The massive Country Garden project with tens of thousands of luxury condos in Iskandar is roiling the real estate market in Johor Bahru. The buyers are overwhelmingly mainland Chinese and the Chinese government has restricted outflows of currency reducing the hoped for demand from mainland China for the project.
Troubles in Malaysia’s Forest City ‘paradise’
The Beijing government has recently sharpened its tone on how its citizens are investing in property abroad, and tighten outflows of cash.
Beijing’s move seems to have had an immediate effect. As of January this year, the number of Chinese firms invested in offshore properties had fallen by 84% compared to a year earlier, according to figures from China’s Ministry of Commerce.
The Country Garden condos are now even being given away for free when a luxury condo is bought in mainland China.
For Johor Bahru the massive supply of luxury condos from Country Garden adds to the already very large supplies that continue to be added to the Johor Bahru market.
Some half a million of new apartments are in the pipeline over the coming years and the massive supply has had a negative effect on property prices in the region, according to Bloomberg.
Average resale prices per square foot for high-rise flats in JB fell 10% last year, according to property consultant CH Williams Talhar & Wong. Global property consultancy Knight Frank in Malaysia warns that office and retail markets will continue to be under pressure with rental and occupancy due to oversupply.
This oversupply are not a surprise to sensible investors. It was obvious years ago that the luxury condo market was being flooded with much more supply than Johor Bahru had shown the ability to absorb. The argument has been that an economic boom in Ishkandar would take care of everything. The problem is requiring a boom in order to have demand meet supply is a very risky condition for investors to accept.
Still many did. The prices were low compared to expensive cities which entices investors. And the prospects for an Iskandar boom were not unreasonable. A strong global economy, sensible conditions in Malaysia with a desire to create good economic conditions in Iskandar and especially the proximity to Singapore offered good reasons to hope.
If the building of luxury condos had been more constrained it is likely even today the prospects would be bright in that market. The prospects for Iskandar continue to be good. For real estate investors the main problem is that projects being delivered have exceeded real demand. Having investors speculate on future prospects can take on quite a bit of the extra supply for a while. But it is worrisome to see the current supply and the continued prospect for much more to be delivered very quickly. It is hard to see how enough investors can be willing to buy and hold for years at low rental rates (due to oversupply).
The luxury condo market seems to be the most oversupplied. Other markets such as bungalows, malls and office supply are also areas to be wary. The key for Iskandar is to provide tens of thousands of new high paying jobs every year in order to keep up the demand. It doesn’t appear that those jobs are appearing at the rate the real estate supply is expanding. That, of course, is a risky situation for investors.
In 2015 the timeline for extending the Singapore MRT to Johor Bahru was extended to 2020. Now, the latest I have read is that it is being delayed further – until 2022. There is likely no other factor more important to reduce the supply demand imbalance for luxury condos than getting a good MRT solution into operation. Next would likely be a 3rd road link. Next is the need for adding many more high paying jobs in Johor Bahru than has been the case so far. These 3 areas should be the main areas of focus. The other issue, though on this things are probably too late to be managed properly, would be to reduce the pipeline of luxury condos being added to the market.
As I said in the 2015 blog post, getting 1 station in JB connected to Singapore will be a huge benefit. For it to provide much greater benefit we should see at least 5 stations in JB and those must reach into the pockets of luxury condos to make those small submarkets in JB prosper.
With a huge push to get the MRT in place as soon as possible and add a 3rd link and refocus on adding high paying jobs to Johor Bahru the prospects for JB and Iskandar remain bright. But the delay on those 3 fronts over the last 5 years along with the approval of far too many luxury condo projects leaves a large oversupply on the market for the foreseeable future. Convincing investors to buy and hold those properties can maintain prices for a while but the underlying economic realities have to be addressed to solve the oversupply problem.
