clock 02-10-2017
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When Is the Best Time to Invest? (The Truth)

It has been almost half a year since the Fire Rooster strutted in with confidence on January 2017, replacing the unpredictable chatter of the Fire Monkey. Yet, we are still left with a series of apprehensive questions.

When will the property market fair better this year? Will it continue to crack with confidence, just like a rooster? Will there be more prosperities and opportunities as the Fiery Rooster signifies boldness and assurance?

Well, the truth is, the state of the housing market in Malaysia right now is in a conundrum. Malaysia has been facing many significant challenges both within the country and internationally including the decelerating economic growth rate, lower oil prices and falling value of the ringgit. A recent study on this shows that on the backdrop of all these critical issues, the domestic housing market has entered a sluggish phase.

Due to the slowdown in sales, developers have become more adaptive to the market, adjusting to the needs of the buyers in terms of product type, specifications and neighbourhood facilities. If developers are not able to price their houses within the attractive or competitive range then they will lose out. Additionally, they lamented that sales are significantly affected by the low approval rates of bank loans following more rigorous regulations imposed by Bank Negara.

Logically, now is the best period to consider buying. However, there is still a possibility that this trend is just an intermediate short cycle and the downward trend of prices are temporary. The property market may yet rebound back up.

According to political and economic affairs analyst, Professor Hoo Ke Ping, Malaysia is likely to be hit with a recession in 2018. The 2018 recession is expected to hit almost all sectors, from banking to retail to real estate. During a recession, property prices are expected to drop. It would also be the best time to look for commercial properties located in prime locations as some of the owners would be selling these properties to pay off their businesses or cover investment losses.

The Malaysian property market had started to show signs of slowing down six months ago after market speculators failed to get bank loans or buyers or tenants for their properties. According to Khalil Adis, founder of Khalil Adis Consultancy Pte Ltd and Director of REI Mediaction Sdn Bhd, he observed that there are still strong demands for affordable properties but due to the lack of affordable homes, developers would have to think outside the box and think of innovative concepts to continue attracting buyers in a lull market.

"Developers are offering zero to minimal cash down payment to lure home buyers, so you should take advantage of the available opportunities. But before you jump onto the bandwagon, you must thoroughly do your research first" Khalil added.

If you are intending to buy new properties instead, there is no better time to do it than now. In the peak of the early 2010s, it was so tough to buy properties, even from property developers. Some had to queue overnight in their sleeping bags outside of developers' offices in the hopes of buying the property of their choice. Some even had to go through a balloting process just to buy a property costing hundreds of thousands of ringgits. The other plus point in buying new properties now is that property developers would only be handing the property to you in 36 months (strata-titled property) or 24 months (landed property). Surely, the economy would recover after this sluggish phenomenon and you will be in for a handsome profit if you decide to sell.

The bottom line is, the purchasing power is still dependent on people's disposable income, a factor that in turn is dependent on economic growth. It is important to buy within your means. Khalil also encourages young investors to look for the most affordable property but with the greatest room for capital appreciation.

It is almost impossible to have things served on a silver platter every time. People want cheap assets, and they also want the economy to be good. Let's be realistic, that dynamic doesn't exist. In an interview with The Star, Datuk Joey Yap, founder of the Mastery Academy of Chinese Metaphysics said: "If you are looking to buy cheap properties or assets, isn't this the right time to buy? When the deals are attractive, it's cheap if you are in for the long run; and when what was previously unavailable becomes available, you should buy.”

Of course, location always plays an important role. Study the area where new economic drivers have been mooted as this will enhance the desirability of the area leading to job creation and demand for properties there. Study also where new infrastructure developments will be built such as highways, new train lines and so on. These will have a positive spillover impact on your property. If you are looking for a short-term rental like Airbnb, make sure the property is located near tourism hubs and that it is well maintained.

Look at things for the long-run, it doesn't really matter when you buy. Any good property is bound to appreciate over the course of 20 to 30 years. Whether you are buying property for personal or investment use, the sooner you buy, the better. It all depends on whether you can afford the property or not.

The next few years would be a great time to purchase properties. Start the process now and stop putting off this very important decision.

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