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7 Things Malaysians want with their homes
Published on: Monday, August 12, 2019
By: Kevin Eichenberger

It seems that homebuyers, with our widely differing tastes and preferences, simply do not have access to the expected range of real estate options

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash.

The problem of rapidly increasing numbers of completed but unsold real estate far outpacing the numbers of willing and able homebuyers has been addressed with reduced interest rates, fee waivers, innovative crowdfunding platforms, affordable home initiatives, as well as various homeownership schemes such as rent-to-own programmes, but the surplus of unsold homes around the country persists – apparently stretching beyond the financial reach of the average Malaysian.

Based on the results of our on-going annual Buyer Sentiment Survey (click here for the 2019 report) and our series of Facebook polls, the root of the problem appears to reside beyond developers maintaining profitable margins or prospective homebuyers failing to secure the necessary financing (by not earning enough or having unhealthy financial habits). If you’re wondering why there seem to be so many potential homeowners renting or living with their parents instead, read on to discover the seven things Malaysians really want with their homes.

Freehold Land

Among Facebook users polled between the months of April and July this year, the majority (78pc) indicated a preference for properties with freehold titles over leasehold titles.

Do you prefer buying freehold or leasehold?

78% of respondents specified a preference for freehold titles over leasehold titles.

The majority (78pc) of respondents specified a preference for freehold titles over leasehold titles.

In another Facebook poll conducted during a similar period, the majority of respondents (65pc) indicated a preference for landed properties over strata properties.

Would you prefer to buy a home that is landed or on a strata title?

65pc of respondents stated that they would prefer landed properties instead of strata properties.

The majority (65pc) of respondents stated that they would prefer landed properties instead of strata properties.

The renewal of leasehold titles is an expensive endeavour, coupled with the scarcity of land, the apparent defeasibility of freehold titles under the Land Acquisition Act 1960, in addition to the relative rarity of title conversions, the majority of homebuyers are often left disappointed at being unable to secure their most preferred variety of real estate.

Convenient Location

While the desire for abundant sovereign space is high, Malaysians also prefer properties located within five kilometres of their preferred facilities and less than ten kilometres to their places of work – as revealed by our polls on Facebook and the results of the ongoing Buyer Sentiment Survey.

If you had to travel to access the facilities of your choice, what is a reasonable distance to travel?

Two-thirds (66pc) of respondents prefer to live within 5km of their preferred facilities.

Two-thirds (66pc) of respondents prefer to live within 5km of their preferred facilities.

In the ongoing Buyer Sentiment Survey, two-thirds (66pc) of respondents indicated that they would prefer locations within five kilometres of commercial hubs while only 3% were willing to drive over 25 kilometres for shopping or recreation.

How far away would you be willing to stay from your job?

In the same survey, a similar proportion of respondents applied the same preference for short-driving distances when it came to their sources of income. It is clear that Malaysians prefer not to have to contend with a lot of traffic – whether for work or for play. With most prospective homebuyers seeking to optimise driving times, the growth of urban centres is expected to continue – at least until the rising congestion of urban environments negates any perceived savings in driving time.

What kind of environment would you prefer your home to be in?

Our polls conducted among Facebook users revealed a slight majority of respondents (53%) stating a preference for living in cities – while 47% still prefer a home in rural environments.

Sole Ownership & Access

There have been many co-living and co-working establishments that have come into existence recently – and we have lauded co-working spaces as a viable solution to the issue of the high number of unused commercial properties.

According to our findings in the ongoing Buyer Sentiment Survey, most prospective homeowners are not keen to share living spaces – or even the ownership and access of properties.

Would you consider co-living arrangements?

As a relatively new concept, co-living has yet to become widely accepted among Malaysians. The results of our Buyer Sentiment Survey show that the largest segment of respondents (46%) are unwilling to share living spaces, while only 23pc are amenable to the idea and 31% remain undecided.

Would you consider owning a property on a co-share basis?

This apparent unwillingness to share also applies to the ownership and access of properties – a sentiment that could limit the concept of timeshares to vacation stays and fractional ownership to the realm of financial investment.

New Construction

People like new things. It’s a well-documented form of bias (which psychologists term the “novelty bias“) that often inflates the value of new things – and our Buyer Sentiment Survey has revealed that bias in the way most people acquire real estate.

What kind of property would you prefer to purchase?

57% of respondents prefer hunting for newly launched homes rather than purchasing sub-sale or auctioned properties.

While investors and aspiring landlords may have less concern for the age of the property than the price, or other factors that may affect potential returns, prospective homeowners overwhelmingly tend to seek out new developments. Only 28pc of respondents in our Buyer Sentiment Survey reported being willing to purchase sub-sale properties and only 15% would resort to buying properties on auction – the kind of real estate that tends to require further investment in order to render spaces livable.

Bare Interiors

One of the ways developers have been attempting to make their properties more attractive, in addition to rebates and extending offers to cover legal fees, is by providing furnishing packages. It may come as a surprise to developers reading this, but there are more people who want their homes bare than there are those who want their properties ready-to-move-in upon purchase.

Do you prefer a home that has been recently renovated or one that is completely bare?

While investors, prospective landlords, and those who prefer fully renovated properties still comprise a large percentage of respondents to our polls on Facebook, the majority of respondents apparently prefer acquiring a blank canvas to work with – and if a completely bare property is not possible, people still prefer a minimalist style of interior decoration to complement their own choices of furniture and finishes.

Which style of interior decoration do you prefer?

Rustic, classical, and industrial decorative styles have apparently phased out of popularity – while minimalism, arguably the most adaptable of decorative styles, continues to be the most sought-after school of decoration for the interior.

Green Construction

With record-breaking daily temperatures around the globe, a concern on the minds of many people is the state of our natural environment – which is why this year’s Buyer Sentiment Survey included a battery of questions relating to sustainable buildings and the cost considerations of being environmentally conscious.

How much more would you pay for a home that has been built without any negative impact on the natural environment?

Only 11pc of respondents stated they had no interest in purchasing a sustainable property, while 13pc would consider the purchase of a sustainably built home at any cost. A large percentage stated that they would be interested in purchasing a sustainable building with some variation in cost as compared to traditional buildings: 21pc would still be keen if the property costs up to 20pc more; 22pc if costs were equal; 31pc if there would be savings to be had.

Would you prefer a green (eco-friendly) development over a non-green one if prices were roughly the same?

When the question was reframed as a binary choice in the Buyer Sentiment Survey, assuming all costs were equal, an overwhelming majority (82pc) stated that they would prefer a sustainable property.

Jacuzzis

Perhaps most surprising of all is the apparent return of the communal hot tub. While nearly every strata development in this age includes a swimming pool deck as a matter of course, homebuyers are seemingly gravitating towards the novelty of the jacuzzi rather than a traditional swimming pool.

If you could only choose one, would you prefer a pool or a jacuzzi?

While the rise of this sentiment may never be fully or accurately explained, there are upsides for developers to consider. There is less floor space required, a significantly lower volume of water to contend with, and potentially lower maintenance costs over the long term with a jacuzzi instead of a swimming pool. However, with complicated water jet systems required to supply therapeutic water flows and the expected sensation of bubbles, the possibility of longer downtimes may have to be considered with this kind of facility.

For some reason, people also apparently want to live in Cheras – which also happens to be one of the most-searched areas on Propwall.my in July 2019. Read on to find out why.- Star Property


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