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Kerrie Hall on why’d you’d be wise to pick up a property in Penang right now

Malaysia’s friendly and wise approach to long-stay visitors has spurred on a growth of quality developments now attracting foreign investors in search of second homes. From popular suburbs of Kuala Lumpur to spicy Penang island, Malaysia welcomes thousands of new overseas residents annually.

Incentive programme Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) was introduced in 2003 encouraging more foreigners to make the move. Investors in Malaysian residential property include families, retired couples, remote and offshore workers and part-time residents from Hong Kong, China, Singapore, UK, US, Europe, Indonesia and Australia.

According to Malaysia relocation specialist Alter Domus, the island of Penang is the destination of choice for retirees and those looking for a laidback second home. And Vincent Fong, director of Penang-based MM2H agency Aubella agrees that investors from Hong Kong and China particularly love the large luxury urban villages now blooming on the tropical paradise of Penang.

“There are quite a few expatriates from Hong Kong who have joined or intend to join Malaysia My Second Home programme in Penang because they have already invested in the property market in Malaysia,” says Fong.

Why Penang?

Penang is a central point in south-east Asia. Penang, Malaysia’s fourth largest island boasts white sand beaches, rich culture and a sun that hardly stops shining. Connected to the Malaysia mainland by bridge, the island is conveniently close to most regional cities and an international airport means just a 45-minute flight to Kuala Lumpur or a short hop to Hong Kong, Singapore, Bali or Thailand.

The cosmopolitan UNESCO-listed, architectural and culturally historic city of Georgetown offers great food, festivals, shopping and entertainment. In fact, TIME magazine awarded Penang as a Best Street Food destination for its sizzling mix of Chinese, Indian and indigenous Malay cuisine.

Fabulous beaches, yacht marina, slow pace, rich culture and friendly people, coupled with abundant recreational opportunities, excellent telecommunications infrastructure and growing public transport projects makes Penang a hotspot for affordable housing.

Penang’s stable economy and political climate, stunning natural beauty, low cost of living, British law system and a relaxed multi-ethnic society offers a unique lifestyle combination of the East and West.

Living in Penang

After the 1997 Asian economic crisis, property prices remained stationary in popular coastal locations like Penang. Since 2005, prime locations on Penang Island had seen more than a 35% increase, according to Aubella’s Vincent Fong, with upmarket condos now selling from MYR500 per sq ft and “super-condos” starting at MYR800 per sq ft.

For popular Penang neighbor-hoods and best value apartments and villas by price, Aubella recommends:

MYR 500 000/ HKD1, 214 773 (entry level for foreigner purchase)

Georgetown – a project by Ivory Group, Penang Times Square (PTS) is an entry level, high-end residential apartment property above a popular shopping and entertainment mall in the centre of town. Described as “a masterpiece of an urban village” this 25-storey PTS condominium tower is conveniently located on the major road of Dato Keramat. The area also is designated as a monorail station under the government master-plan. Fully furnished, 950 sq ft, two-bedroom apartments are presently selling at MYR500 000 to MYR550 000, depending on view and height.

MYR 750,000/ HKD1 822 160

Queensbay Mall – one of Asia’s and Malaysia’s largest dining, retail and entertainment precincts, Queensbay Mall is the hang out place of choice among Penangites and expats. Future investment potential is good as this area will benefit from the gradual shift of the city centre to the south of Penang island and a new second bridge to the mainland. The launch of nearby medium to high-end Southbay Penang village project – close to the international airport, hospitals and universities and just 18km from Georgetown – offers quality lifestyle starting from MYR 750 000 while Legenda at Southbay will also offer high-end resort-style 3 to 4-storey bungalows in a gated community.

MYR 1 Million/ HKD2, 429 546

Batu Ferringhi – for spectacular hillside and sea-view villas, the best value could well be the contemporary tropical design Ferringhi Villas, where freehold landed 2.5 storey luxury homes with 24-hour security offer full resort facilities and average at around MYR 1 Million. Located close to the newly open Hard Rock Hotel, Ferringhi Villas is at the end of the famous Batu Ferringhi resort area next to gorgeous beaches.

MYR 2 million ++

Gurney Drive – A popular choice for buyers from Hong Kong and China is the various new Super Condo projects along famous sea front eat-street Gurney Drive and Tanjung Bungah area. The One Ritz Residence is near to completion and nearby The Shore Condominium at No. 8 Gurney and Gurney Paragon are still under construction. Super Condominium apartments in the area start from 2500 sq ft to 11000 sq ft.

Useful websites

Malaysia Property & Real Estate
www.iproperty.com.my

Penang Properties
www.penangproperties.com

Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H)
www.mm2h.gov.my

MM2H agent – Penang
www.aubella.com

Alter Domus relocations
www.penangmyhome.com

Malaysia Expat forum
www.alloexpat.com

PENANG My Second Home – There is no limit to the number of residential properties a foreign investor may purchase but Malaysian property purchased by foreigners is subject to a minimum value of MYR500 000/ HKD1, 214 773.

Participation in the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme is not a requirement for foreign citizens to purchase property in Malaysia. The scheme is designed to offer added incentives for foreign investors. MM2H is open to foreign citizens with adequate financial strength. For more information: www.mm2h.gov.my

In 2007, the Malaysian government abolished capital gains tax on property sales (formerly 30%) making investment even more attractive. And, unlike other countries in Southeast Asia, foreigners can own freehold land in their own name.

Successful MM2H applicants initially receive a five-year visa with unlimited entry privileges with no minimum annual residence requirement. Participants can purchase any type of housing properties provided that it has been issued with a Certificate of Fitness.

Presently, applicants must apply through a licensed MM2H agent to deal with the bureaucratic process of purchasing property under the MM2H programme. The Malaysian Government recently further streamlined the property buying process for non-Malaysians and Foreign Investment Committee (FIC) approval is no longer required for participants of MM2H.


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