Johor: Ready… Get set… Go!
We recently visited Johor to investigate its population growth dynamics since many of the 2012 ‘tipping point’ elements of Iskandar Malaysia (IM) are coming on line. Although we are bearish on the overall Malaysian property sector, our findings reaffirmed our bullish stance on the Johor Property Market. Our Top Pick for developers remain as UEMLAND (OP; TP: RM2.65) because it has the largest exposure in Johor (c. 50% sales from Johor) compared to the others under our coverage (<30 % sales from Johor). IJMLAND’s (MP; TP: RM2.28) Sebana Cove project will be a catalytic one but will only kick off in CY13 even as its overall sales is expected to slow down due to softer Klang Valley and Penang sales. Although Johor sales have picked up for township developers like SPSETIA (Accept Offer@RM3.95) and MAHSING (UP; TP: RM2.05), their overall sales are still heavily driven by the softer Klang Valley market. E&O (UP; TP: RM1.49) will also be another major beneficiary given its Wellness Center @ Medini (GDV c.RM3.0b), which is a JV between E&O (50%), Khazanah Nasional (25%) and Temasek Holdings (25%); however, we believe significant sales from the project will only be from FY14 onwards as it is still in the planning stage. Our Construction Analyst meanwhile remains bullish on WCT (OP; TP RM3.85) as Iskandar region will be one of key drivers for its construction order book replenishment in 2012.
Mass housing play. Our trip’s main emphasis was on mass market housing, allowing us to determine the true population growth potentials, or IM’s final puzzle piece. We visited the following developers projects which are in the ‘affordable’ price range of < RM 500,000/ unit and the upgraders market of RM 500,000 - RM1m/unit; 1) “Affordable”: UEMLAND (Nusa Bayu, Nusa Idaman), WCT (1 Medini Residence) and IJM Land (SuriaMas@Larkin, Permas Jaya); 2) Upgraders: SP Setia (Setia Eco Cascadia), IJM Land (Nusa Duta).
Strong demand observed in the mass housing segment of < rm 500,000 <="" span="" unit.="">Demand has been largely driven by Malaysians working in Singapore, followed by Singaporeans. Johor’s residential demand is more organic as the bulk of the mass housing segment is driven by first home owners, followed by upgraders, and this is supported from the visible occupancies of the ongoing townships. We also gathered that a sizeable number of Malaysians working in Singapore are considered low to mid income earners in Singapore. However, their stronger purchasing power, on the back of favourable Singapore Dollars, enables them to purchase Malaysian mid to mid high-end residentials. It also explains why the impact of the tighter mortgage evaluation criteria appears less severe in Johor vs. Klang Valley. We would like to highlight that UEMLAND will be ramping out its mass housing products with Nusajaya West (GDV RM18b) in 2H12.
It is all coming together. Legoland’s development appears to be on track for its grand opening in Sep-2012, and tickets (including annual pass) are being sold currently. Educity components such as NuMED that has recruited two years’ worth of students, while the other upcoming Educity components like Marlborough College, Trust School, University of Southampton and common facilities (e.g. stadium & sports complex), will be delivered by end CY12. Major highways and interchanges are also all in place, reducing travel time by 30%-50% when compared to our earlier 2007-08 visits.
Sebana Cove is a ‘windfall’ project. IJMLAND’s project is located on the eastern side of Johor and forms a part of IM and sits above an Oil & Gas (O&G) goldmine. Including PETRONAS’ RAPID portion, total land dedicated for O&G amounts c.13,000ac, catering to local and international O&G players like Dialog (OP; TP: RM2.80), Gulf Asia Petroleum and potentially China Petroleum Corp. We reckon Sebana Cove will be a major earnings driver for IJMLAND (launch likely in CY13) as there are very few developers in the area with all other land acquisitions in Desaru/Pengerang having been frozen by the authorities due to the O&G developments. We reckon Sebana Cove’s current GDV of RM1.4b is too conservative and we estimate it could rise up to RM2.6b.
Developers under our coverage are upbeat on Johor. IJMLAND believes its FY13E Johor sales could hit historical highs of RM300m (FY12E c. RM200m); this is helpful since its Penang sales will likely be softer. Other established Johor developers like SPSETIA and MAHSING are also reporting strong positive trends. For the last financial year, Johor residential projects made up 29% of annual sales for SP Setia and 6% for Mah Sing.
