Wednesday, 5 September 2012

House price hike likely

Penang properties said to increase 5%-10% due to more costly cement

GEORGE TOWN: The selling price of properties in Penang will soon surge by 5%-10% following the recent move by Lafarge Malayan Cement to raise cement prices by about 6%, according to housing developers here.

Following Lafarge's announcement, a 50kg bag of cement is now priced at RM17.50, compared to RM16.50 before the hike.

Penang Master Builders & Building Materials Dealers Association president Lim Kai Seng said 60% to 80% of the materials used for a building comprised cement and cement-related materials.

Lim: ‘The price of sand is now RM40- RM43 per cu yard.’“This is why an increase in cement price will have a significant impact on property prices.

Lim: ‘The price of sand is now RM40- RM43 per cu yard.’

“The other cement manufacturers in the country have sent signals that they will raise prices very soon,” Lim said.

There are six cement producers in Malaysia, namely YTL Cement Bhd, Tasek Corp Bhd, Cement Industries of Malaysia Bhd, Lafarge, CMS Cement Sdn Bhd, and Holcim (M) Sdn Bhd.

Only Sarawak-based CMS Cement has confirmed it would keep prices at the current level.

Lim said the price of other essential building materials such as sand and aggregate had also increased.

“The price of sand is now between RM40 and RM43 per cu yard, depending on the grade, compared to RM38-RM40 earlier this year.

“The price of aggregates is now at RM21 per tonne, compared to RM20 per tonne earlier this year,” he said.

House prices on the island are expected to rise by 10%, while in Seberang Prai, housing prices are expected rise by 5%, following the hike in cement price.

Kuala Lumpur-based developers such as Mah Sing Group Bhd and SP Setia Bhd with projects in Penang will continue to absorb the cost of the cement price increase.

Ideal Property Development Sdn Bhd managing director Datuk Alex Ooi said the company was now revising the selling prices of its new projects upwards, due to the hike in cement price.

Ooi: ‘There will be a 10% hike in the selling price of properties in Penang.’Ooi: ‘There will be a 10% hike in the selling price of properties in Penang.’

“There will be at least a 10% hike in the selling price of properties on the island.

“A hike in cement price means the price of all cement-related products such as concrete and bricks will rise. Construction cost will go up by between 15% and 20%.

“We expect the rest of the cement manufacturers in the country to adjust the price of cement upwards in the next one to two months,” he said.

In addition to the rise in cement prices, the cost of labour and transportation charges have also increased this year.

Tambun Indah Land Bhd managing director K.S. Teh said the cost of labour had increased to RM45 per day this year, compared to RM35 a year ago.

Transportation charges for sand have increased to RM450 per truck load this year from RM400 a year ago.

“There is also a labour shortage, as many Indonesian workers have gone back to Indonesia, which is booming currently.

“The selling price of properties will be impacted by the hike in raw materials and labour costs.

“However, Tambun Indah will absorb the increase in the price of raw materials until year-end.

“We will revise our pricing next year,” he added.

Teh said the selling price of properties on the island would increase more because of the additional transportation charges to ferry the raw materials to the island.

“This is why the increase in property prices on the island will be around 10%, compared to about 5% in Seberang Prai,” he said.

Tambun Indah will be launching next month the Straits Garden@Jelutong on the island, the Pearl Residence@Pearl City and Pearl Indah@Pearl City projects in Simpang Ampat.

The Straits Garden is a high-rise project comprising 183 condominiums priced from RM688,000 onwards, while the Pearl Residence@Pearl City and Pearl Indah@Pearl City schemes comprise landed properties priced between RM353,000 and RM508,000.

Mah Sing managing director and chief executive Tan Sri Leong Hoy Kum said the cement price hike would have less than a 1% impact on construction cost.

“Most of our projects have been tendered out and the construction costs are already locked in,” he added.

SP Setia property (north) general manager Khoo Teck Chong said the group would absorb this impact for now to be competitive.

”If other raw material prices such as bricks, rebar and tiles were to increase drastically, we may then have to review and adjust our property selling price accordingly,” Khoo added.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Competition Commission (MyCC) chief executive officer Shila Dorai Raj had said the price hike by cement manufacturers did not at this juncture warrant a formal investigation.

“Price increases are by themselves not anti-competitive in nature. However, if there is evidence of collusion among the competitors to increase prices, this would be of concern to MyCC and may merit an investigation,” she said.

By DAVID TAN davidtan@thestar.com.my

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