Monday, December 22, 2014

The Bully Tenants Part 2...

If my first story hasn't put you off the renting business, you might consider this one.

Normally I find students more respectful. Typically 90% of them are and then you get that 1 out of 10 who is a real prick. Then they involved their parents and that's when you start to understand where they got it from.

My biggest problem with students is they treat the deposit as rent. So 2 months before they move out they stop paying rent and if you haven't been checking you will find out that they are moving out tomorrow and you are left with a pig dump and a huge electricity bill.

But I am more vigilant, and I sought to educate my student tenants about deposits. Because I know some of them will continue their study overseas where they deal with landlords and the law which gives no leeway. So be lenient with them today and they will get into trouble tomorrow.

I have a meter installed in every room to calculate the air-cond electricity usage so that it's fair for all the tenants. I had this tenant who rented a single room from me for just over a year. After six months, he seems to be not using his air-cond at all. Then one day when my contractor serviced all the air-conds, he told me the meter was broken. When I confronted him, he said he was not aware it was broken because he hardly turned on the air-cond. But what his housemates told me were different. His air-cond was indeed turned on every night. So it is obvious he has not been honest and the fact that every month he reported only a minor shift of his meter despite the meter not moving at all confirms that he has been trying to hide the fact his meter was broken.

So I had the enviable role of having to recalculate all the share of the electric bills again backdating 6 months. It's impossible to do it accurately and to be fair I discussed with him the methodology. But he tried to impose his method instead which was clearly in his favour, peppered with insults and rude words on me when I refused to accept them. I had no choice but to told him to leave. Then I had phone calls from his father, which was initially very cordial. However he started to impose his conditions and what he termed as win-win situation, actually is win for him only. I have to calculate his bills before I refund his deposit and to be nice, I actually refunded half of it so he can pay his new landlord. To chase and pressure me to release the other half, every single day both father or son will sms or call me, called me a liar, money sucker, uneducated, mother fucker and everything they were brought up with. They even claimed they have consulted a lawyer and have a strong case to sue me for the balance RM550 (RM370 after bills deducted)!

It's not always you come across such people but you'll definitely come across them if you are in the business of renting. I myself have had a fair share of these characters but to be fair, I've seen some very unreasonable landlords as well... more on that later...

The Bully Tenants

Many people want to get into the property market buying up luxurious apartments and renting them out to make money. But it is not always pleasant as you will also need to deal with tenants, humans... so they come in all types of characters. You may build in all kinds of terms and conditions into your tenancy agreement to protect yourself, but at the end of the day, removing your defaulting tenant is one thing... finding a new tenant is another.

I've had many law respecting and good tenants but I've also had my fair share of lousy tenants. I think respect is the most important thing. You need to respect your tenants, respect their privacy, their rights to have a peaceful stay... this includes making sure your property is fit for their stay. But the problem is, some tenants don't respect the landlord and the property. They think they are paying rent so they are the boss, you are the servant!

In one of the milder experiences, I had up until recently a Singaporean tenant. Same as dealing with some of my colleagues at work, some Singaporeans tend to think Malaysians are less superior than them so they can bully us. Especially this young chap who has a NUS degree and a cushy job at a consulting firm in KL. My rent has been paid whenever he likes... sometimes at the beginning of the month, sometimes at the end of the month, sometimes in the middle of the month and sometimes not at all. So it was hard to trace when he actually paid, it's for which month. So, at the end of the year in December when I only received 7 months of rent, I have to ask for the 4 unpaid months and December's rent to be paid before the 3rd. Luckily Singaporean with a cushy consulting job is rich, so he has no problems paying the 4 months overdue rent but the December one was late. And when I chased for the rent, he said he never agreed to pay by the 3rd so I wonder what the tenancy agreement is actually for... Probably feeling fed up with my persistent demand for my rent, he issued a 1 month notice and moved out.

There is no deposit to refund this guy. He had problems with the internet and after unsuccessfully calling the service provider's technical support he just gave up and left the bill unpaid. I was fortunate as I used to work for this service provider so I knew people. He blamed the service provider so my friend arranged for me to listen to his recorded conversation and I heard how he abused and shouted at the call center. So of course it's his fault because he never gave them a chance to fix the problem and I had to pay the bill.

