Thursday, June 28, 2012

Ara Greens Residences - Retro Is Back

Ara Greens is located in Ara Damansara, the plot opposite Saujana which is along the Subang Airport Road. Ara Damansara has more or less become an established neighbourhood since it was launched over 10 years back on one of Sime Darby's last plots of palm oil estates. But in my opinion, Ara Damansara has never made it on its own as a self-contained township unlike places like Subang Jaya, Damansara Perdana or Kota Damansara. There are commercial zones within Ara Damansara but they lack the conveniences of banks and shopping. The neighbourhood mall, the Citta Mall still "bercita-cita" to make it as a real shopping destination and Ara Damansara has to rely on neighbouring malls such as those in Sunway, Subang Jaya and Paradigm Mall in Kelana Jaya for excitement. 

So, when Ara Damansara launched at around RM750psf to RM800psf to rival See Hoy Chan's  Uptown Residences, Glomac's Reflection and other recent projects around this price point, the big question was what does Ara Damansara offer? My immediate response is, you'll need a car... It doesn't exactly answer the question but I was just trying to press home the point that if you're going to need a car to do just about every essential of your life like getting to work, banking, shopping, see the doctor, eat etc.... why won't you consider buying landed properties at Ara Damansara, PJ, DU, Subang or even Desa Park City if you're going to have to pay well over a million for 1500sf 3bedroom apartment?

Freshie developer, HSB's response is probably Lifestyle. They've got every facility in mind under the sun or off the sun - swimming pool la, BBQ la, gym la, putting green la... even the not so common ones like karaoke and herb garden. The list goes from A to Z in the brochure and the maintenance fee is only RM0.30psf including sinking fund. How do they do this? They have  700 over units spread over quite a large plot there is surely a lot to maintain - the danger is many facilities will fall into disrepair in the future especially after the owner's committee takes over.

Ara Greens is one of those new GBI (Green Building) concept. Perhaps the secret lies here as I can tell you electricity is single biggest consumption of your maintenance fees, way more than salary. This concept however is largely untested and the fact that Ara Greens is commercial titled, any gains from electricity savings would be superseeded by the higher utility costs.

They have 6 blocks and recently launched Blocks D and E. The layout is rather interesting. Units are arranged in a triangle. But triangle represents fire in feng shui, so they rounded the sharp edges. The form of the building is also rather organic which gives it that unique look. But that means many units have odd shapes that the Cina Apek in us may find them as grotesque waste of space.

Units consists of small 1+1 or 2 bedroom units from 680sf to 800sf, 2+1 bedroom units around 1100sf, 3+1 bedroom units from 1400sf to 1500sf, 4+1 bedroom units from 1800sf to 2000sf and 5 bedroom units from 2100sf to 2600sf. Like every new launch before our eyes, all the smallest units were fully sold.

Developers need these small units to survive their marketing. They can't holler prices averaging RM1.5million because nobody is going to pay attention. But if they say, our prices start from RM520k, they would garner more attention. Then why not just build small units and screw the large ones - the municipal council won't have such high density approved (unless you are Mayland who can con them into believing you are selling hotel suites ;)

So yes, the sales board was plastered with stickers all over the small units. They were as good as gone. The cheapest one when I was there today was the RM820k 1129sf 2+1 bedroom unit on the 2nd floor. Not too exciting considering I can also get a 4 bedroom double storey link house in a gated Ara Damansara for the same price.

The small units are quite nicely decked out but not necessarily built for the Asian style, for example the kitchenette which shares the living room below.

But I like the way the main bedroom and the small bedroom both share the bath which saves an extra bathroom or needing the occupant of the small bedroom to go outside of the room to get to the bath.

I also like it that the bathrooms all have windows and in fact all the units emphasized on a lot of natural daylight. This is not wasted on the larger units as well. The biggest contrast between Ara Greens and Uptown Residences is perhaps the flow and shapes of the units, Ara Greens being more artistic compared with the boxy Uptown Residences. 

The larger units also get up to 3 car parks but unlike Uptown's private lift lobby concept, Ara Greens have 3 lifts serving 8 units per floor - albeit with less number of floors per tower... They are giving away 5% rebates during this promotion period, with DIBS and all the usual buffs thrown in and although I was really excited by the interesting concept and architecture, I couldn't find myself falling over other buyers to snap up a unit. Not with that commercial title, location and at that price...

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Arrogant Agents

I had a brush with bad estate agents before. I am not saying all estate agents are bad. Some of them are really good and do their job well - I can recommend them to you. But there are those who really gets on my nerves and they are usually the young ones.

An Australian friend of mine got a job in Malaysia so he is going to move here in August. He has started looking for a place to rent and was recommended Pantai Panorama by other friends as that fits his location and budget. Apparently there are these 2 so-called "in-house agents" in Pantai Panorama, a guy and a lady. My cousin had a brush with the guy before when he enquired to purchase a unit there to invest some months ago. I was told he was so arrogant that my cousin found it necessary to avoid investing at Pantai Panorama. This time my friend dealt with the lady - I blanked out their names to avoid embarrassing the parties involved....

From: AAA;
To: ; BBB
Sent: Tuesday, 19 June 2012, 16:47

Subject: Re: Pantai Panorama Condo

Dear Sin Leong & BBB,

Sorry for the late reply due to not feeling well these few days. Below 2 links, as spoken to BBB, 2nd link alrdy taken by someone. But end of this month, it will be another 2 new units, currently is tenanted. Same size &; rental. Thanks.


