Saturday, September 27, 2008

Office in KLCC area

First of all, I must confess this is a market I am not at all familiar with. Commercial. However, when I saw this ad for a 800sf office just a 10minute walk from KLCC for slightly over RM650psf, I thought this is a steal considering all the residential lots within a 1km radius of KLCC are going for minimum RM1000psf. And this office unit is located within the same building as Seri Maya hotel, with nice Italian quality marble entrance, steel and lots of tempered glass. Certainly an A-grade Jalan Ampang address - well, perhaps an A minus...

The building you see above is actually a 3 in 1. At the front is Menara Chan, an office. In the middle and the main lobby houses Seri Maya hotel, a 4 star hotel. And at the back is Plaza 138, another office block with individual owners and strata title. Location is directly opposite BSN tower and in between the KLCC and Dang Wangi LRT station. It is also about 400m from the Bukit Nanas monorail station. I would consider this a prestigious address... not sure about those familiar with the commercial market. Please advice.

The unit in question is in Plaza 138. Despite the excellent location, one of my quarrels with it is, Plaza 138's entrance is actually at the middle of the building which, if you don't know you might not be able to find it. However, it is directly opposite the entrance of Seri Maya hotel's lobby.

picture above: Top view of the main entrance

Plaza 138 is basically quadrangle. There is a center courtyard which is actually the swimming pool of Seri Maya hotel. You can barely see it when you look down because it is covered with a bamboo roof. It is served by 2 very slow lifts but they seem well maintained and looks very classy with a lot of marble and stainless steel.

picture above: Top view of Swimming pool

What attracted me to Plaza 138 is that every office includes a small pantry, a shower and a toilet within the unit. So, this means it can be turned into a SOHO unit if the tenant wants to live in it. It can be renovated in such a way that it's partially residential and partially office. Just needs imagination.

The main issue of course is the Muslim graveyard behind the building. Unfortunately, every unit has a nice view of the grave yard. I would imagine that this would affect the feng shui of businesses as well as the ability to find a tenant who would like to live or work so close to the graveyard.

From my understanding, the rental fetches about RM4.50psf/month but it does not come with car park. You have to rent the car park separately from the building management at RM160/month per plot on availability basis. During my visit, the offices are about 80% occupied. I would say, the rental and the price is reasonable for the location but the graveyard is really a big issue. For me, one who works late every night, I would have a problem and would have an even bigger problem convincing my staffs to stay late and finish their work.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Recently Completed - Merc Residence

I always like niche developments... those which are really low density and exclusive. I have my eye on these places all the time. One such development is Sri Bayu in Bangsar (only 16 units, price circa RM600k), and One Jelatek (99 units by Tan&Tan in Setiawangsa) and now, this one... Merc Residence in Taman Desa. Not to be confused with Marc Residence opposite KLCC, although I suspect the developer was trying to rub shoulders with an established name.

The developer is little known, although apparently they did the shopping mall underneath Dataran Merdeka and the drab shop lots in Taman Shamelin Perkasa. But Merc Residence is completed, so why worry?

In terms of location, Merc Residence is somewhat liveable... it is not quite Bangsar or Seputeh but not too out of the way either. In terms of accessibility, I think it's not too bad as it is the first left turn of Old Klang Road but I would imagine getting out of it in the morning would be a hassle as one has to go further up for a U-turn. Then there is the public transport factor... there is no such facility except the irregular buses but one would not expect the tenants here to be public transport material anyway. In any case, Taman Desa with some very successful condos like One Residency and neighbouring Taman Seputeh's Sri Langit do not rely on the public transport factor to be successful. It's target market which is mainly the booming Midvalley and Pantai enclave would ensure good yield. Each unit is given a car park and with only a total of 36 units, it is extremely low density and exclusive.

With 4 layouts to choose from, I am particularly attracted to the 2 corner units particularly the 1205sf Type A. There are only 10 units of each type to choose from so you can imagine why it is now sold out. Although I know of it's existense some time back when it was launched, I only took sudden interest this morning. And yet, I procrastinated. It was advertised in one of the classifieds and by the time I got there at 5pm, it was completely sold out. The pricing between RM300k and RM450k is extremely aggressive for this kind of development and I am not at all surprised... although disappointed...

Note: Highly disappointed at not being able to snare a unit, I forgot to take any photos - the pics above are courtesy of the developer's website.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Mutiara Villa

picture above: View from Block B, Type G

picture above: Type G at Block B is a corner unit, with a rounded window in the Master Bedroom

Picture above: Type G in Block B has a 2nd bedroom which is quite big in size and has it's own attached bathroom
Picture above: The living room and kitchen is rather narrow. This bar will need to be demolished.

There is no doubt that the rental demand is very strong for lower cost city center condominiums. By lower cost, I mean:

  • Less than RM2000 for studios or 1 bedrooms
  • Less than RM3000 for 2bedroom units or bigger

And by city center, I don't mean Sri Hartamas, Bangsar or Mont Kiara....

With the success of the "low cost" condominiums, I have been looking for more units in Mutiara Villa to invest in. Mutiara Villa, situated at the corner of Tengkat Tong Shin and Jalan Sahabat is at the foot of Bukit Ceylon. This means, just walking distance to most commercial and shopping centers in KL.

I am not too surprised that the available units for sale now are asking 30% higher than last year's price. For example, a 2 bedroom unit was auctioned from RM240k last year and finally sold at RM280k. This year, the minimum asking price for a 2 bedroom unit is RM340k. However, this makes it harder to justify because rent has not increased a great deal. take a 1 bedroom unit for example, the rental 2 years ago is in the range RM1200 to RM1500. This year, I have seen units rented out for RM1800. Perhaps the owners have done some renovations and bought new furnishings.

Also due to it's location, Mutiara Villa has in the past few years been dogged by security issues. It is so easy for people to just walk in and there are all sorts of people in this part of Bukit Bintang. Many residents tell me that the crime are mostly committed from within. This is quite possible. An agent who started operating in this building has been making quick rentals by renting to immigrant workers. As many owners live outstation or overseas entrusts their keys to this agent, they are not aware about what's going on except for receiving rental money monthly in their bank account. Some of these units have 10 and even 15 occupants! They made their presence felt by gathering in the lobby and swimming pool deck, sometimes creating a nuisance.

Why then am I still interested in Mutiara Villa?

Well, first of all, it's location, location and ... location. Secondly, there is a ray of hope now that a new management company has taken over. Security gantries and a key card system is being introduced. I understand that owners will soon be forced to register their tenants and only a limited number of keycards will be issued for each units to prevent them from being turned into dormitories. If serious action is taken, I am confident that Mutiara Villa can return to its former glory.

picture above: Type F Block A's view
Mutiara Villa consists of 2 blocks with about 270 units of studios, 1 bedrooms, 2 bedrooms and some 3 bedroom apartments. The 1 bedroom units here are particularly popular especially those in Block A facing KLCC. Other popular units are those facing the swimming pool. Of course, being more than 10 years old, it looks really tired but there are now some attempts to refurbish the common areas. Common facilities include a swimming pool, jacuzzi, barbecue pit and a sauna that doesn't work.