Friday, 29 April 2011

Property Solution

This post contains the last of my ramblings, I suspect, about the properties I have checked out in my search for somewhere to live in Penang as I do indeed think I have found my solution. Over the last two of my three days with Catherine I visited some very interesting and attractive projects and one where the attraction was so great, I couldn't resist.

The first project we checked out was Surin by the Bolton Group over at Batu Ferringhi (BF), not far from Miami Green. This project in their 'Tower A' was fairly well advanced through its launch cycle but was very attractive nonetheless. It is scheduled to complete around 2013 IIRC. They only had a few units left though and I suspect these will be snapped up quickly. Prices however were quite good. At the time they had a few units at 1,520 square feet (sf) going for around RM637 K with a sea view, putting the price at RM 419 per sf (psf). There were also units of 1,300 SF going for around RM 550K putting them at around RM 423 psf. I was quite taken with this project as the units design was nice. I think the prices had been revised up quite a lot since launch though as these units were not very 'fresh' in the developer launch cycle. My problem with this project was that the few units with the sea view would have a view at night that would be very dark (e.g. no city lights in the distance etc which can be quite attractive - this 'black hole' view may appeal to some) and the others would face the 'greens', the hillside behind. In addition, BF is quite a way out for me and while the attraction of the beaches may appeal to many there is the problem that it's quite a way out from Georgetown and even further from travel connections (e.g. bridge to mainland and airport). Also, where it is located is likely to be subject to less development infrastructure wise in terms of businesses (shops, restaurants and bars etc) and technology (fibre optic etc.). It's all down to what an individual wants of course and all those issues may actually be requirements for others. For me though I think I would prefer to be near to the connectivity but still have a few and a good amount of fresh air and greenery around the project. A very nice development nonetheless.

Next we looked at a couple of developments by the Ivory group and I must say I was very impressed with Ivory overall. Firstly we looked at the Island Resort development again in BF. Not too many units available here again and again somewhat late in the launch cycle. They had just a few units at 1,250 sf and the design of these was nice. The views from them were also better IMO but at around RM 724 K this comes at a price of 579 psf, not too bad but starting to edge up somewhat. Despite the attraction of this project (which for me was slightly nicer than Surin) there were still the downsides of the BF location, for my particular circumstances.

The next Ivory project we looked at was Lattitude over in Tanjung Tokong (TT), virtually opposite Island Plaza (a rather grand name for what to me is a rather abysmal shopping mall). Now this project was VERY appealing and I was really tempted to take the plunge and reserve here. The mock up and design drawings of the building look very attractive and I have a feeling units will go like hot cakes here. The layouts were all really very nice and they had units at 1,600 and 1,500 sf at around RM 500 psf putting them at about RM 750 - 800K. As with all developers you will pay slightly higher prices for the higher floor levels with the premium per floor (which will vary from project to project but around RM 2-3K) often kicking once above a certain floor level when the views are seen to improve. The prices above however take into account these floor levels in the few remaining units available and due to complete around 2013/4. The units at 1,600 sf have a balcony which extends to the master bedroom and for the little extra this to me was the best unit. My only problem with this project is again, location. TT is OK but is in an area that I would actually visit quite infrequently I suspect, especially as my favourite bar/restaurant 'Bagan' plans to relocate to Georgetown. Certainly there are a few eateries here and it is close to Gurney Drive but even that is an area I think I will be less inclined to visit often.

A final consideration for me with all of the above is the question of market saturation and potential for property appreciation as a result of area and infrastructure development. All properties will have a ceiling in terms of the price they will hit, regardless of where they are. Property prices in TT, Gurney and BF areas have shot up in value over the last two years and you can't help but think it has to peak soon. A place to live is also a place that can make you money if you choose and provided doing so is not the sole motivation (in which case some people may choose to live anywhere, good or bad, if it makes them money) it is possible to combine investment potential with area and connectivity. In these parts of town the connectivity is not so good to the mainland or airport etc. BF does provide a more attractive environment, again for me, but at the expense of being way out. The central TT/Gurney area though is quite saturated in terms of living and business developments and there are few opportunities there now to build and create more and it is this infrastructure development that can help pull up the prices of properties as the infrastructure gets better and better be it business, connectivity, living accommodation or technology. Many would say that that has already happened in this area and that prices, even for new developments, have peaked already. As with anything to do with investments this is all a gamble and prices could continue to soar. However, as I think I may be able to match investment potential with an area which also fulfills my needs in terms of day to day living I decided to pass on all of the above, albeit Lattitude still appeals.

