Malaysia Economy Outlook
With a population of 24m (half of which are under 27 yrs of age), with urbanisation occurring at an alarming rate of 10% per annum, and with supply estimated at 44% of current demand, the Malaysia property market is an exciting place to be right now. Add to this a ten-year high for affordability, low interest rates, mortgage lenders providing longer repayment periods and with wages increasing, indicators for profitable investment abound. Economically Malaysia is also robust, with unemployment now below 4%, GDP has been over 5.5% for past 3 years and consumer confidence sustained near 10%.
Kuala Lumpur City Centre
The central district for business and pleasure, KLCC as it commonly known is the traditional centre for multi-national Business and tourism, and with the majority of 5 and 6-star hotels in the area, this downtown spot offers everything for businessmen and tourists alike. With bountiful restaurants, shopping malls, and beautiful green parks, KLCC is the jewel of Kuala Lumpur. With the booming Malaysian economy and rapidly urbanising population, city centre demand is high and yields and appreciation are set to follow. KL itself is in prime location for this growth, being located within 5 hours of 60% of the world’s population and being home to the world’s longest fully automated light rail transit system.
Investing in Malaysia
Malaysia’s economy is now expanding very quickly, taking advantage of improved export relationships with China. Coupled with very high levels of foreign direct investment from the US, China and Japan. As export opportunities rapidly increase for Malaysian businesses, particularly to China, and whilst the country benefits fromhealthy foreign exchange reserves, low inflation and a small external debt, both the internal banking confidence and international investor’s onfidence in the stability and sustainability of this growth has never been higher. These growth rates are indicated by high GDP growth and FDI figures.
Sustainability of this growth is an important consideration, and Malaysia’s sustainability indicators are very high, with one of theyoungest & most rapidly urbanising populations in the world. With real estate prices far lower than other South East Asian counterparts and being a vibrant city now home to regional headquarters for more and more multinational companies, Kuala Lumpur itself is rapidly developing with plenty more room for growth.
As mentioned briefly, with an extremely confident banking sector and rapidly increasing local urban wealth, Affordability is at a ten-year high. With international investment of highest priority to the Malay government, this Market liquidity has trickled down through to residential property investors, making mortgage acquisition now easier even to foreigners and positively affecting the property market.
In addition to all these factors, Malaysia has a rapidly expanding tourism market, Malaysia has something for everyone. Malaysia remains a cost effective country for property buyers; even in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur real estate prices are far lower than in other international capital cities across the world. As a resort destination Malaysia’s affordability is an added attraction bringing growing numbers of visitors annually to boost the economy.
Malaysia is a founding member of the ASEAN and a full participant in the ASEAN Free Trade Area. Malaysian economy was on track and should have achieved strongGDP growth of around 6.5% in 2006, from 5.4% in 2005. Unemployment is maintained at a healthy 3.5% over the past 5 years.
Known as the “manufacturing hub of the east”, Malaysia’s manufacturing sector now accounts for31.6% of GDP whilst exports of manufactured goods make up 78.4% of the country’s total exports. From being the world’s largest producer of rubber, oil palm and tin, Malaysia is today one of the world’s leading exporters of semiconductor devices, computer hard disks, audio and video products and room air-conditioners. Known as the “Multimedia Super Corridor”, Malaysia’s export growth in 2006 was lifted further by the tech recovery and seemed to have expanded at the stronger pace of around 10.0% in 2006 (8.3% 2005).
Today, Malaysia’s market-oriented economy, combined with an educated multilingual workforce and a well-Developed infrastructure, has made Malaysia one of the largest recipients of FDI among developing countries.
Foreign Direct Investmentin 2004 reached the highest growth levels since the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997, with figures reaching $8.5bn in 2004. The Institute for Management Development (IMD) in its 2004 World Competitiveness Yearbook ranked Malaysia as the 5th most competitive country in the world (for countries with a population of greater than 20 million), ahead of countries such as Germany, United Kingdom, Japan and Mainland China. According to the latest Offshore Location
Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are predicting big movements for the Ringgit following its undervaluation being pegged to the US$. With China ready to ease its grip on the currency, Malaysia will have little reason to hold back the Ringgit, one more reason to obtain Ringgit assets as soon as possible.
Young, Educated & Urban
Kuala Lumpur or ‘KL’ is the largest city and also the capital of Malaysia. Whilst Malaysia has a population of 24m, KL is small by capital city standards with an urban population of only almost5 million people. Modern & world-class city rapidly developing as a high-tech centre, KL is famous for being home to the world’s tallest twin towers and the longest fully automated light rail transit system.
