Property developers are a dime a dozen in Malaysia. These real estate firms have changed the way of living for many people in the country, contributing to better infrastructure and living standards.
However, it’s quite difficult to pick the best from the lot. From constructions stopping mid-way to hidden clauses that may cause trouble, it’s a tough property world out there with plenty of horror stories.
I’ll go through some of the biggest names in the game. In most cases, these property developers have made a name for themselves by delivering the promises they make.
Here’s a list of the best and the biggest property developers in Malaysia:
Sime Darby is a Malaysian-based conglomerate that has its presence all over the country across many sectors. In 2007, Sime Darby Property was launched to cater to the growing demand for property investment in Malaysia.
Although currently a private limited company, there have been talks of the company floating on the stock market in the near future.
Sime Darby has developed one of the biggest townships in Klang Valley called Subang Jaya, followed by the developments of USJ and Putra Heights.
Most of their property developments have been a hit with the audience, and their future projects are always long awaited.
Some of their most popular projects till date include the development of Ara Damansara, The Avani in Bandar Bukit Raja and Planter’s Haven in Nilai to name a few.
In fact, with a launch price of RM 438,000 (for the most basic unit), The Avani is currently valued at over RM 700,000, making it a hot investment deal for many.
From developing the City of Elmina and Elmina Valley 4 to residential and commercial property in Subang Jaya, you’re sure to see a lot of Sime Darby property in the coming years.
With a powerful parent company backing Sime Darby properties and the years of history it has in the market, Sime Darby Property has set up a good reputation for itself. Malaysians and foreigners alike find the company to be reliable and respected.
Founded in 1974, not only has SP Setia made Malaysia its home base, but it has expanded into other countries as well such as Vietnam, China, Australia, Singapore and the United Kingdom.
SP Setia has a strong presence, building developments that highlight quality and design. One of its most ambitious projects include a joint venture between Sime Darby and SP Setia to redevelop the Battersea Power Station in London.
Coming back to more local ground, KL Eco City developed by SP Setia is an urban retreat right in the centre of Kuala Lumpur, and is one of their premier properties.
Its rates have gone up by almost 60% (compared with the initial launch price of RM 1000 per square foot in mid 2013 for a condo)!
Other developments equally as popular include Duta Nusantara in Kuala Lumpur and SetiaWalk, SP Setia’s venture into commercial real estate.
PropertyLife Tip: There are some recommendations that SP Setia can do a lot more to help its clients with after-sale services such as home improvements.
This property group, first formed in 1984, has visions of residential developments that perfectly combine functionality with tasteful style and design.
The company was listed on the Malaysian stock exchange board back in 2014, adding to its popularity with the public.
IOI Properties are known in the market for building both residential and commercial property.
Some of their major endeavours include 16 Sierra in Puchong and the prestigious IOI Resort City in Putrajaya. In fact, Clio Residences in IOI Resort City is known to be a good investment with a current price of RM 779 per square foot (launch price of RM 600 per square foot).
IOI Properties does have a good standing in the market, yet there are some complaints of them pricing their properties a little higher than expected.
Future launches include Conezion (a residential and commercial high-rise) in IOI Resort City, and condo The Palmyra Residence in Bandar Puteri Bangi.
The Sunway Group is a prominent company in Malaysia, and its property division was floated on Bursa Malaysia back in 1982.
This company is steeped with tradition, yet it aims to develop properties that mix modernity and technology with the comfort of home.
The Sunway Group has its feet in various industries here in Malaysia, but they do believe that the property and construction section of the firm has attributed to the highest profit margins.
From resorts, hotels and spas to residential lots, a Sunway development can easily be found in KL and beyond. It’s most sought-after development is Sunway Berhad in Petaling Jaya that is home to bungalows, town houses, high-rise condos, a mall, multiple universities and a private hospital.
Having won numerous awards from Best Property Company of the Year 2015 to being named one of the top property developers in Malaysia, Sunway Properties are always on investors’ radars!
The acclaimed Sunway Eastwood Semi-D homes have seen almost an RM 300k increase in prices since its launch date.
