During the lockdown period starting March this year, saw many Malaysians being cooped up at home for months. While a handful was comfortable adhering to Movement Control Order (MCO) with ease in their homes, there was a handful who realised that their living conditions were not conducive and ideal enough and aspire to seek better homes.
Undoubtedly, the ones faced with uncomfortable living spaces were mostly first-time home seekers. And to be amazed, their buying preference has evolved from the conventional location, location, location to factoring priorities and comfort too.
According to the PropertyGuru Malaysia Consumer Sentiment Study H2 2020, more Malaysian home seekers are looking for room to grow when evaluating properties, evaluating pricing and developer reputation as key purchasing considerations.
Among the project features most desired in the study was a higher preference for low project density (61%), spacious floor layouts and more lifts per floor (40%). And 42% also shared they were more price-sensitive following COVID-19, as Malaysians safeguard spending ahead of a projected recession.
One interesting finding from the study saw that 63% will likely go for good ventilation and natural lighting. It seems the rise of a well-lit and airy home has become a new favourite among property seekers now.
These features are most favoured among the younger demographics consisting of 22—29 years old and have also called out that high-speed internet infrastructure and Internet of Things (IoT) fixtures are equally important when buying a property as long hours are spent at home and work from home being more common now, the need for continuity from home is even more needed.
“The current emphasis on space and pricing among potential purchasers is attributed to months of restricted movement and income loss amid the COVID-19 outbreak. In development terms, these are usually mutually exclusive, as square footage is a fundamental component of cost,” says Sheldon Fernandez, Country Manager, PropertyGuru Malaysia.
“However, our research found that Malaysian home seeker tastes are changing with regard to what they are willing to pay for, which we look forward to sharing in the near future. Moving forward, developers hard-hit by the Movement Control Order (MCO) should ensure their products take market demand into account, to maintain healthy sales figures and to ease the residential overhang,” he said.
Shifting consumer preferences in a developer
The importance of developer reputation to home seekers shows that the majority of Malaysians, about 83% rely on the developer’s reputation as a vital factor for their buying decision and 77% of respondents cite past project portfolios, track records and reviews as equally important when choosing a developer.
“The PropertyGuru Malaysia Consumer Sentiment Study also shows that Malaysians have become less brand-conscious in their property journeys and are more willing to consider properties from a wider pool of developers, as long as these players can deliver the features they want at the price points they demand,” says Fernandez.
Leveraging on PropertyGuru’s reach as Malaysia’s largest property site, the study found that that developer reputation, portfolio and track record were more important than public listing status to home seekers, with just 31% of respondents preferring listed players when looking for a property.
However, the pool of younger home seekers and those living with their parents prioritised listed players as their top preferences when considering a developer, as a measure to avoid being victims of defaulted developers.
Other factors home seekers consider when evaluating developers, according to the study included financial incentives, discounts and cash back offered (68%), quality of interior fittings provided (66%) and developer’s financial stability (58%).
Fernandez said, as property stakeholders strive to find their footing post-COVID-19, these findings underscore the need for local players to focus on value-driven offerings addressing current market gaps to remain relevant.
And to spur the property market, attractive incentives provided by developers were highly lauded and lured property seekers to consider their projects. Indirectly, developers are playing an important role in easing the buyer from being able to afford a property of their choice.
Here is a handy guide on how to choose the right developer with tips and tricks to deal with them!