The property market is developing at a fast and furious pace across Malaysia.

The nomenclature of these fast developing real estate space is perhaps the most striking element.

Loft, SoHo, Duplex do not just add variety to the range but also intrigue.

Therefore, it becomes extremely important to understand the basis of naming these properties and the types of houses in Malaysia.

That will help make an informed choice.  

1. Condominium

This is essentially a residential title in Malaysia. People also call it as condo and is essentially an individual unit within a relatively larger building.

It is primarily popular in urban regions with the high-density population. Normally this type of property does share one or more walls with other units in the same building.

  • These are high-end residential options
  • They have full-facility service, eg: swimming pool, gym room
  • Minimum land area of 1 acre
  • Higher securities
  • Indoor parking is generally guaranteed with these units.


  • Comfortable and nice place to live
  • Better rental ROI
  • Safer and more secured
  • Potential Appreciation of property price
  • With compound and common area


  • There is a huge cap on the extent of remodeling
  • Need to pay monthly maintenance and sinking fund fee
  • Restricted by HOA (homeowners association) rules, eg: no pet allowed, cannot renovate doing weekend

Therefore, Condo is an ideal option for investment, either for rental or appreciation investment.

Find out this: The Pros and Cons of Condo VS Landed Property In Malaysia

2. Serviced Apartments

Serviced residences or serviced suites are commercial title. These are high-end properties combining commercial and residential units, they are either attached with shopping mall, shop lots or office units.

Some serviced apartments are entitled HDA (housing development Act) protection.

These serviced apartments with HDA, its electric tariff can be converted to the residential rate.

As the name suggests, these apartments are fully furnished and serviced. so there is no additional effort involved in its upkeep or maintenance.

In return of a certain payment, you get all the amenities.

  • It is equipped with all facilities for users
  • These involve 3-tier security
  • Comes equipped with parking facility

If you plan to invest in properties, this can be easily a convenient option but you must be also prepared for the higher cost, due to its commercial unit title.


  • Ideal for commercial use, eg: work from home
  • Ideal for Airbnb
  • More happenning
  • More convenient for grocery purchase and foods hunting
  • Higher potential of appreciation due to its strategic location. Its location needs to be strategic to ensure the maximum amount of traffic inflow.
  • Can have good rental income


  • Higher water and utility bill
  • Higher Property Assessment Tax (Cukai Pintu)
  • Higher Quit Rent (Cukai Tanah)
  • Less Privacy than condo. This is because you are sharing the building with commecial units
  • Higher density compare to residential units

3. Apartment

This is one of the most common types of residential property available today. It is relatively a more affordable variant and also often considered as a fairly more accessible investment option.

  • Predominantly meant for residential purpose
  • Low to medium end investment opportunity
  • Generally, apartment buildings are equipped with basic facilities like lifts and guard house


  • Relatively secure
  • Affordable option
  • Easy to invest and scour for
  • Common landscaping and playground facilities
  • Easier to cover rental cost


  • Some apartments parking are outdoors and maybe without cover
  • Not a high-end property investment
  • Less potential for appreciation
  • Limited facilites

4. Flat

These are low-end residential options and offer the most basic type of accommodation for their owners.

These are typically smaller in height compared to apartments and might be often with no basic amenities like lifts. These are essentially low-cost building solutions with absolutely no frills attached to them.

  • Mostly 4-5 storey building properties
  • Do not have lifts and come equipped with only stairs
  • No basic facilities like playground or seating area
  • Mostly non-gated residential solutions


  • Low-cost property investment option
  • Reasonable housing solution for those looking at basic level investment


  • Non-gated with no guards so relatively less secure
  • All outdoor parking
  • No recreational facilities for residents

So all in all, this is a rather basic housing variant for those in need of a reasonably comfortable place to stay. Based on your affordability, you can scale it up in the future.

5. Terrace/ Link House

A terrace house primarily refers to any kind of landed accommodation that is placed side by side.

As a result, one Terrace House is invariably linked to the next one. These can be either double-storey or a single-storey one.

The biggest feature of these houses is that it comes with the land attached to the property.

This also makes for way more comfortable living, and you do not need to wait for the lift each time you reach home.

Whether it is getting things from the car or the driveway, this type of house is all about absolute convenience.

Your car is parked right inside the main gate offering better security.

Check the title of the property. If it is an individual title, you are also free to make alterations to suit your convenience.


  • Parking is not a problem; you have your own designated space
  • In fact, space is not a problem. You have got adequate space to dry your clothes and other such activities.
  • You save on the annual maintenance fee as well
  • In case you feel the need, you can also extend the house to a considerable extent
  • There are fewer rules and restrictions compared to a condo
  • Renovating these properties are much simpler
  • This type of house is particularly suitable for pet owners and those with small kids


  • No access to shared amenities like gyms, swimming as you have in condominiums
  • Higher price
  • In case you want to rent it out, this is not the best option to recover rent income

6. Bungalow

The Bungalow across South East Asia is reminiscent of the British influence on the local architecture. It is no different in Malaysia. The Bungalows are rather large and spacious. They are built in a way that celebrate spacious living.

  • These are spread out accommodation on the ground floor
  • They are not attached with other units
  • The huge garden all around the house is a big bonus
  • These are well fenced and often properly guarded properties


  • High on privacy with the nearest neighbour significantly far
  • Spacious place, both indoors and outdoors
  • Ample space for parking and even constructing additional amenities like a swimming pool
  • Convenient for large families


  • High-end residential property with significant costs involved
  • Maintenance cost relatively higher compared to a Terrace house or condo.

The affordability and objective of investment are the primary concerns in this case. This may be ideal for retired couples or big family. Invariably these are more popular away from the main city.

