Get to know 3 of Malaysia’s residential hotspots to watch

Kota Kinabalu, Ipoh and Melaka are due recognition at the 2019 PropertyGuru Asia Property Awards (Malaysia)


Malaysia is more than just Kuala Lumpur, Johor or Penang.

With more visibility being given the impressive residential developments outside the big cities, the markets of Kota Kinabalu and Ipoh, as well as the state of Melaka, are catching the attention of investors as the overall real estate sector continues to readjust and pick up the pace.

Find out why these three emerging property markets are sure to make an impact on consumers and investors alike:

1. Kota Kinabalu

Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. Yusnizam Yusof/Shutterstock

Along with the bustling areas of Greater Kuala Lumpur and Penang, Kota Kinabalu will see three- to four-fold gains over the next decade, according to Daniele Gambero, CEO of REI Group of Companies.

A longtime member of the PropertyGuru Asia Property Awards (Malaysia) judging panel, Gambero adds, “Capital gains, looked at as a long-term game, say five to seven years, is still showing a good potential to increase.”

The capital of Malaysia’s Sabah state is currently enjoying continued growth in the tourism and hospitality sector. As of September 2018, Sabah recorded 2.87 million in visitor arrivals, up 5.1 percent year-on-year, with a total of 203 international direct flights into Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) weekly. Sabah is expected to rack up MYR8 billion (USD1.9 billion) in total tourism receipts for 2018, according to figures from the state tourism ministry.

Following a review of projects gazetted by the previous administration, the Pakatan Harapan government has reportedly committed to the long-awaited Pan Borneo Highway project, widely seen as a catalyst for connectivity to and from Kota Kinabalu. A rent-to-own (RTO) programme could also be in the offing for the affordable housing segment, giving low-income tenants the option to buy before the lease expiry at a predetermined price.

2. Ipoh

Ipoh, Perak. Awan Media/Shutterstock

The “town that tin built” in the state of Perak continues to be a preferred destination for international-standard retirement villages. With a backdrop of limestone karst mountains, Ipoh is well positioned to be a catchment area for senior housing. This bodes well for developers in Ipoh, since one in 10 Malaysians will age 60 years or older in the next three years, growing to one in five by 2040.

Energised by the provisions of Budget 2019, the government has set aside MYR71.7 million for the construction of low and medium-cost and affordable housing in Perak. State agencies have been tasked to allocate 50,000 residential units for the B40, the lowest-earning income group in Malaysia, in five years.

The state government also signed this month an agreement with private developers to build affordable homes in the state, with an eye toward building some 2,000 homes in three years for the B40.

In tandem with the Planning Department (PLANMalaysia), the city council is mulling a plan to turn Ipoh into a sustainable and liveable metropolis by 2035. The plan, to be formulated next year, will replace the Ipoh Local Plan 2020.

3. Melaka

River cruise in Melaka. shun2u/Shutterstock

Melaka is proving to be one to watch, according to Tang Chee Meng, chief operating officer at Henry Butcher Real Estate Sdn Bhd, who spoke with Property Report in 2018.

“The more active residential markets continue to be Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Penang and Johor whilst Melaka is beginning to attract foreign interest with the entry of Chinese investments in the state’s infrastructure and development scene,” he said.

One of the most transformative projects for the state, the 246.4-hectare Melaka Gateway, will entail the formation of three artificial islands in the Straits of Malacca. The project, with a reported price tag of MYR43 billion, is slated for completion by 2025.

Melaka will also be home to the MYR12.5 billion Kuala Linggi International Port, around which a 600-acre tract “tourism city” has been envisioned.

A 500,000-square-foot water park will be completed later this year, with around 850,000 to 1 million in visitors expected annually after the first year of operations.

As it is, Melaka is already a tourist draw with a wealth of heritage sites like the Stadhuys, A’Famosa Fort, Christ Church, Jonker Street and Portuguese Square.

Do you know of remarkable residential developments in Kota Kinabalu, Ipoh, and Melaka? Be sure developers and properties from these places are well represented at the 2019 PropertyGuru Asia Property Awards (Malaysia) by nominating them by 22 February here: