Different types of properties and houses in Malaysia


Whether as an investment or for own use, there are different types of properties and houses in Malaysia for buyers to choose from.

Property prices differ depending on the size, type, and location. Landed property, especially in the Klang Valley, costs more than units in a high-rise development. Traditionally, landed property in Malaysia usually comes with its individual (freehold or leasehold) title. However, due to the growing demand for gated-and-guarded communities, many new developments come with strata titles. This means that the common areas and facilities within the development are cared for by the Joint Management Body (JMB) or the Management Corporation (MC) and residents have to pay a monthly maintenance charge.

Not just that, it is also important to know and to understand the Housing Development Act (HDA), as well as the differences between a residential and a commercial title. Property buyers and owners need to be aware of the law that can protect their legal rights and interest. This is because HDA protects the buyers’ interest from future disputes between the developer and the property purchaser. On top of that, HDA will also fight on behalf of residents when the property is abandoned and help resolve conflicts between developers and buyers.

We take a look at the different types of properties and houses in Malaysia.


1. Bungalow

© Katarzyna Białasiewicz/ 123RF

The bungalows are the creams of the crop when it comes to landed property. The units are surrounded by land without an adjacent unit (standalone), offering privacy and luxury. The bungalows are most likely purchased by quite well-to-do owners for their use or those hoping for capital appreciation.

  • The typical built-up size for a bungalow varies from 2,000 sf – 12, 500 sf. Nevertheless, the built-up size can stretch, making it one of the biggest residential options.
  • The bungalow prices vary greatly depending on location and land area. Many townships offer ready-built bungalow units but in areas like Country Heights in Kajang and Tropicana in Petaling Jaya.
  • You will find that most of the bungalows are unique as each one is designed and built from scratch by owners on land sold by the developers.
  • The property is surrounded by a garden, parking area, and a large plot of land.

2. Semi-Detached (Semi-D)

Semi-D houses at Batu Ferringhi, Penang. © Nalidsa Sukprasert/ gettyimages

Semi-detached houses, or more commonly known as Semi-Ds, are identical houses that share a common wall with its neighbour.

  • The typical built-up size ranged from 2,300 sf – 5,600 sf
  • Semi-D houses have a strip of open land on one side, front and the back of the house. While not as luxurious or glamorous as a bungalow, the Semi-Ds still offers a degree of privacy and space.
  • This property type is protected by HDA due to its residential title.

3. Terrace/ Link/ Superlink 

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© 123rf

Terrace, Link and Superlink houses are units that are built side by side, thus sharing walls with units on both sides. They can be either one- or two-storey units. The corner lots of terrace houses usually have a bigger land area with open land on the side, giving it the feel of a semi-detached unit. These houses are practically the same but differ in sizes. These properties are protected by HDA due to their residential titles.

  • Terrace house

    • A terrace house has the smallest built-up size compared to the Link and Superlink houses.
    • The typical built-up size ranged from 750 sf  – 1,600 sf.
    • Terrace houses are ideal for first-time homebuyers or those looking to upgrade from highrise houses to a landed one as they often come with a lower price tag.
    • Those looking to rent out their homes should also consider terrace houses as tenants prefer a decent rental rate and easier maintenance of the property.
  • Link house

    • Link houses are bigger than terrace houses in terms of built-up, land area and proportions.
  • Superlink house

    • The Superlink house has the biggest built-up size.
    • It is also the fanciest and the most expensive version of a terrace house.
    • The unit usually comes with five to six bedrooms.
    • The typical built-up size ranged from 2, 083 sf – 2, 600 sf.

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4. Townhouse

© Sura Nualpradid/ 123RF

Townhouses typically consist of two houses staggered within one-two- or three-storey buildings, looking like terrace houses from the outside. They are essentially an ultra-upmarket terrace house.

  • The typical size ranged from 560 sf – 7, 000 sf.
  • Some units share the same entrance and porch area while some have separate entrances, either at the front, back or side by side.
  • Layouts may also vary.
  • Some two-storey units are separated so that each owner has one level of space, while three-storey units could be partitioned so that each owner owns a floor and a half each.
  • In more matured areas like Bangsar or Sri Hartamas, you can find townhouses within a regular landed residential area, whereas in the newer developments townhouses are built within a gated and guarded community with landscaping and amenities like a clubhouse.
  • These units are ideal for families who want to live together, such as young families and their parents, while still having their own private spaces. The main disadvantage of townhouses is that you might end up with a neighbour you do not like.
  • This property type is protected by HDA due to its residential title.

5. Penthouse

© Christian Nitz / 123RF

Penthouses are bigger units located on the top floor of condominiums or serviced residences. These units are often dubbed as a bungalow in the sky due to their spacy built-up sizes. Usually, it takes up the entire floor (or even two floors) of the building.

  • The typical built-up size ranged from 1, 000 sf to 5, 000 sf.
  • These units offer maximum luxury and space with breathtaking views – together with breathtaking prices due to the floor space.
  • Some units would even have their private swimming pools and private lift lobbies.
  • Some of the most expensive penthouses in Klang Valley is Tijani in Bukit Tunku and Pavillion Damansara Heights.

6. Condominium/ Serviced Residence

© Liyao Xie/ gettyimages

These home units are built within a high-rise building and all residents share the common areas like the lobby and swimming pool.  Each unit typically comes with a designated parking lot, with options to buy or rent more. Not just that, the property will be protected by the HDA if it falls under the residential title.

