KK Wong, Chief Executive Officer of UMLand Seri Austin shares his strategies on how he transformed a once bare land in Johor in 2005 to a multi-award winning development called Seri Austin, home to D’Lagoon
By Khalil Adis
Mention Seri Austin and the first thing that will come to mind is its charismatic and unassuming CEO KK Wong who has become the face of this multi-award winning township development.
Having swept more than 60 awards since 2013 for its innovative township development, he recently scored a major coup in July when Seri Austin bagged two major awards at the inaugural The Iskandar Malaysia Accolades (TIMA) 2016/2017 for “Corporate Value Champion” and the “Overall Value Champion” – a testimony of his vision and strong leadership.
At the recently concluded PropertyGuru Malaysia Real Estate Summit panel session, he shared his winning strategies that have helped transformed Seri Austin into one of the most liveable & sustainable township in Iskandar Malaysia and weather the challenges in the property market.
Here’s his five key takeaways as shared last week:
#1: Correct pricing for the correct market
“If you build homes that are priced below RM500,000, it can move in the current market. At Seri Austin, we are doing something really affordable,” he said.
Indeed, the oversupply situation in Iskandar Malaysia is a major concern whereby there are many unsold medium to high-end homes but where there are no buyers.
On the other hand, there is strong pent-up demand for affordable homes but where supply is lacking.
To address this, the luxury apartment units and the three-storey villa units will be priced starting from RM520 per sq ft and RM315 per sq ft respectively for phase one of its launch.
Meanwhile, the indicative quantum price for the luxury apartment and three-storey villa units will start from around RM420,000 and RM820,000 for both respectively.
#2: Build according to market demand
“We have to cater to what the market wants. Developers will have to lower down their profits to move or clear their inventories. For big township players, their developments are long term and as such they could control the type of products and the volume to be launched” he said.
D’Lagoon is one such product that although is positioned as luxury, is made affordable thanks to innovations in construction technology and the use of sustainable development methods.
Collectively, they have helped to reduce its construction costs.
#3: Product differentiation
“We not only sell houses but we create a healthy lifestyle and conducive living township development where you can raise your families. For this, we have undertaken various Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes with the Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA),” he said.
Indeed, in 2014 Seri Austin was recognised as the first urban community to be selected for the 1st Smart Healthy City and Community township in Iskandar Malaysia. The township development features dedicated cycling lanes, pedestrian pathways, and two recreation parks. The two parks are believed to be the first of such parks in Iskandar Malaysia that has been gazetted as smoke-free parks.
#4: Support government’s housing policy
“The Johor government is taking the lead to solve the demand-supply mismatch in affordable housing” he said.
To support the government’s initiative, D’Lagoon has been priced attractively as mentioned earlier.
In addition, UMLand is offering an attractive financial package designed to ease home ownership for first-time home buyers.
#5: Build infrastructure and bring in property boosters
“We are the first township that had signed an agreement with Telekom Malaysia to provide HSBB (High Speed Broadband) Unifi whereby purchasers will get free internet for two years.
Our vision for the next 10 years – Iskandar Malaysia will be a very vibrant place as we will soon have Paradigm Mall JB, IKEA Tebrau, Forest City plus other important infrastructure developments such as High Speed Rail (HSR), RTS (Rapid Transit System) as well as the BRT (Bus Rapid Transit)” he said.
Additionally, there are plenty of amenities within the vicinity including AEON Dato’ Onn, AEON Tebrau City, The Store, Tesco and the upcoming IKEA as well as the upcoming KPJ Specialist Hospital.
In January 2017, Seri Austin scored a major milestone with the opening of ‘The Pasar’, a mid-end grocer selling fresh produce to better serve the needs of residents.
The area is also home to a number of established educational institutions such as Fairview International School, KFCH College and Sunway College.
Seri Austin is also home to a number of convenience stores, supermarkets, banking services, restaurants and business centres.