Australia is no stranger to Malaysians. Malaysians would’ve heard of Perth, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra, Adelaide, Gold Coast, Tasmania, Darwin; let alone travelled for holiday or sent their children to further their studies in these cities. With that being said, Australia is also one of the top investment destinations for Malaysians.
No doubt, investing in Australian properties is a different ball game than investing in Malaysian properties. It’ll help in your investment decision to understand the Australian property culture, jargon, terms, and regulations beforehand. Below are some comparisons of how Malaysian properties differ from Australian properties. Below is a teaser of Australian properties 101.
Image source: Reapfield-Meridien Australia Properties
Property ownership in Malaysia is divided into two main types of titles:
Leasehold (99-years lease)
Australian property laws are comprehensive and protect owners with freehold titles – not leasehold. Homeowners own the property in perpetuity for now and for their future generations. They do not have to lease the land from the government and renew the lease back to 99 years.
House & Land
In Australia, terrace houses are known as townhouses. In Malaysia, townhouses take on a different meaning. A townhouse is literally two houses on top of one and another. For example, a family may share the ground floor and the first half of the first floor. Another family may share the second half of the first floor and the second floor. It serves as a multi-generational home or for two streams of rental income. The similar concept to a Malaysian townhouse is the Dual Living house in Australia. It is two properties in one: a three bedroom family home and a one bedroom unit.
Image source: Reapfield-Meridien Australia Properties
The common type of house in Australia is the House & Land, compared to Malaysia’s terrace house. In Australia, boring is best.
A house & land is basically a free-standing home built on your own plot of land. The size of a house & land is equivalent to the size of an average bungalow in Malaysia. The land size for an Australian house maybe 4000-6000 square feet which is similar to a Malaysian bungalow. Furthermore, an Australian house can be on a land as massive as an acre or more. Therefore, to put it into Malaysian perspective, they’re owning freehold bungalow land in Australia.
Australian houses are generally single-storey. Of course, there are double-storey houses. In Malaysia, the majority of the old and new houses are double-storey. Majority of the land is in the backyard which is the opposite of Malaysian houses in general. Australian houses are fenced all around, except for the front porch. In the summer, Australians will Barbie (Barbecue) with a can of beer and watch football in their backyard. In addition, Malaysian houses have a car porch to park their cars. Australian houses have garages to not only park their cars but to store their junks.
Image source: Reapfield-Meridien Australia Properties
Gated & Guarded?
Due to the spike in crime and snatch thefts, local residents took the initiative to secure their tamans (neighbourhoods). Today, we’ve gated and guarded communities in Malaysia. Sections of neighbourhoods are fenced, gated, and guarded by community-hired security guards.
In Australia, the term gated and guarded community does not apply. Even if it does, it only applies to the super-rich bungalow communities and not the average, common neighbourhoods. The communities and the houses in them are not gated and guarded. If a house is gated; it’s probably an Asian (or Malaysian) owner.
Full Turn-Key Package
New housing developments in Malaysia generally have three types of furnishing options:
Fully furnished and move-in condition
Partially furnished with fixtures and fittings
Unfurnished or bare unit
The developer determines the furnishing package. New houses are usually unfurnished. New service residences are either one furnishing choice only or a combination of the multiple options above.
In Australia, new houses and apartments are built partially furnished. They are known as full turn-key packages with nothing more to spend. This generally includes:
Stone bench tops to kitchen and bathrooms
Reverse cycle A/C unit
Fans to bedrooms and pavilion
Tiles to all living, wet areas, pavilion, and portico
Carpet to all bedrooms
Roller blinds to all windows and sliding doors
Landscaping including driveway and paths
In Malaysia, owners have to further furnish their new houses and apartments with air conditioning, fans, lights, kitchen cabinets, curtains, etc.
Contracts to purchase
When buyers buy a newly completed house in Malaysia, the selling price is quoted as a whole. Buyers only sign one contract for the house – the Sales and Purchase Agreement (SPA). Buyers pay one price for both the land and the building.
Its different in Australia. The price for the land and the price for the building are separate. For example, the total price of a house may be AUD$589,904. Of the AUD$600,000, the price of the land is AUD$308,400 and the price of the building is AUD$281,504.
