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Fully furnished vs Partially furnished vs Unfurnished property: What is the difference?


In Malaysia, you can rent or buy homes – houses, condo units, apartments or flats – that are unfurnished, partially furnished or fully furnished. We describe what can be found in each property type, their respective pros and cons and which option would suit you best.

© dfrsce / 123RF

There are many factors that you should consider before deciding on a furnished, partially furnished or unfurnished unit, such as: Is this for long-term or short-term? Am I renting or buying? Am I buying for my own use or investment? Who are my potential tenants? Do I want to buy my own furniture? Am I fussy about my furniture and appliances?

Let’s start by finding out what the different terms mean.

What is the meaning of a fully furnished property?

A fully furnished property basically has everything you need to move in with just your luggage (and some kitchenware).

What does a fully furnished property include?

Fully furnished units will have built-in cabinets, electrical appliances, furniture, lighting fixtures and curtains. At most, you will only need kitchenware and beddings to start living in the unit.

Some of the basic items in fully furnished units include:

  • built-in or free-standing cabinets and wardrobes
  • lighting fixtures
  • living room set (sofas, armchairs and coffee tables)
  • dining tables and chairs
  • bed frames (with or without mattresses)
  • curtains

Electrical appliances typically include:

  • air-conditioning and/or fans
  • refrigerator
  • television
  • washing machine (some units tend to be without this for hygiene reasons)

Pros of buying or renting a fully-furnished property

  • You can just move into the unit without having to buy furniture and appliances.
  • You save time and effort by not having to purchase furniture and appliances. This is especially true for first-time buyers or upgraders who do not want to deal with that hassle.
  • A brand new furnished unit from a developer is cheaper to buy a brand new furnished unit from the property developer because they get better prices for bulk purchases of the furniture and appliances.
  • Fully furnished new units from developers are usually designed by reputable interior designers.
  • Investors looking to rent out their properties can immediately do so the moment they obtain vacant possession. They will also find it easier to rent out a fully furnished unit and charge a higher rental.
  • For renters, moving in and out is easy because you don’t have to deal with bulky items.
  • Renters have the flexibility to uproot and move easily whenever they wish to relocate to a new area or property. They won’t have to deal with packing, hiring moving companies and dealing with potential furniture damage.

Cons of buying or renting a fully-furnished property

  • You cannot personalise your space and there could be items included that you do not need. Some first-time homebuyers would prefer to furnish and customise their first home themselves.
  • If buying furnished units from property developers, your interior design will mostly look like your neighbour’s.
  • The quality and design of the furniture, fixtures and appliances might not be up to your standards.
  • If you are upgrading your home and already own furniture in your current home, you will not have space to bring those with you.
  • If it is a subsale unit or rented property, the items will very likely have been used by the previous homeowner or tenant and could be damaged, frayed or unclean.
  • If you are renting a furnished property, you have to be careful not to damage the items because it will incur costs to you. Any items which are destroyed by a pet or child will need to be replaced or repaired.

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What is a partially furnished property?

© kzenon/ 123RF

A partially furnished unit usually comes with the bare minimum and you will still need to get your own furniture and appliances. Items that are typically included in a partially furnished unit are:

  • basic lighting fixtures
  • built-in or free-standing cabinets and wardrobes
  • bulky appliances such as air-conditioner and refrigerator
  • curtains

Pros of buying or renting a partially furnished property

  • You can personalise your living space with your own furniture.
  • If you are a first-time homebuyer or an upgrader, you save on renovation to install cabinets, air-conditioning and light fixtures.
  • If you are upgrading your home, you can reduce costs by bringing in furniture and appliances from your existing home.
  • Investors who are renting out their homes can cater to a wider range of renters by adding in furniture if renters prefer a furnished home.
  • Renters who have purchased selected furniture such as mattresses and sofas will find this type of property a great fit. Many Malaysians prefer to select certain furniture themselves to suit their requirements but are not as fussy when it comes to electrical appliances such as washing machines, refrigerators and TV.

Cons of buying or renting a partially furnished property

  • The quality and design of the items might not be up to your standards.
  • You have to spend money and time to furnish your unit.
  • Buyers and renters will have to transport their furniture and appliances when they move in or out of the property.

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What is an unfurnished or bare unit property?

The terms bare and unfurnished are used interchangeably in Malaysia. In some countries, a bare unit means the bare minimum – without even wall finishes, tiles, fixtures and electrical wirings – but these are rarely seen in Malaysia. Instead, bare units typically mean having no light fixtures, built-in cabinets, appliances and furniture.

Pros of buying or renting an unfurnished unit

  • You have a free hand to design your living space and choose your own furniture and appliances, especially for first-time buyers who want to customise their first homes.
  • If you are upgrading your home, you can reduce costs by bringing in furniture and appliances from your existing home.
  • You don’t have to use furniture and appliances that have been used by other people.
  • Rental rates are lower for bare units, which is good for renters but not as attractive for a property investor.

Cons of buying or renting an unfurnished unit

  • You need to spend time and money to furnish your home, including sourcing for reliable contractors.
  • For investors, bare units might be harder to rent out than a fully furnished suite and generate less rental income.
  • Buyers and renters will have to go through the hassle of packing and transporting their furniture and appliances when they move in or out of the property.

Furnished vs Unfurnished unit price difference

© hiv360/ 123RF

Obviously, the cost of purchasing or renting a fully furnished property is higher than a partially furnished unit or unfurnished unit. The difference in pricing can vary greatly by property type, but typically a fully furnished property will cost more than its other two counterparts.

