How to buy property in Malaysia

Understand how to buy property in Malaysia with this simple guide. 

Property ownership differs in every country. Whilst we may know the ins and outs of any legalities on home turf, it is important to understand the procedures in the country you are looking to invest in.

Property ownership.

Malaysia follows the Torrens system, as also used in Australia and Singapore. A system which is applicable throughout the country and is administered by the State Land Offices. This registration system records the land titles. Property can either be held under freehold or leasehold tenure. Owning property under a freehold basis means that it remains yous until it is sold. There is no time limit placed on this. This type of tenure commonly applies to houses. Under leasehold this tenure, the land the property sits on is owned by the state and is leased out for a term of 30, 60 or 99 years. Upon expiry the property is returned to the freeholder.

Regardless of whether property is held under a freehold or leasehold basis, there are a number of land titles that can apply.

1. Individual title – National Land Code 1965.

This applies to any land, house or commercial property that is not multi-storey.


2. Strata issue – Strata Titles Act 1985.

The most common form of title as it applies to condominiums and apartments. Under this form of ownership, the owner must apply to certain obligations as set out by a deed of mutual covenants. These include requirements of unit usage, common facilities and maintenance of common areas.

Are foreign purchasers restricted?

It is not uncommon for overseas investors to have restrictions places on their spending power. This also applies to Malaysia. Although the rules differ depending on what state the property is in, generally they can only invest in property over MYR 1 million. Additionally, property cannot be purchased without approval from the state government which is sought through the local land office.

However that is not to say that Malaysia discourages foreign investors. The Malaysia My Second Home scheme which offers a visa for overseas retirees has been a resounding success and had generated significant revenue stream for the country. Recently the country was dubbed as the most attractive place to retire for Australian’s according to the retirement website internationalliving.com. 

Other points to be aware of.

  1. In Malaysia property is mostly commonly measured in square foot.
  2. The minimum spend for foreigners can change across the 13 individual states that make up the country. It is advised to monitor the news to keep abreast of any changes.
  3. Purchasers are responsible for stamp duty (between 1 and 3 percent), and solicitor fees (between 0.4 and 1 percent).
  4. Real estate fees of generally 2 to 2.75 percent must be borne by the seller.

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