Buyers sign a split contract, whereby there’s a contract for the land and a separate contract for the building. The stamp duty is only based on the land, not the building.
Image source: Reapfield-Meridien Australia Properties
New residential developments in Malaysia take years to complete. New service residences take three to four years to construct. New houses take two to three years to complete.
In Australia, developers release plots of land in stages. A buyer purchases a plot of land from a developer. The builder then goes about building the house on the purchased plot of land. Construction takes an average of six months to complete!
Body Corporate Fees
In Malaysia, apartment and condominium owners are subject to maintenance fees with a sinking fund. For example, the monthly maintenance charges may be RM0.30 per square feet plus 10% sinking fund (RM0.03) which equates to RM0.33 per square foot. If a unit is 1000 square feet, the owner is subjected to a monthly maintenance fee of RM330. The apartment and condominium’s management collects the maintenance fees from the owners to maintain the building and the facilities in it.
In Australia, it is called Body Corporate fees. The body corporate fee is calculated on a per annum basis and then divided into weekly payments. Unlike Malaysia which is paid monthly, the fees are paid weekly in Australia.
Square Feet vs Square Meters
In the property industry, Malaysians and Australians use different measurement systems. Properties in Malaysia are measured in square feet (sq. ft.); whereas properties in Australia are measured in square meters (sq.m.).
Rent weekly and not monthly
For property investors, upon vacant possession, the next step will be to rent out the house. In Malaysia, the rental is calculated monthly. In Australia, the rental is calculated weekly. Collecting rent weekly allows an investor to earn approximately 8% more than collecting monthly.
Assuming the monthly rental is RM1,200 per month. Per annum, the investor earns RM14,400. However, if the RM1,200 was divided by four, it’ll be RM300 per week on average. There are 52 weeks in a year. If the rental is collected weekly instead, the investor stands to earn RM15,600 per annum! That’s one week more of rental, as compared to renting it on a monthly basis.
Entry and exit strategies
As a foreigner buying a property in Malaysia, there are a few barriers to entry. In Kuala Lumpur, the property value has to be at least RM1,000,000. In Selangor, the property value has to be at least RM2,000,000 and with strata-title. Different states have different threshold levels and restrictions.
Foreigners can purchase a Malaysian property by borrowing from a Malaysian bank. Generally, foreigners have a 70% margin of finance or they can only borrow up to 70% of the purchase price.
In terms of an exit strategy and selling the property in Malaysia, the foreign owner can sell to anybody – Malaysians and non-Malaysians alike. Nonetheless, the foreign owner is also subject to the Real Property Gains Tax (RPGT) upon selling his or her property.
Unlike Malaysia, there is no minimum threshold in Australia. However, foreigners can only purchase new projects or under-construction properties. Foreigners are then subject to an entry-level tax – Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB). There’s the FIRB Fee by the Australian federal government. In addition, each state charges its own FIRB surcharge and stamp duty. In Malaysia, the stamp duty is established by the federal government as a whole.
When selling the property in Australia, the foreign owner can only sell back to Australians only. The owner is also subject to paying capital gains tax on the sale.
Things you’ve learnt about Australian properties
In summary, we’ve learnt how Malaysian properties differ from Australian properties by way of home ownership, housing, security, contract to purchase, construction, maintenance, measurement, rental collection, and investment strategies.
Comment in the section below additional interesting things you’ve learnt about Australian properties, investment, and culture as compared to in Malaysia or in your own country?
Last week, we went up into the sky to view a Bungalow in the Sky. Today, let’s look at landed bungalows.
What is a bungalow? There are differing real estate definitions for bungalow; but in Malaysia, a bungalow is basically a house built in the middle of a plot of land.
Often, we real estate agents get a lot of enquiries from clients who want to buy a bungalow. There are many and different types of bungalows in the market. We’ve to filter the buyer’s requirements and match the buyer with the right bungalow.
Basic / Renovated Bungalow
A basic bungalow usually maintains its original structure. The first owner or the seller did not renovate or extended the bungalow; therefore earning the term “basic bungalow”. Buyers can tear down the building and rebuild from bottom-up. Or they can maintain the structure internally, and then renovate and extend around the structure.
