The success of Malaysia’s property market today is due in part to a number of economic factors that you will need to be aware of when considering your investment.
Malaysia is one of the fastest growing economies in the region and last year the property market enjoyed capital growth figures of between 15 and 30%.
City investment, particularly in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, is booming due to a wave of direct foreign investment from China, the US and Japan. A surge in economic activity (predicted increase in worker numbers to 27.9% by 2013 over a 10 year period) has brought with it a high demand for quality commercial and residential real estate lettings serving a growing expatriate community employed in and around the city. Off-plan properties are selling to international property developers and attract some impressive guaranteed rental yields of between six and ten percent.
The government has introduced a number of tax and legal initiatives aimed at easing the process of foreign property investment into the country and attracting more investors. Contrary to former strict rulings for permission from the Economic Planning Unit, foreign nationals can now buy properties worth more than 250,000 ringgit (71,429 dollars) without prior approval. "The new step is aimed at drawing foreign investors to buy residential units in the high-end category and is expected to bring about positive changes to the property and construction sectors," says a statement from the prime minister's office.
Other incentives include tax advantages such as remittances of income from overseas going tax free. Car import duties and some other taxes are waived for foreign residents and capital gains tax is not charged on property owned for more than 5 years.
Real estate in Malaysia is high quality and very low cost compared with many other locations. Due to the high value of the local currency, the ringgit (MYR), property is valued below the euro, dollar and British pound and foreign investors buying into Malaysia are finding their money goes a very long way. Meanwhile, property per square metre in all Malaysian towns, cities and resorts is selling at a fraction of the cost of similar properties cities such as or New York or London.
Correspondingly low buying costs at between 3.4 to 6.75% of the property value, including 2.75% agent’s commission (for first MYR 500,000) are an added attraction to property investment in Malaysia.
Spending power in general for foreigners is strong and the relatively low cost of living allows for good quality living at a fraction of the cost “back home”, eg. petrol is 25p per litre and cigarettes are 90p per packet.
The quality and beauty of the property currently on offer in Malaysia is high and therefore it is high in rental demand. A growing tourist industry is boosting rental investments and allowing high yields of around 7.4 to 8.7% in the city and a little less in the popular tourist resorts, such as Port Dickson.
Malaysia figures among the top three countries for the greatest number of tourist arrivals among the 53 Commonwealth countries, according to the World Tourism Organisation. In 2005 Malaysia welcomed some 16.5 million tourists, representing an increase of more than 160% between 2000 and 2005 – all good news for today’s investors in tourist resorts who seek strong buy-to-let investment potential.
In addition, quality property is high in demand from affluent expatriates. Chinese investors are already very active in the market and this trend is expected to grow.
Malaysia is easy and cheap to reach with 25 flights arriving per week from UK, starting at only £285. In addition, Malaysia is well served by low cost regional flights on Air Asia to major S.E. Asian cities, creating easy access for a growing influx of tourists.
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