Conversation with a Hong Kong property agent marketing properties in Iskandar Malaysia

By Tan Chee Yuen / The Edge Property | June 24, 2017 8:00 AM SGT
I recently had breakfast with a Hong Kong property agent who has been marketing Malaysian real estate in Hong Kong and China for the past 10 years. He started by plying beach resort properties at Batu Ferringhi on Penang island in 2007, and then moved to the capital city of Kuala Lumpur, where projects in Kuala Lumpur City Centre and Mont Kiara were popular. More recently, though, he has been active in Iskandar Malaysia in the southern state of Johor, where he comes every other month, leading groups of mainland Chinese and Hong Kong buyers.
From what I see, he has been very successful in getting these buyers to invest in Iskandar Malaysia’s property market. Given his understanding of the buying behaviour of Hong Kong and Chinese investors, I took the opportunity to pick his brains.
Country Garden’s projects in Iskandar Malaysia, such as Danga Bay and Forest City, may seem high-density to Singaporeans and Malaysians, but are considered ‘normal’ to Hongkongers and the Chinese, who are accustomed to much higher densities in their local property market
Why do Hongkongers and the Chinese invest in Iskandar Malaysia?
Shenzhen’s runaway economic success and surging property prices as a hinterland to Hong Kong are an easy comparison to the Iskandar- Singapore story. For Hongkongers and Chinese, it is easy to relate Iskandar Malaysia to Shenzhen 20 years ago. And he makes comparisons in terms of cost of living and cost of doing business in both countries to prove the point.
What are the key differences between Shenzhen and Iskandar Malaysia today?
Today, there are five immigration checkpoints between Hong Kong and Shenzhen that you can drive through, and the traffic is not as wearisome as the one at the Iskandar Malaysia-Singapore border at the Causeway and Second Link. He believes there should be a third-link bridge between Singapore and Iskandar Malaysia. In his opinion, the cross-border vehicular traffic today more than justifies it.
He highlighted the importance of the Hong Kong-Shenzhen MRT link for those crossing the border for work or business. A HSR [high speed rail] between Guangzhou and Hong Kong will further integrate China’s economy with Hong Kong’s.
Once the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore HSR and MRT system linking Singapore to Johor are completed, the upside potential from closer integration is inevitable.
He also highlighted the shortage of quality hotels in Iskandar Malaysia....