If you’re interested in this property group, future launches include the Lost World Suites in Ipoh, that’s taken inspiration from the success of the Sunway Township in PJ.
With two decades of property development to its name, Gamuda Land is certainly one of the big-shots in the industry.
With a strong emphasis on safety, versatility and added value, it’s no wonder that the company has a great reputation in the market.
Take a drive around KL, and you’ll come across the SMART tunnel and the SPRINT expressway built by this developer.
With six townships within the country and one being developed in Vietnam, Gamuda Land is famous for its first township called Kota Kemuning, among a few others.
Kota Kemuning in Shah Alam has performed really well in the property market, making future developments such as Valencia and Bandar Botanic a top choice for investors.
One of Gamuda Land’s USP is the fact that they put a strong emphasis on safety and productivity, following the principle of CONQUAS (Construction Quality Assessment System).
Starting off as a plastic manufacturer in 1965, Mah Sing decided to venture into the property market in 1994. This resulted in them gaining great success. Mah Sing targets the middle and high income brackets in Malaysia, offering upscale high-rise condominiums and developments with great quality.
Mah Sing’s property rates are known to always be on the rise (on one of the forums, I came across two people who bought the same unit in a development in the same month, with a RM 100k difference in purchasing prices!), so Mah Sing does offer real estates that have good investment potential.
Garden Residences, a self-contained township in Cyberjaya, is one of their popular developments, along with the Legenda Development in Damansara.
In the future, Mah Sing has plans of taking their company abroad as well. Future launches in Malaysia include Cerrado Serviced Apartments and a new township in Rawang titled Laman Ayu.
Part of a larger parent company, IJM Land aims to build sustainable communities perfect for the urban family.
This company’s portfolio has an impressive GDV (Gross Development Value) of RM 30billion with almost 4,000 acres of undeveloped land!
You can expect to see a lot of IJM Land in the coming few years. Having its parent company, IJM Corporation, listed on Bursa Malaysia ensures that IJM Land delivers only the best real estate in the market.
Bandar Rimbayu in Shah Alam is one of the company’s flagship properties that promises to give you a modern lifestyle while being close to mother nature.
Located within this township is the two-storey development called Chimes. These low density homes (there are only 8 units built on one acre) came with a launch price of around RM700K but are now selling for a little more than a million ringgits!
IJM Land has a great name in the property market as well, with the general public giving the company favourable reviews.
Their highlights include buildings that offer safe communities that are clean and peaceful. The highly publicised Rimbun Vista in Seremban 2 is in the works, and the terraced homes will likely be launched this coming year.
Part of UEM Group, UEM Sunrise is one of Malaysia’s top property developers due to the fact that they mix high-end living with affordable pricing.
UEM Sunrise is known to provide top-notch condos in Mont Kiara, Kuala Lumpur, dealing in both residential and retail units. From the hip mall, Publika, to being one of the premier developers in Iskandar, Johor, UEM Sunrise certainly deserves the high status it has in the media.
Some of the renowned properties UEM Sunrise deals with are the Symphony Hills in Cyberjaya, Residensi 22 and 10 Mont Kiara. In terms of how well its properties are doing, 10 Mont Kiara (or MK10) started off with a launch price at a cool RM 1.78 million. Currently it’s being sold for RM 2.5 million, a great property increase for investors!
Sunrise holds a reputation for always coming out with great buildings that local people love. Some future ventures in 2017 to be on the lookout for are Melia Residences in Iskandar, a waterfront project in South Africa, and Artisan Hills in Kajang.
IGB Corporation has a diverse set of property developments in its portfolio. Primarily a commercial dealer, IGB has extended to developing successful residential lots (under the name Tan & Tan Developers) as well. One of the key factors that sets apart IGB from the others is it’s intent on creating recurring income from its properties.
Current property developments include Seri Ampang Hilir, Damai Heights, and Sierramas Heights to name a few. The much-awaited Mid Valley Southkey Megamall aims to be the largest shopping mall in Johor, and is said to open in late 2017.
