(Adapted from article in New Straits Times)

What comes to mind when someone says he is looking for an affordably-priced house in Johor?

At the moment, “half a million ringgit” is “affordably-priced” if you are living in Johor Bahru.

But how many people can afford a RM500,000 house? Will banks approve the loan application of a young executive? Even with combined income, a couple may not have much left for to save for retirement and their children’s education.

There is clearly a mismatch between the earning power of locals and what’s available in the property market. Property developers are changing their plans in the next two years because they have to sell the houses they are building and at the same time, try to match local folk’s definition of affordability.

Bank Negara Malaysia has to pare down household debt in Malaysia, and this is one way to do it (stricter lending guidelines).


The Johor property market is experiencing a slowdown with no new launches, especially for houses priced above RM800,000. Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association (Rehda) Malaysia Johor chairman Datuk Steve Chong Yoon On said potential house buyers were being cautious. “They are generally not interested in buying high-rise units or houses with ‘high-end’ price tags. Many buyers are adopting a wait-and-see attitude now.”

People will not simply buy houses priced RM800,000 and above, but landed properties between RM300,000 and RM700,000 are in high demand.


Johor has promising projects such as the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail (HSR), Rapid Transit System between Johor Baru and Singapore, and the link with Singapore’s Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system. These projects would attract house buyers to properties in the south of Johor.

Tunku Mahkota Johor Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim said last December the population of Johor, currently at 1.7 million, was expected to increase to 3 million by 2025. Based on the estimated population growth, the state needs 660,000 housing units by then.

At the launch of a new affordable housing scheme by Sultan of Johor Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar recently, an overwhelming crowd of applicants turned up. Costing less than RM100,000, this scheme will comprise either bungalows or semi-detached houses built without fences to develop the community spirit, expressed by the sultan as ‘silaturrahim’ (kinship). The houses will be made available to all qualified Bangsa Johor residents.


Amid the rapid development in Johor and across the Causeway, there is a slow and gradual drop in house prices. The affordable houses that Sultan Ibrahim plans to build for his subjects will put further pressure on house prices. According to a senior real estate agent, rental prices have dropped significantly from last year.

If property prices are starting to fall, it does seem like affordability will be within reach of more people. The question is, what – or how much – does affordable housing mean to you?