Sunday, December 30, 2012

Happy New Year 2013 - RealtyMalaysia Crosses 300,000 Page Views

Just before we hit the clock in 2013, we've had 300,000 page views. We're getting on average about 200 unique visitors per day and over 5,700 unique visitors per month.

Since we began google analytics tracking in mid-August 2012, we had 22,500 unique visitors.

Almost 40% are returning visitors. Thank you all for your support and for reading my babbling. We'll have more in 2013. Happy New Year!

Below RM200k, over 7.5% Rental Yield In Sentul

Nowadays property prices are so expensive and in many cases, in many opinions, over-inflated. So, when a property agent called me up that there is a 3-bedroom apartment in Sentul selling at RM190k, I jumped out of my chair immediately. 

Sentul is a very strategic location. Earlier I had an opportunity to purchase a medium cost apartment here which eventually ended in court. I have always wanted to get something in Sentul and this seems like a good deal.

Menara Orkid is one of the older apartments here very much sought after by the working class because of the affordable rental and having the LRT station close by. All new launches in Sentul, such as Bayu Sentul and all those over in nearby Jalan Ipoh have price tags well over half a million. Pangsapuri Mawar which is close to Orkid is another popular apartment. However, units in Mawar are being transacted now close to or over RM300k in 2012. Mawar is much better maintained, hence the higher price tag. Despite being leasehold, Mawar's prices continue to appreciate at least 10% year on year. 

There is a reason Orkid's prices are much lower than Mawar. It is in a very terrible condition... you feel it straight away as you enter through the very porous security gate.

The only facility here that works, the children's playground appears to be water-logged after last night's downpour...

Then as you enter the building, you find cables just hanging above you. The CCTV appears to be stolen...

And I wonder if the CCTV that still exist is actually working at all...

And many of the covered car park roof slates appear to be missing, probably gone with the winds...


Fortunately, as a bit of consolation, the unit I viewed was quite nice. It's a bright little corner unit. The sizes in Menara Orkid are all pretty standard, about 850sf each, 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. 

In fact, one of the rooms is this hall which can be converted into a bedroom, utility or dining. The condition is however not fantastic. The bathroom appears to be leaking and a pretty common problem with apartments is the leaking from the unit above. This is usually a very shitty problem to solve because you'll have to get the owner of the unit above to fix it and many are reluctant especially with these low or medium cost units, they don't tend to have money to do anything about these things.

The basic condition of the unit means one can do whatever to suit ones taste. 

It also has quite a nice view. From the balcony, there is the KLCC twin towers view.


And from another corner, the Genting hills can be seen with the Sentul LRT station. This is however not the nearest LRT station. There is another one closer to this apartment.

A 3-bedroom unit here can fetch at least RM1,000 rental per month. Some with longer term tenants are renting much lower but that's because most of these are from 1st owners who probably bought them years ago for less than RM100k. Maintenance fees are cheap, below RM100/month for those who bothered to pay at all.

And just as I was walking away from the unit I just viewed, I spotted this one which looks like it was on fire only recently. 

But that did not discourage me. Just as I was going to make my offer, the idiot estate agent told me it is a Bumiputera unit! He seems to insist that there is no problem for me to purchase it but I am totally not convinced. What a waste of my time!

At best, this unit value is less than RM160k - to be transacted between Bumiputera's only. There are non-Bumi units being advertised in the classifieds today between RM200k to RM270k. On second thoughts, I wouldn't want to put my money where I will have to deal with so much frustrations with difficult neighbours, bad management and probably very challenging to collect rental from these type of tenants too. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Episode 2 - Land Grab - Along The Kelana Jaya LRT Extension

Continued from Episode 1

Pretty much every landed property in the old Subang Jaya side have price tags from RM600k and above except for some tiny terraced houses in SS19. These are small 18ft wide houses. Even so, I saw auction prices actually starting from RM360k for these. They are also nowhere near any of the LRT stations.

After old Subang Jaya, the LRT route crosses the KESAS highway and snakes around almost half the perimeter of USJ2 but not a single stop in this area. USJ2 folks will have to either use the SS14/SS18 station or go to the one at the USJ6/USJ7 station. USJ7 is an industrial zone. USJ1 adjacent to it is also a mix of industrial, commercial and there are some residential houses. They are probably the most affordable but not so desirable considering the congestion in this area and that USJ1 being the only leasehold patch in USJ and Subang Jaya.

