Property Interest Showing Signs of Early Recovery

PropertyGuru Editorial Team
With the world gripped in the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, and countries all over currently in lockdown, Malaysia is no different with its own Movement Control Order (MCO).
Under the MCO, all forms of travel have been banned, unless it is for an emergency situation, or a representative of the household is tasked to purchase the daily necessities.
It’s no wonder then, that industries all over have been greatly impacted, with no exception to the property market. Buyers/tenants and sellers/landlords are unable to meet face-to-face to ensure that the process goes smoothly.
While there are a few who may turn to virtual property tours and video calls, a vast majority would still want to visit the property in person, before committing to such a hefty financial commitment.
This can be deduced from an analysis of PropertyGuru’s listings, both for sale and for rent. As the largest property site in Malaysia with the most listings, PropertyGuru is well positioned to provide an accurate view of property demand.
We took a look at the movement of interest for properties over the duration of the MCO (from 22nd March to 18th April 2020), and we’re about to share the findings of each major state with you!

Kuala Lumpur

As the beautiful capital of our country, we get some of the really upmarket and more affluent neighbourhoods, like Mont Kiara and Bangsar.
An estimated 1.78 million people have chosen this area to call “home”, and it’s not hard to see why, with an abundance of world-class infrastructure and some of the best gastronomic delights around!
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1) For Sale Listings

KL took a hit in the number of property enquiries during the first week of the MCO announcement, with a drop of 11.6% week-on-week (WoW).
Seeing as how it’s one of the most popular areas to live in though, by the second week, the numbers had already recovered and was clocking in a positive at 10.99% from the previous week.
This was, in large part, thanks to neighbourhoods like Kuchai Lama (+134.21% increase in interest), Damansara Heights (+117.86%), and Sri Petaling (+94.87%).
Even though Sri Petaling received plenty of negative press coverage due to the Tabligh gathering which created Malaysia’s largest COVID-19 cluster, there were surprisingly no confirmed cases in the neighbourhood during that period. However, the capital city remains the district with the most number of active COVID-19 cases.
So, when the MCO was extended into Phase 2 along with three residential buildings in KL put under the enhanced MCO, the number of property enquiries received for KL then took a sharp U-turn and went down by 21.88%.
But by the final week, which was 12th – 18th April, the trend had recovered considerably, only dipping slightly at -2.00% WoW. This time, it was the Mont Kiara, Setapak, and Bukit Jalil neighbourhoods that brought the graph marginally upwards.

2) Rental Listings

Rental listings in KL were more promising, even though it was off to a rocky start, charting a hard hit to the number of enquirers by 38.17%. This can be attributed to neighbourhoods such as Setapak (-40.55%), Bukit Jalil (-40.09%), and KL City (-38.10%).
By the time the second week had rolled around, there was already a recovery, and an increase in the numbers by 5.93% WoW.
The third week, too, saw a small rise in numbers by 0.99% WoW. It is worth noting that although the numbers were recovering, it has yet to achieve pre-MCO volume of rental property enquirers.
However, in the final week of the analysis period, there was a decline as expected (after the MCO extension into Phase 2), where the volume of enquirers was seen to be dropping by 5.6% WoW.

Selangor

With the seat of the federal government calling this state “home”, it’s no wonder that there are an estimate 6.53 million people who’ve chosen to live here!
The widest network of highways, some of the best public transportation options, and established amenities readily available – creating a life for yourself here is a breeze.
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1) For Sale Listings

During the first week of MCO, it was noticed that there was a slight drop of 3.96% WoW in the number of enquirers for property listings. The trendline was relatively stable during the second week of MCO as well, even though it still registered a small decrease of 0.42%.
Things really started to look up for this state come the first week of April, as the interest in properties for sale returned to pre-MCO levels.
However, it would seem that the joy was short-lived, as the numbers did another dive in the final week of our analysis, and this time, it was a sharp decrease of 26.29% WoW. This may have been reflective of the government’s announcement of a stricter MCO extension (Phase 2) on 25th March.
In particular, the areas within Selangor that suffered the most impact and contributed to that fall was Petaling Jaya (-51.72% decrease in interest), followed by Sepang (-44.70%) and Subang Jaya (-40.08%). Whereas the areas that managed to weather the shock better were Bangi (+18.00%), Semenyih (+11.97%), then Cheras (-3.96%)
One of the reasons that may have contributed to areas like Petaling Jaya and Sepang seeing such a large drop in interest, could be the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in each.
Both were among the areas that were classified as ‘red zones’ (41 cases and above), with the former having 378 cases, and the latter having 71 (as at 30th April).
According to the Ministry of Health, Selangor has recorded the largest number of infected citizens so far, standing at 1,431 as at 30th April.

