Saturday, July 26, 2008

Vida Soho @ Bukit Ceylon

picture above: Vida Soho site

When a company that bottles mineral water starts to build high end apartments, you know times are getting interesting. Enter Spritzer, the mineral water company...

picture above: The artist impression of the building, luckily it does not look like a mineral water bottle - picture courtesy of Vida Soho's website

Spritzer have their notice board up since a long time ago on this plot of land, currently a car park at the junction of Changkat Raja Chulan, Changkat Bukit Bintang and Jalan Ceylon. Back then who woud think a minreal water company would be building and selling apartments! It is located on a very strategic perch, commanding over the playground which is Changkat Bukit Bintang. This junction can be a very busy patch judging from the daily evening crawl but living in this area, one does not need a car.

This is another commercial development guised as a serviced residence, just like the Somerset Seri Bukit Ceylon. Interestingly, every unit is a duplex. Exceedingly low density, it only has 15 floors and 118 units. Majority of the units are 1 bedrooms with only 2 to 3 units of 2 bedroom units per floor. The concept is quite similar to the Duplex Business Suites of Seri Bukit Ceylon where the downstairs are offices and the upstairs are bedrooms. But it has one advantage over Seri Bukit Ceylon - View!
pictures above: artist impression of the interior of the corner unit no. 4 - pictures courtesy of Vida Soho's website

As it is located on the junction with neighbouring condominiums over 20m apart, Vida Soho will definitely enjoy unobstructed view... that is if Menara Bukit Ceylon and Seri Raja Chulan can be considered good views. It will also still have a breathtaking view of the KL city skyline.
picture above: The large balcony of corner unit 9, the biggest unit - picture courtesy of Vida Soho's website

Despite coming in the latest in the Bukit Ceylon scene, Vida Soho is the first among the lot to have made known their product. Nobody yet knows what Wingtai Asia and UMland-MMC JV gonna offer. I have called up the Vida Soho sales department and they informed me that launching will most likely be Q2 2009... If Wingtai Asia and UMland-MMC keep on procrastinating (they were saying they'd launch last year in 2007 for goodness sake!), I'm afraid Vida Soho will beat them flat.

Note: the pictures above were nicked from Vida Soho's website without their permission. I am not responsible for the accuracy of the pictures nor information provided

Friday, July 25, 2008

Under Construction - Pantai Avenue

picture above: Plan of Pantai Avenue Terraced Houses and Semi-Detached Houses
picture above: Pantai Avenue Terraced Houses under construction

Picture above: Entrance to Pantai Avenue on the right at the foot of Pantai Panorama Condominiums

Picture above: The road leading into Pantai Avenue

Picture above: The corner unit of Pantai Avenue Terraced Houses

Ten years ago, with a small budget I went round the city looking for a home to buy. I stumbled across Pantai Panorama. Back then, a 1 bedroom unit approximately 750sf was going for RM160k. You could fetch a rental of RM1k to RM1.2k for a fully furnished unit. Pantai Panorama, situated on a hill overlooking the Federal Highway is an impressive development. It consists of 5 blocks with 2 sets of common facilities which includes swimming pool, gym etc. It was also rumored that Pantai Panorama was the home of the glitteratis of the show business. Despite the majesty, maintenance don't seem to be their forte as even 10 years ago, the facilities seem run down.

Pantai Panorama was also built around the same time as many condominiums in Mont Kiara. While the latter took off in leaps and bounds, Pantai Panorama's value today has not really appreciated much. A glance through the classifieds today have a 1 bedroom unit advertised for RM230k and 2 bedroom for RM260k. The rental also also improved a little between RM1800 to RM2500. So was it worthwhile all these while? No.

Is it location? Mont Kiara loses to Pantai Panorama in terms of public and personal transportation. While Pantai is close to the Universiti Putra LRT station, there is no such proximity for Mont Kiara. Pantai is also adjacent to the Federal Highway and today has a back route out to the NPE. Mont Kiara has good highways but all must pay toll! So, what's wrong with the place? Bukit Pantai may go down in KL's record as probably the best location with the worst prospect. Take Vista Angkasa for example. Vista Angkasa is the "low cost" condominium situated bang beside the LRT station but it's really terrible... I may be able to post some pics later which suggests the symptoms but let us see what words can say for now...

