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Demand for new houses to surge [21-01-2011]  
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THERE will be a surge in demand for new houses in Malaysia as Asian property investors look for properties, and expatriates come here for projects under the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP).

"The expatriates will be here for the duration of the projects such as the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT), among others. They would need a place to stay," said Eric YH Ooi, managing director of Knight Frank.

Ooi said, Asian investors are returning as Malaysia still offers the best value for properties, as compared to Singapore and Hong Kong where the property price is about five times more expensive.

Malaysia is the prime investment location in Asia because of its stable property market and relative affordability.

Many investors are coming to the market, rich with cash, and with an appetite for luxury properties in Kuala Lumpur, Ooi said on the sidelines of a property market outlook summit in Kuala Lumpur recently.

The investors from Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan are buying condominiums, apartments and bungalows in the KLCC, Bangsar, Mont' Kiara and Kenny Hills areas.

Ooi said Malaysia's positive economic outlook and improvement in the rental market is driving them here.

During 2008/2009, rental of the properties fell by 20 per cent to 40 per cent in some locations in Kuala Lumpur, because of the financial meltdown and more supply in the market.

"It has improved and rentals are hovering between RM3.50 per sq ft and RM7.00 psf now," Ooi said.

Ooi expects more than 15 per cent of the sale of luxury properties this year to come from foreigners.

But this is low compared to 2008, where some 40 per cent of the sales were contributed by foreigners.

"We expect it to return to levels of 30 per cent," he said.

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