After that I was kind enough, since he had an old sofa, I got him a new one. I did ask him first but he did not like the new sofa and he demanded for the old one back. Since it was a trade in, I said he could buy a new sofa and claim the cost from me. He did buy a sofa, threw my new sofa away and when he moved out, he took his sofa with him! Needless to say too, the apartment was dirty and he even broke a window.

I can go on and on with other experiences but that will make this article too long so I'll continue again next time...

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Iskandar Prophecy

Less than 6 months into my rant about Iskandar, the property market there seems to be heading that way...

Properties in Iskandar Malaysia ‘facing oversupply’

Iskandar Malaysia, the main southern development corridor in Johor, is seeing the formation of a housing bubble as a result of Chinese developers that have been flooding the property market with masses of projects.
Kenanga Research property analyst, who refused to be named, said things are moving very slow at the corridor especially with houses which are selling above RM600,000.
“Things are moving rather slow, especially with those that are launched at higher prices. There is still demand for landed property and those priced within the range of RM400,000 to RM600,000.
However, the concern of oversupply involves at the area covered by the Chinese developers such as in Danga Bay which do not price the properties at a cheap rate and go about building around 10,000 units of condominiums in a small plot of land, said the analyst.
The analyst said the supply from the Chinese developers will keep coming in, looking at the way the land is sold to them, and if these developers could no longer hold on to the properties, they could end up selling them at a cheaper price.
Nonetheless, the analyst has some optimism on the upcoming infrastructures such as the rail transit system that could lead to a growth in demand depending on how it is planned.
RHB property analyst Loong Kok Wen said the formation of a bubble could be seen in Iskandar Malaysia, yet it could not be ascertained if prices will fall, which is dependent on the financial position of the Chinese developers.
“We could see a formation of a bubble as property agents are offered 5% to 8% of commission from the usual 2% to sell the property. The ones that are not doing so well are the high-rise properties in which there is oversupply by the Chinese developers, which has led to a supply glut.
“The increase in the toll rates and the increase in the minimum threshold for foreigners to purchase property in Malaysia are contrary to the initial objective, which is to attract demand from Singapore,” said Loong.
Loong, however, cautioned that it is not necessary property prices will fall as the ability of the Chinese developers to hold on to the property will be dependent on their financial strength.
Raine & Horne International Zaki & Partners Sdn Bhd associate director James Tan said the latest policies by the government and the cooling measures are restricting demand when supply is coming on-stream.
“The supply is coming onstream but who is going to occupy them? The situation is worrying. There is a high possibility of a housing bubble coming soon, but not within this year,” he said.
Malaysian Rating Corp Bhd’s property analyst Yap Lai Ken said despite seeing the slowdown in Iskandar Malaysia, there is no necessity for developers to lower prices as other incentives could be given, such as rebates and freebies, to attract demand.
The concern of Iskandar Malaysia developing a bubble could be seen by major property developer UEM Sunrise Bhd’s recent plan to restrategise in terms of product offering and location, to reduce dependency on its projects in Iskandar Malaysia and spread out risks.
UEM has more than 60% of its landbank in Iskandar Malaysia.
A local property developer who refused to be named said the decision by UEM to put on hold its projects in Iskandar Malaysia clearly reflects the negative sentiments that developers have on the corridor.
Meanwhile, analysts from research house said they see a slowdown in Iskandar Malaysia if there is an oversupply, coupled with the slew of government measures being implemented, interest rate hikes, low income growth, affordability and capital gain tax.
“For example, to curb property speculation, the Singapore government implemented measures such as increasing the buyer’s stamp duty, sales tax and initial down-payment. Prices actually moderated and then fell, as the Singapore URA Residential Prices Index fell 3.2% from September 2013 to June 2014.
“We could see the same trend happening in Malaysia. Therefore, in the mid to near term, we see limited upside potential and a lack of diversification for property investments,” the research house said.
The formation of a bubble in Iskandar Malaysia did not come unannounced as Kenanga Research did release a report in July this year warning that Iskandar Malaysia is losing its steam.
The report revealed that there were signs of oversupply in the property market with weaker absorption rate of 1.1 times in the first-quarter of 2014.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Do You Have Friends Like This?