So what did I decide? Well, at the close of these days of viewings I visited a new project, and I mean VERY new, out towards the east of the island at Batu Uban. It will be not far from the Twin Towers development. I was very fortunate to be able to visit this developer and it was solely because my agent has a personal connection there that they agreed to meet me to discuss this project which is very very 'fresh' in its developer cycle. What is quite appealing about this project is that developers insist on interviews with prospective buyers as they are keen to sell only to people who intend to reside there and to ensure they get a good balance. This approach will also likely prevent speculator purchases which IMO can only be a good thing.

Having viewed the project artwork and plans etc. I have to say that the design of this building is absolutely stunning and the apartment layouts superb. They will have units at 1,000, 1,500 and 2,000 sf and all can be easily customised (e.g. remove maid's room to extend the kitchen or provide a split wet/dry kitchen as if often the case here). The properties have a range of aspects with some looking out more towards the Strait and other facing the bridges. The area has a very nice airy and fresh feel and is well located for the airport and travel to the mainland. In addition there is plenty of potential for the planned and future infrastructure development and technology links are likely to be quite advanced. It has also been said that the cost of living here is likely to be slightly less than in the north (Gurney/TT etc) which can be weighted towards tourists somewhat. There is also a new Express Way planned which will further speed up connections to the Georgetown and Gurney area. Even more appealing is the price. I am unable to be specific at this stage but suffice it to say that the units are priced at way way under RM 500 psf. There is a floor premium to pay at RM 3 K per floor once past level 7 but even with this prices will be very reasonable. I will likely go for a 1,500 sf unit as these can be easier to sell on than the larger should the need arise but the 2,000 sf units are also very very appealing. With a 1,500 sf unit you will also get 2 car parking spaces. Scheduled for completion in 2014 this development I think will be a very good investment as well as ticking all of my boxes in terms of day to day living.

So the property search seems to be over and I have to say I am surprised it took so little time. I suspect it was also a case of right place at the right time. There will be some time to wait of course for this project to be built but I figure selling up in the UK etc. could take a fair time as well as finalising the MM2H application. Much as I would like to move to Malaysia as soon as possible it could well be several month before that is possible, maybe longer. In any event, should I get here earlier I will be happy to rent and visit the development as it grows. Once I am here I will likely continue to visit new projects I hear about both out of general interest and to provide information for other potential MM2H candidates in the future. In the meantime, if anyone is interested in the property I will be able to put you in touch with my agent who may be able to gain agreement from the developer to meet and chat through the project. Clearly though an interested party would need to visit Penang as the developer does insist on personal interviews.


  1. Overall an accurate assessment on all the areas you have seen BF, TB, TT, GD and the pros and cons in each area.

    You mentioned South-west of the island. That would be Balik Pulau. Batu Uban is more east of Penang island, near USM. If you are looking for accessibility to transport, airport and bridges, Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Highway (previously called Jelutong Highway), there are other developments - The Light by IJM, Southbay by Mah Sing and CP's condominium and waterfront villas in Queensbay. All projects are near the water overlooking mainland Butterworth, Penang bridges and Pulau Jerejak.

    Btw, where is Bagan moving to in the city? I never like their current location but great colonial bungalow.

  2. You know, as we were driving round and I was getting various descriptions of where the Batu Uban property was ranging from west and south-west etc. I have been SO busy I have just not even had time to study a map but even from my recollection of the Penang map a few weeks ago I thought the bridges were on the east side. Indeed south-west I would even put as far as Pulau Betung etc. Post amended!!

    All I know thus far about Bagan is that it will be in Georgetown somewhere. As soon as I know more I will post up here. They are keeping the location under wraps at the moment.

  3. Good luck. Do keep posting about the property options - your posts are very informative. Enjoy.

  4. Thank you. I plan to keep up to date with all the new projects once I'm here full time, primarily for the information of people looking to come for the future. These properties are best bought when they are freshly released to the market rather than sub-sale from speculators or once completed, if you can wait of course!!

  5. Sorry, I've just gone online looking for places in Penang (moving there in May on MM2H), the suspense is killing me. What is the name of this development in Batu Ubad? For some reason, I am missing the name if you have mentioned it in your text.

  6. OK, I am dying to meet your agent. What is his/her name, please.


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