- Buyers from mainland China snapped up about US$2 billion (RM8.67 billion) worth of property in Malaysia in 2018.
- Singapore’s pull factors for rich Chinese include the rule of law, language and cultural ties, as well as its connectivity to the rest of Southeast Asia.
KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 18): As China reopens its border for inbound and outbound travellers, Chinese nationals have started seeking new homes across Southeast Asia.
South China Morning Post reported there is an increase observed in terms of inquiries for properties in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, as Chinese citizens are looking for prospect homes after three years of adhering to strict rules due to the pandemic.
China allowed its citizens to travel overseas for their annual holiday earlier this month and many appear set to act on long-delayed plans, visit properties they bought for the first time or make the jump for good from life in China.
Malaysia seems to be the place on the lookout for the middle-class Chinese citizens, where the property sector is upbeat following China’s reopening and industry players looking forward to the increase in demand by Chinese nationals to drive sales.
A real estate negotiator in Malaysia, Fifi Syafiza said Beijing’s move to lift the ban on travel has led to a flurry of transactions as Chinese nationals rushed to finalise purchases of properties in Malaysia that they had already set their sights on before the pandemic struck.
She said the interest has always been there but the purchases were put on hold due to the travel ban.
Buyers from mainland China snapped up about US$2 billion (RM8.67 billion) worth of property in Malaysia in 2018, and Fifi said the immediate response from buyers since the lifting of the travel ban indicates that they can expect interest to snowball in the months to come.
Malaysia also offers long-term visas for foreigners under its Malaysia My Second Home and Silver Hair programmes, which allow foreign nationals to purchase residential properties worth at least RM1 million.
There are currently more than 53,000 active participants under both programmes as of August last year, according to government data.
According to the founder of Transform Borders Sulochana Uthirapathi, an “influx” of inquiries from Chinese nationals planning to move to Singapore in the past month have been observed.
Transform Borders, a firm that specialises in Singapore immigration matters, estimates up to a 30% increase in inquiries — made up mostly of wealthy Chinese nationals.
Sulochana said most of the home seekers are high-net-worth individuals who want to move and set up family offices while looking out for their children’s studies as well.
Experts said the lockdowns imposed since the end of the first quarter have shaped the forward-planning of those who can afford it.
It has been dubbed the “run” culture, a route away from China’s controls — and increasingly uncertain economy — for the relative freedoms and opportunities offered overseas, where housing, healthcare and schooling can be cheaper.
Chung Ting Fai, a lawyer who advises family offices in Singapore, said China’s political environment, such as the stricter rules and policies against the rich and its handling of the Covid situation is a factor and this trend of Chinese nationals “running” to Singapore is expected to increase in the months to come.
Singapore’s pull factors for rich Chinese include the rule of law, language and cultural ties, as well as its connectivity to the rest of Southeast Asia.
“Singapore is a very safe place, where there are not a lot of political changes or control,” Sulochana said.
She added that although there are some controls, it’s not to the extent where it is overbearing.
It is also predicted that Thailand will be seeing an increase in demand as the country has a high potential for investment opportunities, with condominium sales predicted to rise.
Local media reported on a spike in inquiries about international schools and retirement homes for the elderly, while Thai economic planners say the expected flood of tourists could boost growth beyond 4% for 2023.