 The houses in USJ2 close enough to the 1st stop (STN07) in USJ are actually the smaller variant 20ft x 60ft double storey link houses. Prices in mid-2012 were hovering around RM400k but now it has gone up about 15% to 20%. Houses in USJ6 are similar although you will find the classifieds plastered with advertisments of houses for sale everywhere in USJ but there were very few for sale in USJ2. I was also quite astonished that many owners whose houses are clearly very close to the proposed stations have put up their homes for sale. They could have waited a few more years for better appreciation or perhaps they are anticipating their property prices will be affected by the unwarranted traffic.

This is quite true. A few months earlier, I have considered this house in Kelana Jaya.

It is quite a nice house, with a nice number 8, well-maintained by owner, faces a childrens playground, just steps from a row of shophouses which included a few banks and most attractively, it's just 300m from the Kelana Jaya LRT station. The price RM680k, which fell from the initial selling price of RM750k. But still it didn't generate the kind of interests that you would imagine for a property like this. I remember it remained in the market for quite some time and I am not sure if it is sold yet.

The major problem is the congestion by illegal parking sometimes even blocking the main entrance. This is a seriously irritating attitude of Malaysians who park everywhere and even blatantly ignoring summons. So, the same can happen here... I think many landed USJ property owners take advantage of the current high price to exit this area for a more peaceful life somewhere else.

This might explain the slightly better selling proposition of USJ2, as compared to say USJ6, USJ13 or USJ18. All these are landed residential zones adjacent to the LRT stations.

Taking on this cue, I purposely avoided properties that were too close to the LRT station. But I finally settled for this house in USJ13...

It is approximately 1km from STN09, the 3rd stop in USJ - not too close, not too far either... At the time of viewing, there were at least 8 to 10 other similar houses for sale in this area alone. They were asking between RM380k to RM480k... depending on the condition of the property. However, considering that these houses were built by Sime Darby in 1992, even the best maintained house would still need some tender loving care such as replacing the parquet flooring, electrical cabling, plumbing and the most common faults with Sime Darby is the roofing.
I chose this house because it was in very bad shape and that gave me good room for negotiations. Finally closed it at RM350k, I think it is an extremely good bargain considering I can plunk in a good RM80k to RM100k to replace every single part of the house from the roof to the floor, cabling, pipes, all the switches, toilet, doors and still have room to extend the house to make it larger.
So effectively, I am going to get an almost brand new house, in a star freehold ex-plantation location. The next fun bit is to actually renovate it and works has already begun. I regret I have not taken many pictures of the original house to give you a good before and after view... but I'll share the finished works in a few months time. Keep your eyes on this blog ;-)    

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Episode 1 - Land Grab - Along the Kelana Jaya Line Extension

Kelana Jaya Line
The proposed Kelana Jaya Line Extension will begin from Kelana Jaya station and pass through 13 new stations, including Subang Jaya and USJ before ending at Putra Heights, covering a distance of 17km.

All stations will have facilities such as lifts, escalators, public telephones, surau and public toilets. The stations will also be equipped with Universal Access facilities such as ramps, tactile tiles, low ticket counters and toilets for the disabled.

The project is expected to be completed in 2014.

You may get more details and updates here

Towards the end of 2008, my condo at 231TR was nearing completion. I had already planned to sell it to prepare for my next acquisition. At that time, I was heavily researching landed and strata properties in SS17 and SS15 Subang Jaya. I really like these 2 locations for the potential and glad that I wasn't wrong. However, I am not so glad that I failed to buy any landed properties here at that time.

The 1st target was a end-lot link house with 10feet land at the same row as the SS15 McDonalds drive-thru. The house was beautiful and I loved the house so much. The seller wanted RM580k and subsequently, he reduced the price to RM550k. I, being such a "smart negotiator", citing some imaginary valuation, offered him RM480k and then I was happy to go up to RM500k. Seller told me he does not believe in valuations and in a way told me sod off. Then he managed to sell it for RM530k. This was early 2009. Today in 2012, houses with that kind of land in SS15 has been transacting at about RM1million. Never mind the value today, my heart felt like it was cut up and shredded to pieces at that time.

Then, there was another end-lot although this one without land, also in SS15. I liked it because it was facing a large field and there was a police box right outside the house. SS15 is not a safe area and having a police box is really reassuring. The seller wanted RM360k for this house and it was in a really bad condition, ridden with termites. I loved it because it was a basic house and there was so much you can do with it. In another failed strategy, I sent a friend to negotiate and talk down the place before I made my move. He was very good at criticizing and I was hoping this will make the owner think he should quickly sell it off to me - the knight in shining armour who will be coming in with a much better offer than my friend. But this only made the seller pissed off and finally he did manage to sell it at RM360k... luckily to someone who renovated the house very tastefully..

