Sunday, March 3, 2013

Property buyers seen shifting to affordability in 2013

By Kamarul Azhar of
Thursday, 13 December 2012 13:38

PETALING JAYA (Dec 13): The trend of property buying in the country will shift towards affordability in 2013, which will see buyers gravitating towards products with lower absolute pricing, according to Hong Leong Investment Bank analyst Sean Lim.

He said property developers should respond to the shift in preference, by cutting back on the scale of property launches, reduce absolute selling price by selling smaller units and transit from selling high rise to landed units.

"Going into 2013, we expect the challenges to intensify as both property developers and buyers undergo a transition phase, with buyer preference undergoing a dramatic shift towards affordability," said Lim.

He added launches and sales is expected to moderate in 2013 compared with 2012, dismissing talk that the property market will see a hard landing next year.

"We still do not believe that a hard landing scenario is likely to transpire in 2013. Asset quality for loans continued to improve with NPL (non-performing loans) ratio at all-time low of 1.9% for residential property loans," said Lim.

However, a major risk of rising NPL ratios among banks due to Malaysians losing holding power of their properties still lingers, according to Lim.

Property developers also face the risk of margin erosion in 2013 if material prices spike or pressure from lower selling price of properties, slow down in sales or cut back in launches.

Major catalysts for the industry in 2013 include the RM46 billion worth of investments announced to be implemented in Iskandar Malaysia starting next year, and also the completion of the second Penang bridge.

"The RM46 billion of developments announced in last week's WIEF (World Islamic Economic Forum) should help sustain interest for UEM Land Holdings Bhd.

"Penang mainland is also set to benefit from the opening of Penang Second Bridge in Sept 2013. Within our coverage, Mah Sing looks set to be the biggest beneficiary, as its Southbay City integrated development has balance GDV of RM2.1 billion," he said.

As the responsible financing guideline started to take effect on property transactions, the operating environment of the property sector is expected to get more competitive next year.

Some property analysts are of the opinion that property developers with strong branding and big land bank are the ones who can remain positive above the rest.

Among the property developers with large land bank and strong brand in Malaysia include Sime Darby Bhd, UEM Land Holdings Bhd, IJM Land Bhd, S P Setia Bhd and WCT Bhd.

S P Setia targets an ambitious FY2013 property sales of RM5.5 billion, after managed to surpass its target RM4 billion of sales this year. The group's achieved record new property sales of RM4.2 billion in FY2012, an increase of 28.6% year-on-year.

However, other differs saying that gearing level and valuations are more important for property developers next year, citing the lower expected growth rate.

Meanwhile, Affin Investment Bank's analyst Isaac Chow, whose property stock top pick include UOA Development Bhd and KLCC Property Holdings Bhd, said it is more important for investors to choose property stocks with appealing valuation and strong brand equity.

In a report on UOA Development, Chow stated that the group remains Affin IB's top pick among the property development stocks because of its undemanding valuation, high dividend yield, strong cash position, strong track record and management experience.

"UOA Development remains our top pick for exposure to the property sector and we continue to like the company for its undemanding valuation at 6.5 times CY13 core EPS, 1.1 times NTA and high dividend yield of over 5%,

"Strong cash position of RM274.7 million, strong branding, strong execution track record, and experienced management team who are highly adaptable to changes in market dynamic," stated Chow.

Affin IB has a target price of RM2.40 on UOA Development, based on 25% discount on its revalued net asset value (RNAV) of RM3.17.

UOA Development share stood at RM1.70 per share as at 11.48 am this morning, up 1 sen or 0.59% from yesterday's (Wednesday) close of RM1.69.

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