Friday, June 26, 2009

Updated: Fairlane Residence

Finally, I've got the time to sit down and write about Fairlane Residence. This building is located behind Lot 10 and it literally wraps around the adjacent hotel. There are 2 entrances to this building, depending on the location of your unit. If you get the main entrance, it is actually quite a grand lobby adorned with lots of glass and marble, although small.

It seems the developer has tried very hard to squeeze as many units as they can into the building and as a result, you either get those with nice views or you are facing the carpark of Park Royal hotel or the back wall of the adjacent hotel. As you can see from the picture below, it's hardly 20 feet and very little natural light trickles down especially to the lower floors.

However, most units face the low lying shop houses of Bukit Bintang and some even get a KLCC view.

But unfortunately, the way they cram the units into each floor and due to the extremely narrow parcel of land, this 2 bedroom unit I saw does not have the best of any layouts. Probably suitable for short term stays, like a hotel but for anyone to stay here for longer term would be harrowing. It is extremely cramped for a start. This 2 bedroom unit is just 670sf.

As you can see from the above picture, this owner does not seem to care about furnishing.... The back room and bathroom has no natural light.

And despite this beautiful kitchen, I don't see how one can do any cooking without oiling the whole house.
This is an intermediate units and most units are intermediates. With the L shape of the building wrapping the adjacent hotel, there are only 3 corners. I can probably imagine the cost would be high for these. The intermediate units are going for at least RM1000psf with each unit averaging 500 - 600sf.

Due to the lack of space, the facilities are quite generous although the swimming pool is very small. The pool is located at the top of the building and one has to climb quite a number of steps to get there. But once you get there, it seems like a very nice place to catch a tan and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

There is also a play room for you to dump your kids while you go off to work. Truly the place for working couples.

Sweat before, in between or after work...
And a business center if you wish to work from home...
So, in all I sum that the Fairlane Residence is the kind of project for investors who would like to go for short term tenants. This means a high turnover of tenants and a mecca for estate agents. This also means higher rental. Typically, a 1-bedroom unit in the high end marker would be going for RM3500 to RM4500/month. So, with short term stayers, one would be able to expect even up to RM6000/month or RM1500/week and RM200/day. The location and facilities would attract high volumes of tourists and business tenants; hopefully would reduce the vacant period of the units. KL is seeing longer and longer vacant periods for the luxury market.

But unfortunately for investors, the entry cost is high judging from the unwillingness of the owners to release their units below RM1000psf.... maybe if we suddenly take a turn for the worse but there won't be many buyers then, would there? This is also a commercial title with high utility rates, the maintenance fee is RM0.60psf and no parking is provided. One have to rent the parking from the management and at the time of visit, the management has not decided on the parking rate but they are looking at around RM200/month. So, with a typical 600sf unit, your maintenance fee + parking would come up to RM560/month.

The Bukit Bintang monorail is steps away. Although one would argue that most of these kind of tenants don't have cars to park, I would rule out this kind of investment... because I don't want to rule out the percentage of tenants who have cars and want a car park at the time when tenants are hard to come by...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Suria Stonor @ KLCC

Some time last year when I was at the Japan Embassy to get my visa, I strolled into a showroom across the road from the embassy in Jalan Stonor. At that time, Glomac still had quite a few units of condominiums to sell in their premier KLCC project, Suria Stonor. Glomac as we know specializes in ex-oil palm estates residential and commercial development out in the suburbs. They've got a few good ones in Kelana Jaya and this would be their first dabble in the city center high end area.

At the time before completion, Glomac was positioning their 3 to 4 bedroom condominiums, each in excess of 3000sf at around RM2.5 million per piece. This would seem a fair price for a luxury property in the heart of the KLCC area. Each of these units have their own private lift lobby. While I was initially impressed with this offer, I am not so sure about now.

I would normally not look at anything with a budget above RM1 million investment, until this year when a good old friend who reappeared from the wilderness invited me to join him and the family for viewing at Suria Stonor, I snapped up the opportunity. My friend was looking for a unit suitable for him and his young family around the budget of RM7k to RM8k per month. One would imagine that since even a small 2 bedroom unit at Marc Residence or The Meritz can fetch RM8k/month, what would a 3000sf mega condo in Jalan Stonor? But judging from the occupancy rate and the timing of vacant possession, it is all not too surprising.

Suria Stonor is very near some very successful stories. Park Seven and Stonor Park pictured above (as seen from Suria Stonor) are enjoying close to 90% occupancy rates; apparently with a waiting list and rental in excess of RM13k per month. Obviously Park Seven and Stonor Park entered the market earlier, most of them have already signed year on year tenancies and their tenancy list will probably stay that way with an established market base. Both of these are also adjoining the KLCC park and some units even have the prime unblocked view of the twin towers.
However, it is not to be for Suria Stonor...

Suria Stonor is sorrounded by empty plots. Some of these plots have already been cleared for construction. The picture above shows the Platinum Park construction which will block Suria Stonor from viewing KLCC when completed. Fortunately, the economy is delaying the project start and residents will enjoy some peace and quiet for a few more years.