  • Condominium 

    • The typical size ranged from  650 sf – 1, 500 sf.
    • The layout of a condominium unit varies from three bedrooms to four bedrooms.
    • This type of dwelling is popular among homebuyers because of the round-the-clock security and amenities like swimming pool, gymnasium, children’s playground, and event spaces.
    • Residents are required to pay monthly maintenance fees, service charges and sinking funds.
    • Taller buildings may offer a better view but it also means that the property has a higher density (more units and occupants).
    • Residents can apply for a strata title.
  • Serviced residence

    • While condominiums usually come with the residential title, the serviced residences are upscale commercial units and managed like a hotel.
    • The residents are paying higher utility bills, rent, and maintenance fee since the properties are on commercial land.
    • These residential units are essentially fancier compared to condominiums.
    • The units are also fully furnished and are suitable for both short and long term rental.
    • The rental fee covers all facilities and amenities like housekeeping, main lobby, the front desk concierge and security.
    • Serviced residences are not eligible for Syabas water tariff migration programme.
    • Some serviced residences are attached to malls.

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7. Duplex/ Studio

© gettyimages

These units are suitable for young individuals who enjoy complete privacy. Their proximity to the city and major transportation links makes them ideal for regular commuters. These properties also suit a single individual or couple as the layouts aren’t ideal for families.

  • Duplex

    • Duplex, also know as Loft is a double-storey unit within a highrise residential building
    • The single bedroom will be on the second floor.
    • The typical size ranged from 450 sf to 950 sf.
  • Studio

    • It is a single room residential unit.
    • The bedroom, kitchen and living room are spread over a single floor.
    • The design is usually an open layout.
    • These residential properties are often located in a central location.

8. Apartment/ Flat

© 123RF

These properties are the lower spectrum of the highrise. Apartments are similar to condominiums but slightly less glamorous and without top amenities, while flats are the cheapest as the units are smaller in size compared to condominiums and apartments.

  • Apartment

    • They will still have basic facilities like parking spaces and 24-hour security.
    • Apartments make for good starter homes because of the lower prices. The maintenance fees and service charges will also be lower than that of condominiums.
    • Apartments located near LRT or along the MRT stations are good options for the rental market.
    • The typical build-up size ranged from 550 sf – 1, 200 sf.
  • Flat

    • Flats have very simple designs and often do not have balconies.
    • Taller buildings have elevators while there are also four- to five-storey buildings that only have stairs (which is not a bad option since flats in Malaysia are not always well maintained and elevators break down regularly).
    • Car parks in flats are usually not designated and often inadequate, resulting in cars double-parked within the compound and also along surrounding roads.
    • Most government-owned flats in Malaysia are meant for the lower-income group and buyers must meet certain requirements, usually a monthly household income of less than RM 2,500 if they want to apply to purchase the flats.
    • The People’s Housing Project (PPR, or Program Perumahan Rakyat) under the purview of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government cost between RM 30,000 and RM 35,000.
    • These units measure around 70o sf and typically consist of three-bedroom homes.

9. SoHo/ SoVo/ SoFo

© Katarzyna Białasiewicz/ 123RF

These highrise properties integrate offices into residential homes. The units are commonly located in commercial areas. The utility bills and charges are pricier as they are charged based on a commercial tariff.

  • SoHo

    • SoHo or small office home office is a one- or two-room unit within a strata building.
    • It can be used either as a home, an office or both.
    • Most SoHo also has typical condominium facilities like swimming pools and gyms.
    • The units comprise a living room, bedroom, and a fully-fitted bathroom.
    • The typical built-up size ranged from 500 sf – 1, 200 sf.
    • SoHo is protected by the HDA as it fits the definition of a housing accommodation.
    • The owners are also entitled to the RPGT exemption.
  • SoVo

    • It stands for small office versatile office
    • SoVo units are usually equipped with business facilities.
    • The units are usually favoured by start-up companies.
    • SoVo’s layout is similar to SoFo but it can only be used for commercial purposes.
    • It falls under the commercial title and is not protected by the HDA jurisdiction.
    • The size is ranged from 400 sf – 800 sf.
  • SoFo

    • It stands for small office flexible office.
    • The units offer flexibility as the layout does not have partitions.
    • The owners or tenants can modify the units according to their preferences.
    • It can be used as an office, home or both.
    • It falls under the commercial title and is not protected by the HDA jurisdiction.

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10. Shophouse

Shophouses are single units of two- or three-storey shops within a commercial area. The ground floor units are often used as restaurants, banks or retail outlets. The upper floors are sometimes used as residential homes, usually by the owners of the businesses downstairs or as dormitories for their workers. Shophouses in busy areas like Bangsar or SS2 in Petaling Jaya can command higher rents. This property usually carries a commercial title and is not protected by the HDA jurisdiction.

11. Mixed Development 

© Chee Gin Tan/ gettyimages

A mixed development integrates residential and commercial purposes under one roof. The building consists of residential units, business area, and office spaces.

  • The typical mix places residential units on the upper levels and retail or offices at lower and street levels.
  • Some mixed developments are connected to an underground train station or via a walkway.
  • This concept has already mushroomed across the Klang Valley and Selangor area.  The KL Gateway and Solaris Dutamas are some examples of mixed development.
  • The mixed development often falls under the commercial title thus it is beyond the HDA jurisdiction.

With so many options to choose from, a lot of factors come into play when deciding on the type of property to buy. If it is your stay, location and size would be the main concerns. If it is for rental, the main consideration would be the rental returns. To help you get started, use iProperty.com.my’s search function to browse through available property based on your preferred location, size and price range.

Edited by Rebecca Hani Romeli


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