PropertyGuru Malaysia today released its biannual Consumer Sentiment Study for H1 2022, which found that Malaysians are viewing real estate as a hedge against inflation, with 53% of homeowners who are looking to buy an additional property in the next one year while keeping their current property stating that the purchase is for investment reasons.
According to the Department of Statistics Malaysia, the national inflation for the period of January to December 2021 showed a significant increase of 2.5%, as compared to a negative 1.2% for the same period in 2020.
Shylendra Nathan, Country Manager, Malaysia (PropertyGuru.com.my and iProperty.com.my) said, “With the emergence of inflation right as the economy is starting to recover from the pandemic, we believe that more Malaysians are turning to the housing market which presents a more attractive investment option, serving as a good alternative to the more uncertain stock market.
He added, “Our Consumer Sentiment Study also found that more than half of the total respondents (55%) expect property prices to increase post-COVID-19. Hence, it is no surprise that those who have the means to are considering purchasing an investment property, especially in this current low interest rate environment.”
Post-COVID Home Buying Trends
When it comes to purchasing a home to live in, the study found that more than half (55%) Malaysian home seekers are considering properties located in the outskirts of the city. The top reasons cited for this consideration are quieter and serene environments, better pricing, more greenery, and bigger-sized homes, which can be found away from the city.
The growing preference for homes outside of the city centre is a direct reflection of the remote working trend which was fuelled by the pandemic. According to the study, 1 in 3 Malaysians surveyed said they are currently working from home and will continue to do so after the pandemic is over. This influences the perceived importance of having a home office space, as majority of Malaysians (79%) believe it is vital to have an additional room when developing new properties, even after the pandemic.
Shylendra said, “At the start of COVID-19, Malaysians weren’t sure whether their companies’ work from home policies are permanent or just a reaction to the mandated lockdowns. Now that they are confident the flexible working arrangement is here to stay, more Malaysians are open to moving to the suburb to enjoy larger spaces at lower prices. A longer commute to the office is an acceptable compromise for them if they don’t have to make the trip daily, as the advantages of living in the outskirts of the city still outweighs the drawbacks.”
In terms of the process of finding and purchasing their homes following the pandemic, 2 in 3 Malaysians responded that they would be comfortable with shortlisting and viewing properties online; while more than 1 in 4 would be comfortable to sign the sales agreement online. In fact, 10% Malaysians are comfortable conducting all the purchase functions online from start to end, indicating the need for the property industry to accelerate their digital adoption to meet the evolving consumer behaviours.
Hurdles in Buying Homes
In the last two years, various government initiatives such as the Home Ownership Campaign (HOC) and the loan moratorium have benefited home seeker and current homeowners alike. The Real Estate and Housing Developers Association (REHDA) revealed that the HOC contributed to 73,503 residential sales worth a total of RM47.38 billion after discounts, between June 2020 to September 2021.
Meanwhile, 46% of the moratorium participants polled in the Consumer Sentiment Study found the financial aid helpful in managing their cost of living, and 26% stated they managed to rebuild their savings due to the moratorium.
With the end of these initiatives, consumers have called for the government to provide further support as they continue to be challenged by barriers to achieving homeownership. According to the study, non-property owners stated that they face difficulties in taking a home loan due to their unstable salary (47%) and inability to afford the down payment (41%). One of the measures that 53% Malaysians want to see from the government is the extension of the home loan tenure from 35 years to 40 years, so that this can help reduce the monthly repayment thus enabling a higher home loan eligibility.
Shylendra shared, “Only 12% of Malaysians perceive that the government is doing enough to make housing affordable in the country, which is the lowest score recorded by our Consumer Sentiment Study since 2017. As Malaysians are just starting to get back on their feet and slowly rebuilding buyer confidence after persevering through the pandemic, more incentives are needed to help spur the property market. We at PropertyGuru, are committed to supporting both the government and consumers alike to help more Malaysians own their dream homes wherever we can, with the right resources and data-driven insights.”