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What is a townhouse in Malaysia? Is it worth buying?


You may have heard of a townhouse during your search for a property. In this article, we explain the facts about townhouses and why they could be a potentially good option for the right buyer.

© Sime Darby

There are many types of properties in Malaysia ranging from bungalows, semi-detached, and terraced houses to flats, apartments, and condominiums. A townhouse is just another variant among the mix of property types on the market and it is often the least understood. Some think that living in a townhouse means having to share the same living space with strangers. To add to the confusion, townhouses have different meanings in different countries.

Read on to find out what is a townhouse in Malaysia and what makes this type of property so unique.

What is a townhouse?

The history of townhouses in Malaysia dates back to the 17th-century colonial era during a time when it was more practical to build multi-storey houses on a small footprint to accommodate two or more families living under one roof. During Dutch colonial rule, property owners were taxed based on their property’s frontage width. That resulted in the development of row houses which had narrow front entrances but were long on the inside. These types of townhouse layouts are now heritage buildings that can be found in Penang, Melaka, and Ipoh.

As mentioned above, a townhouse has different meanings across the world. In the US and UK, a townhouse often refers to a detached home that’s attached to a multi-unit complex. They are between two and five stories high and can accommodate up to two families. On the contrary, a townhouse is created to look like a hybrid between a landed property and a high-rise apartment or condominium.

How are townhouses’ layouts designed? 

Designed to mirror the terrace house style, a townhouse is built with two houses stacking on top of each other and they’re usually three to four-storey high to incorporate two separate units within a single building.

Tenants who are living in the bottom floor unit have the convenience of entering the house through the main front door, however, the bottom units tend to be smaller in size. On the other hand, if you’re taking the top floor unit, you’ll get to enjoy a large space, but you’ll need to enter the house through the back door. A stairway will lead you to the top floor unit. The townhouse is designed in such a way as to give the ultimate privacy to each owner. This means that they have direct access to their own home without crossing each other’s paths.  

It’s also important to note that both bottom and top units do not share any of the interior space as each tenant lives in their designated area. However, some townhouse owners do share a garden and a car porch, so if you’re living in one, you might want to discuss the car park situation with the other tenant. Other than that, townhouse owners can also enjoy shared facilities like swimming pools and clubhouses. 

Townhouses in Malaysia are usually built in gated and guarded communities and their land titles can be either freehold or leasehold.

Are you interested to buy/invest in a townhouse? We have a wide range of selections just for you. Click here to find one that suits your needs.

🤔Find out the difference between a condominium and serviced apartment.
➡️Confused about the term sinking fund and maintenance fee? We’ve got you covered.

What are the benefits of living in a townhouse?

1. Strata title

Townhouses are generally less expensive compared with a similar private landed property because of the strata title which is a form of ownership issued for properties that are part of a more extensive development, cluster or scheme, like flats, condos, apartments and serviced residences.

The owner of a property with a strata title has to share the common facilities such as the swimming pool, gym and garden with fellow owners and is also responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the common facilities. This means each owner is obligated to pay for their share of the maintenance fee and sinking funds that as regulated under the Strata Management Act 2013. However, do note that a townhouse is relatively smaller than the other strata properties, so things like utility fees, maintenance fees and sinking funds will be much lower. With land becoming more expensive, especially in big cities, developers are finding it more practical to build townhouses and market them at lower prices.

2. Privacy

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t share any living spaces with the other owners in a townhouse. Townhouses in Malaysia are designed to allow each owner to have their own designated living space. This means that both you and your neighbour live in the same townhouse without meeting each other.

Unlike other high-rise properties, you don’t share the same entrance with the other occupants as both owners have their own access to their homes. The one occupying the bottom unit can access through the main front door, while the one living above would have to enter via a private back door with a staircase leading up to the second floor.  Residents living here can also enjoy the same privacy as those living in private landed properties and there is very little difference in lifestyle and environment.

3. Convenience

There are many affordably-priced townhouses that are located within easy access to transport hubs, shops, restaurants, schools and hospitals. These properties would be appealing to busy young executives and first-time buyers as they can enjoy a comfortable lifestyle without having to worry about mowing the lawn or repairing the roof, as all common areas are taken care of by a maintenance fund.

Some of the more upmarket townhouse projects have facilities and amenities that rival the best high-end condominiums but without the stress of a high-density living environment, making the townhouse even more exclusive and desirable. Townhouses are also highly appealing for large or multi-generation families with children and grandchildren living under one roof.

In some of the more upmarket gated and guarded townhouses, a clubhouse, swimming pool and landscape park may be part of the offering and this makes the property even more exclusive and appealing.

4. Close-knit community

If you like the idea of living in a close-knit community where you can socialise and get to know your neighbours, a townhouse may offer such an opportunity. It is comforting to know that you can sometimes let your children play with your neighbour’s kids while you are out doing groceries, for instance. In a private landed property, you basically drive into your own porch and enter your house without ever seeing your neighbour.

What are the disadvantages of living in a townhouse?

