A rail boost for property prices

NST, February 21, 2013

THE high-speed rail (HSR) project between Malaysia and Singapore, which is expected to be completed by 2020, is going to be a major boost for areas surrounding stations along the line, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha said yesterday.

He said based on initial study, five new railway stations would be built at Seremban (Negri Sembilan), Ayer Keroh (Malacca), Muar, Batu Pahat and Iskandar Malaysia (Johor) before heading towards Singapore.

"This will bring about development in these areas around the train stations and also along the railway line," he said at the ministry's Chinese New Year celebration here yesterday.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his Singaporean counterpart, Lee Hsien Loong, made the announcement on the project after a meeting and bilateral talks in conjunction with the Malaysia-Singapore Leaders' Retreat in Singapore on Tuesday.

Both leaders agreed that this was a strategic development to bilateral relations that will dramatically improve the connectivity between Malaysia and Singapore.

Kong said the 400km rail link would enable the travel time between the two cities to be reduced to a mere 90 minutes.

Analysts said the HSR project offered a big re-rating catalyst for Malaysian properties, especially the real estate segment in Kuala Lumpur in the long term.

RHB Research analyst Loong Kok Wen said coupled with the mass rapid transit (MRT) network (Line 1, circle line and Line 3), he expected demand for houses and commercial properties such as malls, offices and hotels to increase in the future.

He added that key players that would likely benefit from the implementation of the HSR project and the MRT would include UEM Land Holdings Bhd, SP Setia Bhd, IJM Land Bhd, Sunway Bhd, UOA Group Singapore, KLCC Property Bhd and Pavilion REIT.

"We started seeing foreigners, mainly from Singapore, China and Hong Kong buying up properties in Kuala Lumpur, Iskandar Malaysia and Penang.

"If the HSR line stops in Johor Baru city centre and Malacca, properties there could also enjoy the spillover, given that it is a tourist spot," Loong said.

Loong also believes that the participation of Singapore government bodies or government-linked companies in Iskandar Malaysia, may signal that some investments from them could flow into Penang, which is a manufacturing and industrial hub, as well as a tourist hot spot, boosting demand for properties there.