Thursday, November 28, 2013

LATEST Update: The DBKL Assessment Rate Is Going Up After All - The Saga Continues

Just when we've got the champagne out to celebrate, the Minister now comes out to say there Assessment Rate is still going up as scheduled on the 1st of January 2014. Malaysia appears to be run by monkeys!

Bumbling politicians and crumbling public trust

NOVEMBER 28, 2013
What can we make of the differing statements of the Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Mansor (pic) and his deputy Datuk J. Loga Balan Mohan over the rate hike for Kuala Lumpur property owners?
One insists the rate hike will take effect on January 1, 2014 while the other says it has been deferred till after March 2014 due to appeals and hearings. And where is the city mayor in all of this?
Is the Malaysian capital city being run by politicians elected elsewhere or a civil servant who is appointed to the post and only accountable to the government - not the people who pay tax in Kuala Lumpur?
All this actually means is a greater trust deficit in the authorities, from how they assess taxes to how they they use public funds to run the capital city.
This comes at a time when Putrajaya has been promoting Kuala Lumpur as a regional headquarters for multinationals under the InvestKL programme.
Who would consider KL if the authorities can't make up their minds on when taxes take effect or what is the quantum of taxes and the only reason for such rate hikes is because it has not been increased in 21 years.
Today, Tengku Adnan said this, "We can defer payment, but the rate will automatically increase from January 1. What we will postpone is the implementation because with the objection period ending on December 17, it will take about three months for DBKL to hear all of them.
"We will start the hearing in December. The new rates will apply in January, we have to follow the act (Housing and Local Government Act).
"For 21 years, we did not raise anything."
Yesterday, his deputy Loga Balan had told parliament, "The proposed increase will be deferred to allow for appeals to be heard from January to March next year.
"We have not decided when to implement it," he said in winding up points raised by MPs.
How can two men in the executive differ on something as simple as this? And why are they talking instead of the mayor? KL might as well save money by dropping the mayor and leaving it to Putrajaya to run the city.
Who can property owners rely on for certainty and facts? Bumbling politicians or fumbling civil servants? Is there any wonder why the people are fed up with such politicians and voted for their opponents in the past two general elections?
Can we get some clarity from City Hall, rather than those who can't get their story straight? If Putrajaya wants Kuala Lumpur to be a world-class city, it must have a better class of people in authority, not third-rate politicians. - November 28, 2013

Is This What We'll See in Malaysia After The Recent Budget 2014 Measures?

Singapore’s Home-Price Decline Accelerates After Curbs

By Jasmine Ng - Nov 28, 2013 5:52 PM GMT+0800
Singapore’s home prices fell at a faster pace in October, dropping 1.2 percent from the previous month as evidence builds that the government’s efforts to cool the property market are working.
The city-state’s residential property index fell to 159.1 points last month after declining a revised 0.9 percent in September, according to the National University of Singapore’s Singapore Residential Price Index. The measure tracking prices in the central region decreased 1.4 percent in October.
Residential buildings stand in the Grange Road area of Singapore. Photographer: Nicky Loh/Bloomberg
The Marina Bay Residences, second left, stands next to office buildings in the central business district of Singapore. Photographer: Nicky Loh/Bloomberg
Record home prices amid low interest rates raised concerns of a housing bubble and prompted the city-state to introduce new taxes and higher minimum down payments since 2009 to curb speculation in Asia’s second-most expensive housing market. Home sales have been falling in the past four months after the government imposed new rules in June governing how financial institutions grant property loans to individuals.
“The latest statistics are a reflection of the current measures starting to bite the residential market,” said Alice Tan, head of consultancy and research at Knight Frank LLP in Singapore. “Price quantum is still the key consideration for many prospective homebuyers.”

