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.
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.
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.
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.
Stulang Villa Condos offer large units in a small building near the Cyberport building (walkable to CIQ, though a long walk). It is an older building close to downtown but in a residential area.
Given the small size finding units available online may not be easy. Though will all the new condo units going online recently and soon it would not surprise me to see more vacancies here so more chance of finding units available.
See our overview of the Stulang Villa Condos. I personally think the rates are a bit high and would try and negotiate a better rate, they are large units so maybe the rate is reasonable. Units available now include:
In my opinion the pool is the best part of the project. The units are ok but the pool is amazing. The location is actually 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 2,300 MYR/month to 4,500 MYR/month (for 820 to 1,500 square feet). Purchase prices range from 800,000 to 900,000 MYR (for 1,516 square feet which is about 600 MYR per square foot).
Current listings offer rentals:
MYR 4,500/month – 3 + 1 bedrooms, 4 bathroom, 1,500 square feet, high floor, corner unit, looking South.
Sky Executive Suites @ Bukit Indah opened to tenants last year and there are still many units available. The location is quite nice, but it does seem to me the price of the units tends to a bit higher than the market (room to negotiate, especially with so many units available). See more details on our Setia Sky Executive Suites information page.
Aster Court condos offer a good location and good prices. They sit on top of a few shops but unfortunately the shops are not very busy and some are not rented. But the location is quite close to KSL Mall, Plaza Pelangi (and all the good food near there), Hotel New York etc.. It is also very close to where Setia Sky 88 and Twin Galaxy are under construction.
The condo has a pool and security but has a bit less in the way of amenities than most other condos considered by expats.
As always, expats should remember most agents in Johor Bahru merely show you properties they (or their company sometimes) have been paid by the owners to show. Seeing multiple units, even at the same condo, often requires appointments with multiple agents.