Sunday, 27 July 2008

Location? Location? Location?

The Meritz Condominium - a stones throw from KLCC Twin Towers

Condo facilities

Location? Location? Location?

That's what they all say about real estate.

What's wrong with a two-bedroom, 1390 square foot apartment (with 2 car park lots) smack in the center of the golden triangle of KL, opposite KLCC, 3-minute walk to the LRT station and shopping at your doorstep?
Shops, LRT & restaurants in vicinity

Apparently there's a lot more to it as I discovered.

Supply is far greater than demand. It's a tenants market today and for a long time more to come it appears. Next to almost every condominium stands a vacant site waiting for building approval, in the process of piling works or ongoing masonry works. Whatever the stage, the potential tenant will question the noise level, dust and traffic access. The owner on the other hand finds it hard to disagree when the apartment is not rented for those very reasons.

So it goes on. These days you are considered lucky if you can show your apartment to one or two potential tenants a week. This means you are in the preferred zone. I know of owners who have yet to have the first viewing since hand-over of keys six months ago. Sometimes extras are a bonus, but an extra car lot (at RM30,000 a shot) can also be a liability.



If attempts at rental fails, the obvious alternative is putting up the treasured real estate for sale. All sorts of emotions and justifications are tied up in purchasing a property. For the children, for investment, to live in etc etc. So letting go is doubly painful. Being detached is very difficult.

Room with a view

Agents act differently when a property is up for sale. They take pains to point out all the flaws, from flooring to ceilings, toilets to kitchens and how everything needs to be upgraded. Then to crown it all: the final value is the size of the dirt, the house being worthless. The whole exercise succeeds in crushing ones sense of home pride. You feel like you have been living in a ghetto all this time. The local real estate scene is nothing like what you see on the British reality shows where an informed, professional realtor shows off a house, highlighting strong points and ways to deal with possible problem areas. Perhaps ours lack training, professionalism and ethics?

Meritz by night

If you hold on to your keys, rather than leave them with the agent, you get a chance to meet potential tenants. This is by no means a social event. Most clients are business-like, in a hurry to view the long list of properties selected by the agent during their lunch breaks or weekends. The single bachelor types usually know exactly what they want. To the Northern American client or those expatriates who have been exposed to that lifestyle, a dishwasher is the most essential requirement, as they seem to be helpless at a sink.

Poolside view by night

Couples come in all shades. Italians, Spanish, Eastern European have a simpler approach to life. They yearn for peace and quiet and foremost, a sunny pool. All else more than meets their expectations.

Master bedroom

Mat Sallehs with Asian wives abound. You have the 'man of the house' who checks out the kitchen facilities, master bedroom and bathrooms himself and makes all the decisions. The softies are queen-controlled, if you know what I mean. Then you have the super queen-controllers who are arrogant, self-absorbed and rude to boot. Thank goodness its a two-way arrangement. The owner has the right to refuse too.

Real estate agents are a different kettle of fish. You have the silent drivers who merely drive their clients to and fro without offering any useful information to either party; the over enthusiastic agent who suggest that owners will turn cartwheels if requested; the over-familiar agent who takes a fancy to your stuff and then have the gall to ask the owner if they could have it.

Eventually the tide turns.

You get a call from the Agent informing you of the good news that your apartment has finally been taken. Next comes the clincher.

"Are you sitting down"? asks the Agent Provocateur.

"Tenant wants: a baby cot (ok fair enough they have a 2 year old kid), 2 sets of bed sheets, kitchenware, crockery, cutlery, a DVD player, another TV for the master bedroom and Astro service."

"Oh yes, also to pay for monthly Astro rental and a part time maid service (twice a week; Tuesdays & Thursdays). BTW could you also throw in a mop and cleaning fluids & materials. That's all". I can imagine his smug smile "Gotcha!"

"Are you sure that's it? Do I have to feed them as well?" I quipped feeling relieved and dismayed all at the same time.

"No need lah. Heheh" chuckles the Agent.

Don't be surprised if you have to go through all this again in a year. I have it from reliable sources, one of the more chatty roving tenants, who admitted that they do this every time their lease is up so they can have a taste of Malaysian property.