Basic Bungalow in Petaling Jaya (click picture to learn more)
Modern Bungalow in Damansara Heights (click picture to learn more)
Renovations and extensions involve additional expenditure. Usually in a suitable to move in condition as is. But sometimes, the bungalow may not be renovated to buyer’s taste.
Modern Vs. Tropical
How then do you differentiate a modern bungalow from a tropical bungalow? From my many bungalow viewings, a modern bungalow tends to emphasise on the colour white, glass panel windows, and spacious living. A tropical or Balinese style bungalow emphasises on nature, solid timber flooring, brown window frames, and beige walls.
3-sty Modern Bungalow in Damansara Heights (click picture to learn more)
4-sty Modern Tropical Bungalow in Damansara Heights (Click picture to learn more)
Swimming Pool & Private Lift
Some bungalows come with many additional features (just to name a few): swimming pool, private lift, basement, garage, sauna, wine cellar, and squash court! Nonetheless, the features that get the most attention from buyers are swimming pool and private lift. Some buyers prefer to have a swimming pool because it’s a water feature, while other buyers don’t prefer to have a swimming pool because of the maintenance costs associated with it.
For bungalows with three or more floors; the feature that separates a three-storey bungalow from another three-storey bungalow is the private lift. Imagine walking down three or four storeys up and down daily in your own home. Good cardio exercise! Generally, buyers who show an interest in bungalows with private lifts indicates that they want to buy a bungalow that is wheelchair-friendly and/or they have an elderly family member(s).
Space Vs. View
The bungalow is not without its land as defined in the beginning. The ideal bungalow is one built on flat land. Even if the bungalow is constructed on flat land, the next question is the amount of available space on the land. Some bungalows take up a lot of space on the land that there is very little or no garden. There are also bungalows with a big garden and a lot of land for future expansion.
Sometimes, that’s not the case from Mother Nature. There are bungalows built on the hill.
Buyers have to sacrifice the space for the view. Bungalows built on a hill present magnificent views from top-down and surround. Wake up every day to a beautiful view!
Bungalow with a view
Bungalow on flat land (Click picture to learn more)
Similar Yet Different
Some neighbourhoods may have bungalows with a variety of individual designs. Along the same road, buyers can find a basic 2-storey bungalow, a modern 3-storey bungalow, a modern 3-storey bungalow with a swimming pool, a tropical 4-storey bungalow with lift, etc.
On the other hand, there are bungalows built in a gated and guarded, master-planned community. All the bungalows in the community have similar layouts and interior designs. The bungalows are not built by individual homeowners but by a master developer.
Throughout my real estate career thus far, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to view and learn about the many different types of bungalows in Damansara Heights, Bangsar, Bukit Tunku (Kenny Hills), Country Heights Damansara, Petaling Jaya, etc.
Each bungalow has its own unique interior design, feel, build, and story to tell. I’m a real estate agent for anyone who wants to purchase or rent a bungalow in Petaling Jaya or Kuala Lumpur. I would also like to invite your good self to respond if you are interested to sell or rent out your bungalow in Petaling Jaya or Kuala Lumpur.
You can call me on my mobile 0123447550 or Whatsapp me.
Real estate is more than just selling bungalows and semi-ds on land. It is also about selling bungalows and semi-ds in the sky.
Recently, a client by the name of Ali asked me, “Do you have any new condo property to recommend?” Hewanted to purchase his first (new) home for his own-stay with future investment potential. Ali’s family were a family of 4 with 1 more child on the way. Therefore, they were searching for at least a 3-bedroom unit. They’re preferred location is in Petaling Jaya as Ali works in Sunway and his wife, Siti works in Subang.
I recommended this project and invited them to the sales gallery. The sales gallery itself has a luxurious and cozy feel. Upon entering the sales gallery, they felt relaxed and comfortable. The children marvelled at the life-size scale model and were left to be self-entertained at the kid’s section. I took them on a walkthrough around the sales gallery and in the show units.