7. Duplex

In very simple terms, a duplex is a rather modern adaptation to deal with the problem of shrinking built-up space. The idea is to pack in as much as possible within a limited area. The concept is extremely urban and is most popular in areas with a high-density population. It is essentially a condominium spread across two floors.

  • A high-end residential unit
  • A double-storey accommodation solution within a condo unit
  • Plush and luxurious alternative to plain Jane condos
  • Can be part of larger building units


  • Comparatively more spacious and luxurious
  • Ideal for investment purpose
  • Can open up sources of additional income
  • Access to common, eg: garden, bbq area
  • 24×7 securities
  • With Facilites: swimming pools, gym


  • Relatively more expensive variants
  • Maintenance cost significantly higher
  • Two floors condo, need to climb staircase, may not convenient for senior members

8. Dual Key

The dual key concept property is a rather modern one. It is a house within a house. You can either rent it out or use it to create space and privacy in multi-generational families.

In this, you have completely provided for studio within the main apartment.

  • The studio apartment can be accessed by a separate door.
  • The hallway is common, but separate doors enhance the privacy
  • High-end residential building solution
  • Both dual key (main apartment and studio) have their own toilet and kitchen, thus they are not sharing any of the area, this guarantee their own privacy.


  • Increases options to increase earnings by letting out one part or both parts separately
  • Maximizes the utility and value of the available space
  • Creates the concept of space even in areas with a high density of built-up space
  • Divides the maintenance and upkeep cost
  • Collecting rental is much easier


  • Can expect privacy at par with staying in two separate apartments

This is an ideal option for those with aged parents staying together with their children. With dual key system, both families can be staying together without losing their own privacy.

For couples with surplus cash that they are keen to invest, this also opens up a dual-earning opportunity. They can rent out the room to tenants.

Often the proximity of the landlord makes it easier to get tenants for this type of property. But this is at best the second home for most.

9. Townhouse

The townhouse in the Malaysian context is very different from the American ones. It is just two identical houses, with one placed exactly above the next one.

  • The lower one is generally a bit smaller but has the option of easy access through the ground floor.
  • The top floor needs to be accessed by a flight of stairs, but these are more spacious
  • Each house is a single self-contained unit
  • Individual houses in a Townhouse are one and a half floor each.


  • Mid-range residential titles
  • Relatively spacious living solutions at par with plush apartments


  • Outdoor parking space
  • No lift available for the top floor

The townhouse is an affordable variant for many looking at options at par with an Apartment. For older homeowners especially, the lower floors can be a great advantage. However, these are not gated ones necessarily, and you have to explore the security option minutely before investing in these.

10. Penthouse

These are essentially one of the plushest and luxurious dwelling options. Perhaps this is why they are sometimes even referred to as Bungalows in skies because irrespective of where you choose to stay you don’t compromise on space or open area.

  • Two storey dwelling option
  • Some really plush ones even have indoor swimming pools

Normally the top units of an Apartment building or condominiums, therefore, the owners have an unhindered view.


  • No compromise on space or luxury
  • Extravagant dwelling option with many special facilities at par with single homes
  • Great view and complete privacy


  • Luxury property investment meant only for a handful of buyers
  • Open space limited to terrace deck kind of options
  • Maintenance cost relatively higher

If you are investing in a house of your dreams right in the heart of the city, this is a great option. It is more of a statement-making variant with access to maximum luxury.

11. Semi Detached

The name is self- explanatory in this case. The term semi-detached houses refer to ones that are not attached to the adjoining house.

They are also known as Semi-D

  • High-end residential units
  • These are individual houses with a fair degree of space


  • Spacious
  • Can have a garden or a small yard
  • Relatively cheaper than full-fledged single homes with all amenities.
  • Suitable for big family
  • Better privacy compare to double storey
  • Suitable for pet owner


  • Not a good rental investment
  • High cost, not everyone can afford it


SOHO stands for Small Office Home Office while SOVO means Small Office Virtual (or Versatile) Office and SOFO refers to Small Office Flexible Office.

  • These are essentially separate names describing a similar type of building units.
  • These are really tiny units, the unit area may be about 500 sqft
  • These are primarily commercial units used for small offices
  • A good alternative option for those who are single and yet to have family


  • Easy access to loans at the height of the property boom in Malaysia
  • Easy investment option for renting
  • These are low cost and convenient office spaces for startups and small businesses.


  • Quite tiny space available
  • Scaling up can be a problem

So this can be a great option for those looking to invest in real estate to generate additional rental income.

13. Retail/ Shop Lot

Retail and shop lot is a fully commercial units. They are meants for business or retails purposes.

Location is a very important factor when choosing the shop lot unit. It is worth to invest a good location even the price is much higher, this will save you a lot of advertisement fee to attact people to your shop.

  • These are typically lots of shops in a big mall and a primarily urban concept.
  • These are generally sold with a Guaranteed Rent Return Package
  • These are created to help the developer tide over financial strain


  • Stable tenant compare to a residential tenant
  • Less renovation needs to be done to rent it out
  • If the location is good, investors may able to generate positive cash flow in the long term
  • High potential for appreciation
  • Less hassle compare to renting out a residential property


  • Rental profitability highly depend on the location
  • High investment cost


If you are keen on investing in properties, it is very important to get a grip on terminologies.

Find out this: 15 Step-By-Step Guide On Buying a Property

Often buyers can get confused about what they are actually buying if they are not very clear on these specific terms.

Therefore, this clear categorization will help you invest with greater ease and advantage across Malaysia.

It will also generate a fairly higher degree of returns from your investment.