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.

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