Johor’s proximity to Singapore and lower living costs have always been an attractive proposition for Singaporean investors.
With a slew of infrastructure improvements coupled with the completion of mega developments, Malaysia continues to lure investors despite weak market sentiments.
By Michelle Yee
Despite the challenging market conditions and slowing economy caused by several factors such as the Trump presidency, Brexit, the outlook on oil prices, the weakened ringgit and more, investors looking for investment opportunities can still expect to find good deals in Malaysia, namely in
Iskandar, Kuala Lumpur and Malacca, experts said.
“Iskandar is a top performing region in attracting economic investments in Malaysia. This has primarily been from manufacturing and logistic firms setting up shop here, using Iskandar as a back office or manufacturing hub, while using Singapore as a front office. Other sectors have also welcomed investments to Iskandar, such as healthcare, finance, tourism, education and more. Over RM150 billion in investment commitments were made in Iskandar by 2015, with more slated to come.
“The two biggest catalysts, however, are the High Speed Rail (HSR) and the Johor Bahru Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS), which will remove the connectivity bottlenecks. The biggest beneficiaries will be Iskandar, followed by Singapore and then Kuala Lumpur, as people movement will improve, and so will trade and commerce. Investors looking at Iskandar Malaysia are basically looking at this, which is a permanent positive to the region,” shared Ryan Khoo, Director at Alpha Marketing, a real estate research and investment consultancy that specialises in the Singapore and Malaysia markets with a particular emphasis on Iskandar Malaysia.
YY Lau, Country Head of JLL Malaysia), also agrees that there are many opportunities to be sought in both Iskandar and Malacca, thanks to the upcoming HSR. “The potential capital appreciation arising from the proposed HSR that will traverse past Malacca to Iskandar is also another factor that has attracted foreign investor interest in these two states,” she said.
While some might be sceptical about Iskandar’s future, experts say it is well on track to achieving what it set out in 2006 – to turn South Johor into a flourishing economic zone with three million people, 1.46 million jobs, and a GDP of US$93.3 billion by 2025.
An Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) spokesman said the area’s population has increased by 39 percent, from 1,297,000 in 2008 to 1,805,000 in 2013, and is well on its way to hitting the three million target by 2025.
Furthermore, the project has achieved around half of its goal of attracting RM383 billion of investments, driven by the manufacturing sector which accounts for about RM52.10 billion of committed investments to date. This translates into steady demand for industrial space.
Looking ahead, experts foresee foreign buyers continuing to invest in Iskandar properties, propelled by affordable prices, improved infrastructure and the enhancement of connectivity.
“In the short term, this is likely the Chinese who are looking for alternative investments overseas, attracted by the low prices, proximity to Singapore, as well as the confidence given by Chinese developer presence in Iskandar. In the medium- to longterm, we foresee Singaporean buyers returning because once the HSR and RTS connectivity links are in place, travelling time will no longer be an issue, and the Singapore economic spillover effect can occur. This could be in the form of Singaporeans buying a weekend home or retirement home in Iskandar. That said, a large portion of demand might also come from Malaysians working in Singapore – as buying properties in Singapore is relatively expensive, furthermore, they do not enjoy government subsidies,” Khoo said.
Adding to this, the Sultan of Johor was quoted as saying in a recent interview, “Once the links are in place, it will become the norm for Singaporeans to live in Johor and work in Singapore. That is the future.”
Why invest in Iskandar?
Top performing economic corridor in Malaysia
“Due to its proximity to Singapore, Iskandar Malaysia is the most successful out of the five economic corridors in Malaysia. Latest figures from Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) show that Singapore is the top foreign investor followed by China, the US, Spain and Japan. The total cumulative investment from 2006 to October 2015 is now RM78.53 billion, with the manufacturing sector leading the way at RM50.82 billion,” said Khalil Adis, Founder of property consultancy firm Khalil Adis Consultancy, and a best-selling co-author of Get It Right, Iskandar – the first book ever written on investing in Iskandar Malaysia.