So, I never managed to get a landed house in SS15 or SS17 in 2009. And 3 years later today, intermediate link houses here in these 2 locations are being transacted from a low of RM650k up to RM750k.

I believe the announcement about the Kelana Jaya extension in late 2011 was partly responsible for this. A friend also told me, she did a calculation of just basic costs to build a 22 feet wide and 50feet long double storey house and the cost was no lower than RM450k - this is constrcution and materials costs, minus the land cost. And with the population boom in the Klang Valley, FREEHOLD land prices shooting up, we know this all time high prices can only go higher.... never lower....

So, still with a budget close to what I had in 2009, I looked along the route of the Kelana Jaya extension but I was only prepared to go as far as USJ20 as I am not familiar with Putra Heights. Now, I am sure there are other potential areas as well, such as along the Ampang Line extension and the brand new KL MRT project. However, as I have always been touting, we should only invest where we are familiar... so, it's Subang Jaya and USJ for me...
From SS15/SS17, the LRT routes into SS14/SS18. The only thing landed I can get in SS18 and SS14 with this budget are the single storey houses. One can add a 1/2 storey mezzanine to it but that's really the full potential of it so I gave this a miss...
To be continued...  

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

For Sale @ Endah Villa, Sri Petaling : A Charming Condo


I have for sale here a condominium with fantastic views of the Bukit Jalil Commonwealth stadiums. It is a 1,250sf 3-bedroom unit, with 2 bathrooms. 

It is approximately 1km, or 20minutes walk from the Komanwel LRT station and has great accessibility to the MRR2, KESAS and KL-Seremban highway. 

Endah Parade mall, which I admit is not fantastic, is just 2 minutes walk away. The mall has a Carrefour. A short drive away is the Mines Shopping Center. There are also a number of popular restaurants within a few minutes walk. The Sri Petaling pasar malam (night market) happens here, just outside the condo every Tuesday evening.

A few months ago I wrote that this condo was suffering from bad maintenance. Unfortunately, little has improved. Many facilities are not functioning anymore, namely the sauna, gym, tennis courts, reading room and the mini golf. The frequently utilized facilities are however still well patronized, and therefore they are looked after by the management such as the badminton courts, squash courts and the swimming pool. The cafe by the pool has a new proprietor who is doing a much better job than the previous one. Security is also quite strict now.  

The lawns are now well tended and the general cleanliness of the grounds is very good. The buildings however badly need new fresh coats of paint and it is understood that the management is working on it. 

The condo itself was owner occupied initially and later it was rented out to the CEO of a Multinational packing firm in Kota Kemuning for 8 years. After a successful career and saw their children grow up here, the tenant decided to emigrate to Canada where their children are currently studying. The current tenant, a dentistry lecturer at nearby IMU, International Medical University in Bukit Jalil literally moved in the day after.

This is a corner unit, the balcony facing South. It is indeed a very bright and airy unit... the condo has always been taken up by the 1st viewers. 


3-bedroom properties in the Sri Petaling/Bukit Jalil corridor are being transacted at over RM300k. The better ones, and all the new launches are being peddled over RM500k. Endah Villa is in fact one of the better located condos in this area. Unlike Vista Komanwel, it is not closest to the LRT stations or IMU. However, it is within walking distance to all the amenities, shopping and food, hence it is well sought after by families. It is also leasehold, the maintenance is not superb... therefore, the asking price of RM350,000 reflects that. 

Condos in Endah Villa are being advertised in the classifieds from RM330k to RM400k. According to the management office, actual transacted prices do not exceed RM360k. This unit commands a premium considering the corner orientation, it is on the top floor and has an extremely nice and lucky number being Unit no. 8 on the 18th floor of Block No. 8.

The owner has migrated and they are not in a hurry to sell considering that they have a very good tenant who is in Malaysia on a long term contract. If you are interested to buy it, contact me at - as it is tenanted by a family, viewings can only be arranged with serious buyers only.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Kencana Square vs SJCC - Subang Jaya City Center

UOA has in fact started to take bookings for their 1st launch in Kencana Square - the SOVO (Small Office Virtual Office) units. Why don't they want to call this traditional SOHO (Small Office Home Office)? SOHO means you actually live and work in the same place therefore, it's also a home. So, I wonder if SOVO means you can't live there.... or, is it by omitting the Home from the name allows the developer to circumvent Schedule H which gives protection to buyers under the Housing Development Act?