The prospects for Johor Bahru remain bright. But the delays on the improvements on transportation to and from Singapore and on adding high paying jobs have made the prospects less bright than they would have been if those matters had been moved forward more successfully in the last 5 years.
In my opinion the pool is the best part of the project. The units are ok but the pool is amazing. The location is pretty good too – there are quite a few shops surrounding the area (and with a Giant and Tesco right across the street).
Rents range from 2,000 MYR/month to 3,000 MYR/month (for 820 to 1,500 square feet) which is less than a few years ago. Purchase prices range from 600,000 to 800,000 MYR (for 1,100 to 1,500 square feet units).
At current exchange rates US$ 500 is a bit more than MYR 2,000. The Malaysian Ringit has collapsed over the last 3 years. The exchange rate used to be US$1 < 3 MYR (about 3 years ago). Now it is $1 > 4 MYR (and the MYR recently has gained back a bit of the lost ground – it reached a high of almost 4.5 MYR for $1.
In addition to that factor, the oversupply of higher end condo units has great increased – as we predicted. It was easy to predict given the massive supply that was being built. This has resulted in great bargins for renters. These are some options available now online. Don’t be affraid to bargain, the market is very much in the favor of renters at this time.
This list provides a view of how much is available at the under $500 a month market. And there are many other options as well as many available for not much more that could be bargined down to something similar. It is a renters market in Johor Bahru.
The newest condos have plenty of very small units (under 800 square feet). But as you can see you can get much larger units if you wish for good prices. And you can find many options for rental condos between 2,000 MYR/month and 3,500/month (especially when you realize how much you can bargain down rates. Some units won’t negotiate the rates (and those that have set more reasonable rates have less room to negotiate). If you find something you like that is a bargain for you, be happy with finding a good home.
3 bedroom and 2 bathroom condo for Idaman Residence @Nusa Idaman (Nusajaya) for rent @ RM 2200/month. The condo offers typical features of the 24 hour gated and guarded condos in Johor Bahru: covered parking, gymnasium, jogging track, playground and swimming pool.
All of the bedrooms come with a bed (double for master and room 2, single for room 3), wardrobe and computer desk.
Living area comes with 2 sofas, coffee table, tv cabinet, 4 seat dining table, fridge and washing machine.
All rooms include fan and air conditioning. Both bathrooms equipped with water heater system.
The unit includes 1 carpark (additional carpark can be obtained at RM90 a month. For viewing (more photos are also available) please call Gunaseelan +601126977673 or Izwan (owner) +60122538906.
Address: Nusajaya Centre, 8, Persiaran Ledang Heights, Nusajaya, 79250, Johor
Website for the entire development (not just the condo building): www.nusaidaman.com
The long term prospects for Johor remain strong. Building on the advantages of being a suburb of Singapore has huge potential. Managing that advantage should provide huge long term benefits. Still in the residential building boom seems overdone and not balanced with brining in enough high paying jobs or improved transportation to jobs in Singapore.
UEM Sunrise shifts focus away from Johor due to glut in the state
Iskandar Malaysia’s biggest property developer UEM Sunrise Bhd will focus on Peninsular Malaysia’s central region, as Johor faces a property glut and slowdown.
Managing director Anwar Syahrin Abdul Ajib said the company would be shifting focus to the central and northern regions as well as overseas.
“Right now, it’s a bit slow. There’s nothing to hide … everybody is feeling it. Some developers have already cut their forecasts, some are saying growth is stagnant while some say they’re going to do better than others last year,” he said.
Anwar is targeting a lower sales of RM2bil this year compared with RM2.4bil last year as buyers are also finding it hard to secure loans from banks.
“To tell you the truth, there are a lot of people who want to buy and we have a lot of bookings but they can’t get loans, so this is something that’s in the way.
“We need to find a solution and talk to financial institutions and see whether they need to relax a bit in terms of letting people be able to purchase houses for investment purposes,” he explained.