Picture Above: Dedicated TNB power station for Pantai Avenue

Ten years ago, I was put off purchasing a unit at Pantai Panorama because the only entrance and exit to the condominium was sorrounded by squatters. The street was lined with dimly, shanty type hawker stalls. There are also blocks and blocks of very high density low cost flats as your neighbours. Today, the blocks of flats still exists. But the squatters and stalls are gone. There is an attempt now to redevelop the place as a high end yuppie and chic township called Bangsar South (Malaysian developers are so unimaginative and uncreative.... they always borrow names from places that are successful such as the Damansaras, the Subangs, the Desa's, the Mutiaras, the Heights this and heights that and now Bangsar.... despite the fact that Bangsar South is more than 1km across the busy Federal Highway from the real Bangsar).

Picture above: Road leading into Bukit Pantai - the hawker stalls are gone but the flats still there

Anyway, the squatters colony is now making way for a redevelopment and high end developer YTL is also doing something over at their Leasehold parcel of Pantai Hill Park. The access roads have now been repaved and beautified with deadly looking palm trees. Suddenly I am thinking, maybe Pantai Hill and particularly Pantai Panorama may now have a future.

Which brings me to Pantai Avenue. This is a niche development of Semi-detached and terraced houses located at the slope behind Pantai Panorama. Frankly, I like the location and I always liked niche developments. The terrace houses, so-called Super-Links are quite interesting as they are built on a slope, literally supported by stilts. They are 3-storeys. Entrance to the houses are on the 2nd level. So this does not give you the effect of a 3 level house as you only need to go down or up 1 level. The back yard overlooks pure greenery and I suspect will actually stay green as it serves as a buffer zone for the high tension wires approximately 100 meters away (Hmmm... what did I say about high tension wires? Forgotten...).

Picture above: Not so interesting design

At blog time, I was informed that all the terrace houses have been sold out with price tags between RM750k and RM1million! The plus points include the very low density, entrance at the foot of pantai Panorama which means walking distance to the LRT and Bangsar South. There is already a Seven Eleven and Secret Recipe and Old Town Kopitiam is opening. Despite the great location and the very high price tag, I wonder why the design and facade is so like low cost housing. It is in fact, so out of fashion and totally downright drab. This I will list as the greatest disadvantage. While I am not so much a person for status, I question if anyone on the Malaysian Hi-Society list and expats would like to live so close to the flats (Vista Angkasa included!). It is very high density and one would imagine the number of people who would pour out each morning. This will obviously have an impact on rental and sub-sale.

Pictures above: The view of the Bukit Kerinchi "Sky-scrapers" from Pantai Avenue site

Despite the disadvantages, I do feel there is a potential for Pantai Avenue being niche and the oasis in the midst of the desert. However, the price tag for the remaining Semi-Dees could probably come down a little from the RM1.8 million perch. I think buyers would probably need to spend a further few hundred K's to re-do the facade. But I think the developer don't see the urgency to sell as they have probably already made a bundle from the highly marked up terraced houses and sitting on a gold mine which will one day become Bangsar South.

Pictures above: Bangsar South

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Inside Crown Regency

The Crown Regency at Jalan P Ramlee is strategically located. Just minutes walk from KLCC and literally at the night spots, Crown Regency is very popular with expats. The building and interiors have in the recent years been upgraded and modernized. Although the corridors still look dull and the noise from the night spots can go on till very late especially on weekends, a 2 bedroom unit can fetch up to RM8000/month rental. Units are advertised at around RM1.2 million for sale.
Here are some pics of a fully furnished 2 bedroom unit. Size 1200sf, both bedrooms are almost equal in size and both connected to a bathroom.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Loan Sub-Sale - for properties still under construction

A couple of months ago, I posted a question - which bank would approve a loan for sub-sale of a property still under construction. I managed to sell my unit in 231TR, Jalan Tun Razak ( while it is still under construction with vacant possession still 3-4 months to go. While the developer has agreed to provide consent for transfer of the property, all the banks told my buyer to wait till the key is handed to me before the loan can be processed.