Anyway, coming back to Kencana Square, they've got 2 blocks of 10-storey Duplexes with "high ceiling and sleek glass facade". As with all SOVOs or SOHOs, car parks are not in the package. The prices range from RM800k to RM900k for 900sf up to 1200sf units. UOA is offering DIBs and a 8% discount to early birdies...

Much of the hype about Kencana Square is the very visible location by the Federal Highway. The Kelana Jaya LRT line will also be extended up to here - a very own station by the project. I do not understand why UOA need to publicize so much about the link bridge across to the KTM station in Subang Jaya. The KTM, unlike the LRT is a very unreliable service. Poor folks and students in Subang Jaya use it because they have no other choice. However, with the LRT extended into Kencana Square and Subang Jaya, there is hardly any need for this.

The success or failure of Kencana Square perhaps is best compared with Plaza Pantai. This plaza, is an office complex by the Federal Highway directly opposite RTM. In fact, it has the Kerinchi LRT station right inside the plaza. But it has been an epic failure from the start. Many people blame the access - there is no direct access from the Federal Highway and of course the very poor management. Kencana will also have no direct access from Federal Highway. Some say there will be access but nothing is in the master plan and even if there will be access it will only be from one side, the Klang towards KL side.

Kencana Square will also face a lot of competition from Sime Darby's planned Subang Jaya City Center which will be built on the empty plot of land along the KTM tracks.

Sime Darby has already engaged a reknowned architecture firm, Benoy to design an integrated city in this plot. Much will be centred around the fact that the current KTM station will have a bus interchange and the LRT extended right into it. This will be the future transport hub on the West part of the Klang Valley. Current owners of the e-Tiara, Empire Subang and Saujana Residency must be very excited about this prospect. 

So, here Kencana buyers have just been added on an extra risk - we don't know yet what SJCC is going to offer, but if they are exactly the same as Kencana then they are looking at some serious competition. Will Kencana be able to share the glory and vibrance of SJCC? I doubt it, because it will be so cut off by the Federal Highway to be able to enjoy it although it is just 1 LRT stop or a short walk across the link bridge to be able to make it. I won't say Kencana Square will be a failure... I just say it has to be executed so well that it sets itself different from the competition literally just across the road...

Thursday, December 20, 2012

TTDI Ascencia

I sort of stepped into this show room by chance and was told by the sales agent I cannot book anything yet as they haven't launched. However, I can't help notice that about 40% of the units have already been sold. Either a sticker game or as the sales agent told me, booked by staffs and directors of the company. So, "lesser humans" like me have to register. Then submit my details to apply for bank loan. If my loan is approved, my name will be added into a ballot for a chance to buy a property in this project. Waaahhh.... must be like strike lottery!

A 2-bed 779sf unit here costs RM800,000. That's after discount... works out about RM1000psf!! Not the smallest unit, however... But interestingly, the 1-bedroom 840sf unit costs less at RM730,000 or RM870psf. Price varies according to floor of course but how can this be like striking the lottery??

The location is not exactly fantastic. It's accessed by Jalan Damansara on a one-way traffic towards Bandar Utama. After facing such hassle of living by a one-way traffic road, I am convinced these type of locations are bad. Especially when the road tends to get very jam up during peak hours. I am currently facing this problem getting home every day. It takes me over 45mins to drive along Jalan Raja Chulan from St Andrews church to The Weld... yes, 45 mins.... but I can't make a left turn as I reach the Weld for my home because it is one-way. Instead, I have to travel a further 30mins or 1km to reach the junction into my road. Then a further 10-20mins through the congestion of my access road, Jalan Tengah. So, now you all know what I mean? Tedious....

The selling point of this location is the MRT station to be built right in front of this building. Other than that... I can't see anything else, not even the TTDI address.

TTDI stands for Taman Tun Dr Ismail. But this project is separated from TTDI by the busy dual-carriage Jalan Damansara. In fact, it is almost a stand-alone neighbouring the Glomac Damansara Residence. TTDI Ascensia will boast of views of the Glomac's projects or TTDI's sewerage plant, which you can smell from even the project site!! So, avoid the units facing Jalan Damansara even if it's cheap. However, very cleverly, the developers slanted the building's orientation to avoid direct views of the Muslim graveyard. No scary sights....but smell is OK...

