Foreigners Snap Up Penang Historical Buildings
People from other countries are investing in Penang heritage properties, especially in George Town, thanks to the good returns they offer, reported the New Straits Times.
According to a foreign landlord, he and his friends had purchased a number of pre-war buildings a few years ago within George Town's heritage zone along several major roads, including Love Lane. They did this after a colleague told them that there is strong leasing demand for such properties. Initially, they only bought two properties, but now they have seven.
"We took a weekend trip to Penang with our families to see the city. After seeing the growth potential, we decided to hire a property agent to look for properties along the stretch, which we could rent out or turn into boutique hotels.â€
Although they did not evict the original tenants, they increased the rent from RM1,800 to RM5,000 in line with the prevailing market rates, said the person who requested not to be named.
According to Penang Heritage Trust Vice President Khoo Salma Nasution, foreigners buying heritage properties is okay as long as it is not widespread and there are no bulk purchases.
But it becomes a bad thing if there more foreigners than locals. In the past, many families stayed in the heritage zone, making it a lively place even at night. "These days, however, the enclave is a ghost city at night as most of the families have been driven out by high rentals.â€
Furthermore, she revealed that foreign landlord would sometimes make drastic changes to the properties.
"Of course, they must comply with the guidelines such as using lime paint instead of regular paint and such.â€ But there had been cases where the owners just go with the look they want, regardless if it matches the neighbourhood.
"In some streets, you can see colourful buildings, which do not reflect the heritage of the city. In other places, they build around the heritage building, completely obscuring it" Khoo added.