Developers plan big push to sell houses to Hong Kongers

Hong Kongers prefer Penang for its good food, education and medical facilities.

PETALING JAYA: More wealthy property buyers from Hong Kong are looking to Malaysia as a possible second home as the special administrative region of China struggles with widespread protests.

Apart from those taking advantage of the government’s Malaysia My Second Home programme, set up to entice wealthy buyers with properties selling for a minimum of RM500,000, many are also going through other channels, and are at the very least window-shopping within the RM4-5 million price range.

Toh Chin Leong, the chairman of the Penang chapter of the Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association (Rehda), said many Malaysian property agents and developers had been collaborating with agents in Hong Kong for data on buyers there.

“In the next one to two months, many developers are expected to go to Hong Kong to sell Malaysian properties,” said Toh.

He said Malaysia was a destination of choice due to lower property prices and larger estate sizes.

“The size of a property a Hong Konger can get here and there with RM1 million is different. In Hong Kong, a RM3 million ‘luxury condominium’ – that is to say, a nice home overlooking the bay – is only about 700 sq ft,” said Toh.

“Over here, RM1.5 million can get you a 1,400 sq ft house. The luxury of space here impresses them.”

It was recently reported that the “Malaysia My Second Home” initiative had received a total of 3,500 applications so far this year.

No application has been approved yet this year, but approved applicants can get renewable multiple-entry resident visas and may be allowed to buy property valued at RM1 million or more, and own vehicles.

However, they cannot work full-time without an employment pass.

Toh said Penang in particular was a destination of choice compared with other Malaysian cities, as Hong Kongers preferred it for its good food, education, and medical facilities.

High-end properties in Penang, according to propertyguru.com, mostly sell from between RM1 million and RM4 million.

However, real estate agent Ernest Cheong was more pessimistic, cautioning developers not to be over-excited about incoming migrants.

Cheong said people from Hong Kong, Taiwan, and South Korea generally preferred to buy property in the United States, Australia, and England.

“However, it is not easy to buy property in those countries or to migrate there, so for the time being, they are choosing to buy property in Malaysia. We should not get too excited, as there is only a slight increase in the number of Hong Kongers buying property in Malaysia. Malaysia is not a priority for them. We are not really on their radar.”