[opinion] Are There Deeper Meanings Behind Shrinking Home Sizes?

The Regina @ USJ 1

Property market in Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia has been on an uphill sprint for the past 10 to 15 years. With the current slow market, it seems like there's finally some room to breathe, reflect and evaluate our situation and products.

At the moment, in this buyer's market flooded by supply, every product look distinctly similar. Heck, even nice photos of a particular property unit are even recycled and reused (what a way to be environmentally friendly) by realtors, only differentiated by price.

Mistake is thinking people are cheap when they ask which one’s cheaper. It is a simple sign that your brand/ product has failed to clearly differentiate its value.

-David Brier, Brand Intervention.

This is sea of undifferentiated products makes me wonder if we have started to treat properties as commodities rather than assets. (or I might be just too close to the problem to have an overview). One common thread is the shrinking of home sizes where many claims that home owners and buyers and looking to live a more compact life. Or that 2 and half bedroom accommodation is sufficiently comfortable to house young and single professionals or a growing family with 2 little ones.

It could be true for a lot of them, but for me, this is just a case of trying to dictate the absolute purchase purchase, reverse engineer, find a product viable for this price point, and then buff up the marketing plans (pronounced gimmicks) to attract investors.

  • How many singles or young families you know, who can afford a bigger place but, voluntarily choose compact living?

  • How many working professionals, who can afford to live in the city, but want to get away further to seek serenity in the outskirts?

Cost, rather than quality of products, is the obvious driving force behind these decisions. I'm not even trying to be a disgruntled designer wondering why aesthetics are not prioritised. Being product-centric creates an ever lasting value to your target market. Not everyone will like you, but the one who finds value in that product will fall in love with it because it is built specifically for for him/ her. There are also claims that young professionals prefer to rent a property to allow them to move freely throughout the region with minimal commitments. I'm not sure if I buy that, especially in our South East Asian culture.

Is this what the future holds?

In this article by Pop Up City, compactness is somewhat being linked to affordability. A connection that is not too difficult uncover.

Granted, there will be a gap between what you need/ want and what you can afford. But perhaps when products display sufficiently value to its owners, to the community and , the benefit will always outweigh the costs.

Do you think this is part of our learning journey, or are we at crossroads?


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