Yet another commercial titled serviced apartment, I can't remember what was the maintenance fee but all I can remember I was gasping for breath at the shock of hearing the quote. However, I quite like the 840sf type B1-1 units because it has a lovely garden terrace. But the kitchen area is badly designed in that it is obstructing the outside entrance of the bathroom. That would make it a rather small kitchen...

The 500sf studio units, i.e. the smallest speculator units are out of the question as they all have full blown view and smell of the sewer plant.  So, looks like I won't be falling over anyone to get myself registered for the ballot...

REHDA: Penang’s property sector to remain bullish

Some property developers have been selling RM300,000 units in bulk to speculators who will then sell it at a higher price, perhaps RM100,000 more, to genuine house buyers to make a fast profit.

REHDA: Penang’s property sector to remain bullish

December 17, 2012

Chan said the growth for this year is expected to be between five and 10 per cent, slightly lower than last year. – Picture by Opaly Mok
GEORGE TOWN, Dec 17 – Penang’s property sector is expected to remain bullish next year despite a slight slowdown due to uncertainty of the country’s political situation.

The strong property sector in Penang experienced a growth rate of between five to 15 per cent last year and is expected to remain consistent next year, said state Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association (REHDA) chairman Datuk Jerry Chan.
“The growth for this year is expected to be between five and 10 per cent, slightly lower than last year,” said Chan.
As for next year, while projections remained positive to be between five and 10 per cent, Chan said transactions may remain stagnant as the business community are more cautious while waiting for the general elections to be held.
“People will be more cautious until after the general elections so we will not know how the outlook will be for next year.”
However, property prices are expected to remain high or continue to increase according to market demands.
“We expect a steady appreciation of property values as Penang still has all the ingredients for a strong property sector,” he said.
However, the commercial sector are lagging behind the residential sector in the industry.
“The transactions for commercial properties did not move a lot while transactions for residential properties are going up steadily,” Chan told a press conference today.
The property industry in Penang has always experienced robust growth throughout the years where prices continue to climb.
According to national committee member of Fiabci (The International Real Estate Federation) Malaysia, Michael Geh, new launches in prime locations are being snapped up making it one of the strongest moving segment of the industry.
Last year, the industry saw a total 39,415 transactions, an increase as compared to 25,986 transactions in 2010.
According to Chan, the industry so far recorded only 24,203 transactions as of the third quarter of this year and it is not expected to reach the high transactions of last year.
However, the lower transactions does not equate to lower value as the value of property transactions continue to increase.
In 2009, a total RM6.5 billion worth of property transactions took place and this increased to RM13.1 billion last year.
As at the third quarter of this year, a total RM9.4 billion worth of property transactions were recorded.
These property transactions include residential, commercial, industrial, agriculture and other development projects.
Property prices in the state have increased between 40 and 60 per cent since 2009, Chan said.
One of the factors driving such strong prices in the property industry are the ever increasing land and construction costs.
Chan said cost of land has more than doubled and increasing far ahead of the selling prices of properties.
Geh also agreed that the asking prices for land are now at a record high.
“Constructions costs have also went up and on top of that, developers will have to also bear the costs of building low cost and low medium cost units for every project we build,” Chan said.
He said the increasing costs of land, construction and the requirement for developers to build low cost and low medium units have also indirectly contributed to the increase in property prices in the state.
“We have to set higher prices to cover the costs and also to subsidise the construction of the low cost and low medium cost units, the pricing of which had not been revised in the last decade,” he said.
Chan also admitted that the free market forces of supply and demand plays a role in driving the prices of property in the state up which is a major concern amongst Penangites.
The escalating prices of housing in the state have resulted in calls for more affordable housing and a rising concern that the middle income group will not be able to afford a home.
According to Geh, another factor that is driving the prices of property is ‘property flipping’ or speculative activities.
He had pointed out that some property developers have been selling RM300,000 units in bulk to speculators who will then sell it at a higher price, perhaps RM100,000 more, to genuine house buyers to make a fast profit.
Chan admitted that there were some developers who are selling units in bulk to investors and property speculators.
“But many developers are now realising that they have a responsibility to give preference to first time house buyers and those looking to upgrade their homes from low-medium cost flats to apartments instead of selling units that are priced between RM200,000 and RM400,000 in bulk to speculators,” he said.
He added that development in Penang is inevitable as it drives the state’s economy which brings about higher demand for properties.
“Higher demand equals to higher prices but rental rates are still affordable so if they can’t afford to buy a property here, then they can still rent a place to stay,” he said.