I would also take issue against the floor layout of the development. One would not be able to enjoy much privacy with an L-shaped layout facing other units, especially when one would expect the curtains to be drawn most of the time to enjoy the views abound.
Indeed it is a trend these days to incorporate large windows so that not only one can look out to enjoy the view, but also for people to peep in! These large windows in the bathrooms are some examples. Not only are the bathroom windows large, they are skewed to position directly opposite your neighbours so the "guy next door" can have a great view. Of course, shut the curtains if he's fat and ugly...

The kitchen has 3 parts. Here below we have the presentation kitchen... rather small if you ask me...
But, hidden behind is where the real cooking is done. In a dark and dinghy kitchen which also incorporates the maid's room, maid's bathroom and the wet kitchen. So that nobody would be able to find out that it wasn't really you who did those wonderful cooking, this kitchen is hidden and without any windows or natural light.

The living room and adjoining dining hall is large. There is also an area which could be converted into another bedroom but most likely to be used as a TV area, study or tea room pictured below.

The spacious bedrooms, with large bright and airy windows, some with a glass balcony is probably the best feature in Suria Stonor.

Befitting the status of a luxurious condominium, the fittings are actually good such as wood flooring in bedrooms and marble floors elsewhere etc.
The facilities deck below are quite impressive. These is a well-stocked although small tuck shop. Which I would imagine is running at a great loss considering the poor occupancy rate.

They have also got a nice, well-equipped and surprisingly well-utilized gym.

The swimming pool with an infinity edge faces Dua Residency.

And I should think this is very good for young families...
In summary, Suria Stonor has all the trappings of a luxury project, great facilities and nice quality finishings. Unfortunately, Glomac failed to hire a good architect and wasted all the good things in a premium plot of land. As I've attempted to emphasize earlier, the kitchen is a disappointment. Coming back to the private lift lobby I was initially so excited about... it has no natural light, no windows, hot and stuffy unless you want to air-condition your own private lift lobby. I wouldn't like to imagine how it will smell with all those shoes in there.
To rent, I think a bargain at below RM10k/month. Advertised at RM800psf in classifieds, at RM2.4million and up, I'd give it a pass..

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Meritz @ KLCC

Meritz is one of the lowest density condominiums in the KLCC area. It is the first ones of Wing Tai Asia's projects in the KL city center, located opposite KLCC in the middle of Jalan Mayang. In my opinion, despite it's prominent position less than 800m from the doorsteps of KLCC twin towers, Meritz's location is really not that perfect today. It is sorrounded by empty prime plots which will see some major constructions soon. The sluggish economy is putting some of these plans on the back burner but once it picks up again, Meritz will be blanketed by sky scrapers.

For a start, the much prized KLCC view will be blocked by Wing Tai Asia's own office block development. However, I do hope that Wing Tai consider constructing an access to Meritz via this development. It will shorten the walk to KLCC by at least 600m and add value. On the other side of Meritz is the mega development by UMLand to be called Lavender Night. Once built, these projects will add value to Meritz and develop the sorroundings of Jalan Mayang. I predict this will cause the price of Meritz to increase by at least 50%. However, during the construction, it will be a nightmare.

Despite the uncertainty of its' sorroundings, I actually like Meritz. More so since it is a low density development. Each floor only has 5 units of 2 or 3 bedroom units roughly sizes ranging from 1000sf to 1600sf. The layouts are actually quite nice, each floor has a nice, bright and spacious landing. There are less than 100 units in this building. The layouts of the interior are functional with ample storage space and allocations of a separate kitchen area which consists of a wet and dry section. This is ideal for long term living. The only kink is the bathrooms which have no windows. Still, Meritz's individual layout certainly beats Idaman Residence flat out.

The facilities are 5 star. It has a small swimming pool, sauna and a nice gym. With only 99 units, I would imagine the facilities will be well preserved and from the looks of it, they are well maintained. The maintainence fees at RM0.45 psf is quite standard for this area although it sums up to around RM500 per month for the smallest unit. Still better than Marc Residence, I guess.... And best of all, the residential title means that they are enjoying lower utility rates compared with Marc, Seri Bukit Ceylon, 231TR and other serviced apartments.

The most desirable units are those facing Phileo or the Australian High Commission. Those facing the other side, i.e. Jalan Tun Razak may suffer from the noise. And the most drab of all, none of the units will be able to escape some kind of construction work in the near future. The price at RM1000psf, definitely over RM1 million each reflects the value of the place. I understand it was launched at around RM700psf about 5 years ago. At today's economy, I actually found 2 fire sales just below RM1 million or approximately RM880psf. Due to the location, most (> 90%) of the units are rented out at between RM5000 to RM9000 per month. The higher end are those larger 3 bedroom units.

Despite an over-built KLCC area and will be even more over-built in years to come, I think Meritz will stand on its' own due to the low density and the high quality tenants.