With the short-stay rental industry burgeoning in Malaysia, resort and holiday homes are gaining stronger appeal especially among property investors. For holidaymakers planning to own such a home, this niche market certainly has charms and attractiveness.
Even if they are meant for their own stay, these hotel-style homes offer a different level of comfort, which is particularly enticing for those planning for retirement.
Who wouldn’t want to live on the beachfront enjoying the fresh salt-sea air? Or living on the edge of a lake, a forest reserve, hill side or picturesque landscape in a home that offers resort-like facilities? Then there are the high-rise serviced apartments or condominiums that could easily pass as luxury hotels yet offering city amenities.
And with many travellers searching for accommodation that would make their stay feel like a home away from home but with the luxuries attached, such properties could be turned into profitable assets. In addition, more Malaysians are relying on online short-stay platform providers for higher rental yields or to settle their mortgages.
According to an Airbnb survey of more than 2,000 Malaysian hosts and guests, half of the Airbnb hosts said it had helped them pay for their homes while 40% said Airbnb provided a supplementary income for them to make ends meet. Malaysia is Airbnb’s fastest growing country in South-East Asia for the second consecutive year.
It saw more than 3.25 million guests in Malaysia over the past 12 months ended July 1, which translated to a 73% increase from the previous period. There are more than 53,000 Airbnb listings in the country.
In comparison, Airbnb announced a 99% year-on-year growth in guest arrivals in Malaysia last year, having welcomed more than two million guests in the past year, and making Malaysia the fastest growing market for Airbnb in Southeast Asia.
Founder and executive editor of Kopiandproperty Charles Tan said: “If we look at newer homes, especially high-rise condominiums, the ‘resort’ theme has been in play for a long time. Landed homes used to be quite boring in the past, with just a simple field in the whole development, for example.
“These days, landed homes have their unique recreational space, their very own club house and a lot of other extras such as cycling tracks or community spaces. This is something which is appealing to all generations because it is now possible to go home to a resort daily.”
Expectations for landed homes to be even closer to a resort feel will go ever higher, he said, adding that developers will have to keep this in mind for all their future projects.
“I think homes which are keeping up with what the current home buyers want will always have better potential investment returns. It could have a resort feel or even a modern and contemporary feel to appeal and sustain its attractiveness.
“As for homes nearby seaside areas for example, that will appeal to a higher niche of wealthier buyers,” he said.
Resort homes are labelled as a trend for integrated developments with a theme to position the end product’s unique selling points for targetted marketing, said Alan Poon, CEO of SuperiorWealth Group, a real estate advisory, investment and wealth education platform.
However, going for a holiday in a resort and staying in a resort as a resident are two totally different things, he said. If they are popular areas and not overpriced, investors can consider them for potential investment return, he said.
“[Tourist destinations] like Bali, Phuket and Pattaya are definitely doable not because of their locations but the ecosystem of tourism allows for such property type and development to sustain or even thrive.
“For the sophisticated investor, they need to balance their risk-reward appetite before embarking on such investment portfolio,” he said.
PropNex Realty Sdn Bhd head of international market Matt Tian pointed out that for tourists or even for locals, when they go for vacation or staying in a resort, price is not always a concern.
“Normally, we are willing to pay more just for the sake of enjoyment and also to appreciate what’s being offered. [For investors], in terms of ROI (return of investment) or rental return, it’s much higher compared to the ordinary properties,” he said.
Seaside properties tend to be considered as premium as they are “dreamed destinations” for everyone, from individuals to couples or families with children, he said. Most people are willing to pay that little extra to have a premium spot on the beachfront, he said.
Malaysia has no shortage of resort and holiday homes as the country enjoys a healthy stream of tourists every year. And more new ones are on-going projects by several reputable property developers.
Among them are OSK Property which has two such identifiable properties – TimurBay, a seafront resort-theme project with direct access to the famous Balok Beach, Kuantan and Windmill Upon Hills, built on 5.5 acres of Genting Highlands’ elevated grounds.
Even their Ryan and Miho project in Section 13, Petaling Jaya has attributes that is very resort-like considering the Turkish Hammam and Japanese Onsen facilities.
Master community builder Sunway Group’s integrated Sunway GEOLake development also has attributes to resort and hotel living, given that the development surrounds a sizable lake.
“For Sunway GeoLake, it is more of catering to universities around it. Connectivity is good and it is integrated, too. The plus point is that the hospital is also nearby,” noted Poon.
Other townships that delve into resort-styled homes include Matrix Concepts Holdings Bhd (Matrix Concepts) with their Seremban township development in Negeri Sembilan. The developer has to date launched three versions of such homes in their Resort Homes enclave.
The latest launch was Lunaria, which is the third variant comprising superlink units. The enclave also houses the higher-end semi-detached Elymus units and Allysum units.
According to Matrix Concepts chief marketing officer Lim Kok Yee, the Resort Homes project has a total of 662 units covering 34.8ha.
That Projects like Sunway GEOLake, Matrix Concepts’ Resort Homes, Ryan and Miho and Windmill Upon Hills have sold well could be a result of buyers and investors seeing the value of such developments.
“Despite the bespoked marketing effort by builders of the present and future, buyers would need to scrutinize their purchase for such home, for hidden cost as nothing fancy comes free,” said Poon.
Property experts who have experienced such investment first-hand or have studied such development also provided words of caution especially on the investment side.
If home buyers are purchasing resort or holiday homes for their own usage, either as a retirement home or for their own stay, it is a different story, said property investor, speaker and author Ahyat Ishak.
Resort and holiday homes will offer the lifestyle that own-stay owners are looking for but he cautioned investors to consider carefully before investing in a resort or holiday home.
He pointed out that many buyers tend to reasoned with themselves that if they are unable to rent it out, they would “at least use it for their own holidays.”
“Then they realised that they don’t have a lot of holidays and even if they do, they won’t go to that one place every time. The resort and holiday factor is not enough. [If investors are still keen], they have to look at other factors.
“It goes back to your original investment plan. What is the objective? Is it for own stay or investment? If it is for investment, what is the investment for? Is it for rental, cash flow strategy or capital appreciation strategy?
“Is it to be leased back to a hotel operator? If it is, the investor must be prepared if the occupancy is not as it was projected,” Ahyat said, pointing out that investor need to consider the risks and not just look at the appeal of owning a resort home. If owners are planning to rent it out themselves, they have to manage it on their own, so logistic issues may arise, he said.
For those planning to use it, they would still need to pay for the property as well as the maintenance and other fees associated with owning a home, he said. “You have to do the calculations to see if it is worth it,” Ahyat said.
Propnex Realty’s Tian explained that the maintenance of sea side properties like hill top properties are more tedious and require higher costs.
“A well-established management company can help to resolve this long term maintenance issue by letting the professionals to handle with hassle-free and peace of mind,” he said.
At the end of the day, it is still up to the buyers and investors who will have to make that final leap to buy or not to buy. But whether it is for a resort-like home or not, the advice remains the same for everyone: “Do your due diligence.”