A Guide To Buying A House/Property In Malaysia – Getting Started

So, thinking about buying your own property? Be it a condo, department or landed property the main thing I’d say to you is start thinking about it as early as possible! I’ve been moving towards getting my own place for more than 2 years now including saving up, looking around, finding a suitable place, negotiating, getting all the legal things done, looking for contractors and so on.

But well, let’s start at the beginning.

The first choices you have to make are:

  • Landed or Condo/Apartment
  • New or Completed Property

Condo or Landed

After you’ve decided you can then narrow down to what you desire as in single story/double story, link, end-lot or for condos how many sq/f and what amenities you need.

Some of the above will of course be governed by your budget, but honestly I suggest you lay out what you want and what you need first then start looking at how much it’s going to cost you. If it’s way over your budget, then adjust the ‘want’ parts out of the equation and keep the ‘needs’. Or if you can afford to wait a little longer until you have a bigger budget to accommodate everything you want..I suggest you do so (if you are planning to live there).

Your budget can somewhat be calculated by how much mortgage you can get, so I recommend you use mortgage calculators to estimate how much you can loan. I’ll cover more about mortgages in a later post. Bear in mind most banks will give you between 33-40% commitment on your salary before tax/epf so if you have existing car loan etc – take that into account.

On that note, the information, suggestions and experiences here are for buying a property to live in – not for financial gain, renting out or investment purposes.

The factor which will most influence in the price of the property you wish to buy is AREA as they say in UK – Location, Location, Location! That’s the biggest factor when it comes to price, and the same goes in Malaysia. Just look at the difference for example for a same sized house in say TTDI or Bangsar and then in Rawang or Shah Alam it can easily be 300-500% different.

For me personally I’d love to live in Desa Park City..but even at the lowest level it’s just too expensive, I could afford a Condo there – but that just doesn’t cut it. I want my own landed, freehold property!

Desa Park City

As for condo vs landed these are the main points I considered:

Condo -

  • Generally more secure
  • Less maintenance worries (no roof, no need to paint outside etc)
  • Cheaper
  • Cheaper to renovate/furnish
  • Poor access (carrying shopping/heavy items can be a chore)
  • Not as much space
  • No garden/yard
  • Only 1 car park space
  • Difficult parking for friends/visitors
  • Can have problems with keeping pets/dogs

Landed -

  • Much more space
  • Yard/porch area
  • Ample parking for 2 cars and easy access for guest/visitor parking (this was one of our criteria when choosing a house)
  • No problems with owning/keeping pets/dogs
  • More maintenance worries (termites/roofing/security)
  • Less secure generally (another criteria when looking for a house = gated)
  • More expensive
  • More expensive to renovate/furnish

As for new vs existing, it really depends on time scale. New properties are best bought before the first brick is laid (that’s when you’ll get the best price and deal) so expect at least 2-3 years before you can move in. Plus it’ll most likely not be a prime area unless it’s a condo and you’ll have to do a lot of research on the developer, the development, the area the development is in and so on. For me, I chose an existing property because it’s in the area I like and the whole process will be a lot faster. If I could have afforded it at the time though, I would have definitely bought a landed property in Desa Park City before they started building..but alas at that time I couldn’t.

After I decided an existing landed was the way to go I started looking for areas, considering I currently stay in Bandar Sri Damansara and I’m quite happy with the area…but wouldn’t mind living in PJ.

We ended up looking all over and almost bought 2 houses (one in Taman Mayang and one in Bandar Kinrara 5) both for the same price RM325k (one was 1.5k storey in PJ, nice location – the other was double storey link, in excellent condition including furnishings – both were move in condition). Plus some other areas like SS17 and some places in Puchong. It’s a good idea to have a look at as many houses in as many areas as possible, some guides say you could look at up to 100 properties before you find the one that you want.

Anyway more on that in the next post, this post is about getting started.

The resources I suggest you use when looking are (in order):

1) http://www.iproperty.com.my
2) http://www.mudah.com.my
3) The Star newspaper classifieds
4) Driving around the area you want to buy in and looking for signboards

For me online iProperty is the best site by far, it allows you to search by price bracket, house type and location, gives pictures and good info generally and has a LOT of listings.

iProperty

You can do a lot of research on iProperty as to how much certain properties cost in certain areas, set an absolute budget and search without keywords to give you an idea of which areas are within your reach and so on.

In the end we decided Bandar Sri Damansara was the best place for us, but slightly our of our budget..so we had to hold off a little longer and keep looking. We decided on the area because it has good road access (NKVE, LDP, Penchala & MRR2 are all very near), it has good restaurants, shops and general facilities and has a fairly decent private school.

Another factor once you’ve narrowed down the area is which sub area for, different sub-areas have different aged houses with different layouts, different feels and different levels of nearby amenities/security.

Once you’ve got to that level, the best bet is just to drive around and look for agents sign-boards for units that you like the look of. That’s how we found the best units and the more honest agents, those we found on iProperty tended to be a bit dodgy as you can see in the screen-shot above – Judy Chong is still on the prowl. You can read more about that on Kim’s blog here:

Be a well-informed house buyer in Malaysia & Petaling Jaya.

So do beware and don’t rush into anything, do a lot of research, do a lot of reading, visit a lot of properties get a feel for the layout and pricing and what fits within your budget.

The next step is choosing a suitable unit, negotiating a deal, appointing a lawyer and the rest of the process. Read up on forums too, two places I found invaluable are:

Low Yat Property Talk
Malaysiabrides Setting Up Home

If you have any additional advice/tips/warnings to add to the above, please do so in the comments below.