JOHOR PROPERTY STUDY TRIP
Ready… Get set… Go! We recently went to Iskandar Malaysia (IM) @ Johor to review the property scene since its 2012 tipping point elements are coming on line soon. The major highways (e.g. Senai-Desaru and Coastal highway) are close to completion and connectivity has improved tremendously. Unlike our previous IM excursions, our emphasis this round was on mass market housings to determine the true population growth potentials. We had highlighted in our previous sector reports that IM’s final puzzle piece is a sizeable workingclass population.
We visited the following developers projects which are in the ‘affordable’ price range of rm500,000 /unit and the upgraders market of RM500,000 - RM1m /unit. Details of our visit can be found in the latter part of this report.
1. “Affordable”: UEMLAND (Nusa Bayu, Nusa Idaman), WCT (1 Medini Residence) and IJM Land (SuriaMas@Larkin, Permas Jaya)
2. Upgraders: SP Setia (Setia Eco Cascadia), IJM Land (Nusa Duta)
We also took the opportunity to visit IJM Land’s Sebana Cove, which gave us insight of potential property plays spilling over from the various Oil & Gas catalysts in Desaru/Pengerang. The site is part of Node D or one of IM’s flagship economic zones earmarked for manufacturing (electronics, petrochemicals, oleochemicals) and bunkering terminals.
JOHOR IS BOOMING
The Singapore factor. On average, there are about 50,000 commuters who travel from Johor to Singapore for both work and education. Sales in Johor have gained momentum since 2009. A big reason is the stronger ties between Malaysian and Singapore, which has been strengthened via G2G agreements and other developments (Khazanah Nasional and Temasek Holdings). Another driving factor is the completion of the Second Link in Dec-2008 that has spurred sales in areas such as Nusajaya where UEMLAND is the biggest beneficiary.
Also, Singapore’s sky high property prices have pushed many people out of the affordability zone. To top it off, Singapore implemented tightening policies via buyers stamp duties to rein in runaway house prices and IM is clearly the greatest spillover beneficiary here. Our visit reaffirmed the trend since the majority of property sales within the upgraders and first home owners segments are dominated by Malaysians working in Singapore, followed by Singaporeans. WCT’s 1 Medini Residence was the only exception, where buyers were mainly locals working in Malaysia.
Occupancy is evident for the mass housing market, but not so obvious for highend segments. Generally, most of the ongoing townships we visited have decent occupancies, save for those which had yet to deliver the first phase. The mass market housings (e.g. Nusa Idaman, Nusa Duta, SuriaMas, Permas Jaya, Setia Indah) occupancies are more evident since the main occupants are Malaysians working in Singapore; this segment tend to be in the low to mid-income earnings segment of Singapore’s workforce. Some developers did warn of the high-end residential market (>RM800,000/unit), which has sizeable Singaporean buyers’ content, being treated as holiday/weekend homes. While this is not ideal for a township’s health, we would like to highlight that UEMLAND will be ramping out its mass housing products with Nusajaya West (GDV RM18b) in 2H12.
Tighter mortgage assessment impact not as bad as other states like Klang Valley. According to the developers we visited, their buyers are facing fewer obstacles in securing loans for housing as compared to those in the Klang Valley. We believe the current mass housing segment offerings meet a growing niche of Johor’s population as many of them are working in Singapore. The majority of these groups of people are likely to be in the low to mid-income segment of Singapore, rendering Singapore properties as ‘out of reach’. There are also a growing number of Singaporeans who are facing huge affordability issues, particularly when it comes to sizeable homes. However, these groups of buyers have strong purchasing power in Malaysia given that their salaries are in the favourable Singapore Dollars. We also reckon Johor is more of a first home owners market and IM’s mass housing pricings are still within their means.
Strong growth observed for homes priced below RM 500,000/unit. Strong sales were observed by affordable housing in the price range of RM250,000 to RM 500,000 followed by housing in the price range of RM200,000 to RM250,000. Funnily enough, we observe more rebates offered compared to DIBS schemes; Johor property buyers tend to favour cheaper entry points over other factors.