The project is located in the heart of Petaling Jaya. It is accessible by and to 5 major highways: Lebuhraya Damansara-Perdana (LDP), Lebuhraya Persekutuan (Federal Highway), New Pantai Expressway (NPE), KESAS, and New Klang Valley Expressway (NKVE). The project is also surrounded by matured neighbourhoods with comprehensive amenities – Paradigm Mall, Sunway Pyramid, Sri Emas International School, SJKC Yuk Chai, Taylor’s University (Lakeside Campus), Sunway Medical Center, Glenmarie LRT, Kelana Jaya LRT, etc.
In addition to its strategic location, the project is surrounded by nature. From the sky, the bungalows and semi-ds have a unique calm blue lakefront view of a 15 acres lake. It also has a majestic green view of the Subang National Golf Club.
The project has an array of facilities. The indoor facilities are gym, multipurpose room, theatre room, and more. The outdoor facilities are a 6-lane Olympic length infinity lap pool, 210 meter Lazy River, 500 meter jogging track, and much more. The bungalows and semi-ds in the sky also come with facilities in the sky: sky gym, sky jacuzzi, sky lounge, and observation deck @ roof top.
As its concept is bungalows and semi-ds in the sky; the units are either standalone or 2 units side-by-side. The units range from 2 to 5 bedrooms. Built-up sizes range from 892 sq. ft. to 1,788 sq. ft.
It was the heat of the day. Hungry and pressed for time, I went to a restaurant for a quick lunch. I found a spot in the restaurant, settled down comfortably, ordered my lunch. While waiting for my order to arrive, the lunch crowd started to trickle into the restaurant. Each individual and group of individuals that walked in were searching for the ideal spot to sit in.
Some say how a person eats, speaks volume about him/her. Jenny likes spicy food but Sofia doesn’t; Ben saves the best bite till last, whilst Kenny mixes everything and gobble up.
In the same manner, where and how a person sits in a restaurant says a lot about the person.
Outside / Ground
People who sit outside may be trying to avoid another cold environment such as the office (temperature wise). It is already freezing in the office; they need someplace warm. Furthermore, having stuck between four walls at work; one may like to sit in the open. There are also the sunlight, the breeze, and the crowd – a naturally refreshing environment.
At the same time, people who sit outside also want to feel a part of society. They like to watch life pass them by. The group of (high) school students talk and laugh loudly. The businessman in his black suit walks and talks hastily on his mobile. The old couple walks hand-in-hand down the city sidewalk. The jogger walks her pet dog. Some common stereotypes of city people. Life goes on.
Moving up is the balcony, another open-air environment. People who sit on the balcony are deemed to be seeking solace. It’s probably very hazy below. They have had a rough day. They need to be above the clouds. They need an alternative and refreshing view to the troubles of life.
Thereafter, the breeze blows away the negativity. It is gone with the wind.
Facing the entrance
Now, let’s move into the restaurant. People who sit facing the entrance have great expectations of what’s to come.
They are expecting something of the unknown; something magical; something dramatic to happen. Somehow, somewhat, someone will walk through the entrance.
Back facing the entrance
of facing the entrance is to sit with their backs facing the entrance. People who sit in such a way want to look away from all the distraction that is happening. They can’t stand the drama that is happening.
They had an eyesore. They’ve seen too much, heard too much, and said too much. They want to un-see what they have seen. So they turn away.
At the corner
The table in the corner is usually where the quiet, lonely, and focused people sit. They have important tasks to complete. They prefer to be left alone and undisturbed.
They don’t want to draw too much attention to themselves. This is so that they can quietly sneak in and out of the restaurant without being noticed.
In the middle
People who sit in the middle are presumably attention seekers. When a person sits in the middle of the restaurant, all eyes would immediately turn to him. People seated on his right would turn to their left. People seated on his left would turn to their right. People seated in front of him would look up. People walking into the restaurant would notice him sitting in the middle of the restaurant.
Alas, my client called me when I had just finished my lunch. My client (who also happens to be a restaurant owner) had just arrived and I am going to show him a ground floor shop-lot for rent.
That person is me. Sitting in the middle, I had a 360-degree view of all that was going around me. I saw how and where people sat in the restaurant.