Hong Kong

Singapore and Hong Kong, ranked by Savills Plc as the world’s most expensive housing market, have introduced measures to cool property prices. Singapore has linked borrowers’ maximum debt levels to their incomes and raised stamp duties and capital gains taxes, while Hong Kong has increased minimum down payments six times in less than three years and in February doubled stamp-duty taxes for all properties over HK$2 million ($258,000).
Li Ka-shing, Asia’s richest man, said his companies, including Cheung Kong Holdings Ltd. (1), Hong Kong’s biggest developer by market value, have slowed land purchases in the city and inChina as prices have escalated to a high level.
Singapore’s home sales fell 19 percent in October to 1,009 units from a month earlier, according to data from the Urban Redevelopment Authority released Nov. 15. From the previous year, sales dropped 48 percent, the data showed.
An index tracking real estate developers in Singapore rose 0.3 percent at the close, the first gain in eight days. CapitaLand Ltd. (CAPL)Southeast Asia’s biggest developer, rose 0.3 percent to S$3.02, the first advance in almost two weeks. City Developments Ltd. (CIT), the second largest, climbed 1.6 percent to S$10.06, the biggest increase in seven weeks.

‘Priced In’

“We believe the October decline was already priced in,” Eli Lee, an analyst at OCBC Investment Research Pte, said. “After a seven-day losing streak, the property stocks were oversold, despite a fairly muted outlook, and we are seeing some buying on value alongside buoyant markets in Asia today.”
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 0.7 percent, while Singapore’s benchmark Straits Times Index climbed 0.5 percent, both advancing the most in about two weeks.
Home prices in the island-state rose at the slowest pace in six quarters in the three months ended Sept. 30, according to figures released by the authority on Oct. 25.
Prices and transaction volumes of Singapore residential properties are expected to moderate for the rest of the year due to the cumulative impact of government property measures, CapitaLand said on Oct. 31. Developers are beginning to cut prices in existing and new projects, and take lower profit margins, City Developments said on Nov. 12.
Home prices have jumped 40 percent since the island-state started introducing curbs four years ago. The gains led to Singapore being ranked the most-expensive city to buy a luxury home in Asia after Hong Kong by Knight Frank in a wealth report in March.
Singapore’s private residential property price index rose 0.4 percent to a record 216.2 points in the three months ended Sept. 30, after climbing 1 percent in the second quarter, URA data last month showed. That was the smallest gain since the first quarter of 2012, when the index dropped 0.1 percent.
To contact the reporter on this story: Jasmine Ng in Singapore at

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Buying Properties In Thailand

With the recent hike in RPGT in our Malaysian 2014 Budget, Thailand has become interesting again with 0 RPGT. There is also no restriction on the minimum price of the properties that foreigners can buy. The only problems are foreigners cannot (directly) purchase landed properties and strata properties must have a minimum 51% Thai purchasers - meaning that if the apartment has 100 units, 51 units must be owned by Thais before any foreigners are allowed to purchase any. 

The process and bureaucracy may seem a bit daunting. However, most developers have a team who specializes in assisting foreign purchasers. Without this team, I cannot imagine going through the entire process alone... so, if you are going to buy anything from sub-sale make sure you are prepared to pay for a good lawyer who speaks English cos you'll need to go to this land office below to get your title. 

When purchasing from developers off the plan, the Thais beat us Malaysians in their "speculator package". We're not just talking about DIBs here, even the downpayment you can pay in friendly affordable installments over 3 years! 

However, the Thai's strict anti money laundering law means foreigners have to transfer funds from overseas to buy properties in Thailand. Even if the money is earned and already in Thailand, one has to send the money out overseas and back to Thailand again via a legitimate bank - i.e. no money changers!! One has to get a certificate from the transacting bank to prove this. 

With the certificate, one has to be present at the land office above with the developer's team but it was not that bad despite the traffic jam getting there and back, with all documents in place and a 1 hour wait, the land office issues the strata title on the very day itself! Such efficiency compared with the months and months of processes we have to go through in Malaysia to get our title.

DBKL Assessment rate hike deferred indefinitely
NOVEMBER 27, 2013
The assessment rate hike in Kuala Lumpur has been deferred following protests from property owners and MPs. - The Malaysian Insider pic, November 27, 2013.The assessment rate hike in Kuala Lumpur has been deferred following protests from property owners and MPs. - The Malaysian Insider pic, November 27, 2013.Putrajaya has decided to defer the contentious assessment rate hike for Kuala Lumpur property owners indefinitely following angry protests from MPs and residents.
Deputy Federal Territories Minister Datuk J. Loga Balan Mohan said this is to enable City Hall to hold public hearings on the appeals submitted by property owners affected by the hike.