Though having almost 20 years of experience, Tropicana Corporation officially came into existence back in 2013 when it changed its name from Dijaya. The company is also listed on the Malaysian stock market.
Earlier this year, the company’s founder Tan Sri Dato' Danny Tan won Property Man of the Year!
This company’s maiden township, The Tropicana Golf and Country Resort, is quite a popular property development. Not only does this company deal with residential units, they also have the Tropicana City Mall in Petaling Jaya as their commercial front.
The serviced residence above this mall, The Tropics, has quite the following, with investors rushing to buy either lofts or simple units. A simple 625 square foot unit is now being sold for RM 595,000 (launch price of RM 190,000), showing strong appreciation value.
Tropicana’s future undertakings include further developing The Tropicana Golf and Country Resort and the Tropicana Gardens in Kota Damansara.
Bandar Raya Developments (BRDB) is well known to expats in Malaysia and best known for its flagship retail mall, Bangsar Shopping Centre (BSC). It has been in existence since 1965 with the launch of its first iconic communities in Bangsar, and was one of Malaysia’s first property development companies to be listed on the KLSE in 1968.
Since then, the company has had a string of successes including Bukit Bandaraya, an exclusive neighborhood located on the hilly part of Bangsar.
A stroll through the streets of Bukit Bandaraya, a meal in BSC, or a visit to one of BRDB's many residential developments in the Bangsar area all attest to that which BRDB strives for, and has consistently achieved, the cultivation of a truly cosmopolitan lifestyle.
While Bangsar will always be the home of BRDB, it is now spreading its wings to new areas and new markets, with the aim of recreating the unique atmosphere it is known for. Developments include The Troika, 6CapSquare, and Verdana. They also have a presence in the UK, Australia, Oman and Pakistan.
Notable future plans include Puteri Harbour, Seri Kembangan and Mendang Serai - a green condominium project in KL. BRDB has also been consistently voted as one of the top 10 property developers in Malaysia at The Edge Malaysia Top Property Developers Awards.
Selangor Dredging Berhad (SBD) was first established in 1962 as a tin mining company, and branched out into property development in the early 1980s.
Since then it has launched a series of projects in Malaysia and Singapore, ranging from courtyard houses in 20trees, to beachside luxury suites By The Sea in Batu Ferringhi Penang, and Dedaun, a 10-storey condominium development in Ampang Hill. All of their properties are located in popular neighbourhoods and cater for those seeking houses and apartments in a variety of locations.
SBD is also involved in the hotel and corporate space - it developed and manages Wisma Selangor Dredging, a prestigious and prime corporate office complex on Jalan Ampang, and Hotel Maya Kuala Lumpur, a boutique urban resort near the Petronas Twin Towers.
Recently in early 2016 they launched an impressive and innovative “Reside and Purchase” programme, which opens up buying opportunities for consumers allowing them to own and live in their dream homes.
Working under the brand promise of 'Driving Excellence, building lifelong relationships', this company offers a range of properties and makes efforts to create developments that offer open spaces of greenery where possible, although many of their condos in town do not cater for that.
Here are a few stats:
# Current developments*
# Future developments*
Sime Darby Property
Property arm launched in 2007
SP Setia Bhd Group
IOI Properties Group
Property arm launched in 1984
Property arm launched in 1995
Mah Sing Group Bhd
Property development since 1994
IJM Land Bhd
Property arm launched in 1989
UEM Sunrise Bhd
Property arm launched in 2008
IGB Corporation Bhd
Tropicana Corporation Bhd
Bandar Raya Developments Bhd (BRDB)
Selangor Dredging Bhd (SDB)
*as at December 2016
Property development since 1985
Have you had any experiences - good or bad - with these developers? Share your story in the comments!
I’m a Dutch-born property enthusiast who spent a good part of my youth in Penang, Malaysia. Besides being a founder @ PropertyLife, I have experience in financial services both at start-up and corporate level. I founded and sold FundTheGap and I’m ex-Accenture, where I worked for some of the world’s biggest banks. Besides property, my main interests include technology, entrepreneurship, internet marketing, travelling and generally all things ‘disruptive innovation’.