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Heavy S'pore scent at E&O Penang projects
Buyers from S'pore form largest group of foreigners at Quayside, Andaman
The Business Times - March 27, 2012
By: Cheah Ui-Hoon
SINGAPOREAN and Singapore-based buyers are leading the growing list of foreigners investing in Malaysian developer Eastern & Oriental Berhad's (E&O) properties in Penang, validating the company's move to set up a marketing office in Singapore two years ago. 'They make up the largest number of foreign buyers which comprise about 30 per cent for the Quayside and Andaman at Quayside,' says Eric Chan, deputy managing director of E&O. Seventy per cent of the apartments are still bought by Malaysians.
But the company is seeing an increase in foreign interest. 'They are coming in. We've attracted buyers from 13 nationalities now, like Bruneians. Penang is getting quite popular among foreign investors.'
The group launched Andaman at Quayside just a couple of weeks ago - the first of three blocks with 75 per cent seafacing suites. 'Response to the first tower with 169 units have been extremely positive, reaching close to 50 per cent take-up; with bookings still coming in,' says Mr Chan.
Quayside, on the other hand, which comprises four towers with 698 units is nearly 85 per cent sold since it was launched in 2010. The project will be completed in 2013.
The selling point of Andaman and Quayside is that the high-rises - all seven of them - stand on 21 acres of reclaimed land which has a comprehensive mixed development that includes bungalows and villas, a marina complex that includes retail, F&B outlets and an arts space.
The whole area is called Seri Tanjung Pinang. The condominiums will also have a 4.5-acre signature waterpark and clubhouse, surrounded by 6.9 acres of green by the sea.
'To have 21 acres of land to develop on Penang island is a luxury because it's very expensive for a developer to have that kind of land bank,' says Mr Chan, adding that land prices have risen sharply in Penang in the last three years.
As for the timing of its launch, given the market and economic uncertainties, Mr Chan says that even as developers might be holding back on launching projects, E&O is confident of its branding. 'Bulk purchases - where people buy a few units at once - have decreased, but people are still looking for property to buy.'
The Andaman, like the Quayside, is designed to meet investment needs and the demand for holiday homes - with built-up space of over 900 square feet to 4,755 sq ft. Prices start from RM1,000 (S$409) per sq ft which is quite steep by Penang and Malaysian standards.
One of the marketing angles for Penang is that one can 'switch zones' within minutes, because of the size and attractions of the island, says Mr Chan. 'That's the beauty of Penang - that you can wake up to a seaview, and be in a heritage city in just minutes; or go up the hill. All these different vistas and experiences are so accessible.'
Beyond selling property, the E&O group is also selling a lifestyle - and its Penang property is leading this charge, says Mr Chan. He sees Penang as on a par with other resort developments in the region such as Phuket and Bali. Selling a lifestyle is also the reason that the company has invested in the Delicious restaurant brand which saw RM50 million turnover from its eight outlets last year. The first Delicious restaurant outside of Malaysia opened in Singapore late last year - at Scotts Square.