Should You Consider Traffic Jams When Buying Properties? (Hint: Maybe Not)
By: Jotham Lim
A few days back, an old colleague of mine was looking to buy a new development project somewhere in the Sunway Mentari area. I gave her a recommendation, which on paper, seems to be the perfect property for her.
A dual-key layout design;
Attractive facade and landscaping for her daily jogging;
Great value for money;
Decent track record;
And plenty of benefits and incentives;
But after visiting the sales gallery during crunch hour, she came up to me with a frown on the brow.
“You didn’t tell me that the project is right beside the highway, and the traffic jam was terrible!”
For context, the project is nestled between three major highways, namely Damansara-Puchong Expressway (LDP), New Pantai Expressway (NPE), and a nearby Federal Highway. The location is notorious for traffic jams during rush hour.
I laughed and simply responded: “So?”
Let me explain.
This is not the first time I have heard traffic jams being used as an argument to justify not buying certain property developments. To that point, I highly disagree.
For one, most of the highly desired addresses around Klang Valley are riddled with heavy traffic. Take Mont Kiara, Jalan Ampang, and Bangsar Sou–…I mean Kampung Kerinchi, for example.
Although there were constant complaints from residents regarding the absurd traffic in the area, it has not significantly affected the overall desirability of the area.
Average Residential Property Prices (Aug 2018 – June 2019)
Secondly, times are changing, and so are people’s preferred mode of transportation.
According to the Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA), car sales have dropped by 34% year-on-year. Statistics has also displayed a steady increase in public transport ridership year-on-year. Hence, the population of people not concerned with traffic jams will only increase from here on out.
However, it is best to tackle this issue head-on, and analyse what people truly mean when they say they are worried about traffic conditions when purchasing properties.
The noise levels here in Malaysia is generally not a really major issue.
Contrary to conventional beliefs, Malaysian drivers are frankly polite, in the sense that we actually flash our headlights to get a message across. This is in comparison to the likes of Shanghai, Tokyo, New York City, or even Kolkata, India, where there are about 19,000 honks in 24 hours.
In a study conducted by University Sains Malaysia (USM), domestic noise levels in urban districts reach up to a maximum level of 55 dB during the daytime. That is 3 dB lower than a normal conversational tone.
Plus, most of the noise pollution actually comes from construction sites and industrial works, rather than the road users themselves.
I have lived right beside Jalan Genting Klang for a whole two years, a considerably jam-prone highway during crunch time.
For the simple fact that I am living in a high-rise building, cleanliness is generally not a major issue for me personally. The biggest nuisance I have had so far would be the mildly dusty air. which can be simply solved by closing the window and avoiding the Malaysia tropical heat altogether.
For landed properties, it is highly unlikely that you will face the traffic jam right outside your doorstep, unless you are one of the poor folks living in SS2, Petaling Jaya.
Which leads to the main two issues with heavy traffic – Travel time and frustration.
I wholeheartedly agree that homebuyers should seriously consider travel time when it comes to property purchases. But they also need to realise that traffic jams and travel time are mutually exclusive parameters.
Twenty minutes away from work in a jam-prone district, and one hour away from work free of traffic is not a direct comparison with each other.
There is no denying that being stuck in traffic is a dreadful process.
Refusing to buy a property just to avoid the idea of being in a jam is a highly subjective, but it is still a perfectly legitimate argument. To some, it may seem like nonsense, but it can truly be a deal breaker to many.
So where does this leave us?
I highly urge homebuyers to use travel time, instead of travel distance and traffic congestion as points of consideration when qualifying a property to purchase. Consider a life-and-death situation. A visit to the hospital 2km away must be dreadful if it takes half an hour to reach there.
If you do consider buying near a jam prone area, I highly recommend renting a nearby place to better understand the jam schedule of the particular area. Leaving the house 5 minutes earlier could translate into a 10-minute difference if planned properly.
And for those who are curious, the project I have recommended to my colleague is Greenfield Residences by Cicet Asia Development. A much more detailed analysis of the project will be published in the upcoming October 2019 issue of PropertyInsight Magazine, so stay tuned!
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