Category Archives: Housing

The Johor Bahru Luxury Condo Market Needs the MRT to Singapore to be Completed Quickly

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.

View of Downtown Johor Bahru looking away from Singapore
Downtown Johor Bahru with Danga City Mall on the left (looking North-West) in 2014.

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.

One big problem delaying adding many more high paying jobs to Iskandar (and increasing the number of people willing to commute to such jobs in Singapore and live in Johor Bahru) is the transportation problems between Johor Bahru and Singapore.

graphic showing the Singapore JB MRT connection
One proposal for the Singapore-JB MRT connection.

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.

Related: Iskandar: Present and Future (2014)Singapore Market Impacts on the Johor Bahru Real Estate Market (2013)Iskandar Housing Real Estate Investment Considerations (2011)Property Slowdown in Johor (2015)The Potential of Iskandar is Very High but Investing in Iskandar has Risks (2011)Singapore and Iskandar Malaysia (2012)Bloomberg TV Takes a Look at the Iskandar Economy (2016)

Condos for Rent Under US$500/month (2,000 MYR)

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.

Photo of the view from the pool
View of the pool at Sky Executive Suites.

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.

Related: Property Slowdown in Johor (May 2015)Map Showing Condos in Johor Bahru, Malaysia360 Degree View of Downtown Johor Bahru (2014)

3 bedroom Condo for Rent @ Idaman Residence (Nusajaya) RM 2,200/month

View from balcony
View from balcony of the unit for rent in Idaman Residence.

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.

Kitchen, Idaman Residence

All of the bedrooms come with a bed (double for master and room 2, single for room 3), wardrobe and computer desk.

Bedroom with view out window, Idaman Residence
one of the bedrooms in the unit for rent

Living area comes with 2 sofas, coffee table, tv cabinet, 4 seat dining table, fridge and washing machine.

view of bathroom
shared bathroom

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

Property Slowdown in Johor

It was pretty easy to see the glut in residential property in Johor being created over the last few years, and I wrote about several times: The Potential of Iskandar is Very High but Investing in Iskandar has RisksIskandar Housing Real Estate Investment Considerations (2011), Singapore Sprawl Fueled by Cheap Housing Resulting in Long Delays at Border (2014), Malaysian Real Estate Slowdown May be Taking Hold (2014).

View of Downtown Johor Bahru looking away from Singapore
Downtown Johor Bahru with Danga City Mall (includes map) on the left (looking North-West).

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.

Renting Link Houses in Horizon Hills, Johor

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).

photo of Horizon Hill link house

Terrace/Link houses for rent now Horizon Hills, Iskandar, Johor:

  • RM 3,000; 2 story terrace house; 4 bedrooms; 3 bathrooms; fully furnished; land area 22’x 70′.
  • RM 4,000; cluster home; 4 bedrooms; 3 bathrooms; 2,123 square feet; fully furnished.
  • RM 3,000; 2 story link house; 2,556 square feet; 4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, partially furnished, the Golf area.
  • RM 3,300/month; 2 story Terrace/Link House; 3,000 square feet; 4 bedrooms; 4 bathrooms; unfurnished; the Hills area.
  • RM 2,800; 2,300 square feet built-up; 4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, partially furnished, the Green area.

Bungalows will cost more but there are many of those options available also.

Related: Plenty of Good Rental Options in Horizon HillsBuying or Renting in Horizon HillsLeisure Farm housing estateMalaysian Economy Continues to Expand, Budget Deficits Remain High

Map Showing Condos in Johor Bahru, Malaysia

See our new maps showing the condos in Johor Bahru:

See full screen

Each condo on the map links to our information page for that condo. (click the icon next to the name to view the popup details with the link to the page).

If you will be traveling around JB looking at condos you might want to bookmark our main JB condo page or the direct page for the map. That way you can easily refer back to it as you need to.

We do also show the major housing estate areas in JB and Iskandar (if you zoom out on the map a bit).

Skysuites Condos @ Meldrum Hills are Nearing Completion

Skysuites @ Meldrum Hills located next to Cyberport and close to the JB CIQ is nearing completion.

photo of Skysuites @ Meldrum Hills in  Johor Bahru
Skysuites @ Meldrum Hills (completed on the left of the photo). Photo taken from Cyberport by John Hunter.

The 31-story condo building includes 250 condos (1, 2 and 3 bedroom units plus penthouse duplexs) and is near Blue Wave Hotel, Cyberport, City Square Mall, CIQ and the causeway. See our information page on Skysuites Condos @ Meldrum Hills.

photo of Skysuites @ Meldrum Hills with CIQ and the CBD
Skysuites @ Meldrum Hills with CIQ and the CBD.

