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Friday, 15 June 2012

Malaysia my 2nd home, more Japanese to invest in property in Penang

Japan folk scouting for overseas property to invest in

GEORGE TOWN: More Japanese investors are expected to scout for property in Penang this year because of fears of another round of natural disasters in their country.

Tropical Resort Lifestyle (MM2H) Sdn Bhd managing director Shotaro Ishihara said more Japanese were now scouting for overseas property to invest in and to relocate.

Ishihara, whose company promotes Malaysian property in the Japanese market, said Penang real estate was an attractive investment because it cost less than property in Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan.

“However, only a small number of Japanese have bought residential property in Penang.

“This is because Penang is known in Japan as a holiday resort and not as a property investment destination. The rental yield is also still not attractive,” he said.

Ishihara said the Japanese media should be roped in to help promote property in Penang.

About 1,500 Japanese expatriates work in Penang while some 600 more live in Penang under the Malaysia My Second Home programme.

The property rented or bought by the Japanese are usually condominiums in the residential neighbourhoods of Pulau Tikus, Tanjung Tokong and Tanjung Bungah, all priced from RM500,000.

In the last few years, Tropical Resort has helped to sell about 200 condominum units in Kuala Lumpur and Penang to Japanese investors, priced between RM600,000 and RM1.8mil each.


More Japanese opt to live in Malaysia

PETALING JAYA: The Japanese have overtaken Iranians in making Malaysia their second home, snapping up properties in the Klang Valley and other urban areas.

According to the Malaysia My Second Home Centre, Japan has been the top participating country since last year, when the country was hit by a tsunami and a nuclear crisis in Fukushima.

Malaysia's political stability and economic growth are said to be a big draw.

Feeling at home: Hiroko Hirano, 64, and her husband Hiroyuki Hirano, 67, watering plants at their home in Glugor, Penang. They find it an ideal place for a second home. — ZHAFARAN NASIB / The Star

MM2H statistics showed that the number of Japanese applying to participate in the programme doubled from 195 in 2010 to 423 last year. A total of 787 Japanese applications were approved from 2009 to last year.

The Chinese jumped to second place last year, with 405 applications approved.

The Iranians, who topped the list from 2008 to 2010, dropped to third place last year and fourth this year, below the Bangladeshis.

As of March, 18,090 foreigners have successfully applied to participate in MM2H.

The rise in Japanese applicants followed the announcement of Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen in late 2010 that Japanese senior citizens were welcome to make Malaysia their second home.

She had said the number of Japanese aged 65 and above was increasing, and living in Malaysia was ideal due to its strategic location, advances in medicine and cheaper living costs.

Real Estate and Housing Developers Association president Datuk Seri Michael Yam said Malaysia, as part of its Look East policy in the past few decades, had focused on making living here convenient and comfortable for the Japanese.

This, he said, included the setting up of a Japanese School in Kuala Lumpur in 1966.

The school is the fifth oldest Japanese school overseas, with spacious premises that include a kindergarten and primary and secondary schools.

Such initiatives had helped to build a cordial relationship between the two countries, Yam said, adding that there were many Japanese investors in Malaysia today.

“These people used to work in Malaysia. When they went back, they probably thought that this is not a bad place to have a second home, especially since it is one of the cheapest places to live in,” Yam said.

He noted that Malaysian condominiums now incorporated a “sprawling lifestyle complex” approach, which includes amenities such as big swimming pools and tennis courts.

“You get good value for money, which you don't necessarily get in other countries, which are more densely packed,” he said, adding that Mont Kiara, which is popular among expatriates, was one of the biggest Japanese enclaves in the country.

According to the Japanese Embassy, the earthquake and tsunami which happened in March last year were another “push factor”.

Japanese Ambassador Shigeru Nakamura said there were about 1,000 couples who have made Malaysia their second home.

Couple finds Penang ideal for second home

GEORGE TOWN: While many foreigners look upon Penang as a tourist destination, a Japanese couple feel the island is ideal for a second home.

Hiroyuki Hirano and his wife Hiroko love everything about Penang so much that they have no plans of moving elsewhere at the moment.

The 67-year-old hardware products quality control consultant moved to Penang in 2007 when he was offered a job here.

Time together: Hiroko helping her husband Hiroyuki wash their car at their house in Minden Heights in Glugor, Penang. 

“As I had visited Penang previously, I had no hesitation taking up the job offer,” Hiroyuki said at his rented house in Minden Heights.

He loves the local cuisine such as Hokkien mee and roti canai.

“I also like nasi lemak and char koay teow,” Hiroyuki added.

Hiroko, 64, a professional dollmaker, said Penang's warm climate suited her and her husband.

“If the weather is too cold, we may get joint pains. Penang's weather suits us perfectly,” Hiroko added.

Asked if they intend to buy property in Penang, the couple said that one of their sons, who is working in Kuala Lumpur, had plans to buy a house.

“We are comfortable in our present home as the neighbours are nice and friendly and the environment is peaceful,” Hiroko said.

Japanese businessman Takayuki Kaneko said he was looking to buy a condominium in Pulau Tikus, Tanjung Tokong or Tanjung Bungah.

“I have lived in a condominium here for seven months with my wife and two daughters. As I am here for the long-term, I want to have my own property.

“Pulau Tikus, Tanjung Tokong and Tanjung Bungah all have easy access to shopping malls, schools, hospitals, restaurants and hotels,” he said.