18 Mar 2019 - Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur)
The prospect of a winter sun break always lifts the spirits. My trip this time is a whistle stop one with 2 countries and 3 cities in 9 days and the prospect of a couple of blogs along the way. Airports in Asia are chilly at the best of times and a brisk walk is a double benefit firstly as a wake up for the legs after an 18-hour flight and secondly to get warm. On exiting the airport, I walk into a wall, one of 33 degrees heat and 60% humidity at 5pm, it was just delightful. I am in Kuala Lumpur looking at the high-end residential market.
The next day I leave the city centre, which is bustling as always, and head north east, in the midst of a large thunderstorm and accompanying torrential rain downpour which causes a little traffic heartache, but we aquaplane onwards to our destination. The residential market in downtown Kuala Lumpur is dominated by luxury high rise apartment blocks, indistinguishable to the modern office and hotel towers that puncture the stormy skies. We are visiting a small suburban district on a hillside area which is dominated by large single-family residences which often have panoramic view of the sprawling metropolis below. We arrive just as the storm subsides and as we walk around, there is a sense of a good quality of life existing in the suburbs as it is not all built up and the city is close but not too close. The abundance of thick vegetation tricks my mind into thinking I am in the countryside and that the air is cleaner up here and that a 28-degree heat is quite bearable.
The demand for single family units is stagnant however the city has a number of high-end areas notably Seputeh Heights, Jalan Semantan Ampang, Damansara Heights and Ukay Heights which still remain of interest, but buyers are more selective and whilst there are transactions happening these are small in number. I explore these residential areas of the city, and it is evident very quickly that there is little in the way of vacant residential development land. Local developers typically purchase a single older Property with the view of upgrading it or in some cases demolishing and rebuilding a large villa. It is a case of acquiring existing sites and embracing the old and the new where possible. There has been an attempt in some cases for a local developer to maximise the value of the redevelopment by creating a small apartment block of 10 – 12 units but this is often considered ambitious since the local market audience is still keen to identify single family units.
With the expectation of many commentators that Malaysia’s economy is set improve, it should in turn translate into a healthier real estate market, with predictions of a gradual improvement in the short to medium term. Malaysia’s GDP growth rate remained at around 5.4% in 2018. It’s expected to remain at a similar level, in 2019. This results in improved employment conditions, a lower inflation target, and overall improved consumer confidence.
Prices for the best quality residential properties in Seputeh Heights, Jalan Semantan Ampang and Ukay Heights are some of the most expensive areas where typically a 3 bed and 3-bath villa prices are at MYR 3,000,000 – MYR 5,000,000. (USD 731,000 – USD 1,219,000) Luxury villas with larger plots and 5-beds and 5-baths, with swimming pool, fitness and all modern fixtures and fittings are anything upwards from MYR 12,000,000 – MYR 16,000,000. (USD 2,921,000 – USD 3,900,000). In the case of land values though limited, asking prices are between MYR 250 - MYR 600 / sq foot. (USD 60 – USD 146 / sq foot).
Typical luxury villa
Typical luxury apartment developments