© kumikomini | Getty Images

1. Lack of privacy

Though you get to enjoy some form of privacy, a townhouse property is still not on par with private landed property. There will be some facilities that are shared, such as the main driveway or car porch. You are also out of luck if you have a nosy or unbearable neighbour as there is nothing much you can do about it.

2. Shared cost of maintenance

A townhouse owner is committed to paying for the upkeep and maintenance of the common property together with other owners. If there’s an issue with the property, you’d have to share the repair cost with the other owners, even though you’re not the one who caused it. For example, if the other owner damaged the house gate, you’d have to fork out money to repair it as you’re obliged to share the cost of repair. 

3. Limits to renovations

There is a limit as to what the owner can do in terms of renovations and alterations as this is restricted by the shared development agreement. On top of that, properties under strata titles are considered land parcels and they’re regulated under the Strata Management Act 2013 (in the Third Schedule).

This means the owner cannot change the layout or facade of the building – balconies, external windows, terraces, open areas and other exterior parts of the building –  without getting the approval of the Management Corporation (MC)The management has the right to disapprove any renovation works that you want to do to the building, including changing the facade or extending the living areas.

4. Limited facilities

Because there are fewer residents living in a townhouse development, the number of shared facilities is limited to reduce costs. In terms of choices on the market, townhouse projects have fewer facilities compared with other stratified properties like serviced apartments, condominiums, and apartments. In a typical high-rise complex, you’d get to enjoy things like a swimming pool, a lobby, a gym, a playground and others. While on the contrary, facilities in a townhouse community are only limited to a few like a clubhouse, park and swimming pool. 

5. Limited selections

As desirable as living in a townhouse, they are less popular in the market than the traditional stratified and landed properties. A quick search on reveals that there are only over 4,681 townhouses for sale and over 1,254 townhouses for rent. On the flip side, there are over 94,644 condos for sale and over 66,936 condos for rent in Malaysia. Not to mention, townhouses are only in demand in certain areas like Cheras, Sri Hartamas, Puchong and Shah Alam, making the search even more difficult.

Pros of living in a townhouseCons of living in a townhouse
They’re less expensive compared to landed properties because they have a strata titleYou won’t get complete privacy as you’ll be sharing the garden and car porch with the other occupants.
You have direct access to the house and do not share any living spaces with the other occupantsYou have to share the cost of maintenance for the house.
You can save cost on utility fees, maintenance fees and sinking funds.You have to get permits before doing any renovation work.
Most of them come equipped with facilities, some are even built near transportation hubs and shop lots.They have fewer facilities compared to other stratified high-rise properties.
You can form a close-knit community with your neighbours.They’re fewer selections as compared to the other property types in Malaysia.

Are townhouses better than condos?

As mentioned above, townhouse in Malaysia is unique because it has elements of both stratified and landed property. But does that mean that they’re better than a stratified property like a condominium? Let’s find out.

Townhouses may have more in common with condominium developments, where common facilities and amenities are shared and maintained by a sinking fund. The main difference is that there are fewer residents in a townhouse development, making it more exclusive and desirable for those who value privacy. Just like flats, apartments, or condominiums, townhouses are considered strata properties and they have strata land titles and are regulated under the Strata Management Act 2013. 

However similar those two property types are, they have their fair share of differences. First of all, those living in a townhouse do not share the same entrance as the other occupants, giving them utter privacy. This is the complete opposite of those living in other stratified high-rise complexes. Since there are fewer facilities in a townhouse, you can expect the maintenance fee, utility fee and sinking funds to be lower as well.

At the end of the day, it really depends on your wants and needs, as both properties come with their own pros and cons. If you can’t decide to choose one, then read on to find out if living in a townhouse is really the right choice for you.

Are townhouses suitable for you?

So, which homebuyer will suit a townhouse? iProperty sought out the views of Johanizam Mustakim, a Real Estate Negotiator from Propnex Realty Sdn. Bhd. Townhouses are for people who are looking for a middle ground between owning a private landed property and owning a condominium. It basically combines the best of both worlds.

Johanizam Mustakim

He narrowed it down to 5 types of home buyers who should consider townhouses:

  1. Home buyers who have a limited budget but want to stay in a landed house in an area near the city.
  2. First-time home buyers who have a family
  3. Home buyers who don’t mind being surrounded by neighbours.
  4. Home buyers who don’t want to be bound by the strict management rules of a condo or packed together with hundreds of other residents
  5. Buyers who do not want to fully bear the cost of maintenance & security.

Johanizam is also in favour of investing in townhouses. “They are alternatives to terraces and semi-detached houses. A lot of townhouses in the Klang Valley are even cheaper compared to the other two types mentioned despite being in the same area.

“In the Klang Valley, most townhouses are built in mature areas that have good facilities, amenities, and infrastructure and are suitable for family life. If the housing location has a public transport network such as MRT, LRT and KTM, it is very worthwhile as an investment. Rental demand is also high where the demand is mostly from tenants who want privacy with the landed concept,” he explained.

