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Why We’re Moving into Malaysia Despite the Soft Property Market


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By: Rhonda Wong

When we first launched Ohmyhome in May 2016, the property market in Singapore was soft and property prices had been falling for 12 consecutive quarters after the government implemented cooling measures in 2013.

Many people had asked me then why we chose to enter the market at a time when it was not doing well and with no signs of a let-up in the cooling measures.

As we prepare for our upcoming launch in Malaysia, I was recently asked the same question. The Malaysian property market has also been in a downward spiral for the last three years, with tens of thousands of homes worth almost RM20 billion left unsold across the country.

My reply to the question now, as it was back when we first started, is the same – There is no better time to enter a market than when it is soft.

When the market is weak is exactly when customers are looking for a good solution, something that removes the pain points in the current market.

It is a buyer’s market but there are sellers who need to sell. They need good advice now more than ever, and they can do with saving time, effort and money in trying to get their property sold or rented out. And these are where Ohmyhome can help.

This is why we started out in Singapore during a ‘bad’ time and this is why Malaysia needs a new player like Ohmyhome even more now to revolutionise and revitalise the market.

A secondary reason for entering a soft market is that every company needs time to establish itself, especially when new to the market. By building up our reputation and credibility in the community during a soft market, we will be well positioned to capitalise when the upturn comes about.

Our business figures from Singapore bear this out. Even though property cooling measures are still in place, and the market is generally still soft, we have transacted more than 4,500 homes with a combined value of over S$1 billion. Within a short span of less than three years, we are now 5th in the list of real estate agencies with the highest sales volume in mass market homes.

A soft property market also does not mean that properties are not changing hands – be it through resale or rentals. After all, when prices are low, there will be a group of people who are more inclined to buy.

A recently-released Property Market Report 2018 by the National Property Information Centre in Malaysia shows that after three years of decline in both total value and transaction volume in the property market, there was a very slight rise in both total value (0.3%) and transaction volume (0.6%) for 2018.

Although property analysts in Malaysia are still cautious about the market’s outlook for the rest of the year due to the glut of unsold apartments, our aim is to have 1,000 listings on our portal as well as make 100 transactions in our first three months. We will focus on the Klang Valley in Kuala Lumpur first, and then expand to other states.

Why then did we choose to move into Malaysia?

Well, there are sentimental reasons. After all, myself and my sister, Race, who is Ohmyhome’s co-founder and Chief Operating Officer, were both born in Dungun in Terengganu.

But beyond just the emotional connection with Malaysia due to our roots, we moved into Malaysia because we saw plenty of opportunities for growth.

A recent online survey by HSBC Bank found that Malaysia is the most property-obsessed country in Southeast Asia and the fourth most obsessed in the world. Malaysians spent an average of 4.37 hours viewing properties.

Ohmyhome will be the first property DIY platform in Malaysia, making property transactions simple, fast and affordable. We want to empower Malaysians to take charge of their property transactions and equip them with the relevant information before they make big life decisions like whether to buy, sell or rent their homes.

With our presence in both countries across the Causeway, we also facilitate cross-border property transactions, making us the first proptech marketplace to be able to sell across borders. (I am personally an investor who owns several properties in Malaysia but I can’t find an agent whom I trust to handle them for me. I can’t wait to have my own team serve my portfolio!)

Why did we pick Malaysia as our first venture out of Singapore? Its size.

Malaysia’s property market is about 10 times that of Singapore, even in this soft market.

Malaysia has a stagnant property market?

We don’t see it that way. We see it as a market full of opportunities.

Excited to simplify your home transaction journey? Download Ohmyhome now!

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