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Sunday September 4, 2011

M’sians buying up properties abroad thanks to lower exchange rates

PETALING JAYA: More Malaysians are snapping up properties overseas as they take advantage of the lower exchange rate in countries like Britain and the United States to spread their investments or shop for holiday homes.

A check with several major agents marketing international properties here showed that the number of Malaysian buyers has been climbing steadily over the last three years, peaking in the first half of this year.

With property prices in the Klang Valley and major cities and towns here soaring, those with cash to spare are turning their attention to properties in countries affected by the global economic crisis where prices have dropped.

Among the more popular investment spots are London and its surrounding districts as well as university towns in the US where there is a market for rentals.

Australia, despite its high exchange rate, is also popular due to the good investment returns and stable property market.

Henry Butcher Malaysia director Lim Eng Chong said Malaysian investors were getting more savvy and the buying trend was now heading towards a more global outlook.

“Malaysians and Singaporeans are now the biggest overseas market after the mainland Chinese for prime properties in London,” he noted.

Between January and August this year, the company sold over 100 properties in London, mostly new apartment units to Malaysian buyers. The properties were priced from 200,000 (RM965,382) to 2mil (RM9.65mil) each.

In 2009, about 100 properties were sold while some 150 were sold last year.

“Previously, there was interest but London was out of reach for many Malaysians. Then came the collapse of Lehman Brothers three years ago. The pound became cheaper, spurring more Malaysians to invest there. Many investors would already have enough (properties) on their plates locally, so they are now diversifying,” he explained.

Jalin Realty International Pte Ltd chief executive officer Ian Chen said about 50% of his clients buy homes for their children studying overseas while another 50% buy for investment or to keep as vacation homes.

“We are seeing many young Malaysian professionals investing in Australia, mainly to diversify their investment and to achieve early financial freedom. Australian properties provide much stability and consistenty in capital growth, with about 10% annual compounding growth,” Chen added.

He said sales had shot up 100% since the company ventured into the overseas market five years ago. Most of the properties sold ranged from AUD500,000 (RM1.57mil) to AUD800,000 (RM2.5mil).

International property investment firm Robert Douglas head of sales and marketing (Asia) K. Daniel said US properties in Michigan, Florida and Las Vegas were now popular, as they yielded high returns. Michigan and Florida were attractive because of their high student population which provided a ready market for rental properties.

“Malaysians usually buy to let (for rental returns). But if they wish to stay, there are no restrictions as long as they have the necessary visa, ” Daniel pointed out.

Related Stories:
Local property mart unaffected by forays abroad
Investing beyond our shores

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