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Till Death Do Us Part- Planning and Investing in Burial Plots

They say nothing is as certain as death and taxes. Therefore, to prepare for something so certain, it is only wise to start investing in the afterlife. It may even provide you with an opportunity to make some serious cash.

Malaysia’s future as an ageing nation

According to a projection by the United Nations, by the year 2030, Malaysia will be an ageing nation. This means that by then, 15 percent of Malaysia’s population will consist of citizens aged 60 years and above (source: National Policy of the Elderly).

The National Statistics Department (NSD) Population Projection 2010-40 also projected that by the year 2040, many Malaysians will be aged 36 or older. In fact, the elderly population aged 65 and above are projected to increase by more than threefold in 2040, compared to the population in 2010.

With old age, comes another important question to ponder: what happens when we pass on? Which will lead us to the topic of purchasing our own burial plot ahead of time.

According to Nirvana Asia Group’s Chief Marketing Officer, Olivia Lim, most Malaysians would normally buy burial plots after the age of 55. This is understandable, as younger people below the age of 30 would focus their spendings on things like a car, life insurance and their first home. However, death is certain and unpredictable, therefore, it’s always wise to prepare.

Even if it isn’t for the purpose of making the burial plot their future home, young people should also see burial plots as investment opportunities.

“Nirvana encourages young Malaysians to invest in pre-need burial plots as a form of investment for the future,” said Lim.

Currently, the trend is for families to buy family lots, which is like a family ‘resting place’. Many of the buyers also tend to fork out money from their Employee Provident Fund (EPF), which means that they do understand the rapidlyappreciating nature of burial plots -- just like any landed properties out there.

Burial plots are expected to become a lot less affordable in the future. In fact, statistics show that the price of burial plots have doubled in the past decade or so. Just like any property, burial plots are priced differently according to their locations.

An average family lot on Nirvana is priced somewhere between RM228,000 to RM1.4 million. There are also ‘couple’s lots’ for two people that are priced at RM30,800, for a package of burial ground and tomb. For lots without the tomb, price starts at RM23,300. The cheapest package thus far is the columbarium that accommodates two people, which is priced at RM8,200.

Presently, the price appreciation rate for burial plots increases at a steady rate of 10 percent per annum. Therefore, it is really advisable for the younger generations around the age of 30 to start planning for their burial plot investment in order to lock the price for future use

Making profit out of loss

In London, burial plots are being touted as an ‘unmissable investment opportunity’ for investors who are looking for an alternative to the buy-tolet properties. Londoners can now buy burial plots at GBP8,000 (RM41,425) as a minimum investment and expect to enjoy a guaranteed investment return of 40 percent in just two years. “People make a lot of money out of death -- from cemetery land and coffins to funeral parlours,” said Hugo Llewelyn, Managing Director of Newcore Capital Management, London. “This is due to the fact that not many people want to do it,” he added.

“Making funeral arrangements is no longer a taboo. In the past 15 years, more and more people have become aware of the importance and practicality of making prior arrangements for death,” said Au Kok Huei, NV Multi Corporation Bhd’s Chief Operating Officer.

Buying cemetery plot ahead of time will save you and your next of kins a lot of money when your time comes. Even if you change your mind about your resting place later in the future, reselling your burial plot can earn you some lucrative profit.

Burial plots present a great opportunity for freehold landed property investment. If you buy up a lot of well-located plots and establish a good marketing programme, you will be able to make a passive income out of reselling plots to families in need. Doubling your money is not impossible and in the long term, even if you don’t get to sell your plots immediately, your inventory appreciates in value more than you can imagine.

An alternative to the trusty EPF

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) stated that about 90 percent of EPF contributors in Malaysia do not have enough money to even live a simple lifestyle comfortably for five years following retirement. It is also found that 23 percent or 538,000 of the 2.4 million senior citizens in Malaysia suffer from empty nest syndrome in the recent years.

In the past, families may have 10 children who are able to chip in to take care of their parents’ burial. Today, as more and more Malaysians opt to make fewer babies and even choose to be single for life, it’s paramount to be independent and be prepared for their future afterlife needs. In short, one has to be able to afford to die.

After all, investing in a burial plot is nothing but a win-win decision -- lest you do not rest in peace in it, you still can make some profit letting someone else rest in peace.

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