He also revealed that the median price for townhouses increases every year and that the supply of townhouses is limited as there are not many real estate developers developing townhouses in prime locations anymore. Therefore, investors will have the potential to get a comfortable rental yield (3% or more).

Discover properties for sale

Townhouses for sale/rent in Malaysia

Today, townhouses have gone upmarket with many units being sold for over a million Ringgit. If you’re also on the look for one, why not check out the most searched townhouses on iProperty between April and July 2023:

1. The Glades

The Glades is located at Putra Heights in Subang Jaya. You can get an upper-floor townhouse with 5 rooms and 3 bathrooms here for RM1,600,000. As for shared facilities, there is a BBQ area, a gymnasium, a jogging track, a playground, and a business centre.

2. Sunway Montana in Taman Melawati

Sunway Montana is located in Taman Melawati with facilities such as a jogging track, a BBQ area, a gymnasium, and a playground. If you’re on the look for extra land area, you can go with a 2.5-storey end-lot townhouse in the area. With a land area of 4,133 sq ft and a built-up area of 3,144 sq ft, it is on sale for RM1,400,000. The property is partly furnished and has a freehold tenure.

3. Townhouse in Bangsar

Bangsar is a highly strategic location, with easy access to the Federal and Sprint highways, as well as the Penchala Link. You can get an end-lot townhouse here, which is close to Bangsar Village and Bangsar Shopping Mall. With an asking price of RM1,700,000, this fully furnished unit comes with 4 Bedrooms and 3 Bathrooms.

4. Sri Mahligai, Shah Alam

Townhouses don’t always have to cost a fortune. Units in Sri Mahligai, for example, can cost only RM420,000 for a 1,177 sq ft unit. That amount is enough to qualify you for a stamp duty exemption for both instruments of transfer and loan agreement for the purchase of a first home. This area is also strategically located, as it is within walking distance of Plaza Maslam & Concorde Hotel.

5. 3 Harmoni, Sunway SPK

If you’re unfamiliar with 3 Harmoni in Sunway SPK, just know that it is only 5 minutes away from Ikea, The Curve, and Kota Damansara. It is also only 10 minutes away from 1 Utama Shopping Center. The development has facilities such as 24-hour security, a sauna, a jogging track, and a playground. You can find a townhouse that is on sale for RM1,388,000.

6. Alyvia Residence, NorthBank, Sarawak

For those looking for a townhouse in East Malaysia, there are townhouses in Alyvia Residence in Kuching, Sarawak with facilities such as 24-hours security, a clubhouse, a jogging track, and a playground. You can find units is on sale for RM750,000. With a built-up size of 1,257 sq ft, it has 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and 2 car parks.

7. Courtyard Home @ Nara, Eco Ardence

For those seeking a townhouse outside of bustling Kuala Lumpur but near enough to enjoy its offerings, then Nara in Eco Ardence, Setia Alam is a good choice for you! You can find brand-new townhouses located near Jaya Grocer, Lotus Setia Alam, SMK Setia Alam, and Idrissi International School. Taking a unit with a selling price of RM720,000 for example, you’ll get 3 rooms, 2 bathrooms, and parking for 2 cars.

8. Bandar Puteri Puchong

Located just 5 km away from Bandar Puteri LRT station, townhouse units in Bandar Puteri Puchong are also near SMK Pusat Bandar Puchong and SJK(C) Kheng Chee. You can get a property here with 5 rooms, 4 bathrooms, and a built-up area of 2,600 sq ft. A unit like this will be on sale for RM1,300,000.

9. Garden Homes Townhouse @ Taman Sentosa, Klang

You might be surprised to find out that despite being located just 10 minutes away from AEON Bukit Tinggi, you can find townhouses in Garden Homes for sale as low as RM432,000! Yes, this is another unit eligible for stamp duty exemption if it is your first home! Furthermore, facilities include a clubhouse, a swimming pool, a gymnasium, a basketball court, and a playground.

10. ParkVille, Kota Damansara

An urban area property with a built-up area of 2,065 sq ft and a selling price of only RM850,000 sounds like a good deal, doesn’t it? Well, that describes a townhouse that you can get in ParkVille! It is fully furnished and facilities include 24-hour security, parking, a basketball court, and a playground.

11. Park Villa, Puchong

Townhouses on sale for in Bukit Puchong can be found for prices as low as RM550,000. A unit with a floor size of 1,256 sq ft, for example, has a total of 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and 2 storerooms. Properties here are located in a well-connected area as it is nearby Tesco Bukit Puchong, Taylor International School, and SJKC Han Ming. It also offers easy access to the LDP highway and MEX highway.

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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What is a townhouse in Malaysia?

A condo is a high rise unit which is a part of a residential building/block whereas a townhouse is a landed property with its own land and exterior layout.
This multi-floor home usually have its own entrance and a small front lawn and/or backyard as well. Townhouses also boasts high ceilings and great ventilation.
Since you will be sharing external walls on both sides of the house, you might hear their neighbours if they are particularly noisy. It is no different from living in a terrace house.