International Housing Trends

It’s a common conversation among Australia’s first-home buyer crowd: “Houses are so expensive; We don’t want to live too far out; I don’t have a partner, I’m not sure if I can afford a house; even if I stop eating smashed avocado on toast, I’m so far away from that deposit.” But is this a problem that’s exclusively Australian or do first-home buyers in other countries, such as Malaysia, face similar challenges?

Datuk Ho Hon Sang, chief executive officer of the Kuala Lumpur-based Mah Sing Group Berhad, says the two societies are more similar than we think. “With land becoming scarcer in Kuala Lumpur and surrounding areas, apartments are the preferred choice for buyers. Those who buy properties tend to be single professionals or young families who work in the city and are open to living in smaller homes or apartments,” Datuk Ho says. “Homes in KL need to be near public transportation, such as railways and bus stations, for people to commute to work and back. A safe home is also a must. Most of our developments have a three-tier security system with access cards for residents. In addition, residents expect to have certain facilities, such as swimming pools and gyms. In today’s world, people don’t buy a home, they buy a lifestyle. Our customers expect to have well-equipped facilities to cater to their lifestyle needs. People today are also more health conscious and that plays a part in the choice of amenities we incorporate (such as swimming pools, gyms, jogging paths, and children’s playgrounds) in our high-rise developments. The facilities must enhance the lives of residents as we want to make them feel they have purchased a quality home.”

It’s the facilities that have proven to be a winner. “Our Lakeville Residence has one of the largest nature-themed facilities podium in KL, spanning 3.11 acres. It has 38 different points of view and 38 amenities that are not only aesthetically pleasing, but also enhances their lives with various activities the residents can experience,” he says.

Safety is often at the forefront of most home owner’s minds. “Gated and guarded communities, and apartments provide a sense of security and peace of mind for residents. Residents also have a say in the maintenance and running of the premise. Well-managed premises with a healthy landscape have proven to record good rental and price appreciation.”

Living closer to the city centre often means compromising space, but Datuk Ho says this is not always the case. “It ultimately depends on the layout. The number of bedrooms and bathrooms per apartment depends on the size of the unit. Typically units under 1000sq ft tend to have two or three bedrooms with two bathrooms. Units 1000sq ft and above may have four bedrooms with two or three bathrooms. We select designs that have a sense of good space arrangement.”

A high liveability factor and convenience are usually a winning combination. “M City is a great example. It’s a mixed development near the city centre, and houses Malaysia’s first multi-level thematic hanging gardens and a four-tier facilities podium. It is also close to shopping centres, so residents get to enjoy a garden city concept without sacrificing the proximity to the city,” he says.

As the population grows, Datuk Ho believes the landscape will change. “With the government continuing to invest in Malaysia’s public transportation infrastructure, there will be more transit-oriented developments. People want to commute to different locations without the need to drive, so trains will be the main mode of transport. As the railway networks continue to expand outside KL, more people will be willing to stay in the suburbs as they can easily commute.”

Words: Manveen Maan
Photo: Mah Sing Group

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