2) Rental Listings

A similar trend can be seen for those who were in the market for rental properties. In the first week after the MCO announcement, we see a huge decline in the number of enquirers by 30.06%.
The areas that contributed the most to this drop was Sepang (-39.13%), Kajang (-37.36%), and Puchong (-36.93%).
The numbers continued to decline further in the following week, by 9.35% WoW. Entering the first week of April, the decrease continued on a steady decline of 0.45% WoW.
Once the second week of April rolled by though, the number of renters enquiring about rental properties on PropertyGuru dropped further. The drop is not as severe as the for sale listings however, clocking in at only -3.27%.

Johor

Known for its islands and jungles that are mostly still with their pristine beauty intact, this state boasts an estimated population size of 3.76 million.
With rapid development and the influx of investors, there are plenty of people who are choosing to move south, and these are mostly people who work across the border in Singapore.
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1) For Sale Listings

Johor was similarly affected when the MCO took effect, recording an abrupt fall in the number of enquirers by 31.92% WoW. Areas like Iskandar Puteri (-27.43%) and Pasir Gudang (-26.67%) contributed to that drop.
The former could have been affected due to the location of the Sultan Abu Bakar Complex (KSAB) in Gelang Patah, through which about 700 Malaysians pass through it daily on their return from Singapore.
While the second week didn’t see such a drastic fall, it was nevertheless still significant at -19.44%.
As hopes of the MCO being lifted started to increase, so did the number of enquirers in the third week with a healthy jump to a positive 12.06%, this time thanks to the same areas: Pasir Gudang (+45.71%) and Iskandar Puteri (+16.84%).
The final week once again saw the similar pattern of a drop in Malaysians on the lookout for a property to buy, as numbers went down slightly by 5.88%.

2) Rental Listings

Johor was the state to see the largest drop in the number of enquirers for rental properties, as there was a whopping 43.84% WoW decline during the first week of MCO, amidst fears that many would not be able to travel across the border for work. One area that was hit particularly hard was Iskandar Puteri (-48.10%), where the Sultan Abu Bakar Complex (KSAB) is located.
By the time we entered the second week, numbers had already improved significantly, recording a positive trend of 4.07% growth WoW, with Iskandar Puteri contributing to that (enjoying a rebound).
That improvement in the market was negated in the third week though, as numbers went back down again by 4.59%.
In the final week of analysis, there was a further 7.13% decline in the number of renters who were searching for a property, no doubt caused by the extension of the MCO.

Penang

With a nickname like ‘The Pearl of the Orient’, it’s hard not to fall in love with the old-world charm and rich historical culture found in this island. That’s why an estimated 1.77 million people have settled here.
If you’re still undecided about finding a home in this idyllic island, the amazing variety of delicious food readily available should be able to convince the foodie in you!
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1) For Sale Listings

The number of enquirers for this state shows a slightly different behaviour than the rest. In the beginning, there was a drop of 12.32% WoW as people came to terms with the new lifestyle.
Come the second week though, when other markets either reported a lessening in the decline or even a positive growth in the numbers, Penang actually saw a worsening trend, dropping even further by 20.99% WoW.
Areas like Seberang Perai Selatan (Mainland – South) and Butterworth were the areas hardest hit. The former were among the areas that recorded the highest number of COVID-19 positive cases in the earliest phase.
In the third week, that was when it saw a slight improvement, as the rapid free-fall slowed down to only a 4.62% drop.
We see a surprising turn of events in the final week; as every other state records a negative trend due to the government’s announcement of an extension to the MCO, Penang is the only state to record a positive growth, and quite a significant one at that: 29.78% WoW.
Nevertheless, even though there’s a growth, the volume of enquirers is still lower than the decline that was recorded after the first week of MCO.
This can be attributed to areas like Georgetown and Timor Laut, as well as to the news that the entire state was on track to becoming a ‘green zone’ (no active COVID-19 cases).

2) Rental Listings

With the MCO taking effect, Penang starts off by demonstrating the expected decrease in the number of people wanting to rent on the island, by 38.75%.
In the second week, there’s a healthy recovery in the trend, and the number grows by a positive 16.73% WoW. Nevertheless, a decrease is noted in the third week, by -12.77% WoW.
But again, Penang sees a bucking of the trend in the final week, as it records not just a positive movement, but another significant one at 25.36%. The areas which saw a significant increase in the number of enquirers for rental listings were Bayan Lepas and Timor Laut.

Whether you’re looking to buy a property of your own, or rent a place first while you wait for the market to improve, one thing’s for certain: you need to be absolutely certain that you’re financially ready for this. Check out our wide range of property guides to ensure you know what you’re walking into, and good luck!