Report: Malaysia, Thailand popular with Chinese middle-class seeking cheaper homes

Ida Lim
Yao attributed the popularity of Malaysia and Thailand among Chinese nationals as a driver for the big appetite for condominiums in Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Pattaya. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

KUALA LUMPUR, June 25 — Malaysia and Thailand are a hit with China’s burgeoning middle-class who are on the lookout to buy houses cheaper than those in other countries or possibly even in their own cities, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported.

The Hong Kong paper noted the change in trend of rich Chinese nationals buying properties in North America, Australia and Europe in the past, to the current growing appetite for properties in Southeast Asia countries such as Malaysia and Thailand.

Yao Weiliang, who co-owns a company assisting those in the Pearl River Delta region in Guangdong province in China to buy Southeast Asian properties, said the developing region was an affordable choice for the middle-income group in China to get a property abroad.

“Most middle-class Chinese can’t afford to buy a 5 million yuan (US$768,000) home in Australia or the US.

“But we found the booming Southern Asian countries with the cities’ high property returns are more profitable and practical to purchase for middle-class mainlanders, who are actually eager to follow in the footsteps of the tycoons and celebrities, and own property overseas in the emerging markets,” the BestHomeRE co-owner was quoted saying.

Five million yuan is equivalent to about RM3.08 million.

Yao described the keen interest shown by property buyers, noting that his company receives dozens of calls each day from individual investors seeking out property in cities like Kuala Lumpur and Thailan’s capital Bangkok and Pattaya to its south.

Yao contrasted the prices between a condominium unit measuring 30 square metres in downtown Pattaya to a similar unit in Shenzhen, China, with the former available for the range of 500,000 to 800,000 yuan (RM308,227 to RM493,163) while the latter could be priced at least two million yuan (RM1.23 million).

Condominium units within the size range of 30 to 50 square metres in Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur could be priced at between one million to two million yuan (RM616,454 to RM1.23 million), SCMP said.

Yao also said the rents in these cities are at least triple or more than what property rentals in any of China’s cities would fetch.

Yao also attributed the popularity of Malaysia and Thailand among Chinese nationals as a driver for the big appetite for condominiums in Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Pattaya.

“The two countries are among those with the fastest economic growth in Southeast Asia and are loved by Chinese people,” he was quoted saying, also noting that Singapore was considered too costly to invest in and Vietnam being an unfriendly nation to China citizens.

SCMP also noted China’s tighter capital control policies, local fears that China’s property market is headed for a meltdown and China’s Belt and Road initiative also contributed to the greater interest in property investment in Southeast Asia.

While the SCMP report only mentioned Kuala Lumpur, Johor Baru was previously also reported to have garnered significant interest among China’s property buyers.