According to the National Property Information Centre (NAPIC), Tawau tops the basic terrace house prices in Sabah.
Terrace houses are the most affordable landed property for those who eschew strata properties like flats or apartments.
The reason for this could possibly be that the 6,125 sq. km. district is flushed with profits fromthe agriculture and plantation industries in Sabah’s Agriculture Belt that stretches from Sandakan in the north to Tawau in the south.
Tawau is also home to many Malaysian and foreign migrants living in rented homes with a population density of 40/km².
In the last census, foreigners outnumber Malaysians 274,728 migrants to192,695 locals.
The total population of Tawau averages 474,728 persons or about half a million with males outnumbering females by 259,368 to 215,360. The unofficial figures could be higher.
Investors from West Malaysia are increasing demand for oil palm land prices by 40 percent given the current commodity prices and the lack in the availability of lands. The highest transacted price is around RM46,500 per acre.
Some narrow low cost terrace houses are selling on the secondary market above RM90,000. Medium cost housing are priced around the RM300,000 bracket.
Medium cost houses from new projects of single storey terraced houses were some 20 percent higher compared to the previous year.
• Perwira (Single Storey Terraced) Jalan Ranggu above RM148,000
• King Fook (Single Storey Terraced) Jalan Utara Baru above RM298,000
• Melinium (2 Storey terraced) Jalan Eastern above RM300,000
• Wira (2 Storey terraced) Jalan Bunga Raya above RM350,000
• Pinery Height (2 Storey terraced) Jalan Sin On above RM395,000
• Pinery Height (2-Storey Semi-Detached) Jalan Sin On above RM695,000
• Bandar Sri Indah (2½-Storey Linked Detached) Jalan Apas above RM860,000 to RM1,300,000
Prices for three storey and two storey shophouse units were priced at around RM880,000 – RM1,100,000 and RM780,000 – RM900,000 respectively.
The prime commercial locations are around Fajar Commercial Centre and Bandar Sabindo with smaller pocket projects at heavily populated catchment areas.
What is unique about Tawau is its volcanic soil and happy blue fin tuna hunting deep sea grounds that even attracted Japanese agrarian and fishing settlers before WWII.
The Chartered Company was into logging, cultivating tobacco, cocoa, coconut rubber, hemp, jute, and fisheries.
Today Tawau boasts one of the highest concentrations of noveau riche with acres of crops even in Indonesian Kalimantan as its new hinterland with the exploitation of cheap migrant labour.
The first shipment of migrant labourers from Malaya to North Borneo was also destined for Tawau’s plantations.
Today Indonesians dominate the labour scene.
Kalimantan is set to prosper from plantation like never before. Sabah can share in its development or lose out when it becomes a competition.
No other town in Sabah is better positioned than Tawau to share in the prosperity of Indonesian Kalimantan by being useful to the southern part of Borneo including green efforts like the Heart of Borneo conservation project.
Lower priced Malaysian diesel, subsidized cooking oil, sugar and other staple stuff are constantly benefitting Indonesian and Filipino markets outside of Sabah.
Today Indonesians and Filipinos mingle with locals and other Malaysians to make it the most attractive border town for Kalimantan and Southern Philippines commerce.
Wealth from the lands and entrepreneurship have forged much affordability for the finer things in life and the ensuring purchasing power also has made a mark in the real estate sector to push Tawau’s property market for lands and buildings to skyrocket in Sabah.
The lustre of Labuan and Sandakan as barter trade centres does not match that of Tawau’s growing cross border trade in variety and volume with the completion of new highways from Keningau and Sipitang linking Tawau nearer with the Pan Borneo Highway and Brunei with Sarawak.
The town is set to be an important city in the future given its close proximity to growth satellites Lahad Datu and Semporna whose population also frequent Tawau for various transactions and occasional direct flights to Kuala Lumpur.