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Property gems of Southeast Asia

Amid diverse cultures and exotic surroundings, several upscale developments are sprouting

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The $3.5-billion One Bangkok is the largest investment of its kind in the city by a private firm
Property Weekly

The diversity of Southeast Asia and a more tolerant culture have made the region an attractive destination for property buyers. From a rich, well-organised country such as Singapore to a more chaotic but endearing nation like Thailand, from Vietnam with its newly adapted go-getting attitude to a more laid-back atmosphere in Malaysia, there is a lot to choose from.

Generally, the investment activity across Southeast Asia’s real estate landscape remains strong, owing to a number of factors. Two decades after the Asian economy crisis, the regional economies have stabilised and some are now among the fastest-growing worldwide, namely Vietnam, the Philippines and Cambodia. This naturally makes a good foundation for an advancing property market that attracts large amounts of foreign investment.

Vietnam is probably the best example. As the formerly secluded country eases its property ownership regulations, opportunities abound. Thailand and Malaysia are also at the forefront of this development. Most of the real estate activity in the region is focused on urban centres, with Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur standing in the limelight, and Manila, Jakarta and Phnom Penh catching up and benefiting from a steady influx of foreign buyers in the recent past, many of them from China. Another push comes with the improvement in infrastructure and urban transport in major Southeast Asian cities where railway and underground systems are under development or expansion.

Besides that, more and more upscale resort developments at popular or upcoming tourism destinations are being developed across the region, some of which are highly attractive for investors who might also want to use them as a part-time holiday residence.

That said, buyers who are looking for affordable homes will still be able to find them in the region — with the exemption of Singapore even though the city state’s property market is in a cool-down phase — for as low as around $150,000 (Dh550,875) for a premium two-bedroom condo as long as it is not in the heart of a central business district. On the other hand, luxury residential developments are still rare as the market for high-end real estate is developing rather slowly; resort mansions or beach villas can turn out to be quite costly in particular.

PW takes a look at what’s on the cards in the high-end property market in Southeast Asia.

Thailand

The country’s capital Bangkok had not been in the centre of attention of luxury property buyers until the development of MahaNakhon, the city’s tallest and most expensive residential tower, which interestingly attracted a lot of investment from the Middle East, particular from Dubai. This tower officially opened in August under much fanfare and is sold out. But there are other upscale developments in Thailand that provide opportunities for either urban or resort leisure living.

One Bangkok is a $3.5-billion property development in central Bangkok by beverage mogul Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, the largest investment in one such endeavour in the city by a private company. It will include offices, residences and retail. The first stage of the 1.83-million-sq-m project is expected to open in 2021, with the full completion in 2025. One Bangkok will comprise five grade A office towers, five luxury and lifestyle hotels, three ultra-luxury residential towers and retail outlets.

MahaSamutr is a country club in Hua Hin, the summer retreat of the royal family south of Bangkok, with luxury villas currently under construction, built around Asia’s first and largest crystal lagoon — created by the same company working on the lagoon and man-made beach in Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum City’s District One. MahaSamutr, developed by Pace Development, the same company that built MahaNakhon, will feature 90 villas, each covering between 550 sq m and 600 sq m on a large plot with prices starting from around $1 million. Sales kicked off in 2015, and there are still villas available.

Anantara Layan Phuket Residences is the latest addition to Thailand’s super-luxury residences. It is a private estate of 15 huge pool residences overlooking the Anantara Layan Phuket Resort and surrounded by tropical forest on Phuket’s west coast. The residences are developed by Minor International, the brand owner of the Anantara hotel and resort chain. The project features three- to seven-bedroom units, each with exorbitant sizes ranging from 1,700-3,600 sq m, while the development also has shared pavilions for dining, living, fitness, entertainment and work. Each residence also boasts a large 21m-long infinity swimming pool overlooking the Andaman Sea.

