Much of Langkawi’s overseas property market stems from the countries in its immediate vicinity with buyers from Singapore, which is only 32km away, being chief among them. Singapore proximity means that many buyers live in Langkawi and then commute into the Lion City. This option has become increasingly popular among Singaporeans over recent years who at present make up 14 per cent of overall buyers for properties in Malaysia.
Just 2 per cent come from other overseas markets with the remainder being made up of Malaysians. The price difference between Langkawi and Singapore is also startling; bungalow land in high-end Langkawi developments is about RM30psf compared to S$200psf in Singapore.
But although the overseas property market in the region is currently dominated by Singaporeans, buyers from elsewhere are starting to notice the extremely low cost of living and value for money on offer. The legal situation is also far and away more accommodating in comparison to neighbouring countries such as Thailand or Vietnam. Another factor is that overseas buyers can obtain mortgages from local banks for up to 70-80 per cent of a property’s value.
Foreign buyers in Malaysia have also been encouraged by the recent abolishment of the real estate property gains tax and the fact that there is currently no more need to see FIC approval (for properties above RM250,000). However, some industry players feel more can be done to open the market further. In particular, there have been suggestions that the Malaysian government could increase the success of the MM2H programme by easing the requirement of fixed deposits and by moving to reduce the time spent on negotiating administrative hurdles.
The main island’s town of Kuah, situated on the south-east coast of Langkawi island, is the main focus of property investors. Further, the area around the recently-completed 205 berth marina is proving to be of particular interest where those who buy into the locale have easy access to duty-free shops and a range of business facilities. Of course, they are also within reach of the facilities offered by the marina development itself. It accommodates mega-yachts up to 60 metres, has a low tide depth of three meters and its pontoons have direct electricity, fuel, water and high-speed Wi-Fi internet supply.
The recent trend towards private villa residences attached to major hotel chains has really taken hold in Langkawi, and not just in Kuah’s marina area. One such project is the Westin Langkawi Resort and Spa which opened last December on a peninsula to the south of Kuah. It features 18 one and two-bedroom luxury villas priced from about US$700,000 with an 8 per cent guaranteed annual return for five years.