"The proposed increase will be deferred to allow for appeals to be heard from January to March next year.
"We have not decided when to implement it yet," he said in winding up points raised by MPs in Parliament today.
The good news was immediately relayed by Lim Lip Eng (DAP - Segambut) on his twitter account. "Breakin (sic) news from parliament. Proposed assessement hike has been shelved until March next year," he tweeted.
This is seen as a victory for Kuala Lumpur property owners who, through their MPs, had urged City Hall to allow them a grace period of six months before implementing the new rates.
KL residents were up in arms after being hit by a proposed hike in rates, which was between 100% and 1,000% which City Hall said was to take effect on January 1.
Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Mansor had said previously that City Hall hoped to raise an extra RM400 million a year in revenue from the higher assessment rates as it needed money to upgrade roads, markets and other infrastructure.
Tengku Adnan also did not discount the possibility that there may be a reduction in the current 6% rate assessment rate for house owners.
This caused the city's MPs to mobilise property owners to file their objection letters with City Hall, which they have to submit before the December 17 deadline.
Under the law, City Hall will have to give every person who files an objection the right to a hearing.
A legal expert on local government law had warned that those who did not file their objections to City Hall by the deadline would be subjected to the new valuation list and percentage rate to be determined by the local council and Federal Territories minister respectively.
Lawyer Derek Fernandez had told The Malaysian Insider recently: "If you don't object, then by default, the new annual value of the property will be fixed under the new valuation list for your property."
Fernandez had also said that the assessment rate hike set for January 1 could face delays if thousands of property owners send in appeals that must be heard individually by City Hall before the new rate can be implemented.
Earlier today, The Malaysian Insider reported that city MPs will turn up at City Hall with boxes of objection letters on December 16, a day before the deadline.
This move was seen as an attempt to force City Hall to defer the implementation date for the new rates. - November 27, 2013.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Half a Million Dollar Blog

This morning I logged in and was surprised this blog has hit 500,000 page views... well, 500,002 to be precise. Thank you all for reading :-)

Nadi Bangsar

Hap Seng Land rarely have any projects and when they do, they're not really that attractive. Earlier they launched the Horizon Residences which is a block of 330 apartments beside the Royal Selangor Club in Jalan Tun Razak. 231TR and Bintang Goldhill didn't quite make it. So, I wonder how the Horizon is going to make it. Plus worse, it is located on the other side of Jalan Tun Razak from the proposed TRX project and MRT stations.

Nadi location is not really that interesting as well considering the Bangsar address. Not every corner of Bangsar is attractive. For example, there are the low cost flats by the LRT station and also the industrial part where the Unilever and NST offices are located. This latter part is where Nadi will be located.

In terms of competition, Nadi will go head on with the Establishment. Both suffer from a location problem although both of them try to leverage on the Bangsar address. At least for the Establishment, there is talk of linking the building with the Bangsar LRT station. However for Nadi, it will be a long trek out to any public transport. The existing condo opposite the Nadi site is Bangsar Permai and the standard of this apartment compared with the rest of those in Bangsar is a good gauge of where Nadi can be heading to.
Nadi will be a 38-storey block with 416 units ranging from 440sf studios to 1130sf 2br apartments. Hap Seng is pricing them from RM1,500psf, which I think is putting the larger units totally out of whack. For this price, please go for the more established apartments around Bangsar Shopping Complex such as Bangsar Puteri, Jamnah View and Penaga. They are older but somehow they are well in demand with more reasonable pricing to match. Nevertheless, the rental yield in the whole of Bangsar for today's value is already rather poor compared to say, KLCC or Bukit Bintang.
The only units worth considering for Nadi is probably the tiny 441sf studios. They are priced at almost RM700k, which means you need to collect about RM3,500/month rental to make it worthwhile... which is not going to happen considering all the developments that are coming up in Bangsar South which are lower in price by about 20% to 30%.

Although Nadi is freehold, the title is commercial plus the unit does not come with any car parks... That sorts of sealed the fate of this project, in my opinion...

