COVER STORY: Greater exposure for developers

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CONVENIENCE: Judging by the packed crowds at various property exhibitions and expositions held nationwide, interest in property is as strong as ever despite the slower growth in property transactions this year.

Property expos in the country serve as a conduit between property developers and purchasers, providing property information and enabling them to engage with each other.

One example is iProperty.com Malaysia that has organised various expos since 2005, now known as iProperty Real Deal Expo. “iProperty.com Malaysia saw the need to organise property expos to provide local and international developers a convenient avenue to exhibit their prized developments and upcoming projects. It is also an opportunity for us to offer consumers a platform to browse and purchase these properties with greater ease, doing away with the hassle of having to drive all over Klang Valley and the country to view these developments, as we have brought it all under one roof,” says Shaun Di Gregorio, Chief Executive Officer of the iProperty Group.
 
INTERACT: Echoing these sentiments is Jason Thoe, Head of Marketing (Acting Country Manager), PropertyGuru Malaysia.
 
“The main reasons for PropertyGuru to organise property expos are to create a platform for our partners to showcase the latest property developments in an engaging environment as well as to complete the buying-cycle of a buyer. We also participate in various expos to gain brand awareness and share our knowledge as the property ‘Guru’. It’s also a good place for us to interact with users of our site.”
 
SOCIAL: Another major player in the property expo industry is Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association (REHDA), organisers of Malaysia Property Expo (MAPEX). “We have organised property expos for almost 14 years and millions of home buyers have bought and benefited from MAPEX. We also see it as part of REHDA’s social responsibility to educate consumers. Property investors must buy with proper knowledge. Market intelligence is a critical factor, and ignorance is why many property investors get caught up in bad decision-making. Our advice to visitors to these expos is to ask as many questions as possible, in terms of prices, track records, features, financing etc. It is also a good opportunity for developers to obtain feedback from buyers,” says Datuk Ng Seing Liong, Chairman of MAPEX organising committee.
 
INSIGHTS: “On top of browsing through a showcase of properties, visitors can also gain personal insights from experts. For example, at the PropertyGuru Property Showcase we have an “Ask Guru Lounge” for visitors to speak to industry experts on market trends, legal matters, interior design ideas and property investment tips,” Thoe, the acting country manager reveals. “Visitors will also benefit from the variety of property showcased, various on-site promotions, product launches etc.”
 
VENUES: “All our iProperty.com Expo venues are carefully selected to deliver the best results, which satisfy the requirements of exhibitors and at the same time make it easy for consumers to visit the expos with ample parking, easy access to public transportation and most importantly a big enough venue that will offer our developers the space to showcase their developments,” Di Gregorio elaborates, adding that their expos throughout the years have been held at Mid Valley Convention Centre, Sunway Pyramid and also Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre. “The response has always been overwhelming,” reveals the man responsible for the rise of iProperty Malaysia.
 
PropertyGuru’s Thoe also concurs on some of these popular venues. He says that The Gardens Hotel / Mid Valley venue is strategically located between Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya. The popular MidValley Mall is a strong factor in achieving huge pull traffic to the event. Thoe adds that KLCC’s halls are reasonably affordable, in a high traffic area with ease of access via LRT, buses and taxis. There is also the fact that KLCC gives exhibitors exclusivity by blocking out events of the same kind one month prior and one month after the respective events.
 
COMPARE: “Booths can vary from as low as RM2,000 to as high as RM40,000, depending on add-ons and other services provided for the expo. Take-up rate depends a lot on variables such as the type of events, location of the events, target demographics etc,” according to Thoe. His estimate of the demographics of those who generally attend property expos is those in the age range of 30-55 years old, first home buyers, property investors and foreign buyers.
 
Datuk Ng who is also the immediate past president of REHDA notes that those who attend REHDA’s expos come from all walks of life. “From a home owner’s point of view, now is the best time to buy when the market is relatively quiet. It’s not advisable for home buyers to have a herd mentality and rush out to buy simply because others are doing so. Coming to MAPEX doesn’t mean you have to buy property on that day. Come and look booth by booth. Go through every detail and compare prices. Look at land and built-up areas, facilities etc. Look out for value for money and return factors such as yields and rentals,” adds Datuk Ng.
 
BRANDING: In a crowded market, the importance of branding cannot be underestimated. “The iProperty.com Malaysia brand has successfully emerged as the preferred marketing partner for developers and trusted voice in all things property-related for consumers. Since our humble beginnings, we have grown from strength to strength,” says Di Gregorio. “Strong branding certainly helps accelerate and promote the expos further, which is why we ensure that there is enough exposure via the placement of billboards, buntings, print ads, and online ads to promote our expos to consumers.”
 
PropertyGuru’s Thoe couldn’t agree more. “Strong branding is crucial. Our branding has always been very focused towards us being the Property Expert in the industry. We have a strong focus on providing information on all things property to our users.”
 
TRENDS: “The property market is continuously evolving with new developers emerging. As such, to build brand presence and promote their developments, they are actively participating in property expos,” reveals iProperty’s Di Gregorio.
 
Thoe affirms that there are definitely more players in the market these days with various kinds of property expos. “There are big-scale property expos tying with home and living products, some are tying up with other investment opportunities like gold and palm oil estate while there are also the small-scale ones like ours which are more targeted and focused towards property itself. Ultimately, even with more players in the industry, the quality of the events is key differentiators while brands will also play an important role in the success of those events,” he points out.
 
HOLISTIC: On the idea of a one-stop property trading and resource centre including a permanent exhibition hall, Thoe remarks that throughout the course of PropertyGuru‘s operations in Malaysia over the last year or so, it is observable that prospective property investors are most inclined towards a ‘centre‘ that is as holistic as possible when it comes to products (types of property), services (availability of negotiators/agents) and information (news, guides).
 
“The key word here would be ‘convenience‘ and much like how PropertyGuru.com.my is a comprehensive portal for anybody who wants to buy, sell, rent or even just learn more about property, a one-stop property trading and resources centre would be most beneficial for the public and investors,” the Marketing Head says. “However, while the purpose of such a centre is justifiable, its potential can only be maximised if the centre’s functionality can be sustained in the long run with sufficient maintenance and consistent quality in offerings (events and activities ).”
 
OVERSEAS: “PropertyGuru Malaysia is still new in the market. Our challenge is to build developers’ confidence in us. Fortunately, we have a group of major developers who are supporting us after seeing the growth in our portal and witnessing the success in our overseas events, for example Malaysia Property Showcase held in Singapore,” says Thoe.
 
Datuk Ng notes that attracting more foreign property developers is a strategic direction for the future of MAPEX. “This is part of our plan to make MAPEX a central showcase for foreign property developers. For foreign investors, this will be very beneficial in terms of saving their time, effort and costs. For example, if an investor from, say, Singapore or Vietnam wants to view a potential property in London, they won’t have to fly all the way to England. They can lock MAPEX date in their calendars instead. This also gives Malaysian investors more choices as they are already buying foreign properties to diversify their portfolios,” he says.
 
Going forward, the organising chairman of MAPEX plans to make the expo a one-stop expo centre that covers all matters related to home purchase including home services, building materials and related professionals. Datuk Ng foresees bigger participation of foreign exhibitors and visitors in the years to come as globalisation makes cross border property purchases more common.

Property expos provide local and international developers a convenient avenue to exhibit their prized developments.

Visitors attending property expos come from all walks of life.

Thoe ... To gain brand awareness, share knowledge and interact with users.

Datuk Ng ... Property investors should purchase with knowledge and market intelligence.

 


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