They have been trying to buy a house for themselves for years and every time they go view a property, they complain it's expensive because last year, the price of the same property or in the same locality was cheaper. So they do this every year and every year the price doesn't come down.

They keep asking you to recommend a property and when you think you found them a good deal, they say it's expensive. And year on year, they keep looking and yet the price doesn't come down...

Then finally, they finally found and bought a property... which turned out to be really overpriced.

Do you have friends like this? I am asking because I have many such friends...

Thursday, December 11, 2014

GST on Maintenance Fees

Apparently the exemption on GST for maintenance fees is only for low and medium costs apartments. But today's article in the Malaysian Insider says that is not so. Low and medium cost apartment dwellers or their owners will still have to pay GST as a result of the pass on effect from their vendors. Doesn't this bode even worse news for the "normal" and higher end condominiums? Not only will GST be imposed on their maintenance fees but they will also increase their GST as a result of higher costs from their vendors. 

Flat residents have to pay GST for maintenance despite exemption

- See more at:

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Is the Rental Market Slowing?

There appears to be a lot more vacancies in at least 2 of my apartments lately. Some people have been calling me to view my units and I found out they were already staying there. I asked them why they wanted to move, then came various answers... one wanted a bigger unit, one said owner is selling his apartment so he has to move and at least two were very direct - they wanted cheaper rent. But I suspect all of them, not just these two are shopping around for a better price and they may use the price to pressure their landlords into dropping their rent. 

So how much cheaper? They are currently paying about RM3,000/month for their single bedroom units. They can opt for smaller studio units which are asking about RM2,500 to RM2,700 but when I asked what is their budget, they said RM2,000. So I had to apologize that I do not have any units to meet their budget. One of them said it's OK, he will be viewing a few units tomorrow offering that price. I said good luck. 

They may be calling my bluff but I still think landlords are now competing for that small pool of tenants. There will always be desperate ones. The fact is, there will be even more condo units entering the market next year and this pool of tenants are not increasing. So, will holding power hold out till the situation recovers and rent goes back up again? 

The short term rental market however is doing roaring business in this holiday period. Perhaps it is time to revisit this. For the short term serviced apartment 1 week to 1 month stays, Somerset in Bukit Ceylon is running over 90% occupancy since August and Invito opposite recently have to take down their promotional rate in order to cope with demand.   

Friday, November 21, 2014

the Potpourri

People take notice every time a big blue chip developer like See Hoy Chan launch something. Even if it's in Ara Damansara which is plastered with condominium projects - Ara Green and Verde among them. Even if it's leasehold like their latest launch the Potpourri.

If you compare all the other projects in Ara Damansara such as The Ara, Ara Greens Residences, Verde etc etc, they all look about the same barring some architectural uniqueness here and there. All feature a number of blocks within a gated compound and facilities one can't even finish enjoying through the lifetime. In the Potpourri, See Hoy Chan offers hanging Sky Lounges and apartments which are literally built on bridges that link 2 blocks together.

If you want to live on one of these bridges, you'd expect to pay slightly more. For example, a 10th floor 713sf "Bridge unit" is priced at RM736,800

while a slightly larger 755sf normal unit on the 2nd floor is going for RM694,800 - even if one takes into account a RM5,000 hike per floor, RM40,000 premium for the 8 floor difference between our 2nd and 10th floor. So, for the novelty of living hanging off a bridge, the 50sf space is hardly a sacrifice.


Similar to their Uptown Residences, the project is split into a Family Block and a Lifestyle Block. This is See Hoy Chan's recognition of the trend in matured and successful Chinese areas like Bandar Utama and Damansara where a number of properties there such as Ameera Residences, are buoyed by the demand from children of residents who return to live close to their parents and where they grew up. However, probably due to the softening market, the Potpourri is not witnessing the kind of hot sales like the one at Uptown. There are altogether 8 blocks, each block being 13 - 15 storeys and housing 6 - 10 units per floor. So altogether we have over 800 units in this project which is not too low in density but the developer is also smart to recognize that PJ dwellers won't settle for just 1 car. So they are offering 2 parking lots for each of the smaller 1-2 bedroom units and 3-car parks for the larger 3 bedroom units. The number of variations in layouts are so diverse, I'd leave it to readers to check out these out in their website instead.
Location wise, it is closer to amenities compared to Ara Greens and Verde. It is half the walking journey to the new upcoming LRT station and just within a stones throw to Citta Mall. There is still a number of land bank in this area. Soon, we will see a very congested and dense Ara Damansara area.
While concept is really great, I am not too heated up by the leasehold and commercial title. Citta Mall next door is not the most exciting place either so for the kind of investment, just as I have commented about Ara Greens and Verde, I'd still look for landed properties in this area.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Effects of GST on Properties Next Year

