Updated: 07/11/2011 00:00

South-east Asia: the Property Magnet

While India and China, as the largest developing economies of Asia, remain strong markets for develo...

While India and China, as the largest developing economies of Asia, remain strong markets for developers and consultants, surging populations and increased wealth around the region are driving development closer to home.

(A map of South-east Asia.)

Property groups in Singapore are expanding outside the local market in a move to further the reach of their portfolios. Properties in Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam are becoming especially popular.

Speaking to the Business Times, Loh Wai Keong, chief executive of Ascendas South-east Asia, explained that the ASEAN region “is a major contributor to Asia’s growth and has made significant progress towards economic integration and growth.”

Ascendas South-east Asia, as a company that works closely with many markets, is looking closely at Vietnam and Indonesia as strong candidates for development. The company’s portfolio includes the ACCRALAW Tower in the Philippines, the Ascendas-Protrade Singapore Tech Park in Vietnam and Ascendas Logistics Hub in Subang Jaya, Malaysia.

Mr. Loh believes that Singapore-based companies can leverage on their effective networks across the region, enabling them to expand quickly and easily. He added that international developers from outside South-east Asia are also becoming increasingly interested in these markets. “We see exciting opportunities to deepen our presence in our existing markets in the ASEAN region,” he said.

Industry experts add that because of resource constraints, property groups here are experienced in providing cost-effective results. Tham Poh Cheong, group director for infrastructure, environment and engineering at International Enterprise Singapore elaborated: “Singapore took on a long-term integrated planning approach for our development, which considers economic needs and environmental stability to create commercial solutions.”

A further strength of Singaporean property groups is their experience in sustainable building. The Jakarta Garden City, developed by Keppel Land, for example, is the first residential development in Indonesia to be given a Green Mark Gold Award by the Building and Construction Authority in Singapore.

While projects in specific areas carry their own unique difficulties and constraints due to physical space or government restrictions, industry experts affirm that the key objective is to understand the market. This entails carefully studying the environment and providing solutions that are relevant to the city, sustainable and practical.

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