Archive for the ‘Property News’ Category

IKEA anchors RM8b Penang integrated shopping haven to be built in 2015

September 3rd, 2014 46 comments

Developer Aspen Vision Land, IKEA franchisee Ikano Pte Ltd and the Penang Development Corporation (PDC) have entered an agreement for a RM8 billion integrated development in Batu Kawan that will be built around the Swedish furniture icon.

The massive project will be headlined by a regional integrated shopping haven anchored by IKEA, and include a mixed development of residences, offices, medical facilities, a 20-acre park, an international school, standalone retail outlets and an integrated central transportation hub for Seberang Perai.

With the signing of the agreement this morning, Aspen and Ikano can immediately start preliminary measures such as conducting impact studies and market surveys before commencement of the project.

“We are opening up a full-sized IKEA store here so we will need an elaborate study to be completed first before works can begin,” Ikano managing director Christian Rojkjaer said at a press conference after the signing ceremony at the Royale Bintang Hotel here.

The first phase of the project will consist of the integrated shopping mall anchored by IKEA and is expected to start by the end of next year, with completion scheduled for 2018.

The second phase will include other components such as mixed development, high rise commercial buildings, school, office complex, healthcare facilities and a hotel. The entire project will take up to 10 years to complete.

The project is one of several planned in Batu Kawan, including a RM1 billion project consisting of an upmarket outlet shopping mall, a 300-room international-class hotel and a branch campus of Britain’s University of Hull.

The rising demand for land and projects based in Batu Kawan is due to the opening of the Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah bridge, which connects the small township to Batu Maung on the island.

Aspen and Ikano jointly bought 245 acres of land from PDC for RM483.95 million for the project.

The IKEA store and the first phase of the shopping mall will take up 30 acres while another 45 acres will be set aside for phase two of the shopping mall; the remaining 170 acres will be for mixed development.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who witnessed the signing, said the whole development is in line with the state’s efforts to attract catalyst projects for Batu Kawan and the state.

The state, through PDC, also plans to build 11,800 units of public and affordable housing in the area.

Source: The Malay Mail Online

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10-Step Plan To Save For The Down Payment For Your First Home

September 3rd, 2014 2 comments

Everyone dreams of owning their own house someday. However, most people failed at saving up the hefty down payment that come with home buying.

Though there are options out there for the middle to lower income groups to get a house without paying a huge upfront amount, such as PR1MA, most of us who are not qualified or are looking for other locations, would still need to fork out an additional initial payment to fund for the house down payment and theadditional costs that comes with it.

Some of you may opt to withdraw from your Employees Provident Fund (EPF) Account 2 to fund your house down payment, but EPF is part of your retirement savings and best kept for that. Why withdraw when you can save your way to afford that down payment?

For example, a property selling at RM400,000 with 90% loan comes with a down payment of RM40,000 (10%) and an additional of about RM20,000 in fees and charges. This would approximately come up to an initial payment of RM60,000 in cash.

It may seem overwhelming to save up that much, but by drawing a strict and realistic savings plan for this purpose, you will be able to afford your first home in no time.

Before you start, find out how much you will need based on the type of the property you would require. Then, take a look into how and where you can save:

1. Save first before you spend

Typically, we convert whatever balance we have at the end of the month into savings, if any. This is a wrong misconception that most of us have in terms of saving. The right way to save is to set money aside as savings, for example, 30% of salary goes into saving every month. This will help set a consistent saving routine each month.

The balance of 70% should be managed wisely, and you will be surprised how much unnecessary expenses you can do without when you have a clear budget.

2. Create a budget and stick to it

Create a budget by listing down your monthly expenses. Start by deducting the 30% for savings, then make changes to your monthly budget to avoid overspending. This will help identify how much you spend and what you spent on previously.

With a clear budget, you can cut down on unnecessary expenditures by limiting your spending to what you need, instead of what you want. Schedule your reward time for exclusive food, cinema or clothing only once a month, with a cap in mind.

3. Look out for affordable alternatives

With lesser money to spend, you really need to know where every sen is going. If you find that you are unable to continue with your current lifestyle with just 70% of your income, here are a few things you can substitute for cheaper options:

  • Replacing your gym membership and opt to work out at home or jog around the neighbourhood. You can easily save at least RM150 a month, and that’s RM1,800 a year!
  • Omitting or minimising your satellite TV subscription for free online alternatives such as YouTube. Even by cancelling the cheapest package available, you are saving at least RM52 a month, amounting to RM624 a year!
  • When you go to work, you can bring food from home. Not only does it save money, it is also healthier. Assuming you spend RM6 a day for lunch for 20 days a month, you are saving at least RM1,400 a year.
  • If you buy organic goods, be selective and only buy organic for food that you will consume with the skin or those without skin, such as apple and leafy vegetables.
  • Substitute that club party for a mamak session or a good old-fashioned house gathering. Cover charges for a popular club in town can easily cost RM50 per person, with limited drinks included. By substituting that with teh tarik at your neighbourhood mamak, you can save at least RM45 every time you say no to a club party.