My question still remains, are serviced apartments, which hold commercial titles exempted from GST? Since they follow Schedule H which recognizes them as residential properties, are serviced apartments exempted? Nobody is able to answer me till today.... Nevertheless, GST will still cause a nett rise in property prices through the spiral effect.

Residential property prices to rise 3% to 4% after GST

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KUALA LUMPUR: Residential properties are exempt rated but the net impact from the implementation of the goods and services tax (GST) will cause their prices to rise 3% to 4% after the consumption tax comes into play next April, said Mah Sing Group Bhd executive director Datuk Steven Ng Poh Seng.
The estimation came after the group had a dialogue with its contractors, he told pressmen after the groundbreaking ceremony of the Southville City Direct Interchange project yesterday.
As for commercial properties, buyers will be charged the full 6% GST as they are “standard-rated” items, he said.

Saturday, November 1, 2014


Which condo - luxury or not - in Cyberjaya which is not just another student dorm?

How many expats will want themselves of their family to live beside a dorm?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Settling My Home Loan

I just wanted to find out what are the costs I have to pay the bank to settle my loan early. They cannot tell me this information at the counter and their loan officer on the phone tries his best to twist and turn the information.

All I need to know is, how much is the balance of my loan and what are the bank charges? They want me to pay RM50 to get this information in a so-called redemption statement. I don't do this often but as I remembered when I settled some of my previous loans there were legal fees and other redemption fees etc etc... lots of hidden charges.

OCBC Bank is one such bank and I am so unfortunate I have 2 housing loans here. Their service up to date has been excellent. The personal bankers are pretty, smiles all the time, very polite and so lovely. But the minute you say you want to settle your loan everything changes. I asked her this simple question, can you please tell me ROUGHLY how much I need to pay to settle... she goes wishy washy and when pressed, she quoted an amount from her screen which was my outstanding balance.... and then she blurted out, this is just rough figure.. you need to pay RM50 to see all the hidden charges in the redemption statement...!!!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Rehda: GST will push up home prices by 2.6%

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

PETALING JAYA: Home prices will rise by about 2.6% once the goods and services tax (GST) comes into play, said the Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association Malaysia (Rehda).
The chairman of the association’s task force on accounting and taxation, Datuk Ng Seing Liong, said that the calculation was based on its consultations with industry experts and member developers.
Rehda’s 2.6% estimate differs from that of the Customs Department, which expects the GST to have an impact of between 0.5% and 2% on house prices, assuming there’s no change in supply and demand conditions.
Ng said the association was in full support of the GST and concurred with Customs GST director Datuk Subromaniam Tholasy, who had said that land did not incur the 6% GST rate.
However, he said land was by no means the largest cost component in property development.
“As our calculation clearly spells out, the construction cost, which constitutes 46% of the total development, is not only the largest component but also the component which will attract the GST of 6%,” he said in a letter to StarBiz.
He said the GST on this component would inevitably lead to an increase in house prices.
Appending calculations for a housing unit originally priced at RM400,000, Ng said the price post-GST would be around RM410,560.
Under the 46% construction component, costs were broken down into non-service taxable and service taxable segments, representing 44%, or RM176,000, and 2%, or RM8,000, respectively.
Under the non-service taxable segment comes items such as cement/concrete, steel, bricks and sand, while the service taxable segment includes tiles and fittings/sanitary. Under the existing sales and service tax, no tax is imposed on the non-service taxable category, while the service taxable category has a tax of up to 10% imposed on it.
Post-GST, Rehda’s calculations showed that the non-service taxable cost had gone up to RM186,560, while the service taxable cost remained at RM8,000.
It maintained the same cost estimates for other items, including land (15% or RM60,000), infrastructure and pre-development works (10% or RM40,000), professional fees and marketing costs (6% or RM24,000), finance costs (6% or RM24,000) and profit (17% or RM68,000).
Ng said Rehda also disagreed with Subromaniam, who had said that developers could easily absorb cost increases as their margins were around 30%.
He said it was currently impossible for developers to earn up to a 30% profit, as most development costs were on the rise, along with various capital contributions and charges imposed on developers.
“On average, as tabulated in the calculation, developers, most of which are public-listed companies, are only making around 17% at best,” he said.
However, Ng said it was still too early to determine the actual house price increases post-GST, as Rehda was still in discussions with the Government and there appeared to be many more issues to be ironed out.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Too Much Excitement over Iskandar

Earlier I voiced my reservations about investing in Iskandar real estate. The recent spat with Singapore over the Causeway toll and the VEP charges seems to reinforce this. The Johore state government is way too unpredictable to offer any stability and assurance to investors.

Today, the Malaysian Insider also reported an oversupply -

“There seems to be a demand and supply mismatch… It takes such a short time to introduce all this supply, but the population is not there yet. Looking at the pricing, the units are not geared towards the local market, they are geared towards the overseas market. Maybe developers are very optimistic about the prospects of Iskandar, but there may be too much supply too soon,” todayonline quoted Khalil Adis, the founder of property firm Khalil Adis Consultancy - See more at:

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Good Quality Affordable Homes

Nowadays, it is hard to find any property in an acceptable location which is below RM500k. It is even harder to find anything below RM300k. By acceptable location, I mean places like PJ, Setapak, Cheras... not Semenyih, Sungai Besar etc... But I'm sure even those far-flung outskirts of the Klang Valley will soon see prices unimaginable by today's standards. Look at Klang and Kajang. They are not near at all to KL city but property prices there are almost as high as PJ and Subang Jaya.

And another thing you see these days, most property launches are either very high density or if not, they are very "luxurious". The fact is, most people's income have not really gone up but property prices have increased out of reach. So, every time you see there is a government effort to build affordable homes, they turn out to be these huge highly densed construction such as PR1MA and those low cost housing projects. Many of these, like what you see in the PPR (Projek Perumahan Rakyat) so-called people's housing turn out to be huge slums with all sorts of social issues.

So, I am taking upon myself to develop small low density and quality housing - to prove that it can be done. We are talking about 2-3 bedroom units at prices below RM300k, or RM400k at better locations. There will be studio apartments for the young guys and girls who are just taking out their 1st pay-cheque. Starting pay is around RM2000/month these days, so what can they afford? Definitely RM160k and below... watch this space!

Density will be from 10 units up to 80 units per project. They are not going to be too small either. The 2/3 bedroom units will be no less than 800sf and the studios are 500sf and up. Nothing fancy. No swimming pool, no gym, no sauna... no gimmick. Just basic, no frills quality homes with car parks and security.

How are we going to make it?

The answer lies in our local councils and city hall. It's up to them to approve such projects and also decide on the plot ratio and density allowed. What we have seen is a lot of approvals for luxury bungalow, semi-D and gated community developments. This does not go towards solving the nation's housing problem but the issue usually is the objections from the local community. Nobody will like it if a medium cost apartment project suddenly comes up in their posh Bangsar or Damansara Heights. There has been some precedents however...

I take a lot of inspiration by looking at neighbouring Thailand and also our own Penang Island, looking around the Pulau Tikus and Gurney area. Here, there are many small apartments built on formerly bungalow lands. There are a few in KL as well, such as One Mesraria in OUG, Old Klang Road which has only 20 units 1,300sf apartments. Just over a year ago, you can get a 3-bedroom unit here for around RM350k. Today, the price tag is RM580k. If you can find a seller, that is.

I am going to start by introducing you to a small project of studio apartments. This will be at Sentul, about 2km from the Sentul LRT station... so the location is not really that bad. The land is freehold and it is only 4000sf. Normally, the council will require you to have a 10ft barrier from the border of the land up to the built-up area. For a 4000sf piece, it means you will lose almost 1600sf, so your built up will end being just 2,400sf. But the interesting part of this land is, you can build from border to border, so it's possible to use up almost the entire 4,000sf. The next thing is the approval from city hall. The most they will allow is a plot ratio of 1 to 5. Take away 1,000sf for common areas and infrastructure such as lifts, lobby and stair case, a plot ratio of 1:5 means you can have 3,000sf x 5 = 15,000sf.

Therefore, if we are going to offer 600sf studio apartments, that means we can build 25 units. But building 25 apartments means providing at least 25 car parks.... that will make the building too tall or if we are doing basement car parks, it will be too expensive. So, to cut the story short, we are just having 12 studio apartments and 1 special 2 bedroom unit.

This is how the maths work out...

Cost of land RM560,000
Cost of construction RM1,000,000
Miscellanous and statutory costs RM80,000

Total cost RM1,640,000

Total sellable square feet... 12 x 600sf and 1 x 1,200sf = 8,400sf

Cost per sf... RM196

The cost for 600sf studio is RM117,600 each

The cost of 1,200sf 2-bedroom unit is RM235,200

So, if we are selling the studios at RM160k each and the 2-bedroom unit at RM350k, we are looking at a gross yield of 38%

It may sound too simplistic to some of you but may I remind you in this case we are only building 13 units in less than 4,000sf of land. When we look at other examples later, it becomes even more interesting...

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

For Sale - 1br Unit at Seri Bukit Ceylon

A friend has put up this unit for sale. It is a 1-bedroom serviced apartment, on a mid floor - 14th floor to be exact with an unblocked view of the KLCC Twin Towers.

His asking price is RM670,000 full-furnished as is. Comes with 1-car park.

Please contact me for viewing

Friday, September 5, 2014

Endah Villa - For Sale as a Good Home

If you are looking for a HOME, a nice place to raise a family, do consider this lovely little apartment. It is a 3-bedroom and 2 bathroom corner unit with a nice balcony over-looking the Bukit Jalil sports complex. You will never miss out on any concerts anymore...

Location is in Sri Petaling, approximately 1.2km from the Bukit Jalil LRT station. It is also accessible via the MRRII, the KESAS Highway and the North-South Expressway.  

Endah Villa calls itself a condo. To be brutally honest, it has been badly managed, with facilities falling apart, it's far from being a condominium. The pricing reflects this. However, in the past couple of months, a new management has taken over and they are starting to put things in order. A tender has been issued and will be awarded soon to paint all the 8 blocks in this complex.
The buildings are close to 20 years old now. Being leasedhold, this is not an encouraging fact. As with many leasedhold properties, especially a mismanaged one, the price hasn't increased much and therefore, I say this is a great place to start a home because the purchase price is inexpensive.

A home it is... as you can see from the picture above, Endah Villa is probably one of the few apartments in Kuala Lumpur with such generous grounds. You do not feel like you are cooped up in a dense community. It's a great place to raise kids, as you can see them having lots of space to run around and grow. There is also a lively community hall with badminton and squash enthusiasts converging every evening.

You are also not far from amenities. Conveniently, there is a hypermarket literally across the road and banks and other public utilities not far away.

This is a rare corner unit, with a nice number for an address with liberal dashes of 8's, which is auspicious for the Chinese community. The unit is very bright and windy.

The bedrooms, dining as well as the kitchen windows open out to a great view, with fresh air flow unlike those intermediate units facing an air-well. 

This unit was put up for sale over a year ago and was successfully sold within days. Unfortunately, the paper work was not proper. Therefore, the buyer withdrew and we had to go through processes with the developer and lawyers. Finally, the matter has been settled and a strata title is now being issued. During the whole process, the unit was rented out to a young family.

I know many punters are going to ask me how much is the rent as they want to buy it for investments. Although rental here can go as high as RM2,000/month and some fully-furnished units fetch RM2,200/month, I discourage the notion that this is an investment. The opportunity to purchase this should go to a young family who wants a great place for to raise their kids and live. My sister lived here with her husband and after they migrated overseas, it was rented out to a foreign family with 2 children. Their 2 children were in elementary school when they lived there up till the elder daughter graduated from medical school. The family subsequently moved to Canada.

The current tenant is a dentistry professor at nearby IMU. He and his wife moved in a year ago with their young son and recently they have just given birth to a baby girl. This is the story of this place called HOME :)  

Contact me for viewing...