Malaysia should not relax lending standards. Property booms are followed by busts. Booms are most often triggered by huge investor demand made possible by lax lending standards. It is poor economic policy to stoke investor demand in real estate. This is a critical mistake when the rental market is weak, as it is in Johor. The luxury housing market is not supported by jobs in Johor.
The only hope for filling the luxury housing are getting those with high paying jobs in Singapore and retires from Singapore and elsewhere to move in (which has been happening but not nearly at the rate of production of new units). And given the long delays in addressing the transportation problems until the MRT is extended it is hard to see much more room for increased commuting. Once the MRT is complete the Johor market should boom.
Property development creates lots of economic value that can provide large rewards to those in power. When that pressure leads to stoking the fires of a boom the consequences will be felt in the economy very sharply once a bust develops. Johor needs to focus on attracting more high paying jobs and quickly improving transportation issues. Johor should be discouraging more luxury housing development at this time, not encouraging it – but it is hard to put long term economic prosperity above quick, short term cash. Few countries have done that well. Singapore is one that has and the future of Johor is tied to the success Singapore brings with that focus and how well Johor can show the same discipline Singapore has shown for nearly 50 years.
Horizon Hills a gated and guarded housing community in Nusajaya (part of Iskandar) that is very popular with expats – learn more about the Horizon Hills housing estate. The housing estate offers bungalows, link houses and condos. Horizon Hills has its own golf course.
Even with the rapid decline in the value of the Malaysian ringitt the rental prices are not rising, if anything they appear to be falling. Given the amount of vacant properties for rent this makes sense. Of course for those with income in dollars (Singaporean, USA or other) this means rental prices have gone down substantially given he 20% decline in the Ringitt to the USA $ (from $1 = 3 ringitt in May 2013 to now $1 = 3.6 ringitt).
Current units for purchase, they do seem expensive to me (I think the supply of small luxury units may well be too large in JB) but if the MRT to Singapore is built where it is believed it will be, this will be a very desirable location:
One of the major projects in Iskandar, Malaysia is Pinewood Studios (an Asian venture by the famous London studios). This post is a bit different from our normal focus but it shows the efforts to build up several economic engines to power Iskandar are making progress.
Education and health care are also moving forward nicely and construction of luxury housing is booming – though too much so in my opinion. Shopping outlets, including the ever growing Johor Premium Outlets is another area that has been helping the Johor region economy – with many visitors from Singapore, China and elsewhere. And theme parks have been another area that is doing well, with more planned.
Netfix is also booming. It seems like just 3 years ago they started to dip into producing their own shows and now it seems like then have tens of shows in production around the world.
Sadly Netfix is not available in Malaysia. It is somewhat funny that people where the show is made can’t see it. Maybe the Iskandar folks can work with Netflix to add Malaysia to the countries Netflix offers its services to subscribers.
Here is a Preview of the Marco Polo Series:
Shooting for the series also took place in Italy and Kazakistan. The project started with a plan for showing on the Starz network with filming in China, but things fell through and Netflix and Malaysia entered the picture.
‘Marco Polo’ brings the court of Kublai Khan to Netflix
Here on a new 50-acre studio built on recently cleared jungle, a crew of about 400 has spent months conjuring Kublai Khan’s 13th-century capital. Carpenters and plasterers are piecing together the royal quarters, including a lavish golden throne room, a dungeon and a wood-paneled dojo. Painters are decorating a multi-bed pleasure chamber replete with a hot tub fed by elephant-head fountains.
“It’s a giant adventure. The only thing on TV that matches it, production-scale wise, is ‘Game of Thrones,'” said Harvey Weinstein, whose Weinstein Co. is producing the series.
Netflix hasn’t expanded into Asia yet (as a streaming service) but they license their shows to networks in Asia to be distributed over regular TV (premium cable TV usually). But why not make Malaysia the first country in Asia to have Netflix? Actually my guess would be on Singapore and Hong Kong in the first wave with several countries, maybe including Malaysia.