Friday, November 22, 2013

What's the Impact of the Latest Assessment Rate Hike in KL?

More on the saga of the hike in assessments in Kuala Lumpur. How is this actually affecting us?

By now, we would all have received a notice from the city hall advicing us of our new valuation. I don't know about the rest of you, but I found my valuations double and some triple that of the last years. Take a typical one which was RM24,000/annum last year. The assessment I had to pay for that valuation was 6% x RM24,000 = RM1,440 per year. Now that it has gone up to RM40,000, I have to pay RM960 more. Some idiots are arguing that this is only extra RM80/month but if you have 10 such properties, it works out to RM800/month or actually much more than that. Not all the properties are being rented out.

I think on average those ordinary folks who own a single property are probably paying extra RM200 to RM300/month assuming their houses are worth much lesser than mine. Last year, the government dished out RM500 cash aid to these people and in the last election, promised to dish out more such aid. Besides DBKL assessment rates, petrol, sugar and many other subsistence has gone up. So, in summary here, this government is dishing out cash money with one hand and taking the money back with the other hand.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

It’s confirmed, KL property owners will pay higher assessment fees from January 1

NOVEMBER 21, 2013
Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Seri Ahmad Phesal Talib, seen here at the meeting with the KL MPs, said the authorities will look for a way not to burden the people. -  The Malaysian Insider pic by Afif Abd Halim, November 21, 2013.Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Seri Ahmad Phesal Talib, seen here at the meeting with the KL MPs, said the authorities will look for a way not to burden the people. - The Malaysian Insider pic by Afif Abd Halim, November 21, 2013.Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Seri Ahmad Phesal Talib has confirmed that from January 1, property owners in the city will have to fork out higher property assessment fees.
"The increase is not because there will be an increase in the rate but because of the revaluation of property that we are doing," he said.
Ahmad Phesal said that he would discuss with Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Mansor the best way to implement this so that the increment will not burden the city folk. - November 21, 2013.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Pruksa's The Seed Mingle in Bangkok

In 2010, I blogged about this tree and the apartment project in Bangkok. The end result delivered a couple of month's ago did not disappoint me. Here's a quick overview of it.

pic above: the apartment stands in its' grandeur among the familiar Bangkok soi (street) landscape - in the background behind the Seed Mingle is the luxurious Sukhotai Residences

pic above: workers putting the finishing touch to the entrance

pic above (and below): grey and simple, the end result 

pic above: The 8 storey car park complex with facilities on the top floor

pic above: the lovely sunken lobby posed as my 2nd living room... I love hanging out here not just for the free wifi

pic above (and below): the kitchen in my studio unit and the view off the balcony down below 

pic above: the friendly and helpful Pruksa hand-over team ready to assist me

I even set off to look at some of the show units displaying the various furniture packages I can sign up for (pics below). But I didn't take this up because part of the fun of owning a property is the interior design and furnishing, isn't it?

picture above: the lift lobby

The apartment's facilities deck is located at the top floor of the car park building. 

picture above: the infinity pool is however really small 

picture above: children slide 

picture above: hang out zone by the gym and steam sauna has a bar, pool table, air hockey and table football among other games

All the above for a maintenance fee of just over RM100 per month...

Furnishing My Small Apartment

This is what investing in properties is all about... the part where I got to furnish it...

The apartment is in Bangkok. A 26sqm basic studio unit.


I took the easy way out this time and went to Ikea. Fortunately for me, Ikea just opened in Bangkok but it was located at the other end of the city. Without a car, it was quite a trek and unbelievably, shopping for this small apartment literally took me a full day from morning till night. 

The goods arrived the next day and with just under 24 hours before my flight home, I started with my drill and tool box. Working alone is of course very challenging and I relied on a lot of improvising...

The final results of the above balancing act is this foldable table below...

The other stuffs such as the kitchen fittings are not as challenging and I had a little help to put up the heavy wall rack above the kitchen top.

In such a compact apartment, I thought about having as much storage as possible and the bed below is just perfect for this as it has 4 large drawers.

The verdict... my sister calls it an Ikea showroom... well, can't blame her. It is one...