Malaysians are embracing sustainability features when planning for future home purchases, according to the Malaysia Consumer Sentiment Study H1 2020 by PropertyGuru, Asia’s leading property technology company.
“The majority (63%) of Malaysians are thinking ahead and prioritising environmentally sustainable features, with solar panels (70%), smart cooling systems (59%) and pollution-absorbing interiors (40%) highest in demand,” says Sheldon Fernandez, Country Manager, PropertyGuru Malaysia.
“These desires underscore rising costs of living in the country, along with growing quality of life concerns, particularly in urban areas. They also align with the government’s current green initiatives, including a 20% renewable energy mix in its 2025 generation targets.”
Going Green – What’s Hot and What’s Not
While energy-saving solutions were the sustainability features highest in demand among home seekers, water and waste management were also considerations, with rainwater harvesting (37%), water recycling (31%) and food waste composter systems (22%) cited as desirable.
However, farming and electric vehicle support were low in appeal. Indoor and rooftop farming features accounted for just 17% and 15% of demand respectively, while only 10% of respondents said they were interested in electric vehicle charging points.
“These preferences point towards areas where developers and industry stakeholders can focus or streamline their efforts for future developments, in line with our goal of helping Malaysians make confident property decisions,” says Fernandez.
“Features such as solar and cooling solutions also topped the list in Singapore. However, water recycling is higher in demand there (36%), reflecting that nation’s status as a water importer.”
High-income respondents in Malaysia were more likely to be interested in solar panels and smart cooling systems, with 76% and 63% of such home seekers citing interest in such features. Meanwhile, 43% of less affluent home seekers prioritised water recycling solutions – higher than other demographics.
While generally low in demand, indoor farming and food waste composter systems were more popular among female home seekers, 28% of whom reported interest in such features, compared to only 18% of males.
Safety, Security & Flexible Living Spaces Top of Mind for Malaysians
Aside from sustainability, advanced security systems and flexible spaces are priorities for 61% and 37% of Malaysians respectively when planning for the future.
“These desires highlight ongoing concerns for home seekers in urban areas, particularly safety, which was a consideration for respondents across the board regardless of age, income and gender,” says Fernandez.
“Flexible spaces and modular layouts are also useful in maximising value for home seekers as developers build smaller, more agile units for investors and owner-occupiers alike. Moving forward, industry players must work towards delivering what consumers want and need, throughout their home ownership journey.”
By building with consumer needs in mind, developers can not only ensure they remain relevant, but align their efforts with reducing the national residential overhang as well.
They can also ease the plight of Malaysians faced by supply-demand imbalances, affordability challenges and frequent loan rejections, with corresponding impacts on sentiment.
Consumers Less Optimistic About Property Climate
More Malaysians may be worried about the future due to this uptick of unfavourable sentiment in the short-term. This is seen in the Property Sentiment Index, which dipped two points from 44 in H1 2019 to 42 points early this year.
The decrease came from dissatisfaction with the country’s property climate. While 41% of Malaysians were optimistic about Malaysia’s real estate, affordability and overall property outlook in H1 2019, only 35% felt the same way in H1 2020.
“This decline is likely due to the close of the Home Ownership Campaign, as well as no strong property provisions in Budget 2020. Macroeconomic headwinds, including trade tensions at the time and slowing global growth, may have played a part as well. As we move further into 2020, socio-political uncertainty may take its toll on sentiment as well,” says Fernandez.
“However, the outlook on interest rates has improved. Only 15% of Malaysians saw interest rates as ‘too high,’ in H1 2020, with 29% of respondents calling them ‘reasonable’ or ‘fair’. This may improve further with Bank Negara Malaysia’s recent cut of its Overnight Policy Rate.”
PropertyGuru Malaysia Consumer Sentiment Study – Methodology
The PropertyGuru Malaysia Consumer Sentiment Study polls 1,108 respondents on property and property-related issues via online questionnaires. Launched in 2009 as the PropertyGuru Consumer Sentiment Survey, it has been implemented in collaboration with Intuit Research Consultants, an international research agency, since 2016.
The study’s respondents primarily comprise professionals, managers, executives and businessmen (44%) in the mid to high-income segment (86%). The majority of these reside in Klang Valley (51%), Johor (8%) and Penang (7%), with 6% distributed in the northern states (Perak, Kedah and Perlis).