#Highlight* M'sia's 'cheap' properties luring S'pore investors

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KUALA LUMPUR (6 Dec): With property prices skyrocketing in Singapore and the warming in Singapore-Malaysia relations, demand for relatively cheaper Malaysian residential properties is growing.

Another strong reason for choosing Malaysia is the close proximity to Singapore.
Steve Melhuish, co-founder and chief executive officer of PropertyGuru Malaysia, said that the main reason Singaporeans view Malaysia as a tenable outlet for property investment is simply due to the comparatively low cost of purchase and maintenance.

PropertyGuru's Malaysia Property Show (MPS), capitalising on increased Singaporean demand of property in Malaysia, is returning this year with their property exhibition held in Singapore on Dec 8 and 9, 2012, said Melhuish in a statement today (Thursday).

"Prospective investors and homebuyers can expect to view the latest property projects from 10 major Malaysian developers including Andaman, UEM Land, Plentitude, Sime Darby Property, MRCB, The Haven, Denia Developments, Pulai Spring, Tanah Sutra and Encorp Iskandar," the statement said.

Melhuish said: "Our previous two Malaysia Property Shows were very well-received with over 1,400 visitors contributing total sales worth RM44.5 million."

According to the 2011 Wealth Report, the average price of luxury property in Singapore was around US$2,518 per square foot. This makes similar properties in Malaysia approximately five to six times cheaper in comparison.

The lower property prices in Malaysia, as well as the fact that Singapore is ranked the ninth top nationality in The Wealth Report 2012's prime second-home buyers list, make Malaysia a prime location for Singaporeans.

Additionally, the current strong Singapore dollar, which is seen rising further against the ringgit, adds to the attractiveness of property investment in Malaysia. Currently, one Singapore dollar can fetch at least 2.5 Malaysian ringgit.

The Malaysian government's initiatives to boost foreign property investment in the country, particularly in Iskandar Malaysia in Johor, is another pull factor for Singapore investors.

Iskandar Malaysia, located in southern Johor and is three times the size of Singapore (2.217 sq km), has brought in RM32.94 billion worth of investments in the property sector, according to the Iskandar Regional Development Authority.

"Soaring home prices and overcrowded roads in Singapore have made living in Johor a more attractive prospect for many Singaporeans and expatriates, even with the risk of crime and the inconvenience of crossing the border everyday," The Edge Singapore reported recently in its City & Country section.

Besides the Coastal Highway which cuts travelling time between Singapore and Iskandar Malaysia, the presence of Marlborough College, Legoland Malaysia theme park, Pinewood Studios, hospitals and universities have further bolstered the property market in Johor.

And for risk-averse Singaporeans, the current close bilateral ties between Singapore and Malaysia forged by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has removed their fear of political risk.