Shortage of student housing or apartments for rent. Student population size will grow to 16,000 upon completion of Educity over the next 3-4 years. However, Impiana, Ujana and 1 Medini Residence are the only identifiable apartments in the area which have sizeable numbers of units priced between RM300,000-RM400,000/unit (typically 1 to 2 bedroom apartment size of <1,000sf built up). According to feedback from developers, an apartment costing RM300,000/unit can fetch rentals of RM1500-RM2000/month or gross yields of 6%- 8%, which is considered healthy returns compared to Klang Valley’s 4%-6% yields for new properties. In the next few years, developers will be looking to launch smaller size units to tap onto these markets, whilst ensuring unit prices remain in the affordable zone.
Increasing incoming supply of terrace homes is not a concern, as it will be supported by organic population growth. Some maybe alarmed by Johor’s legendary high overhang rates. However, we would like to point out that the trend has flat-lined since Dec-2009, indicating demand and supply has reached a stronger equilibrium level. We expect Johor’s overhang rate to remain at these levels; much of the unsold properties are likely from the distress periods many years back.
It is all coming together. Legoland developments appear to be on track for its grand opening in Sep-2012, and tickets (including annual pass) are being sold currently. The connecting retail mall will also open at the same time. NuMED (Newcastle Medical School) has been opened since Sep-2011 and has recruited two years worth of students. Other upcoming Educity components, like Marlborough College, Trust School, University of Southampton and common facilities (e.g. stadium & sports complex), are at advance stages and delivery is likely end CY12. Major highways and interchanges (e.g. Senai-Desaru Highway, Coastal Highway and interchanges, Second Link interchanges) has improved connectivity significantly. Our travel time was reduced by 30%-50% compared to our earlier visits back in 2007-08.
Strong indications of Singaporean SMEs relocating to IM. UEMLAND’s SiLC has done very well with 91% take-ups of industrial land and ASP has hit an all time high of RM31psf vs. 2007’s RM21psf. We understand SiLC Phase 3 will be sold on a development, rather than land basis to tap onto better project returns. Meanwhile, Setia Business Park I @ Setia Eco Gardens, which achieved full take-ups before completion are also observing similar trends from. In fact, Johor industrial and commercial property sales have also stepped up since 2009.
Key issues faced by Johor developers. In Johor, all projects are subject to 40% Bumi quota and 15% discount, which is a steeper requirement compared to Selangor (30% Bumi quota and 7% discount). Based on developers’ feedbacks, ‘international’ lots or non Bumi units achieved quick take-ups. Developers can seek for release of Bumi units after 1 year of advertisement post 50% project completion. As a result, one may observe slower clearing of inventories immediately after completion. To our knowledge, East Ledang and Medini developments are not subjected to this requirement. Even so, Johor developers continue to rake in strong sales.
Developers under our coverage are upbeat on Johor. For IJMLAND, they believe FY13E Johor sales could hit historical highs of RM300m (FY12E c. RM200m); this is helpful since Penang sales will likely be softer. Other established Johor developers, like SPSETIA and MAHSING, are also reporting strong positive trends. The downward spikes observed over the last few periods are mainly due to the cyclical nature of the business and the timing of property launches, thus giving an inconsistent feature. As it stands, Johor residential projects makes up 29% and 6% of respective FY11 sales for SPSETIA and MAHSING.
UPCOMING CATALYST IN EASTERN JOHOR
IJMLAND’s Sebana Cove is a ‘windfall’ project. The project is located on the eastern side of Johor and forms a part of IM. In 2008, IJM Land had taken over Sebana Cove (1188ac) from Amcorp Properties at a price tag of RM120m (RM2.30psf). Initial plans were to develop a resort cum mixed development project with an eco theme given the existing golf course and marina. Currently, the Sebana Cove land sits above an Oil & Gas (O&G) goldmine. Since the introduction of PETRONAS’ RAPID project in Desaru/Pengerang (8000ac; RM60b investment) by PEMANDU’s Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) back in 2010, the O&G play has been heating up. This would be the second major O&G project in the area after Dialog’s (OP; TP: RM2.80) RM5b project (500ac). Newcomers have also been buying up land in the area; Gulf Asia Petroleum has bought 750ac whilst we understand China Petroleum Corp is negotiating to buy another 3000-4000ac. We understand land in the area is being transacted at c.RM5psf, meaning Sebana Cove’s pricing was a steal.
