Tuesday, March 17, 2009

KLCC - Idaman Residence in pictures

NOTE: First of all, warning to anyone who uses my pictures without permission - especially estate agents. I will not hesitate to sue you.

TA Properties' maiden project in the KL city center area is finally delivered in March 2009. There has been multiple ads in the classifieds ranging from RM860psf to the dream heaven RM1200psf. Which means this golden project can be acquired for under RM1million in the heart of KL, in direct competition against Marc Residence, KL Parkview and Meritz. The smallest unit is the 929sf 2 bedroom and the largest goes beyond 1700sf.

The building in its white splendour and marine design reminds me of TTDI Plaza Condo at Taman Tun Dr Ismail. There is also an upcoming project in Mutiara Damansara with a similar design. Wonder if it is the same designer or architect.

The developer has made a good job with the lobby with it's contemporary retro design.

The pool is on the ground level, along with a very small gym.

A water stream runs on one side complete with waterfalls and flying metal birds.

There are 2 lift lobbies, each with 3 lifts serving 4 and 5 units per floor respectively complete with the trade mark retro style grills and designer ceiling.

The smallest unit, type H is 929sf facing the afternoon sun and has the not so impressive view of the Jalan Ampang Malay graveyard... It consists of a large living room and master bedroom, a very dark and small 2nd bedroom, bathrooms and kitchen. The 2nd bedroom, kitchen and bathrooms are facing the inner court of the building with very little natural light. I personally do not like these type of designs because this is very hard to maintain and you never know how other tenants are going to handle their hygiene. One such apartment is Villa Putra near PWTC. The inner court is dark, dinghy, damp, oily from all the cooking debris and lots of rubbish which includes used tampons hanging all over the place. Will Idaman Residence get there? Hope not... but you never know... Luxurious condominiums can also turn into horrible places like the example of Menara One in Masjid India area.

The larger 3 bedroom units actually look much bigger than their size probably due to the corner layout and the clever alignment of the rooms. The large windows create this sense of space, with a bright and airy feel. Unfortunately the corner windows of this unit are all facing the graveyard which may be a Feng Shui issue for some... certainly for me.

The other side of Idaman Residence is truly city living. Although facing KLCC and the morning sun, the views are pretty clogged with neighbouring buildings close by. As seen from the living room of this unit, it's easy for the occupants of Menara TA offices to peep in. Despite this inconvenience, I actually prefer this view because it gives me the feeling that I am present in a big city... which is clearly what city living is all about.

In direct contrast, the units facing west has unblocked views but may well have to put up with the upcoming construction of Berjaya's project beside Concorde hotel. If Berjaya's track record is any to go by, it will take them ages to complete it. So you might well get a very dusty eyesore for the next 10 years.

Another kink about this project is the entrance. Although less than 500m from the KLCC Twin Towers, the entrance is narrow, made narrower by cars parked haphazardly and the night clubs down below may pose a noisy problem. Many tenants living in Marc Residence and KL Parkview has complaint about the noise which goes on till the wee hours of the morning during weekend

I personally like this project due to the location, the building facade, design and facilities. However, the layouts of the intermediate units are not so impressive and the western view faces a graveyard. The other potential problem with this project is due to the large number of speculators. The timing of the delivery in the middle of our global recession is not good news to them. Although many advertised with their sky high dream of more than RM1000psf, the reality is none has ever been transacted at this level. Many desperate speculators are trying to let go well below this value, as low as RM800psf. The 1st wave of buyers purchased at around RM650psf, so they can well afford to do this. But the next wave of buyers actually entered at around RM850psf.

So, with the small 2 bedroom units valued at around RM1million each, and the going rental for 2 bedroom units going at about RM6000/month provides approximately 7% returns. However this is really unusual times... tenants are hard to come by and I have heard of many desperate owners who are willing to rent well below RM4000/month just enough to cover interests rates. If you are keen in this property, I would watch it for a while... with the unusually large presence of speculators who bought into this project, it will be a matter of time before a fire sale comes by.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Warning on Copyrights

It looks like people are using pictures from this blog to advertise their properties on http://www.expatriates.com/. I think this is such a shameful thing to do... If you want to advertise your property, please take your own pictures. There is a very clear Copyrights notice at the bottom of this blog page.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Student Accomodation - Pangsapuri SS15 @ Subang Jaya

In this economic slowdown, everything slows down.... nobody can deny that it is extremely difficult to rent their properties out, especially in the higher end expatriates market. However, I have confidence in one particular market, which is the high end students market. I expect that in an economic crisis, students will stay put in Malaysia to continue or complete their studies instead of going overseas. This was the case in the 1997 crisis. Colleges converted their 2+1 degrees to 3+0 and as a result tens of thousands of students who were supposed to fly to UK, USA and Australia had to stay back. Thousands more returned home as their parents could not cope with the exchange rate.
In any case, I have confidence that in the Subang Jaya SS15 area for example, with more than 10,000 students in 3 colleges, I think I would be doing really badly if I can't at least get 4 or 5 students to rent rooms in my property.
So, I am extremely happy that after more than 2 years observing this area, I managed to get myself into this market. There are 2 apartments within the 100m radius of Taylors and Inti College. Pangsapuri SS15 is the preferred apartment due to the location in a quiet residential part of the area. The other one, My Place apartment is unfortunately badly managed by the developer, Sime Properties. My Place is also located close to the shops and food courts, which means noise and rats... Many students also live in rented link houses in the SS15, SS12 and SS14 areas but apartments are preferred due to the security.

Besides the security, students also love having additional facilities such as a swimming pool and also places to hang out by the pool.

Units in Pangsapuri SS15 are extremely rare and hard to come by. In the past 2 years there have only been 4 sub-sale units prices ranging from RM240k to RM490k. The median price is about RM260k. They are generally 3 bedroom and 2 bathroom units. There are also some extremely rare "twin units" i.e. 2 conjoined units with 6 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms and sharing a single kitchen and living room.
According to my survey, students pay between RM400 for a single windowless room to RM1000 per month for a master bedroom with adjoining bathroom and airconditioning. You would normally find 3-4 students sharing a room in the more expensive ones. The median rent is around RM500 plus bills and many of these rooms or houses are in extremely squalid conditions. Many landlords are unwilling to provide better furnishings or living conditions despite collecting handsome rents. But students don't seem to be fussy too..

There are shop houses such as this one in SS15 being converted into students housing. The condition inside is so terrible, but yet a 1st floor unit can easily collect RM2000 to RM3000/month from 5 to 6 students.
Being an ex-student myself, I don't believe in living badly and paying a lot. Based on the rental yield from this kind of investment, I do not see why it is so difficult to invest in a little more to provide a better environment. If we are willing to spend on quality furnishing with LCD TV thrown in for the expat housing market, why can't we spend some money for the students? Some may argue that the students will tend to trash the place, but trust me, even high ranking expats trashed my places before. That's why we collect a deposit and high rent.

I have some ideas collected from our favourite neighbourhood furniture store on how a student's room should look like. And these are some pictures of how the apartment will look like after renovation. The total costs including re-fitting of the bathrooms and kitchen, relocation of the master bedroom's bathroom door to allow others to access will cost less than RM20k. With a rental yield of 11%, I don't see why not. If the environment is comfortable, clean and nice, I am sure it will be easier to get tenants and they may even stay the entire 3 years duration of their course. This is better than the standard 1-2 years turnaround of tenants in the expats market.