So then, my friend was keen and wrote back to request for some photographs, which I think is reasonable since he is in Australia and he is not able to view the unit:

On Wed, Jun 20, 2012 at 2:18 PM, BBB wrote:
Hello AAA,

Thank you for your email.
Once the tenants have vacated the place, please take some photos and send them to me, if that's possible.
In addition, perhaps you could also provide the floor number and block located of the apartment.

Thank you.


and he got this reply....

From: AAA
Sent: Wednesday, June 20, 2012 8:00 AM
Cc: Ng,SL,Sin Leong
Subject: Re: Pantai Panorama Condo


If tenant is ok especially staying only left a week, i'm alrdy start showing the unit to client, so i may not take pics after vacant, the units may alrdy rented out. If i able to make it, i will do it. FYI, 1 room aprt demand is very high & fast at here. Thanks.


My friend just told me over the phone, "forget it...".  Many owners in Pantai Panorama let these 2 handle their properties exclusively... that's how they breed the arrogance. They also appear to have taken care of the security guards very well too. When I went to view a unit there with another agent, the  security asked me who was the agent. If the agent is their "in-house agent", then I do not need to register!

If we have money, we do not need to stoop so low, there are many other nice properties to consider. If I ever find any estate agents representing me this way, I would terminate them.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Studio In The City

When I bought my first apartment in the city center of Kuala Lumpur back in 1998, I paid RM145,000. It was bigger than the usual studio unit, it was 580sf and there was actually a bedroom separated from the kitchen and living room. Back then, I was able to rent it out for RM1,500/month. This was 1998.

Now prices have steadily moved upwards and now we are approaching RM1 million for something as small as a 500sf studio apartment. Developers justify this by making it look luxurious, throwing in furniture which from my experience is usually mass produced and hence, low quality. I don't pretend that prices are still the same as 1998 but I don't think prices would have floated more than 1000% above what we used to pay in 1998. So, by throwing in furnishing which I don't believe are worth more than RM50k and making the building posh, developers are now justifying their studio units at RM1 million.


Tribeca is a project by the Low Yat group, their projects are rare to come by. The location is quite good although with a notorious address of Jalan Imbi. It is right behind Starhill complex, opposite the Ritz Carlton hotel and Dorsett Regency. Details are scarce right now as they are preparing for a launch in September this year. The apartment consists of almost 300 units from 500sf to 1000sf each. The damage starts from RM950k....

Tribeca will have 2 infinity swimming pools and some common areas scattered over the building which they call Sky Pods. They claim this Sky Pod concept is the first in Malaysia but obviously they have not been to Verticas Residensi which came up with this concept earlier and in fact is now nearing completion.

For more details to justify this RM1 million tag, we just have to wait and see...

Mayland's Project Beside Dorsett Regency

Just directly opposite the Tribeca site, developer Mayland is going to build a serviced apartment beside their Dorsett Regency hotel. Currently there is no name and I was at first told, the price starts from RM1.1million. So my first impression is, these guys are going to present 2 or 3-bedroom apartments so I smartly commented that they should instead focus on smaller and affordable units as the luxurious studio market is kinda saturated at the moment and I doubt there will be many rich Malaysians or foreigners putting so much money in Malaysia when for RM1 million, they can also buy a studio apartment in Singapore. But lo and behold, it turns out the price tag is in fact for a 680sf studio!

Again, let's see what they have when it is eventually launched in December 2012.

Serviced Apartment at Jalan Raja Chulan

I blogged about this still nameless project some months ago. I was told the launch will be any time now when the show room is ready and they anticipate the price to be around RM1500psf. There will be 1-bedroom, 2-bedroom as well as 3-bedroom units. The smallest unit will be about 500sf, but expect smaller units to be more expensive per square feet - so it will be expected to be close to a million too. Nothing much else is known about this project... 


Not quite a million dollars but not exactly million dollar address. This project by PJD takes after the "successful" Swiss Garden Residences at Jalan Pudu. But the location is at the other end of Jalan Pudu, at the junction of Jalan Brunei which is quite a rough area. It is not quite CBD but close enough and close to the Jalan Pudu hawker street. They have 135 units of various types starting from 688sf studios. The design is somewhat similar to Mayland's Dorsett Place which has windowless living room/kitchen separated from the bedroom. I don't quite like this. They are pricing this from RM700k.


For those who can't wait too long (and can't pay too much), Mayland's Regalia is going to hand over keys this Autumn. There are still some choice studio units facing the pool priced around RM300k-RM400k in their Melrose Tower. But expect high density from Mayland - this one has 1,100 units. It's close to the LRT station and also the refurbished Sunway Mall but it's also in a rough part of KL...

One @ Bukit Ceylon

UOA's One @ Bukit Ceylon is in full swing of construction opposite Somerset Seri Bukit Ceylon. Suddenly, their 400-odd sf studios with 6% Guaranteed Rental Return at RM600k seems like a bargain!

Monday, June 11, 2012

How Many People Read RealtyMalaysia?

Apparently, almost 200,000 views in our history and now averaging about 10,000 views a month. This is most humbling and I would like to thank you all for your support. Please continue to post your comments and share your views on my postings. They are most refreshing.