Sebana Cove has all the advantages. Besides lower land cost, Sebana Cove comes equipped with ready infrastructure. Furthermore, there are also very few developments in the area and based on our visit, it looks like housing supply is thin in the area as much of it are greenfields. Since the ETP announcement, land acquisitions in the area have been frozen and Kejora (South East Johore Development Authority) is the largest landowner; this also means IJMLand’s Sebana Cove and Tebrau Teguh’s 415ac landbank are the few known developers in the area. We also understand that the existing coastal road will be realigned and will run between Sebana Cove and PETRONAS’s RAPID lands.
Sebana Cove’s GDV too conservative? We think so. IJMLAND has guided for a project GDV of RM1.4b over 10 years. However, we reckon it is a conservative estimate at best because we believe the GDV could be as high as RM2.1b-RM2.6b; we have assumed low dense landed developments of 8 units per acre with homes being priced at RM400,000- RM 500,000/unit. Incremental impact to our RNAV is not material, while significant earnings contributions will only be from FY14 onwards given CY13 launch. Our assumed pricing is reasonable given severe shortage of housings to cater for the new O&G hub. Authorities estimate that the Desaru/Pengerang population could explode by 20x over the next 10 years to 0.5m population size. Additionally, the development will be positioned as a mid to high end resort styled living development.
Positive on Johor Property Market. Although we are bearish on the overall Malaysian property sector, we believe states like Johor will buck the trend. Our Top Pick for developers remain as UEMLAND (OP; TP: RM2.65) as it has the largest exposure in Johor (c. 50% sales from Johor) compared to the others under our coverage (<30% sales from Johor). IJMLAND (MP; TP: RM2.28) Sebana Cove project will be a catalytic one but will only kick off in CY13 even as its overall sales is expected to slow down due to softer Klang Valley and Penang sales. Although Johor sales have picked up for township developers like SPSETIA (Accept Offer@RM3.95) and MAHSING (UP; TP: RM2.05), their overall sales are still heavily driven by the softer Klang Valley market. E&O (UP; TP: RM1.49) will also be another major beneficiary given its Wellness Center @ Medini (GDV c.RM3.0b), which is a JV between E&O (50%), Khazanah Nasional (25%) and Temasek Holdings (25%). However, we believe significant sales from the project will only be from FY14 onwards as it is still in the planning stage. Our Construction Analyst remains bullish on WCT (OP; TP RM3.85) as Iskandar region will be one of key drivers of its construction order book replenishment in 2012.
SITE VISIT OBSERVATIONS
Nusa Bayu (Remaining GDV RM0.5b). Launched in October 2010, Nusa Bayu is a medium cost modern-styled township which is strategically located next to SiLC and has easy accessibility to the Second Link and Coastal Highway. Prices of 2-storey terraces (c.1600sf built ups) are between RM250,000-RM330,000/unit, which comes with rebates and DIBS. Take ups are only 50% and bulk of buyers is Malaysians workings in Singapore; these are lower income earning segment of Singapore. In Johor, new developments take-up rates tend to improve post delivery of the first phase. Those residing in Johor are generally cautious on ‘new’ developers given past nightmares of uncompleted projects. UEM Land is considered a ‘newcomer’ vs. the likes of KSL and SP Setia. The first phase will be delivered soon.
Nusa Idaman (Remaining GDV RMRM0.4b). The project is located next to matured townships (e.g. Bukit Indah) and the lifestyle living Horizon Hills. Since the project has been on-going since 2006, average take-ups are better than Nusa Bayu at >75% and completed phases are mostly occupied. Another key selling point is the gated and guarded precincts. Buyers are mainly a mixture of Singaporeans and Malaysians working in Singapore. The project is at its last phase of landed residentials, which are priced at RM450,000/unit (2100sf built up), and has achieved 50% take up to date.
Impiana @ East Ledang (GDV RM150m) features 244 units of 1 to 4 bedroom apartments, spanning 614sf to more than 2,100sf built ups. It is positioned as a high-end development offering gated and guarded resort styled homes. Impiana’s first phase was launched in late 3Q11 at an ASP of RM480psf and has achieved 70% take up to date. More than 50% of buyers are foreigners, although the bulk is Singaporeans. Key selling points of the project is the 5 minute driving distance to Educity, Sri KDU and R.E.A.L Kids Kindergarten, as well as, lifestyle amenities (e.g. sky lounges, tropical podium). Notably, there are very few apartments near Educity, save for Ujana @ East Ledang and 1 Medini Residence.
