• "Thailand is the only Southeast Asian destination that consistently ranks more highly than Malaysia. Thailand has been the number one destination for Chinese buyers since before 2018," said Juwai IQI co-founder and group chief executive officer Kashif Ansari.

KUALA LUMPUR (April 3): Malaysia was the second most popular Southeast Asian country among residential buyers from China in 2023, driven by the country's convenient location, economic stability, international education sector, and growing property market, according to real estate and investment advisory firm IQI Global.

IQI Global, which is a member of real estate technology group Juwai IQI, on Wednesday said that Malaysia has been one of the top three countries in Southeast Asia for Chinese home buyers for the past five years and has overtaken Vietnam in second place in 2023.

"Thailand is the only Southeast Asian destination that consistently ranks more highly than Malaysia. Thailand has been the number one destination for Chinese buyers since before 2018," Juwai IQI co-founder and group chief executive officer Kashif Ansari said in a statement.

"We believe Malaysia will retain its position in the competitive Southeast Asian region over the next two years," he added.

According to its survey, IQI noted that Chinese buyers say they want to live in Malaysia, but at the same time, they consider their property purchases in the country to be good investments.

Besides the common drive for buyers from China to put their children into local international schools, IQI pointed out that the retiree segment is also a very lucrative group for Malaysia.

Retirees from China, it said, have joined those from the UK and other parts of Europe in choosing Malaysia as a destination for retirement because of its lifestyle and affordability.

"If you come to Malaysia under a Platinum MM2H (Malaysia My Second Home) visa, you must make a deposit of at least RM5 million. So, these retirees pour a significant amount of money into the local economy.

"Chinese retirees typically do not live here for the full 365 days a year. They often go back to China to visit family and friends. Our best data suggests that Chinese retirees who have homes in Malaysia spend an average of around 150 days per year here. There is no hard data on this, so that estimate is based on the conversations we have had with our clients," Kashif said.

Malaysia competes for investments into Southeast Asia

While Malaysia is holding its ground as a preferred destination for investment, Kashif said that the foreign buyer dynamics in Malaysia reflect the competition among Southeast Asian nations for Chinese investment, both in residential property and in other economic sectors.

"China’s economic boom of the last several decades was based on foreign investment, but today, Southeast Asia receives more foreign direct investment than China itself. Because Malaysia is taking its share of this investment, it can look forward to increasing levels of wealth and economic sophistication in the years ahead," he said.

On top of that, the construction of new infrastructure, such as the Johor Bahru–Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link, attracts a significant amount of investment. According to Kashif, buyers believe these projects will raise property values, and that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

"We can expect conditions to continue to fluctuate and that Malaysia will continue to benefit from the shift of investment to Asean and the desire of foreign buyers for appealing lifestyles at an affordable price and in a convenient location," he said.

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