Of vital importance to the Malaysian Economy is the continued ability to maintain high levels of foreign direct investment. To support the inflow of multi-national companies, the high level of education of the local population must be sustained..
Central to this thriving education system is the provision of a young population in the right locations. Urbanisation is occurring rapidly; in 1993 only 54% of the Malaysian population was urban, rising to 66% by 2003 with projections showing this figure reaching 84% by 2023. Not only is urbanisation important for continued education and economic expansion, but this is also a crucial consideration in the appraisal of the developing property market and its sustainability.
With an extra 4.3m urban inhabitants expected in the next 15 years, primarily in KL, the increased housing demand generated will be enormous. Another big positive for the future of the Malaysian property market is its current low house ownership and young population. The total supply of houses is currently only 44% of the estimated demand, whilst over half the population under 27 years of age! Most of these younger Individuals have not yet entered the property market, but with increasing education, incomes and affordability, they soon will. This Increase in demand will cause another surge in market prices.
With 16.5 million arrivals in 2005, increasing from just 10.5 million in 2003, and20 million forecasted for 2007, tourism is another economy thriving at around 8% a year. There are 31 major infrastructure projects to be built between 1995 and 2020 at a cost of M$163 billion.
Assisted by high levels of government expenditure, backed by the Malaysia My Second Home program (bringing Retirees in to the country) and with Chinese tourism forecast to increase by 38% by 2009, this looks set to continue at a fast rate in the years to come. In 2007 Malaysia is celebrating 50 years of independence by launching its 'Visit Malaysia 2007‘ year.
With visitors options ranging from the ubiquitous twin towers of KLCC, the tropical jungles of Taman Negara, some of the best dive sites in the World in Sipadan and of course the stunning Mount Kinabalu, the attractions are endless. Malaysia, with its diverse attractions, interesting gastronomy and friendly people, is rapidly becoming South East Asia’s most popular destination.
Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) itself opened in 1998 and is considered one of the most modern airports in the region. Its 10,000-hectare land area includes a Formula 1 racetrack – one of the fastest in the world - theme parks, an amusement centre and provision for airport expansion to handle 100 million passengers annually.
In 2002, a high speed rail link called KLIA Transit was opened, linking Kuala Lumpur and the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Construction of monorail system is also underway. For a great insight in to the enchanting country of Malaysia, please visit http://www.tourism.gov.my
‘A Good Deal Malaysia’
• While many industry observers believe Malaysia now has the right legislative environment to match its attractiveness as a property destination, to become a truly global property hub, they feel that awareness of these assets is lacking and needs to be strongly promoted abroad.
• A low cost of living, relatively low crime rates, widely spoken English, and cosmopolitan cities all make Malaysia an attractive destination for a foreigner choosing somewhere to resettle or retire to.
• There is strong consumer confidence in an economy that is forecast to grow 5% over the next few years, and an anticipated 4.3% appreciation of the ringgit against the US dollar by year-end makes Malaysian assets an attractive investment. On the commercial side, for anyone wanting to do business in the South East Asian region, Malaysia offers a central location and abundance of affordable flight routes to other area hubs.
• Price wise, in a recent JP Morgan comparative study of luxury housing affordability, Malaysia came in with the highest regional ranking. According to the study, a prime property in the Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) costs on average $261 per sq ft compared to an equivalent property in Hong Kong Island costing $2900 and $1743 in Singapore, Malaysian property is, relatively speaking, considered a very strong value for money.
• On April 1 of this year, the government removed capital gains taxes on foreign property ownership, liminating a significant barrier that discouraged foreign ownership in the past. This followed the launch of the 'Malaysia My Second Home' programme in December 2006, whereby foreigners who purchase property costing over Malaysian Ringgit RM$250,000 ( About US$81,000 as of March 2008 ) no longer require special government approval. As part of the programme, foreigners are also no longer limited to the purchase of only one property, nor are there any conditions placed on the usage of the properties being purchased.
• The new policies have thus far had a positive impact on the sector. Transactions in the property market reached over 65,000 for the first three months of the year, accounting for a transaction value of $4.35bn. On the commercial side, 45% of the value of office transactions involved foreigners, compared with only 19% the year before. Investors are also garnering strong returns, with condominiums in the KLCC area fetching prices from $320 to $580 per sq ft compared to $232 to $290 one year ago.
(Source: Oxford Business Group : 12.07.2007)