelerate changes in how work is executed in future.”

The onus is on developers to take note of these trends and implement new strategies, said Sritharan, who founded WBN, that deals with globalisation and digital transformation in businesses.

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E-smart homes the way forward: Property experts

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