• “People in the Klang Valley are becoming more receptive to high-rise living due to land scarcity and affordability.”

KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 10): This year's real estate market is not just changing; but it is also evolving, according to CBRE|WTW group managing director Tan Ka Leong.

"ESG [enviromental, social and governance] principles are no longer a footnote, but a driving force. From energy-efficient buildings to community-centric spaces, the focus is on creating a future that’s not just profitable, but responsible and sustainable,” he said in his welcome address at the media briefing for the real estate consultant and property services provider's 2024 Malaysia Real Estate Market Outlook report on Wednesday.

"Turning the page on another year, Malaysia’s real estate landscape continues to evolve. This year, the journey is embarked under the banner of ‘Pioneering Changes’, which resonates with a deeper significance than ever. More than just prices and trends, the property market is undergoing a fundamental transformation that extends to the design and function of our environment," he added.

The media briefing involved the presentations of five key areas in Malaysia, namely, Klang Valley, Penang, Iskandar Malaysia (Johor), Sabah and Sarawak, highlighting the performance of property sectors and also future trends.

Klang Valley

Head of department research and consulting Mary Kurien provided an overview of the residential, office, retail, industrial and hospitality sectors.

For the residential sector, she said high-rise properties are growing at a significantly greater rate at 8% in the last five years, while landed properties are only growing at 2%. “People in the Klang Valley are becoming more receptive to high-rise living due to land scarcity and affordability.”

As for the office sector, she highlighted that companies are moving to ESG-compliant buildings that align with corporate values. Older buildings need to be refurbished to remain competitive, with some being repurposed to hotels.

In the retail sector, she said that some older malls have to be revamped to stay relevant. In 2024, new supply totalling 1.4 million sq ft is expected to enter the market coming from Merdeka 118 and Pavilion Damansara Heights.

The industrial sector saw logistics and warehousing as primary drivers. “We observe demand for larger warehouses of over one million sq ft and some as large as four million sq ft within prime industrial areas such as Shah Alam International Logistic Hub and Bandar Bukit Raja,”, she said.

For the hospitality sector, Kurien highlighted the increase in Bleisure. “The Bleisure travel trend is increasing, a combination of business and leisure, sparked by improved connectivity, development of co-working space, and promotion to further enhance this segment in the hotel industry,” she said.

Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

WTWS director Cornelius Koh presented for Sabah specifically for Kota Kinabalu and he highlighted that the hospitality sector will see a boost for 2024 due to the increase in tourist numbers. For comparison, the first ten months of 2023 saw total tourist arrivals to Sabah rose to 2.117 million from 232,865 in the first 10 months of 2022.

For 2024, he believes that tourism will increase due to the increase in direct flights from China and this will have a spillover effect on other property sectors, moving forward.

Sarawak

The property sectors in Sarawak have performed steadily, according to WTWY managing director Robert Ting Kang Sung. He noted that there are many opportunities for developers along the Pan Borneo Highway with 98% completed with full completion by the first quarter of this year. The industrial segment will be focussing on green fuel and overseas investors are investing in the region. Infrastructure projects that are happening include the autonomous rail transit (ART) Sarawak project that is currently trialed and the state taking over MASwings to improve connectivity.

Penang

Director Peh Seng Yee presented on the state of Penang, where he stated that the residential property sector was the most active accounting for 77% of the total transactions (as at 3Q2023) and he sees this positive performance spilling into 2024.

Retail sector sees a widening gap between the newer and older malls with the older malls needing rebranding in order to survive. A new mall completing in the state this year is Sunshine Mall @ Sunshine Tower in Ayer Itam.

Several catalytic infrastructure projects, he noted, will continue Penang’s growth. These include Penang Silicon Island, the Penang LRT project, expansion of Penang airport and the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway Bypass.

Iskandar Malaysia, Johor

The last presentation was by director Paul Brendan Chan, where he revealed that the Iskandar Malaysia residential sector has swiftly rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, thanks to the progress of the RTS (Rapid Transit System) and also the announcement of the Special Economic Zone. Moreover, the increase in the Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty rate in Singapore may further shift interest of property buyers to consider Iskandar Malaysia properties.

In the industrial sector, data centre operators are considering opening up in Iskandar Malaysia due to the land space, power supply and also lower costs.

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