Tag Archives: Iskandar

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)

Sky Executive Suites @ Bukit Indah, 2,000 to 3,000 MYR a Month

The real estate market in Johor Bahru continues to favor renters (at the expense of owners). This results in many good deals for those looking to rent.

The Setia Sky Executive Suites @ Bukit Indah is located in Bukit Indah. Two 25-story towers hold 364 units with built-up areas ranging from 751 – 2,778 square feet.

Poolside at Sky Executive Suites
Poolside at Sky Executive Suites

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).

Current listings offer rentals:

  • MYR 3,000/month – 3 + 1 bedrooms, 3 bathroom, 1,500 square feet, fully furnished.
  • MYR 1,900/month – 1 + 1 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, 751 square feet, fully furnished.
  • MYR 2,500/month – 2 + 1 bedrooms, 2 bathroom, 1,168 square feet, fully furnished.

There are many units available in this condo. See more details on our Setia Sky Executive Suites information page.

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.

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

Marco Polo Netfix Series Preview (Production Studio is in Iskandar)

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.

Related: The Weinstein Company sets camp in MalaysiaIskandar Housing Real Estate Investment ConsiderationsNetflix Series ‘Marco Polo’ Shot in Kazakhstan to Premiere in DecemberThe Potential of Iskandar is Very High but Investing in Iskandar is Not Without Risks

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

Singapore Sprawl Fueled by Cheap Housing Resulting in Long Delays at Border

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.

Johor Bahru street with KSL in the background
Houses on Johor Bahru street with KSL in the background (D’esplanade Residence @ KSL, KSL mall, KSL hotel and more condos are being build across the street).

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.

Cut-Price Luxury Homes Fuel Singapore-Johor Bahru Sprawl

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Plenty of Good Rental Options in Horizon Hills

The sales market for housing in Nusajaya, Johor is hot. Horizon Hills is one of the most popular housing estates in Nusajaya (part of Iskandar in Johor, Malaysia).

Given the positive feeling many have about the future of Nusajaya many investors continue to buy. The demand by investors exceeds the demand of renters so, renters can get some good deals. The biggest thing that will change this market dynamic is more high paying jobs being created in Johor increasing the demand from renters.

I would expect you can get discounts on the listed prices (if they won’t budge talk to others offering rentals – there is a surplus supply). Above asking price of RM 3,500 discounts are even more likely.

There are variety of rental options in Horizon Hills, Johor, including:

  • Link house, RM 2,800/month, 4+1 Bedrooms, Un-furnished (I think).
  • Cluster house, RM 3,500/month, 2,600 square feet, 4+1 bedroom, 3 bathrooms, Partly Furnished.
  • Link house, RM 2,400/month, 2,100 square feet, 4+1 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, unfurnished?
  • Link house, RM 2,900, 2280 square feet built up, 4+1 bedroom, 3 bathroom, partly Furnished.
  • RM 7,000, 3500 square feet built-up, 4+1 bedrooms, 4 baths, Partly Furnished.
  • RM 3,650, 2500 square feet built-up, 4+1 bedrooms, 3 baths, Partly Furnished.

Related: Buying or Renting in Horizon HillsHousing options for East LedangThe Potential of Iskandar is Very High but Real Estate Investing has Risks AlsoStraits View Condos Available: RM 2,500/m to RM 4,000/mo

Business Idea: Home Inspection

Reading a post on the Iskandar Living Forum got me thinking of a business opportunity. There is lots of interest in buying new homes (condos, link houses and bungalows) but lots of people express concern about buying used houses. There are several reasons for this but I think one of them provides a business opportunity.

In the USA there are professional home inspectors. They often used to be general contractors (and some still are – doing both). Pretty much every resale has a home inspector look through the house. Those doing it, do so many times each week and have checksheets (with dozens of things to check) and they know the area. So they know for example if some developer used bad wiring for a condo or whatever and can take special care to check things that are problematic.

If these don’t exist in Malaysia yet it seems like a great business opportunity (if they do, then just doing a great job at it is still a good business). If you can stake out ground as a reliable expert purchasers will gladly (smart ones anyway that are not home inspector experts) pay fairly well. You don’t need to do a lot of work (once you become expert) to provide a huge amount of value. This is a great place to be for a business (provide a large amount of value for not much work) as you can provide the customer a great value and still make a nice living yourself.

The smart ones in the USA have developed very extensive handbooks to then turn over to the new homeowner with all sorts of useful info. Again this is a great way to set your business as professional. If I were interested in creating businesses here there are lots of opportunity, but this seems like another great one. What you want to do is talk to lots of real estate agents and have them refer there clients to you. I think it is best if you just provide a great service that makes the agents look good (because they provide a good referral to their customer) but if it is legal in Malaysia you could even pay the real estate agents a portion of your fee.

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