Malaysia is fairly a young nation with 67% of the Malaysian population below the age of 39 – also known as Generation Y. From a real estate perspective – the market needs to know what they want, what they need and how much is their purchasing power parity (PPP) to understand what will they buy and where they want their properties. It is all about choices.
WHAT DO THEY LIKE?
The younger generation has no preference to the type of property they want as long as it fits into their requirements. As technological age and the importance of privacy catches up with time, what GenY’s needed the most is the sense of security in their own residence, even if it comes at the cost of convenience.
Most developers today are putting in high-value security systems and features in their projects, from gated and guarded townships to high-rise office towers. “The systems, with a mix of security guards, security control centres, patrolmen, CCTV’s, access cards and biometric scanners are essential for a typical Gen-Y today, not only to protect themselves from bodily harm but for their privacy as well,” said Gambero.
Gen-Ys also need a residence that promotes a trendy and conducive lifestyle. The trend line among these aspiring buyers appears that they prefer to live in a place that is close to various facilities and amenities, such as malls, hypermarkets, medical centres as well as banks.
As the technological age advances, what is important for Gen-Ys is to be highly connected to each other via the internet. In Malaysia, there is a current demand for more bandwidth from internet service providers and developers are preparing the necessary infrastructure for high-speed internet connection within their developments.
THE WEALTH DISTRIBUTION
One of the positive sign of Malaysian economy growth is demonstrated by the steady growing trend of percapita income. The Malaysian average per capita income in 2014 on a PPP basis of RM5,032 per month appears to be on an improving scale.
“By understanding what wealth distribution means, we can define what affordable housing is and how to comprehend the difference between affordability in the property aspect,” Gambero explained.
Gambero revealed that the lowest 20% income earners of the Malaysian population share 5.5% of Malaysian wealth; while middle-income 60% of the population share 53.5% of the nation’s wealth and the highest-income 20% share 41% of the nation’s wealth.
“While an average middle-income member working in Kuala Lumpur can still afford a house of RM500,000 to RM600,000, a senior admin living in Selangor can hardly purchase a property above RM320,000. This drops further in states like Kedah or Kelantan, where the affordability value drops all the way down to RM100,000 to RM150,000,” said Gambero.
THE GAME CHANGER
The Malaysian property market is about to change with the addition of various factors – including the Trans-Partner Pacific Agreement (TPPA) and the One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative.
The OBOR is an economic growth plan proposed by China which is going to connect nations economically via both land and sea – The New Silk Road Economic Belt and the Maritime Silk Road. Malaysia is seeing the effects of the initiative with various developers from China coming into Iskandar to set up shop.
TPPA, a proposed regional free trade deal between 12 countries in the Asia-Pacific region including Malaysia has received various criticisms from nay-sayers. However, Gambero begged to differ.
“We have so much to lose if TPPA is not implemented in Malaysia but it is going to happen nonetheless. It’s better to take the train than to miss it. If we miss it, we have to pay more than what we have to leave it on the table,” he added.
Gambero refers his statements to the benefits TPPA could provide for Malaysia, such as a comprehensive market access where there will be new opportunities for businesses, workers and consumers, as well as a platform for regional economic integration to be inclusive of additional economies across the AsiaPacific region.
DEMAND DRIVEN DEVELOPMENTS
Over the past few years, developers have been overdelivering high-end, high-cost properties until recently they started developing more
affordable areas further out of Kuala Lumpur, moving towards the south, east and west of the city.
Gambero says most of the big property developers in the country have had launches in these areas, quoting as an example, Malaysian Vision Valley, a 108,000ha development extending from Nilai to Port Dickson in Negeri Sembilan.
He notes that developers have been buying up land in these areas at affordable prices like RM15 to RM25 per sq ft compared with thousands of ringgit they would have to pay for land in the Klang Valley.
“Developers can actually build affordable houses with smaller built-up areas from 1,600 sq ft to 1,800 sq ft – a size reasonable for families, which are high in demand. But instead, I observed that developers have been building huge houses of 2,500 sq ft to 3,000 sq ft,” Gambero lamented.
While prices may be cheaper per sq ft away from the Kuala Lumpur city centre, a larger built-up area property does not make it anywhere within the affordable range. For example, even at RM300 per sq ft, a 2,500 sq ft property will cost a whopping RM750,000 as compared to a 1,600 sq ft property at RM480,000.
Gambero advised prospective buyers and investors not to look for concept driven properties but demand driven properties. Look for something with strong capital gains and not just a property you like,” he said.