Malaysia

Medini — Iskandar Malaysia is the flagship urban township project within Iskandar Malaysia, an economic zone development in Malaysia’s southern state of Johor and directly neighbouring Singapore. Medini spans over 9.3 sq km and is planned for a population of 450,000 by 2030, which makes it Malaysia’s largest single urban development to date, planned to become the smart and connected central business district of Iskandar. There are quite a number of residential projects, including condominium buildings, mixed-use towers, hotel residences and villas. The more exclusive developments are the garden estates of Sunway Iskandar and the three-tower Meridin Suites Residences. Signature developments include Mall of Medini and the theme park Legoland Malaysia Resort.

Four Seasons Place Residences, among the current few top-end residential developments in Kuala Lumpur, is right next to the iconic Petronas Twin Towers and nearly as tall with 65 floors, housing 242 private residences starting from the mid-level, above a huge shopping mall and a Four Seasons resort hotel. The units, ranging from 110-700 sq m, feature living areas with high ceilings and glass walls that open out to spacious terraces with panoramic views of the city. The largest have their own swimming pool overlooking Kuala Lumpur City Centre. Set to open early this year, more than 70 per cent of the 242 units have been sold so far, with prices starting from $1.5 million. An exclusive five-bedroom duplex on the highest floors fetch $4.8 million — among the most expensive apartments ever sold in Kuala Lumpur.

Amaris Terraces By-The-Sea in Penang, Malaysia’s northwestern resort island and technology hub, are luxurious terraced houses with land ownership rights within a master-planned seaside development. It is a low-density development with just 29 three-storey, five-bedroom seaside homes. The villas have internal courtyards reminiscent of the spacious designs of traditional houses in old Penang, as well as private pools. Located not far from a retail district with marina, upmarket eateries, shops, art galleries and a performing arts centre, the development offers houses with prices ranging from $870,000-$1.1 million.

Vietnam

Binh Quoi Thanh Da Island is an upscale urban development in Vietnam’s economic hub of Ho Chi Minh City where square-metre prices for premium developments are already exceeding $4,000. The district, on an island enveloped on all sides by the Saigon River, is being designed as an integrated living space for mobile urban professionals and features a number of high-end residences. The master plan also includes an organic ensemble of a high-profile and iconic integrated resorts, a series of high-rise office towers and a mix of five-star hotels, a cluster of modern retail malls and sporting venues and mixed-use precincts for living, working and leisure. Just 4km from Ho Chi Minh City’s international airport, the 426-hectare Binh Quoi Thanh Da Eco Township is planned to accommodate up to 30,000 residents and will be connected with Ho Chi Minh City by bridges over the Saigon River.

Mövenpick Cam Ranh Resort is an exclusive beach villa development on Bai Dai Beach in the city of Cam Ranh near Nha Trang in central Vietnam, only a five-minute drive from Cam Ranh International Airport. The development consists of 121 villas designed in a combination of modern architecture and traditional style, as well as 250 five-star hotel rooms and a serviced apartment with 96 luxury units. Facilities include golf green, tennis courts, beach club, restaurants and playgrounds. All villas, hotel rooms and apartments have direct ocean view from living rooms and bedrooms. Prices for the villas start from around $620,000. Owners willing to rent receive a guaranteed rental return of no less than 10 per cent annually over 10 years in a rental pool programme where owners commit to an 85 per cent profit share for subleasing, currently the highest profit commitment in Vietnam’s resort property market. Villas can also be used as a second home as owners are allocated up to 180 days each year. Operations start this month.

Hoi An City is a luxury resort development near Da Nang and the ancient town of Hoi An in north-central Vietnam. The entire development spans over 400 hectares, features 198 apartments, 12 beachfront villas, 1,200 hotel rooms, 20,000 sq m of retail space, a spa, gym and cineplex. Expected to be completed early this year, the investment scheme is similar to the Mövenpick Cam Ranh Resort, but the threshold is a bit lower with prices for a one-bedroom apartments starting at $119,000. Two types of two-floor, five-bedroom sea-view villas, with sizes ranging from 490-790 sq m, have prices starting at $600,000. A minimum annual profit of 9 per cent in 10 years is guaranteed in a rental pool scheme, with 28 days per year free stay for the owner.

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