Medini infrastructure works are nearly done. Positively, WCT is in the midst of completing the handover documents for the infrastructure works on the 704 acres of land surrounding Medini. The total work value was RM767m comprising of the earthwork, drainage, roads pavement, water supply, sewerage works, M&E infrastructure works, and electricity sub-stations. The management reiterated that Iskandar region will be one of key drivers of its construction order book replenishment in 2012.
1 Medini Residences (GDV RM0.7b) is the only ‘pure residential play’ in Medini, meaning it enjoys a special land title; 1) no RM500k threshold for foreign buyers; 2) no Bumi units or foreign buyers’ restrictions. It features 1332 units of apartments over 2 towers with 1- 4 bedroom configurations, ranging between 720-1704sf built ups. Phase 1 was launched in early Feb-2012 with an ASP of RM450psf, and has since achieved overwhelming take-ups of 95%. Encouragingly enough, DIBS is not applicable, whilst only ‘early birds’ enjoyed rebates (which can only be enjoyed as a maintenance cost deduction post delivery of the project). Contrary to the trends of other projects we visited, we understand 70% of buyers were Malaysians (remaining are Singaporeans), of which only a small majority are working in Singapore. We have yet to impute the contribution from 1 Medini Residences in our forecast which likely to materially impact its earnings from FY13E onwards; this will be reflected in the next WCT company update. Going forward, 1 Medini Residences will provide richer margin contributions for WCT, on top of its RM3b construction order book.
Nusa Duta @ Perling (Remaining GDV: RM0.2b). The project is positioned to target upgraders, similar to UEMLAND’s Nusa Idaman, and is located on the other side of the matured Bukit Indah township. Another key selling point is its gated and guarded community. Since commencement in 2009, take-ups of international lots are very quick. Project managers observed many of their buyers are cash-rich and are mainly Malaysians working in Singapore. In the secondary market, 2-storey terraces and cluster homes (c.1900sf built up each) are transacted at RM350,000/unit and RM540,000/unit, respectively. Their recent launch is service apartments, D’Rich@Nusa Duta (GDV c.RM60m), which is priced at RM180,000- RM300,000/unit (c.500sf built up; ASP: RM390-450psf). So far, take ups have been encouraging with 70% take-ups of international lots.
D’Ambience @ Permas Jaya (GDV: RM270m) targets first home owners and up-graders with modern apartments priced between RM180,000-RM550,000 (513-1414sf built ups). The area is a matured one, but towards the lower income earning segment. Take-ups are encouraging with full take-ups of international lots, which mainly comprised of a healthy combination of locals and Malaysians working in Singapore. Since mid-2011 launch, ASP has increased c.20% to RM400psf. In terms of first home owners market, Suriamas@Larkin has done well over the last 10 years and is at its tail-end. Apartment units are priced at between RM100,000 - RM 500,000/unit, depending on unit size. Majority of its occupants are locals.
Setia Eco Cascadia (GDV RM1.5b). The project’s concept is similar to their award winning Setia Eco Garden whose target market is up-graders in an already matured residential area. More specifically, it targets up-graders from Setia Indah, which is right across Eco Cascadia. Project preview commenced in 4QCY11. Its first set of terrace homes (2 & 3 storey ranging between 2100-3000sf built up) is priced between RM550,000-RM800,000/unit, of which 70% of international lots are sold. Interestingly, there were no rebates given and DIBS were only extended to the ‘early birds’. Buyers are mainly Malaysians working in Singapore and are upgraders from Setia Indah and Setia Tropika. Notably, Setia Indah’s secondary terrace prices are being transacted at RM400,000/unit.
Setia Business Park I @ Setia Eco Garden. The project was sold out quite sometime back and the first phase is almost ready for delivery. Key selling points of the project is the 15-20 minute drive to Senai Airport. It taps onto Singaporean SMEs, which constitutes most of its buyers, looking to lower business cost. Key businesses are logistics, warehousing, E&E, food industries, medical related products, etc. Going forward, the remaining 60% of the 200ac will be mainly commercial content to support the industries within the park. Since demand is evident for light to medium industrial spaces (<10,000sf built ups), SPSETIA’s next industrial space offering is in Setia Business Park II @ Setia Tropika (262ac; GDV RM1b); the project’s first phase has hit 70% bookings since official launch in Feb-2012.