Sunday, January 22, 2012

Pantai Panorama

Pantai Panorama has a very good location - right in the middle between Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya. It used to be surrounded by squatter slums but this is now history. The slums are gone and being replaced by office complexes and condominiums, all more luxurious and pricey than Panorama. However, Panorama still lays claim to be the only freehold property in this enclave, now renamed Bangsar South - to borrow the fame from the more established neighbour. Just about 500m away, although downhill (and uphill...) is the Universiti LRT station, named Universiti because it is across the Federal Highway from University Malaya, the country's oldest university.

Panorama is perched on a huge rock on a the highest point in the Bukit Pantai area. This gives the condominium panoramic views (no pun intended here...) of Kuala Lumpur and the Petaling Jaya suburbs. Those who were lucky to get the coveted KLCC view may not enjoy this for long as taller buildings are coming up in the Bangsar South area to block it.

There are 5 towers, with 8 units per block and about 15 floors, this is no low density condo. Nevertheless, the land is huge but it appears like parking is still insufficient as there are many cars parked along the hill access to the condominium.

The 5 towers house 1 bedroom up to 2 bedroom units, the smallest at 750sf and the largest around 1400sf. Most owners converted the 2 bedroom units to 3 bedrooms. The layouts are pretty much the same, except for varying sizes of the balcony and the kitchen. The 1 bedroom units are wildly popular, fetching up to RM2200/month in rental. They were priced around RM180,000 more than 10 years ago but today in sub-sale, nothing less than RM360k. Most of the one bedroom units are located on any one of the 2 blocks on the highest point of the hill.

I am curious why almost all the sub-sale available today are in the 1st block closest to the guarded entrance. I should think this is the most popular block as it is close to the entrance and therefore only a short walk instead of a steep climb up the rocks. And it is also the only block which has a Receiving Yard - which means contractors and movers won't occupy the residential lifts when moving goods up and down. This block also enjoys the larger of the 2 swimming pools but the gym is somewhat old unlike the one on the hill which was recently refurbished but management charges a premium for use of the new gym.

From a slum, Bangsar South has since become a success story. Buyers of the Park Residences right next door enjoyed over 30% capital appreciation within months of VP.

You can see how close Panorama and Park Residences are below but Park by developer UOA is Leasehold. Such varying fortunes and Park, being new and fresh also enjoys higher rentals and prices.

Current valuation for Panorama is around RM400psf depending on the unit sizes, floor, the view and also any renovations that the owners have done to their units. This is still a bargain compared to all of the new launches right next door and around the KL/PJ area. The owners have also taken over the management and appears to be doing a good job to maintain the place.

Sunway Palmville

Yet another low density condo, but this time it is not in KL. This is Palmville, in Sunway. Sunway has some luxurious residential projects as well as low costs ones all mixed in a small area. Prices in Sunway now rivals most parts of Kuala Lumpur but unlike the KL city area, the economy in Sunway is now largely supported by a rich student population. They are from the most expensive private colleges in Malaysia - starting with Monash, Sunway College, Taylors, One Academy and some dodgy ones over in the Mentari area.

Hopefully, this won't be for long as flagship developer, Sunway Group is building a large A grade office tower beside the Pyramid mall and the 5-star Sunway Resort Hotel. The office tower, named the Pinnacle will be ready in 2015 and it is only a short 3 mins walk from Palmville.

Palmville consists of 3 bedroom units with various sizes ranging from 1300sf to over 1700sf. Despite the luxury tag... rental here starts from RM3000/month, the tenants are mainly students. Two of the high demand condos in Sunway are the Palmville and the Lagoonview. The latter is located right beside the Sunway College campus. They have 4-5 bedroom units priced from RM700k onwards but hard to find any in the market. Palmville is slightly cheaper. The going valuation from the most bullish of banks set it at RM400psf. That means, one can get a 1300sf unit from about RM500k. From the time I was writing this, there were 2 such small units in the market with one asking for as high as RM650k. Such a huge variance for the same product!

But rental is a bit more stable here... RM3000... not much more, not much less.

The most desirable units sits inside the tower or those facing the inner court swimming pool. There was one unit in sub-sale which has a breath-taking view of the Sunway Lagoon themepark. The park was constructed around a deep mining lake and the view is anything less than epic. However, the only facility here at Palmville is the small swimming pool. Maintenance fees are cheap and one can opt to top up to use the country club which is situated right next door.

Like the rest of Sunway, Palmville is Leasehold. But not all Leasehold projects do badly - Sunway owing to the self-contained amenities including the gigantic themepark and shopping mall. I think if anything here is priced to be within affordability and reachability of the students in this area, will do well for a long time. Those that are over-priced - i.e. South Quay might struggle a bit until the place is a bit more established and those that are badly maintained such as Mentari or Lagoon Perdana will continue to languish - such is the diversity of the Sunway area. Many friends who come here baulk at the traffic jams, especially during rush hour and then again during the weekends. With success, comes sacrifice. Sunway's success is the crowd and with this crowd, brings the congestions... Another of such place I can think of is Mutiara Damansara and the One Utama area.

Bangsar Putri

On our quest for low density properties in sprawling green estates, we have found Bangsar Putri. It's one of those grand old places like Kampung Warisan and Desa Kudalari. Like both these green icons, Bangsar Putri is around 20 years old. For sure, there will be nothing like this with this kind of space going to be built in KL anymore.