Take Tivoli Villas in Bangsar as an example – a fully furnished 1,096 sq ft apartment costs RM900,00 whereas a partially furnished 1,076 sq ft apartment costs RM850,000 or 5.56% cheaper. Meanwhile, an unfurnished 1,000 sq ft apartment is 18.22% cheaper at RM736,000.

Do take note that for subsale property especially, the price difference very much depends on how well furnished the unit is, the extent of renovations done by the previous owner as well as the orientation of the property and which floor it is located on if it’s a strata property.

To help refine your property research, do check out the latest transaction data for residential properties across Malaysia here (last 12 months): Transaction Price.

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Should I buy a furnished, partially furnished or unfurnished unit?

There are several factors to consider before deciding on buying a furnished, partially furnished or unfurnished unit. According to Senior Real Estate Negotiator Cruz Looi from Kith & Kin Realty, first-time buyers or those upgrading their homes should consider bare or partially furnished units.

Cruz Looi
Cruz Looi, Senior REN, Kith & Kin Realty

“They can buy their own furniture and style the home the way they want it. Unless they have the time and money to spend on renovation, I recommend going for partially furnished units that come with built-in cabinets and light fixtures. The cost to install these can be quite high. With partially furnished units, you just need to get the loose furniture,” said Cruz.

One thing to also consider is whether the property is a new launch property or a subsale house. Buyers can at least be assured that the built-ins and furniture in new furnished units are brand new (and still under warranty) while those in a subsale home have been previously used.

He said property investors who are looking at renting out their units should go for fully furnished to save time and money on furnishing and renovation.

Should I rent a furnished, partially furnished or unfurnished unit?

Cruz said that the biggest advantage of renting an unfurnished or bare unit is that the rental rates will be lower. In the Mont Kiara area where he specialises, the price difference between a furnished and unfurnished 2-bedroom 1,000 sq ft apartment can range from RM800 to RM1,000 per month.

“If you plan to stay there long term, you probably would have already considered buying your own furniture so a bare unit could save you money in the long run,” he said.

Those who have their own loose furniture or prefer to buy their own to suit their taste can consider renting partially furnished units so they won’t have to spend too much on built-ins and fixtures.

He added that individuals, small families or those renting short-term (one to two years) should consider fully-furnished units to save themselves the trouble of getting furniture and appliances.

“Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, more people (both expatriates and locals) prefer fully furnished units. With the economic uncertainties, it is easier for them to just pack up and leave if they need to without having to worry about the bulky items,” he said.

Should property investors rent out a furnished, partially furnished or unfurnished property?

© Hafiz Ismail | 123rf

If you are an investor deciding whether to rent out your apartment furnished, partially furnished or unfurnished, you need to consider the size and location of the unit.

“Smaller units tend to attract short-term renters, working professionals and small families and they prefer fully furnished units. It is better to rent out bigger units and landed homes partially furnished, with just built-ins and light fixtures because renters tend to be families who have their own furniture. These renters also tend to prefer decorating their homes themselves, so many landlords won’t even include curtains,” said Cruz.

He said property located near colleges or universities, regardless of unit size, tend to attract more student renters so it makes more sense to rent it out fully furnished.

Should I sell my home fully furnished?

What does selling a house fully furnished mean? You are selling your house lock, stock, barrel with everything including the built-ins, fixtures, furniture and appliances.

As with everything, there are pros and cons of selling your property fully furnished. The biggest advantage of doing this is that you will not have to bother with moving or disposing of your loose furniture. This will be the best option for people who are moving into another fully furnished home, buying new furniture or relocating to another country.

However, Cruz cautioned that there is a downside to doing this.

“Buyers tend to assume that the cost of furnishing has been factored into the price of the property. They will feel like they got the short end of the bargain if they do not want the furniture or if the furniture is in bad condition.

“The other problem with selling a house fully furnished is that buyers viewing the house often find it harder to picture their own furniture in the house and how they envision it to be. This will negatively affect their impression of the house,” said Cruz.

So if the furniture is more than five years old and is showing signs of wear and tear, it might be better to just get rid of the furniture before selling the property.

Sellers should also consider the type and location of their property if they want to sell it fully furnished. Buyers of bigger condo units or landed property tend to prefer bare or partially furnished units.

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How to price a furnished home?

If there are a lot of built-ins in a home or your loose furniture is fairly new, you can price your property slightly higher.

Using a 2-bedroom, 1,000 square feet condominium as an example, Cruz said that renovation works typically cost around RM70,000 to RM80,000.

“After you factor in depreciation, you can add in about RM40,000 to RM50,000 to the property price but this will also depend on the type and condition of the furniture,” he said.

Tax implications of selling a house fully furnished

One of the other benefits of selling a house fully furnished is that you can deduct the cost of renovation from the property selling price when calculating how much Real Property Gains Tax (RPGT) you have to pay.

According to the Real Property Gains Tax Act 1976, any incidental costs incurred in disposing of the property can be deducted from chargeable gain to calculate RPGT, find out more here: Real Property Gains Tax (RPGT) 2023 in Malaysia

Disclaimer: The information is provided for general information only. Malaysia Sdn Bhd makes no representations or warranties in relation to the information, including but not limited to any representation or warranty as to the fitness for any particular purpose of the information to the fullest extent permitted by law. While every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided in this article is accurate, reliable, and complete as of the time of writing, the information provided in this article should not be relied upon to make any financial, investment, real estate or legal decisions. Additionally, the information should not substitute advice from a trained professional who can take into account your personal facts and circumstances, and we accept no liability if you use the information to form decisions.

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