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:

  • RM 1,105,000, 1,105 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, Penthouse condo.
  • RM 552,000, 581 square feet, 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom.
  • RM 698,000, 581 square feet, 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom.

Related: Stulang Villa Condos – Rentals from MYR 2,200 to 2,500Orchid View Condos Rentals – 2,500 to 3,000 MYR a month

Horizon Residence and Sky Loft Suites Rentals In Bukit Indah

New condos keep being delivered to the Johor Bahru market and this will be continue for the next few years. The supply seems to be swamping the demand for luxury condos.

In Bukit Indah, Sky Executive Suiteswere delivered earlier this year and many units seem to still be looking for tenants.

If you are looking to rent you should be able to find good deals if you bargain (prices are set too high given the huge vacancy rate, in my opinion, they seem priced based on every increasing sales prices not based on the rental market). It sure seems the market is just has far too many vacancies to justify increasing rents; and is going to get worse for those seeking to rent out their luxury condos.

Horizon Residence and Sky Loft Suites are two new condos delivered in the Bukit Indah area. The Bukit Indah area actually has some quite nice things going for it (great good options for one and a convenient mall and Jusco – though the service at Jusco has been terrible when I have gone there, enormous wait times to check out).

Horizon Residence condo rentals available now (which seem more realistically priced in my opinion). 5 minutes walking distance to CW3 (bus to Singapore) pickup point.

Sky Loft Suites condo rentals available now. Next to AEON Jusco mall and walk to bus station to Singapore via Tuas link.

  • RM 3,000 per month, 1,214 square feet, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, high floor, partially furnished (for fully furnished add 500 to 800 RM a month).
  • RM 3,500 per month, 1,214 square feet, 2+1 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, high floor, partially furnished (for fully furnished add 500 to 800 RM a month).
  • RM 2,500 per month, 833 square feet, 1+1 bedrooms, 1 bathrooms, high floor, unfurnished.

Related: Indah Samudra Condo Rentals: 2,800 – 3,500 RMStraits View Condo, Permas JayaHorizon Hills Housing Estate

Malaysian Real Estate Slowdown May be Taking Hold

The moves to cool off the overheated property sector by Malaysia in the last few years were wise (if a bit late). The 6% sales tax was also likely wise. Real estate development tends to get overheated and collapse – taking much wilder swings than other areas of the economy. Reducing those swings is useful but challenging. How the current situation plays out will be interesting and requires government paying attention and taking action to prevent bubbles and excessive speculation, as well as watching for signs the bubble is deflating too quickly.

Malaysia Builders Hit by Tax Amid Worst Slump Since 1998

Malaysian property companies are grappling with higher costs in an industry already reeling from central bank curbs on lending last year and the first interest-rate increase in more than three years in July. Property transactions in 2013 sank the most since the aftermath of the 1997 Asian financial crisis, while home prices in the first quarter rose at the slowest pace since 2010.

Property transactions dropped 11 percent in 2013, according to the National Property Information Centre, the most since a 32 percent slump in 1998, when Malaysia had its first recession in 13 years. The Malaysian House Price Index rose 8 percent in the first three months of 2014, the slowest growth since the third quarter of 2010.

Developers offered 6,339 new units in the first quarter, a drop of almost 50 percent compared with the previous quarter. Only 30 percent of the units were sold.

It is possible the slowdown in real estate development will be too sharp which creates problems. But if that happens the main reason will be the bubble was allowed to build too quickly. And there is also the possibility the slowdown will not be quick enough (the bubble will keep growing); this seems less likely.

Luxury condos in Johor Bahru seem the most bubbly of all areas in Malaysia. It seems like Kuala Lumpor and Penang are also in danger of too must leverage and speculation. The moves to reduce that leverage, speculation and bubbly markets are good. We will see how the market develops the rest of this year and next year.

Related: Singapore Market Impacts on the Johor Bahru Real Estate MarketSingapore and Iskandar MalaysiaPenang’s Economic GainsIskandar Housing Real Estate Investment ConsiderationsJohor Bahru Restaurant ReviewsSingapore Taxes Increase In Attempt to Cool Condo Prices

360 Degree View of Downtown Johor Bahru in 2014

Here is a webcast showing a 360 degree view of downtown Johor Bahru in 2014. You can see the sky scrapers in the central business district (CBD) of Johor Bahru and Iskandar and in 5 years this will show many more high rise luxury condos. The beginnings of numerous (more than the total completed high rises) are visible in the video.

The CIQ, the causeway to Singapore, the Straits and Singapore beyond are visible. Even Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands, located at the far southern edge of Singapore, can be seen in the background.

Related: Setia Sky 88 Construction Progressing QuicklyIndah Samudra Condo Rentals: 2,800 to 3,500Johor Bahru Old Chinese Temple in CBDD’esplanade Residence @ KSL Mall