Bangsar Putri sits on about 5 acres and consists of a tower and low rise 4-5 storey condominiums. It is extremely low density with only 200 odd units, majority of which are 1000+sf 2 bedroom units and some bigger units. Most of those available in the subsale are the low rise units facing the highway and Damansara Heights. They are valued at around RM450k. As you can see from below, the views from these units aren't fantastic and there is some amount of noise as well but those in the lower units aren't affected as much as the higher ones.

At RM450k, it is still pushing one's luck to try and rent these out for at least RM3000/month since they are only 2 bedrooms. The maintenance fees are high here, set at RM414/unit irrespective of size. The larger 3 bedroom units here are mainly in the tower and they are priced from RM650k onwards, which makes more sense economically - that is if you can find a reasonable unit for sale. Some owners are even asking for RM800k!

These 2 bedroom units don't look and feel like they have 1000sf of space. The kitchen above feels a bit cramped. The space is likely to be taken up the large balcony below.

The dining and living area also feels a bit small and the ceiling is low.

The master bedroom however feels a little bit more spacious than the 2nd bedroom below, which have only as much space for a double bed and a large wardrobe..

There is an adjoining bathroom to the master bedroom with a very cosy shower booth. It might be a big struggle to put a large person in there and without windows, can get extremely stuffy.

Interestingly, the 2nd bathroom feels a bit more spacious..

I think the stuffy feel owes much to the design. Although low depnsity, as you come into the lift lobby, you find only 4 units per floor but as you come in through your door, there is that claustrophobic feel and darkness due to the entrance being blocked by the kitchen.

In Bangsar Putri, the space is outdoors...

The popular units are those that faces inside, with fantastic greenery and a community feel.

I hear these units are snapped up as they come into the market. While agents tout prices starting from RM450k and rentals start from RM3000/month, I suspect the RM450k are those quoted for units facing the highway and the higher rentals are for those facing the gardens. I think unless with some major renovations done, it will be extremely difficult to fetch anything higher than RM3000/month.

Facilities are good, though looking a bit tired. It feels a bit like a country club with a nice old classical bar complete with snooker table and swimming pool - but it's actually more like a paddling pool...

Despite the small-ish pool, not many condos these days can boast of a tennis court due to the lack of space..

...and there're plenty of space for young children to run around. With the hefty sum in maintenance fees, the grounds are very well maintained.

And a population coming from only 200 odd units, I am curious how the big restaurant make it...

Facilities are mainly located downstairs of the tower block below and there are even shops, including a laundreatte within to serve this small community.

There's another place like this close by in Bangsar called Bangsar Indah. We'll pay a visit next time we can find a unit for sale there. But unlike Bangsar Putri, Bangsar Indah is leasehold...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

What's With the G in G-Residence?

There appears to be 2 projects with the same name in Kuala Lumpur - G Residence by IGB at Desa Pandan and there is also the G Residence by a unknown developer Kelang Lama Land Sdn Bhd (Who?) at the Old Klang Road.

The G at the Old Klang Road project probably stands for "Gembira", as it is located close to Taman Gembira a.k.a Happy Garden which is a very established and matured neighbourhood here. The G Residence at Desa Pandan seems to suggest a particular demographic as the majority of purchasers seem to be from a particular community. Haha... that's a joke or it's just my observations when I was at their showroom located at Midvalley...

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Updates on the Iconic The River Project in Bangkok

The River is a 2 tower mixed commercial and residential project by the Chao Phraya river in Bangkok by reputable builder Raimonland. The project offers various layouts of 1, 2 and 3br units. Those facing the river especially on high floors were snapped up during launch some 3 years ago. Back then, they were priced from around RM600psf. But I understand now, even low floor units facing the Thonburi suburb and afternoon sun is hovering around RM1,300psf. But sales are apparently slowing down and the developer is offering a RM30,000 discount. However, with the discount, it is no where going to be near the launch price.

The developer has been sending regular updates by email which can also be followed on facebook. Work has been slow over the past 3 years but that is expected from this very challenging and massive project which sits on soft ground. CharoenKrung road on the Thonburi side of Bangkok was also flooded recently but this does not stop the project from progressing to this iconic level today.

As of January 2012:

Work continues to bring the project to Occupation Permit Inspection scheduled for December. The inundation of greater Bangkok has directly disrupted the logistical supply chain for materials, labour and transport. The delays arising indirectly from such flooding remain to be quantified and will become the subject of recovery programme once the extent is understood. Both the South and the North Tower's structure has been completed and the curtain wall and window wall is complete. Critical path works of architectural trades, MEP and finishing trades continues. internal ceiling works to corridors, lift lobbies, unit bathrooms and waterproofing/wall/floor tiling/wood flooring are ongoing. Mechanical (fire, sanitary and MVAC systems) and electrical services are ongoing. Testing of mechanical, electrical, fire safety and MVAC systems is continuing. Main transformers, stand-by generators and main distribution boards installation is complete and the project has been energized. The main entrance lobby contracts and kitchen installations are both ongoing. Civil and external works on roads, boundary fence and drainage are near completion while the car park/podium cladding is being finished.