Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Thailand's Preuksa - Selling a Concept

In my Bangkok walk-about to look-out for good investments, I stumbled upon this project which taught me something about concept marketing.

What do you do if you have a less than perfect location, and you would like to target young and upcoming working adults in the city?

Answer by Preuksa, Thailand's best developer is "You sell them a good concept".

Preuksa normally specializes in suburban landed properties, which are of good quality and sells very well. This reputation and the sales numbers landed them the honor of being Thailand's best developer, a crown which they have this year snatched off Land and Houses who held it last year. Recently, Preuksa has ventured into the lucrative but crowded Bangkok condo market with launches in 3 city locations.

One of these locations is an area called Suan Phlu which is an off-shoot of Sathorn South Road, equivalent to our Jalan Ampang as this is embassy district. Suan Phlu road itself has many small lanes called Soi. Preuksa's newest Bangkok project is at Suan Phlu Soi 8 which is located 1.5km deep from the major Sathorn South Road. Our Malaysian embassy is located just a few meters from the intersection of Sathorn South and Suan Phlu roads. Being 1.5km from the major embassies of the world, including Australia, Singapore and Germany does not mean it is a good location. Suan Phlu is overly congested and seems like on an island on its own without any train lines nearby.

As one approaches the show house on the site (below), it looks like just any ordinary middle- range condo project. Nothing too exciting except the leafy big trees and shrubs (which I was told will not be chopped - they will become parcels of this project).

However, as one steps into the showroom, the furnishings accompanied by the cool fresh music humming along suggests one is going to get younger by 20 years!

My tour of the showrooms started with the 1-bedroom unit. As I stepped in, I was greeted by this colourful kitchenette and a remarkably relaxing living room. Who says everything in a house has to be matching and fit to purpose. The furnishing looks like it has come out of Chatujak market as you have that comfortable feel despite everything being mismatched. The walls are unfinished plaster but the lighting brings it out alive.

The bedroom with its white clean lines and clear crisps style provided a direct contrast. This 1 bedroom unit is only a cozy 400sf surprisingly.

I then ventured next door into the larger 750sf 2-bedroom unit. Again, one does not feel that it is only slightly larger than one's studio apartment back in KL. The layout is indeed very ingenius and bright.

The kitchen is also made out of a very unconventional combination. The SMEG fridge which lends a retro finish is probably the only piece that is worth a lot. Makes you think if it means one has spent all his budget on a fridge and has to scrape through the rest with bits and pieces to save costs. But it does not feel like that at all.... does it?

The masterbedroom has a contemporary 4-poster bed and other pieces which appears to be out of a flea market.

While the smaller 2nd bedroom which looks cheery and light seems appropriate for one's young off-spring or even guests.

In all, the whole interior design can be summarized as young. Or what my mum puts it "What interior design?". It may not suit everyone's tastes but that's what it is all about. Your home is supposed to suit your taste, no matter what it looks like, as long as you like it. However, here is the caveat... Prueksa is selling the condos unfurnished. You have to go put together the interior as you like it. That's what it is all about.

At a price starting from only RM180,000 for a 300sf studio apartment, there is a lot left in the budget to do whatever you want, for that 1st home of yours in the city!

M is for.... ?

Developer Mah Sing has launched M-Suites, a project along Jalan Ampang, consisting of 2 blocks of 20 towers with units ranging from 550sf studios to larger 1600sf. The site is at one of the most jammed up roads in Kuala Lumpur, at the intersection of Jalan Ampang and Jalan Jelatek. The closest LRT station is Putra's Jelatek, about 1km into Jalan Jelatek. The site is freehold, despite being sorrounded by Embassy Suites, Mutiara Upper East and Suria Jelatek, all of which are leased hold. However, it is sitting on a commercial title land.

With Ampang Hilir being dominated by relatively larger units for the expat family market, the size of the units and location of M-Suites suggests a direct competition against Sucasa, Holiday Villa and to a certain extent, the ageing Shahzan Court opposite Gleneagles Hospital.
Would it make it?
Well, the location further down Jalan Ampang compared with Sucasa and Holiday Villa means further from KLCC. It's in the same radius as Shahzan Court but one can get away with paying RM2000 rent at Shahzan but doubt we can make it with M-Suites. The small 550sf units price starts from RM1000psf and the 3 bedroom 1600sf units go for RM800psf meaning rental should really start from RM3500 to be able to see any light.

Despite the hefty price tag, the sale board above suggests that it is doing well. People are investing in this... While today I felt like spending money, the sales office failed to inspire. There was no show room, no floor plan, no layouts to look at besides some posters on the wall and a plastic model. The lone sales man probably needs to be kicked a little. I never managed to get more than 3 sentences from him each time. Perhaps sales is already a little too good... he's already struggling to spend his commission.

So, what does the M in M-Suites stands for?

Many, I should say... with 16 units on each floor served only by 3 lifts. It's a little too high density.

Mediocre, would be an overstatement...

Most-expensive, more like it...

WOW! So close you can shake hands...

The owners of these Marc Residence units facing the new office tower must have a lot to thank Glomac for... They are really close to each other. So, now they have both corners blocked. The other facing Fraser Suites below.
Such is the value of the view you have paid for. This is the reality of city living. So paying the premium for view is really not worthwhile.