The cheapest places to buy real estate in Asia

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Last updated December 11, 2021.

We recently published an article ranking the most expensive cities in Asia to buy property. A list of the cheapest places in Asia to buy real estate, along with the reasons for their low prices, is a natural follow-up.

Here’s a word of warning though: you shouldn’t buy property (or any other asset) just because it’s cheap.

Property is sometimes cheap for a reason. Weak future investment prospects are generally priced into the market and can keep real estate values ​​low.

The reverse is also true. Just because a market is expensive doesn’t mean it won’t continue to grow in the future. For example, Singapore and Hong Kong are two of the most expensive cities in the world.

Both cities are major global financial hubs with a high standard of living and limited space for development. As such, there is a strong argument that real estate in Singapore remains a bargain…despite an average cost of $20,000 per square meter (or around $2,200 per square foot).

Sure, some people called real estate in Singapore and Hong Kong “overpriced” five years ago, when condos in those cities cost half the price.

Critics also exist today. Time will tell if they are incorrect this time.

The best strategy is to focus on overall value. Ask yourself if the rental yields are high enough and if there is any potential for appreciation. Savvy investors shouldn’t hunt bargains for fun.

That said, a few real estate markets enjoy a rare combination of fair pricing and excellent value for money. Let’s find out what the cheapest places in Asia to buy real estate can offer you as an investor.

3. The Philippines

The Philippines is the third cheapest country for real estate investors. Buying a condo in Manila will cost you around US$3,000 per square meter.

House prices in the archipelago have soared in recent years, having more than doubled since the start of the decade. There aren’t many bargains left, however. Current real estate values ​​are well beyond the level at which most residents can afford.

Not only that, but the Philippine real estate market is overvalued compared to others in the region. To give just one example, buying a condo in Bangkok will cost you just $1,000 more per square meter than in Manila on average.

Prices remain high in the Philippines, despite Bangkok’s income levels being three times the median wage in Manila.

Just look at the next country on our list for an even more developed and cheaper market to compare to the Philippines.

Nevertheless, we are unlikely to see a housing meltdown in the Philippines in the near future. Indeed, the Philippine economy is still among the fastest growing in the entire Southeast Asian region, exceeding 7% year-over-year in the second half of 2021.

Foreign investors, especially buyers from China, India and neighboring ASEAN countries, are expected to absorb any excess supply in the meantime.

Either way, the Philippine real estate market (or at the very least the capital city of Manila) is expected to experience modest growth. This is a case where relatively low prices do not necessarily mean a good deal.

2. Malaysia

Real estate in Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, costs on average only about 2,500 US dollars per square meter. This is despite the fact that Malaysia ranks among the wealthiest nations in Southeast Asia – third after Brunei and Singapore.

Why are property prices in Malaysia so low? Quite simply, Kuala Lumpur has experienced a building boom and is now suffering from a heavy build-up of housing.

Rental yields are also abysmal at around 3% net. Therefore, no one wants to be a landlord in Malaysia. It’s just too much effort and cost for not enough reward.

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