The developer had offered purchasers 0% interests during construction period. However, the catch is, purchasers must subscribe to those 0% interests in the 1st year loan packages. Those packages comes with very draconian conditions such as 3% penalty if redeemed within 5 years and non-zero cost. The legal fees for the bank loan came up to almost 1.5% of property price and a further 1% for the stamp duty. Despite the developer's effort to make this property a flipping-friendly investment, the extra costs says otherwise. Moreover, since this is a commercial development which started before the new HDA ruling came into force, the developer managed to get exemption from the ruling. The impact on investors is the 1% fee payable to the developer for consent of transfer.

So, all in with the non-zero cost bank loan conditions, stamp duty and consent fee, there is an additional top up of 6.5% cost for property flippers. One might argue that the developer has been paying the bank the remaining period of construction's interests. But I am sure the developer would have already costed this into the property price.

Anyway, back to our topic for today which is loan application for sub-sale of properties still under construction..... this morning, my buyer called and informed me that Public Bank has approved his loan for 90% financing with interest rate of BLR - 2%. This is extremely good news. It means, with the consent of transfer which the developer agreed to provide before vacant possession, I can probably just get away with paying minimal interest during hand-over period. I am pleasantly surprised with Public Bank's aggressiveness during this period of "economic slowdown (what economic slowdown?)". And certainly I am sure Public Bank has also taken into consideration my buyer's sound financial standing and reputation before making this outstanding offer.

Congratulations to Public Bank!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Just Completed - Maytower

We are seeing loads of advertisment in the classifieds for rental. Maytower has just entered the market to compete for the lower end studio market - in direct competition with Casa Mutiara. Maytower is a serviced apartment - the lower floors are run as a serviced residence complete with lobby, breakfast, cleaning and room service by a hotel group. The upper floors are individually owned and owners have just been furnishing their units and offering them to the market.
Maytower consists mainly of small studio units around 400sf - 600sf.

Developed by Mayland of the Parkview fame (or...), from the outset, Maytower seems like a very luxurious project. Luxurious marble clad lift lobbies....

Luxurious lobby...
Luxurious pool...

Luxurious gym...
But, as in all Mayland projects, they are all lacking in attention to detail. The above gym may look sophisticated and facilities look modern but taking a closer look, you will notice that the quality of material is lacking and finishings are rough unpolished.

This uncovered part located just beside the "luxurious gym" may say it all...

Maintenance is also an issue. Sauna doesn't work...
Architecturally, some parts of the corridor is really narrow. Which is a big worry for safety and also I would imagine moving large furniture would be a problem.

There are areas which will breed mosquitoes. There is no possibility for this cesspool to be drained and there are 2 on every floor.

Mouldy internal walls are quite a common feature on every floor...
Notwithstanding, apparently estate agents are making a brisk business. Units are being rented out like hot cakes. This is despite the noisy construction opposite the Maytower.
Maytower is strategically located near the Medan Tuanku Monorail, Masjid Jamek LRT station and the Bandaraya LRT station. It is also one of very few apartments renting below RM2000 in KL. Not many people, expats included are ready to pay the RM3500 and up asking rent by high end properties like Seri Bukit Ceylon, Parkview and Marc. This is also a reason why Casa Mutiara is such a success. However, I learnt that parking is not inclusive and it costs RM5 per entry to park your car.
The neighbourhood, Maytower is situated beside Menara City One, the luxurious high end project which went wrong. Many units here are currently occupied by about 10 to 20 foreign workers packed into a single unit.
I also noticed the uncanny resemblance of the Maytower with the Capsquare Residences, another luxury project in the vicinity.
Maytower above... Capsquare below...