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Real Estate in Kuala Lumpur - How it Works!

I posted this in Expats Q&A in response to a query and reposting it here to share with all in the community. Please share your experiences here with us too.

How Real Estate Agents operates?

Real estate agents in Malaysia do work quite differently from other countries especially so in the big cities like Kuala Lumpur, Penang, etc.. For a starter, not many real estate agents have high streets offices where you see photos and adverts on windows and you can walk in and query about that particular unit.

Kuala Lumpur also has a high density of condominiums, apartments, houses, office space within a small square area as such there are many agents who are focused only on one or a few condos within their own zone while there are a very small group of real estate consultants like me who works differently.

Due to the high turnaround time for these condos, yes, you will find that what you see in the internet may not be available by the time you enquire about it.

In some 'hot area', apartments are snapped up immediately, in others, competition are high and negotiation is minimal, some too have owners who are very rich and would rather have their units empty than rent it out cheaply (keeping it for Capital Gains - attitude being, if you can't afford paying, you probably not going to maintain it so I am going to have to spend lots of money repairing it, not worth the trouble), while others have bad experiences with truant tenants, irresponsible tenants, then they become very selective on who they want to rent it out to.

If you have the time, money and patience, then you can trawl through all the availability in the market on your own. If you are lucky, you may get what you probably want after a lot of frustration.


1. Once you put in through a couple of calls directly to agents, the agents in town will know you are fishing as such many agent would not waste their time entertaining you as they are too busy dealing with committed clients of their own. As a rule of thumb, most agents work with each other.

2. Once you start fishing, your negotiation power goes down, so at the end of the day, you end up paying more than what you wanted or having to find some place else which you don't want as what you wanted is now out of your reach.

3. Be realistic with your budget - if you want to stay at a certain condo of standard, you are going to have to pay the price asked. If your company does not pay you enough, you would have to top up or sacrifice staying at another place you don't really want.

At the end of the day, coming back after a hard days work to a home is better than coming back to a home that you hate just because you paid less.

Scrimp on other non essential and pay for having a home you can relax in and enjoy your life as an expatriate.

If you want to live like a local, you might as well stay at home. (that is my opinion) especially if you are paid as an expatriate, you can afford to have an expatriate lifestyle.

4. Local adverts online - , the top end prices of adverts are usually what you will have to pay. The low end prices of adverts are just there to lure you to call them so that they can sell you what they have and not what you actually want.

5. Be Real - you will NOT get everything you WANT at your PRICE. Compromise is a MUST in any house search, anywhere in the world. And if you are here for more than 1 year, have a shorter wish list, get the apartment that you feel comfortable in (you know, when you walk in, it has the 'feel like home' factor), take it and move in.

Don't dwaddle too much! Honestly speaking, most condos will have the same thing, there is just too MANY to choose from and if you are on a deadline to move in, too many choices will only make it worse and you will end up, either paying for extra nights in hotels or rushing in and making the wrong decision.

In the 1st year that you are there, get to know your surrounding and by the end of the year, you will know where you want to live in next and your search for the second home will be quicker and simpler.

6. If you don't have the time, money or patience, leave your house search to real estate consultants who know the local scene and can protect your interest and give your consultant all your support and cooperation to get you the home you want.

7. Last but not least, have your money ready BEFORE you arrive in to the country. To get a home, you would need to pay 3 1/2 months upfront (1 month advance rental, 2 1/2 refundable deposits) plus another Protected content % on the monthly rental for stamping fees, disbursements, consultants fees etc.. Some consultants charges more/some less depending on the level of service you require.

You should have all monies in hand BEFORE you start viewing especially if you want to move in quickly. Bring hard cash because credit/debit cards have daily limits and bank transfer takes a while to arrive.

Looks like I have written a book, but I hope the above provide an insight on how real estate works in Malaysia.

Kuala Lumpur Forum