That's what it takes to rent an apartment these days of globalisation, global warming, fuel hikes and property glut.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008


According to Wikipedia: A blog (an abridgment of the term web log) is a website, usually maintained by an individual, with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Used as a verb, it means to maintain or add content to a blog.

-itis, an English suffix typically used to denote an inflammation occuring in infections.

BLOGITIS therefore refers to being inflammed and infected to blogging, a condition this author and partner are currently suffering from.

The obvious plus points to this activity are that a permanent record is kept on subjects of interest, the innumerable photos taken are vetted and edited and of course nuturing ones creativity through writing.

On a lighter note, some are of the opinion that blogger is a term used to describe anyone with enough time or narcissism to document every tedious bit of minutia filling their uneventful lives. Possibly the most annoying thing about bloggers is the sense of self-importance they get after even the most modest of publicity. Sometimes it takes as little as a referral on a more popular blogger's website to set the lesser blogger's ego into orbit.

Jokes aside, this is very true. Just look at the popular blogs: commitment of the blogger and the enthusiasm generated is real. Some are even willing to go to jail for it!

The downside is frightening.

It becomes an obsession and every waking hour consumed with blog thingy's: like who gets to the computer first in the morning, hogging more than ones fair share of computer time and the eventual tusle over photograph rights. It comes to a point where certain photos have to be booked well in advance before another hijacks it off.

If you allow this to continue, you may find yourself trapped in a blogoshere.

The blogosphere is the new buzz word that has replaced "information super highway." It's what idiots like to call a collection of "blogs," otherwise known as a tragedy.

. . . or worse become a blogomaniac . . .

Blogomania: Like all other manias, except relating to the infatuation of blogs.

Blogomaniacs infected with blogitis tend to exhibit symptoms of blogrolling.

Blogroll: A long list of links that nobody will ever click on. Bloggers not only link to their friends and fellow bloggers, but their eventual goal is to link to every linkable document on the Internet. Most "blog rolls" are so full of links that it can bring even the mightiest of search engines to a crawl as they sort through all the frivolous bullshit bloggers link to.

Just as microbes can be classified, there evoles a subclass - photoblog. evolves.

Photoblog: Photoblogs make me yearn for the day when cameras weren't digital, film cost money, and it took time to develop pictures. . . take countless pictures of nothing with no focus, no theme, no message. You're not an artist. You're not deep. Get a new hobby.

This malady can result in epidemic proportions where a whole community is
infected giving rise to the dreaded:-

Blogging community:
Losers, goths, bedwetters, and journalism dropouts

. . . creating a . . .

A zany phrase used any time there's an
abnormal amount of posts on blogs
regarding any particular topic.
PS: Excepts in italics are by a writer with a sense of humour.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Summer in Bonny Scotland

What do you call six weeks of rain
in Fort William? . . . the summer holidays.

Well that was exactly our holiday experience this summer in Scotland.

Of course I brought all the wrong clothes; too many short-sleeved tops and no raincoat. Thank goodness for layering and my Lafuma fleece jacket that I threw in at the last moment. My trusty brolly was of no use against the gale force winds forecasted by the friendly weatherman.

Despite the wet and gloomy weather, the drive from Edinburgh to Fort William and then on to Broadford in the Isle of Skye was a journey of discovery of Lochs lined up end to end. Western Scotland simply oozes tranquility and calm.

Every fifteen to thirty miles (yes they've not gone metric), a village creeps up and just as quickly vanishes before your eyes. Obscure as they may be, each village is the hub of a variety of activities like hiking, fishing, canoeing, yachting, biking (mountain or racing) as well as hearty dining, pubs and of course B & B's.

In a lightheaded moment, I found myself singing strains of "I'll take the high road and you'll take the low road. . . tra la. . . on the bonny, bonny banks of Loch Lomond", a song I learnt from my days at Light Street Convent in Penang. I dare say kids these days are hardly exposed to this genre of song anymore.

Summer is the time to let your hair down and delve into hobbies big time.The convoys of big bikes, small bikes, swanky vintage cars and Lotus sports cars whizzing along the country roads prove that the British have a penchant for their wheels.