Medini Iskandar housing project attracts huge demand

[SINGAPORE] Close to 1,600 applications were put in for the 147 units at Afiniti Residences in Medini, within the Iskandar region in Johor, notwithstanding a tax-rate hike on foreign property owners that the state plans to unveil by the end of the year.

Singaporeans made up nearly a third of the 1,570 expression-of-interest applications for the residential component of the Afiniti Medini project, developed by Pulau Indah Ventures, a 50:50 joint venture between Khazanah Nasional and Temasek.

Malaysians made up 60 per cent of total applications, with the remaining registrants from countries including Indonesia, South Korea and Britain.

Johnny Chng, head of the international projects department at OrangeTee, said that investors were drawn by the Khazanah and Temasek names. “And I would say that probably this will be one of those very iconic projects which have this kind of response.”

The entire Afiniti Medini development will comprise five components with a total of 700,000 square feet of gross floor area when completed in 2015.

These include: a wellness centre, a 33-storey Somerset Medini Iskandar serviced apartment, a corporate training centre, a retail component and the 21-storey Afiniti Residences. It is one of two landmark wellness developments, along with Avira which is also in Medini, unveiled by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak in February this year.

Mr Chng also said the ratio between Singaporean and Malaysian investors for Afiniti Residences was a good development, as it is a sign of local support from other states, which indicates a recognition of the potential of Iskandar.

Roslina Arbak, general manager for Pulau Indah Ventures, expects about 30 per cent of Afiniti Residences to be owner-occupied.

“We are encouraged by the overwhelming response to the residences,” she said yesterday.

The strong interest from Singaporeans came despite news over the weekend that tax rates will go up on about 130,000 foreign property owners in the state. Ninety per cent of foreign property owners in Johor were reported to be Singaporeans.

“I think it will not deter them from investing,” Mr Chng said. “It probably will just more or less slow down the investment pace, and it will be a short-term one.”

To that end, Ms Roslina said that no applicants for Afiniti Residences have enquired about the pending tax-rate change, which will be introduced by the end of the year.

Consultants have said that they do not expect Singaporean interest in properties in Johor to be tempered by the tax changes, in part due to the price gap that still exists between properties in the two regions and that they do not expect drastic changes.

Prices for the 147 units at Afiniti Residences, marketed as premium homes, range from RM850 (S$344) to RM1,000 per square foot (psf).

This works out to prices that start from below RM500,000 to a maximum of less than one million ringgit for the apartments, which range from studio apartments to 2+1 bedroom (two bedroom plus one study) units.

Foreigners are exempt from a minimum purchase of RM500,000 and above for properties in Medini Iskandar, which otherwise applies in Johor and across Malaysia. In Penang, the minimum price is one million ringgit.

There is also no quota on the number of units that must be set aside for bumiputeras in Medini Iskandar.

Balloting for the units at Afiniti Residences will take place this Saturday, starting with registrants in the morning before catering to the public in the afternoon. Bulk purchases are not allowed.


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