Property investors from China have replaced those from Singapore as the largest group of foreign property buyers in Malaysia, fresh figures show.
There has been a lot of pent-up demand from buyers, with groups from mainland China having invested more than $2.1bn (£1.68bn) in the Malaysian property market over the past three years, compared with $985m (£785m) invested by Singaporean companies between 2014 and 2016, according to the data from Real Capital Analytics, which is based on completed transactions of $10m (£8bn) and above.
The Malaysian government’s decision to abandon rent controls in the residential sector and ease foreign ownerships laws 10 years ago, has made the residential and commercial property market far more attractive to international buyers, which partly explains why the country has emerged as a favoured destination for Chinese investors seeking a cheaper alternative to Australia and Hong Kong.
Sigrid Zialcita, managing director of Asia-Pacific research at Cushman & Wakefield said: “The Chinese investor today has a lot more options and has become more comfortable going to Europe and the US, but not everyone has the same options — Malaysia is much more affordable.”
“If you compare prices, even between Malaysia and China, you are looking at a significant difference,” she added.
Globally, China’s overseas investment in real estate rose to a new high last year.
Overseas investment from China in residential, commercial and industrial property totalled $33bn (£26.3bn) in 2016, according to JLL.
The US was the most popular destination for investment last year, attracting $14.3bn (£11.4bn), followed by Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Australia, while the UK was in fifth place, JLL said.
But various signs suggest that Chinese property investors are starting to lose interest in the US.