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22 Responses to A Guide To Buying A House/Property In Malaysia – Getting Started

  1. goldfries March 10, 2010 at 1:45 pm #

    Hello my fellow BSD resident! :P

    Gated community blows the cost quite a lot. As for online property sites, they’re very limited.

    IMO driving around helps a lot cos a lot of property agents are not on iProperty and other online sites. Old school agents. :)

  2. andymervingeorge.com March 10, 2010 at 2:22 pm #

    Wonderful post about getting started! Yes, the best way is to drive around and look for signboard and call the agent immediately. If there is luck, we might get to view the property right away too. Mudah.my is a good source of houses for sale and I never miss browsing the many things for sale there.

    Couldnt agree more on the part about doing research, reading and surveying!

  3. ericyong77 March 10, 2010 at 2:24 pm #

    well said.

    but theres a lot more than that lah.. hehe..

  4. Mark March 10, 2010 at 2:38 pm #

    Good guide here bro!

    Should also include in the various areas such as:

    Landed property location – where does it face NSWE, facing a junction vs facing a field, ample space on the road for car parks, is it near high tension wires and sewage areas, near petrol stations (insurance is a killer on this one) – mainly older areas.

    Leased hold and free hold

    Property for resale investment (buy low sell high) vs cashflow investment (focus on rental so can be condo/apartment)

    In regards to buying property, also good to note the policies on some of the developers. Some adopt a sell first then build method but some of them adopt the build first then sell (e.g. Bandar Utama/See Hoy Chan).

  5. foodcrazee March 10, 2010 at 2:55 pm #

    thanx for the tips!

  6. goldfries March 10, 2010 at 3:19 pm #

    for me, the sites like iProperty are great for research purpose. :) finding out the estimate price of the place and all, have a quick glimpse at the area through photos.

    after that, best way is still to drive around. I see a lot of empty houses with no numbers, now that’s the challenge. :D

  7. justine March 10, 2010 at 6:07 pm #

    so helpful. next, do a post on house loans!

  8. xes March 10, 2010 at 10:47 pm #

    Good stuff! Looking forward to the part on renovation!

  9. Paul Tan March 10, 2010 at 11:47 pm #

    All these online properties, once sold they just never bother unlisting it. Got abit annoyed. I found my new house by driving around the area I liked and calling up the numbers on the FOR SALE sign one by one.

  10. JD March 11, 2010 at 7:52 am #

    Thanks for the tip, ST. Still saving to get a property for investment.

  11. ngan March 11, 2010 at 10:07 am #

    me saw shaolintiger in kelana jaya (plaza glomac or was it kelana mall near public bank) the other day, you got a house in KJ, right?

  12. KY March 11, 2010 at 11:08 am #

    it’s all just a massive headache, need to make more moneh!

  13. MSZ March 12, 2010 at 2:10 am #

    I have one more good website that i’m use to hunt for houses especially apartment. http://www.fullhouse.com.my

  14. Daniel Yap March 12, 2010 at 10:12 am #

    Thanks for sharing here and is very useful. I just shared this guide to my young sis.

  15. nocrid March 13, 2010 at 3:23 am #

    No harm leaving the old listing there as you might have missed their current one and accidentally call up and they might have what you want

  16. ShaolinTiger March 16, 2010 at 5:26 pm #

    goldfries: Didn’t make much difference around BSD as far as I saw, just glad our area put in the full height fence now – looks much safer! Yah driving round is still the best bet by far, the rest are just for research so you’re prepared.

    andymervingeorge.com: Yup, most important is just call as many agents and see as many houses as possible!

    ericyong77: First part only la, and this is for buying to live not investment.

    Mark: Most of those would be covered in second part, choosing the house..this is only how to find a house in the first place heh.

    foodcrazee: No probs.

    justine: Don’t worry, plenty more to come.

    xes: Hehe sure, later, later!

    Paul Tan: Yah same here (especially Mudah), I didn’t mind too much tho cos most agents had other properties in the area to view and get some more ideas.

    JD: Yah it’s a good idea.

    ngan: Nope, went to pay Road Tax..my office is around there.

    KY: Yah with limitless funds it’d be so easy.

    MSZ: Thanks.

    Daniel Yap: No worries, hope she finds it useful.

    nocrid: Yah agree, they usually have more than 1 property in the area.

  17. ben March 20, 2010 at 2:18 am #

    After years of planning/preparing, we decided to build our own house. Now at around 90% complete, in a suburban area. 15-30 minutes from city centre. Thinking of writing a book about our experiences.

  18. ShaolinTiger March 22, 2010 at 2:36 pm #

    ben: Good job, hope everything turns out well for you!

  19. shaque April 6, 2010 at 10:52 am #

    ben: so does it cost considerably less in the suburban area? what’s the name?

    also everybody: is there any good info website on foreign buyers of Malaysian property and/or Condo?

  20. alice April 6, 2010 at 11:33 am #

    Print advertisements from The Star Classifieds newspaper can actually be searched online at http://starproperty.my/MalaysiaProperty/Search.aspx, using the ‘Search Print’ function. Listings come with pictures, map, video etc.

    http://www.StarProperty.MY is online property portal by The Star publications, launched last year in Aug and has accumulated over 150thousands of listings. Featuring also property news, home ID guides & ideas.

  21. ben April 6, 2010 at 12:11 pm #

    shaque: it’s in a suburb of Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. All in about RM420K (from the land subdivision stage, piling, earthmoving, gate construction, house proper, furniture, even a little housewarming). I think if I bought a new detached house in a similar area it would easily cost double that amount.