Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Jalan Ampang - 202 DC

202DC is strategically located along Jalan Ampang, sandwiched between the Spanish Embassy and a furniture shop. Developed by E&O more than 10 years ago, 202DC consists of 3 to 4 bedroom condominiums suitable for a small family.

Each unit fetches rental between RM4500 to RM8000 depending on the size and where they are facing. Naturally the units facing the inner quadrangle with a beautiful free form tropical pool and those facing the Spanish Embassy (hence KLCC) are the more popular ones, while those facing busy (and noisy) Jalan Ampang and the AKLEH elevated highway are probably less attractive.
The management has been handed over to the residents some time back and it seems they are doing a good job keeping the place in good shape considering the age. The major attraction appears to be the inner quadrangle with the free form tropical pool.
The location is superb and should attract many tenants among the diplomatic corp and expatriates. But lately there has been many owners trying to sell their units. My recent visit also revealed that there are many vacant units. Surprisingly, the security guards told me so.
So, what happened to this place. It doesn't look too bad to me. Nice place, good management, clean, beautiful gardens, good facilities etc... My guess is probably the competition from the new KLCC developments. 202DC is within the budget of the mid-level officers i.e. from 2nd Secretary below. We've only got so few embassies and their diplomat staffs. There are now newer and more attractive condominiums such as Hampshire Place, Meritz, Marc Residence and the many new condominiums along Jalan Ampang Hilir to choose from for this budget range. 10 years ago, there probably wasn't that many choices.

However, there is no denying the charm of the place. What would be good is if the sale prices could be nudged a few notches downwards. Currently we are looking at between RM650,000 up to a million for the bigger and "nicer" units. As they are old, the owners probably much much older, many units need a change of tiles, flooring, furnishing and fittings to give them a fresh look. Obviously one needs to spend at least RM50k to RM60k to accomplish this mission. So, sellers need to be realistic. I also found some owners have done some really terrible and old fashioned renovations in order to "spruce up the place" ready for rental or sale. Of course, this is usually a big mistake because at their age (and attitude), the taste is usually totally out of touch.

What do I mean by attitude? Many of the owners invested in 202DC for rental income and make the mistake of thinking since it is for rental purposes they do not need to spend so much to do up the place nicely and tastefully for tenants. This is very true in the case of older owners because they thrived in an era where there weren't many choices for tenants. But today, there are many choices. We are going to get almost 15,000 units flooding the market in the next 2 years!
So, those 1980s furniture bought from Old Klang Road will have to go. One will also need to look at the latest showrooms for designer kitchens, bathroom fittings and probably wood (not laminate!) flooring to replace the old tiles.

Alright, I've probably insulted many home owners reading this but I think this is an honest opinion. Tenants spending in excess of RM5k a month are getting more and more discerning. Expats and diplomats included. Those 2nd level officers in the diplomatic corp are in their mid thirties or early 40s.

Like it or not, 202DC will have even tougher competition going into the next couple of years. These are large units and one cannot leave them vacant for too long because the maintenance fees is expensive. There has to be more than it's perfect location and immaculate management to lure tenants.
Those units facing the Thai Embassy and the AKLEH highway also risks having a towering construction site in the near future as these look like private land. And with land such a valuable commodity in this part of KL, it is going to be inevitable. One really have to consider properly about this investment. After scouting 202DC for so long, I am certainly thinking twice.

No comments: