Thursday, 28 April 2011

Property Ponderings (5)

Between Monday 25 and Wednesday 27 April I spent much time with my very helpful property agent, and now friend, Catherine Loh of Property Solutions, who had been recommended to me by several MM2H forum members. We looked at numerous properties ranging from older completed units in Georgetown through quite expensive, (but better value for money IMO) out of town in Batu Ferringhi and Tanjung Tokong, up to the flagship units of the E&O Property Company in Straits Quay and then out of town to the south west and Batu Uban. So, some ramblings about the places I looked at (all condos) and the areas :

Times Square, Georgetown: Approx RM 900K. This was an apartment which is part of the 'Ivory' company development but for me, in all honesty, was a little tired looking and had not the best of outlooks. There were some worrying cracks in the building fabric already and it seemed to lack much by way of character. There seems to be a premium to pay to live in the city (as there is everywhere) and one which, in this case, I am not prepared to pay. To its credit it was very well placed but I am not sure the general feel of the place appealed.

Diamond Villas, Batu Ferringhi: This was a fantastic place, lovely size, well laid out, lots of breeze and fresh air, but at a cost of RM 1.3M !!! For me though, the best of all the places I saw that day at just over 2,000 SF. The location was good, the facilities were good (pool etc) and the outlook spectacular. Above all it had a fantastic kitchen and and 4 bedrooms. The property is nearly ten years old now and at RM 1.3m this is serious money and expenditure of that amount here for me requires some important factors to be taken into account. See later my comments on investment peak, possibly the only drawback with this place.

Miami Green, Batu Ferringhi: The resort style of these condos is very appealing and the management company is supposed to be very good. Nice enough apartments priced at around the 500K mark but for me there is one major problem. At just over 1,000 sq ft I personally would like a little more space for living here on a full time basis. At around 1,500 sq ft they would be ideal, at 2,000 more so but I'm not sure I would be happy there long term at 1,050 SF. Of the the blocks there, G is the newest. There are some low rise blocks there too which are quite tasteful but I'm not sure if, missing the sea views, makes the space come in on you somewhat more. Like I say, nice enough but not for me and again, I think they may be nearing their peak for investment potential.

We also visited the 'Waterfront' project by Ratu. Few units were available here and they were being snapped up fast. The unit I saw is already gone and went for around RM 944K but was specious and well designed but something just didn't feel right. It was also directly across from the floating mosque and, having lived next to a mosque for 3 years in the UAE I find that the calls to prayer can get intrusive at times, regardless of how much you mind gets used to switching off. Nice enough and worth considering, subject to availability.

Fettes Residence, Tanjung Tokong: These were very nice but the only problem for me is that now is well past the best time to buy there. Developer units have reached their peak, there are few left and others are now flipping sub-sale and at quite a hike. At about RM 1m now IMO I would not consider it a good investment. I think if you had been able to get in at RM 400-425 PSF Fettes would be OK but for me, not at the moment. Layout is very nice, again about 2,000 SF size but some of the space is less well utilised than I would like to see. For me, a further problem was that too many of the rooms are internal facing and thus with now windows. My final concern is that I am not sure whether the area is right for me. We all have our own needs and desires and I'm just not sure Tanjung Tokong matches mine. But all that is just personal opinion.

Straits Quay: Nice development, crazy prices!!! RM 1.8m approx for 2,000 SF+, fabulous layout and design but a lot of dead SF for me (too much bathroom and dead end corridor space which you are paying for) but I'm just not sure of the overall SQ development concept. Looked a bit like a prison camp for the landed properties, one of the places where I definitely think the condo would be a better choice. If money were no object, maybe they would be OK but at RM 1.8m, and thinking JUST about a place to live (e.g. no investment concerns) I think I'd opt for the more stylish and individual Diamond Villas and buy an apt at Miami Green or even Langkawi to rent out!!! One consideration with Straits Quay type places is that their utilities are charged at commercial rate, somewhat off putting, but not too bad if usage is not high, apparently.

Catherine also told me of a newcomer developer who has bought a stretch next to the Straits Quay Plaza (to the right as you face the sea). They will be doing two towers, one as serviced apartments and one as purchased, priced at around RM 600 PSF. She did say she would be cautious about recommending these places as they are not a public listed company and that more research would be needed as to the stability of the company, their delivery times and product quality. Overall though, unless these other developer places are cracking value and outstanding design, Straits Quay seems to be a nice place to visit, being marketed as 'the place to live' but IMHO fails to match up to the hype at the moment and feels a little sterile. Popular with expats it seems as Tesco is relocating there. Also a good place for boaters with the Marina nearby.

All in all I wasn't too impressed with what I saw in Tanjung Bungah or Tanjung Tokong for the money to be honest. They are clearly going at premium rates and one can't help but think that the bubble cannot go much higher before it bursts. Don't get me wrong, there are some nice places and it's a nice area to live but unfortunately the prime time to buy in what's available just now has been missed. The bubble may continue to go up, but with prevailing world conditions it's not something I am prepared to risk.

My other concern is investment potential. Clearly if you are buying a place to live it is less of a concern but if you decide to move in 5-10 years time it would be better to make money than lose it, especially if we are talking substantial amounts. Buy a property that has peaked and you also need to factor in some form of refurb costs as time goes on, costs which will eat further into the minimal further appreciation you will get if you bought 'high. Places like MG and Diamond Villas have, I suspect, reached their appreciation peak. I could happily DO Miami Green I have to say, if only the places were a little bigger. The other places I saw seem to be charging a lifestyle premium (albeit the Straits Quay condos are nice) and I suspect management costs will be high and/or are unfortunately sold out of most of the developer units with often only lower floor sub-sales being available at hefty property flip prices.

After these visits I was more and more convinced of the need to either buy a completed developer unit on higher floors in a new build in a nice green and fresh area or buy off plan, as early in the launch stages as possible. For the amount I am likely to go into town (and even then it will be mostly Georgetown) I didn't find the BF area too far out to be honest. MG may not do it for me but I have to say for what it offered I found the units and the site to be very good. Just a little small for my needs. Fettes Residences would have been OK several months ago at the right price. At RM 1M per unit now, for me, no thanks.

The most appealing news seems to be of new developments at two extremities and a more central one in Tanjung Tokong. More of those to follow. So that's a quick round up of the first tranche of properties. Hopefully no-one will get offended by comments about various properties or areas as this is, largely, a personal diary and an account of what suits ME. It is however useful to air those views in the hope that they may be of use to others.

Happy house hunting!!!


  1. Has she shown you Baystar Condominium? Across from Queensbay Mall. The are is becoming very popular and easy to get to the bridge, and to the city.


  2. Thanks for that. Not yet, I think I may have found somewhere now (see later post) but am out that way today with Catherine so will mention them to her.


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