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.
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.
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
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:
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.
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.
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.
As I have written previously the potential for Johor Bahru, Malaysia is great. The proximity to Singapore give JB the extra boost that moves the potential above that of dozens of similar locations throughout South East Asia. But potential has to be managed properly or it is wasted. The inability of Singapore and Malaysia to cope with the demand for cross border traffic has to be a huge concern for investors.
The backups have become progressively worse throughout the last year and especially bad the last few months. As I have also written previously the massive supply of luxury housing in JB without a visible source of equally high paying jobs in Johor that will allow people to afford those houses is a worrisome sign.
The failure to complete a 3rd link by last year and the huge delays experienced all this year create strong headwinds for realizing the potential of Iskandar. Obviously cross border transportation was going to be bad before the MRT was finally extended given the huge volume of luxury condos being build in JB. But things are tremendously bad already when only a few of the new luxury condos are completed.
The potential is still great but the huge problems with the borders already calls into question the ability to plan, execute and grow to meet that potential. More high paying jobs need to be created in Johor Bahru itself. I don’t see how the number of luxury condos being built will be workable in the next few years. 10 years from now all may be well, but from 2015 to 2018 (or whenever the border gets fixed so the median border delay is under 15 minutes, likely the extension of the MRT to JB will have to play a role in fixing the problem) I see big risks countering the big potential.
People are willing to envision themselves putting up with huge commutes. but as they live with them year after year and miss their children, spouses and lives sitting at a border waiting to move forward many will decide it isn’t worth it.