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The Horse with no Name
Oct 27, 2003
The wilds of Kent

Although the Flexmans have had a very easy time of it, there are caveats. Peter Butler is a former West Bromwich Albion and West Ham footballer who became a coach in east Malaysia and now runs Bali Regency Realty. He builds villas on Bali, but chooses to live in Malaysia, partly because it offers good schools for his children.

Mr Butler says a good lawyer is a must. "The danger is that, from a legal perspective, you can only control what goes on inside your perimeter wall. Outside, you've got no say," he says. If the government wants to build a flyover over your dream home, or a developer with political ties chops down your jungle view and builds a cheap and nasty skyscraper - tough. No one will hear you complain.

A recent court ruling has, in effect, even given local councils complete immunity in cases of gross negligence, even those that lead to deaths. However, unlike neighbouring countries, Malaysia at least allows foreigners to own property in their own name.

Mr Butler also says that, as with everywhere else, you must have an eye to location and the market. Condominium prices have been static, largely because planners have failed to stop a glut developing. "There are some condominiums which are fantastic, if you buy in the right areas - Sri Hartamas, Bangsar or Damasara Heights, all in Kuala Lumpur - but elsewhere I don't think condo prices will grow as quickly as a landed property would," Mr Butler believes. "There's an undersupply of quality condos, and those which are quality are really expensive - you could be talking £400,000 for a quality condo of 3,000 square feet."

Basically, the moral is: don't rush, and do your research. But given that it is possible to get a luxury, three-bedroom home with a pool for the price of an ex-council semi in Luton, and that it offers good, cheap medical facilities, Malaysia has real potential to tempt those in search of a better life away from those tired old Mediterranean destinations.