The scarcity of land on Penang island and its lure as a tourist destination and a second home for foreign retirees have caused residential property prices to soar by more than 25% over the past five years.
According to real estate valuers, the prices are among the highest in Malaysia, which is why the Consumers Association of Penang claimed that only the rich could live on the island a world heritage city.
A survey by The Star revealed that condominium units in Batu Ferringhi, Tanjung Bungah and Gurney Drive which front the sea are being sold at astronomical prices, in some cases beginning with RM2mil for a 1,000 sq ft unit.
Even pre-war houses in the inner city for example, in Campbell Street have been snapped up mostly by non-Penangites, who have turned them into boutique hotels or simply kept them because of their architectural beauty.
The prices of the houses have rocketed from about RM500,000 in 2007 to approximately RM800,000 today an increase of about 30%.
Raine & Horne Malaysia director Michael Geh said the increase was among the steepest in the Pulau Tikus, Gurney Drive, Tanjung Tokong, and Tanjung Bungah residential neighbourhoods, which experienced a rise of over 25% in prices of condominium units.
Other areas where prices of condominium units and terrace and semi-detached houses have shot up by at least 25% are Bayan Baru, Sungai Ara, Minden Heights and Batu Maung.
The medium-range housing schemes in George Town neighbourhoods of Perak Road, MacCallum Street, Burmah Road, Jelutong Road and Sungai Pinang have not been spared.
“These have seen over a 25% increase in prices over the past five years,” Geh said.
An apartment located in such a neighbourhood cost RM180,000 in 2007 but is now RM250,000,
Geh said the rise in property prices had driven many people to buy homes in Seberang Prai, where property prices are a third of those on the island.
“But we are seeing property prices on the mainland rising as well,” he added.
An apartment in Butterworth town is now selling for RM250,000, compared to RM180,000 five years ago, while a terrace house now costs RM500,000, compared to RM300,000 in 2007.
Given the rise of raw materials prices and the scarcity of land, property prices in Penang were expected to continue rising, Geh added.
Meanwhile, Penang Barisan Nasional chairman Teng Chang Yeow said there were only one or two major hillslope projects during the previous administration. Now, there were hillslope projects all over the island.
He said the present guidelines on hillslope development were adequate, but the state government should be more stringent in enforcing them. - By The Star