For everything that seems like a necessity, there is always a cheaper alternative out there. It just takes a bit of changes and hard work to sniff out the best deal!

4. Create a separate savings account

By having a separate savings account (go without an ATM or debit card for the account if you are struggling to keep yourself disciplined), you won’t run the risk of over withdrawing from your account. This should be separate from the account used for your expenses and income.

At the beginning of every month, transfer the set preliminary portion of savings (recommended at 30%) into this separate savings account. Using this method, you can keep track on how you are spending and saving.

5. Pay on time

Pay your bills (e.g. credit cards) on time so you do not waste money paying extra interest or penalty for late payment. To avoid from forgetting your payment due date, arrange for a standing instruction on your bills or put a reminder on your calendar.

6. Take advantage of tax exemptions relief

By making an effort to understand the tax relief and rebates when you are filing for your income tax each year, you can drastically reduce your taxable income and pay less taxes.

Once you have kick started the saving habit, see where you can invest your savings to generate more money or how you add on to your current savings.

You can even time your spending on certain tax deductible items to maximise your tax reliefs!

7. Turn your hobby, skill, time and even junks into Ringgit

If you think what you are earning currently is insufficient to save for the down payment, try to earn more! You can exchange the service of your knowledge, skills or hobbies for money on a freelance basis or during the weekends.

  • If you can write, offer your services to the local newspaper, magazines, travel websites, or online websites.  You can visit these websites, or for freelance writing and other freelance jobs such as programming and marketing.
  • If you are good at art such as painting and creating craft souvenirs, you can make them and sell it to your family and friends or sell them over Facebook,,, or
  • If you are good at a particular subject and can teach, consider tutoring school students from the comfort of your home, their home or at a tuition centre.
  • You can also bake cakes and cookies and sell them to your family, friends and neighbours. This can be a particularly good business during festive seasons like Chinese New Year, Hari Raya, Deepavali and Christmas.
  • You can also turn your junk into money that can be contributed towards your savings for the down payment. For example, Chai & Chai Trading,, Cash Converters (situated at PJS 8 and Taman Megah) and Buy Sell Trade (situated at SS15) gives you the privilege to exchange your used items (e.g. furniture, office equipment, electronic products, etc.) for cash.

8. Allow your money to make more money

Instead of putting your savings in a savings account, put it in high-yield fixed deposits, bonds, Amanah Sahamor unit trusts. These investments will bear returns which can be reinvested to earn more returns on our investments.

Every now and then, our local banks do run fixed deposit promotions by offering significantly higher interests than conventional fixed deposit (FD) accounts. Look out for these promos to take advantage of the high interest rates offered. For example, in conjunction with Hari Merdeka 2014, Ambank is offering a promotional rate for FD up to 3.70% for nine months for Term-Deposit-i and Am50Plus Term Deposit-I while 57 winners have the chance to win promotional FD rate of 8.31% per annum. This promotions lasts until September 19, 2014.

Once you figured out how you can save and invest your savings to generate returns, you need to be motivated and disciplined to keep going until you achieve your goal.

9. Race to the finish line

Have a healthy competition with your spouse, partner or friends to see who can save more at the end of each month. Have a target and see who can reach the target first. To make it more interesting, set a reward or punishment at the end.

When there is a competition, there will be motivation to perform better.

10. Reward to motivate yourself

You can plan to have scheduled rewards such as rewarding yourself with a nice dinner when you reach the first RM5,000. Create milestones and rewards (that won’t break your bank) to keep yourself motivated.

With a proper plan and timeline set up, you can easily visualise the end, which will keep you disciplined and motivated. By saving RM2,000 per month, you can save up RM60,000 in 2½ years.

Although being able to own a home can sound exciting, it can be intimidating when the need for larger finances kick in. It should be a well-planned process and you need to develop an effective down payment plan by considering the precautions and weighing your options

This article comes courtesy of which compares between the various loans, savings and insurance schemes available in Malaysia.

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Sweet success for All Seasons

September 1st, 2014 6 comments

The living area in the show unit penthouse in All Seasons Park, Bandar Baru Air Itam.

Belleview Group has raised the living standards in Bandar Baru Air Itam with the successful completion and strong sales of the RM700mil residential All Seasons Park and the commercial All Seasons Place projects.

The All Seasons Park has, to date, sold 95% of its 808 condominiums, leaving only 5% for sale.

Its managing director Datuk Sonny Ho said in an interview that the effort to engage internationally known consultants to advise on the architectural and landscaping design paid off.

“Bandar Baru Air Itam was previously recognised as a housing-cum-commercial neighbourhood known for its affordable and low-medium cost property.

“Now it has All Seasons Park, comprising 808 units of lifestyle condominiums and surrounded by a three-level strip mall, All Seasons Place,” he said.

Ho said of the 5% units open for sale, eight were penthouses with built-up areas ranging from 1,602sq ft and 2,333sq ft, while the remaining were standard units, with built-up areas of 856sq ft and 1,323sq ft.

“The penthouses are priced between RM1.1mil to RM1.6mil.

“One of the penthouses is the show unit, which is completely furnished.

“The standard units are priced between RM650,000 and RM800,000,” he said.

Ho said when the All Seasons Park was first launched, the selling price ranged between RM300,000 and RM350,000 per unit.

“The price for All Seasons Park has more than doubled, which indicates the popularity of the scheme as a choice residential address among Penangites,” he added.

The success story was recently featured as a cover story in Trends, an internationally known architectural and interior decoration magazine.

There are three key factors that are crucial in accounting for the success of the projects, according to Ho.

“First, there is the surrounding panoramic view facing all the four condominium towers in All Seasons Park.

“Residents get a view of the Penang Hill and the historic Kek Lok Si Temple in Air Itam.

“Secondly, All Seasons Park comes with comprehensive recreational facilities such as viewing deck, flower court with water feature, relaxation and barbecue pavilions, Olympic-sized lap pool, reflection pond, meditation lawn, wading pool, recreational park, Jacuzzi and sauna, games room, and children’s playground.

“Thirdly, All Seasons Place provides integrated lifestyle facilities for the residents.

“There are branded lifestyle retail as well as food and beverage brands such as Giant Superstore, Subway, PappaRich, The Manhattan Fish Market, Guardian Pharmacy, Chatime and 7-Eleven.

“There are 120 shop lots, which are single-entity owned,” he said.

Opened in December 2012, the All Seasons Place strip mall is designed to cater to the needs of modern living.

“It is easily accessible by the over 350,000 people living in the nearby housing estates,” he said.

The show units are open to the public for viewing from 10am to 6pm daily at the Belleview Gallery in All Seasons Place.


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Primary, Secondary Or Auctioned Properties: Which Is Worth Buying?

August 30th, 2014 No comments

Comparison between primary, secondary and auctioned properties

Generally people buy a residential home to live in before moving onto property investments, so for someone who is looking to buy a residential home to live in, what are the options out there?

When deciding to buy a house you’ll have to make a decision early on, and that is whether you’re looking to buy a primary, secondary or auctioned property. What do these terms mean?

Buying a primary property means you are buying a brand new property directly from the developer; whereas secondary or sub-sale means you are buying a previously owned property from a private owner and an auctioned property is when a bank sells off a foreclosed property where the previous owner has defaulted on the payment.

So, which type of property stretches your Ringgit the most?

Brand new and shiny

There are advantages and disadvantages in these properties.

What are the advantages for a primary property?

  • For a start they are brand new, and therefore less money is required to be spent on renovation and refurbishment, some units even come with basic furnishings such as kitchen cabinets and built-in wardrobes.
  • Most units come “guaranteed” meaning there is a period where the developer will address defects on your behalf.
  • You get to choose the unit that you want (if available), in other words you can choose your house number, street number, view etc.
  • Most importantly you get special discounts when applicable: early bird, Bumiputera, staff discounts or member’s privilege which can shave off quite a substantial amount from the actual price. For example, a 7% Bumiputera discount will translate to RM42,000 saved if you are buying a RM600,000 property.
  • You can also get special financing packages from developers in the form of rebates, which can help to reduce the upfront cash needed when buying the property.  Other developers may offer furnishings, either fully or partially, so the buyer can save on furnishing cost.
  • You only need to pay interest during construction period, this helps in prolonging your full instalments to the bank.
  • You get ‘Zero-Down deals’ sometimes through rebates, discounts or sometimes 100% loans, this means no need to come up with immediate cash to purchase the property.

Now let’s look at the disadvantages for a primary property:

  • There are some incidences where the projects were abandoned by the developers. This is the greatest risk as  you would have lost your deposit and all that you have expended. On top of that you still will not have your property.
  • There can be delays on the part of the developer. This would prolong your interest payments to the bank and throw a wrench into your financial plans. This can be painful as you would have to maintain a mortgage without the benefit of the property.
  • Another pertinent issue is that the property can’t be sold during the construction period, so you would have to wait it out until keys have been handed over to dispose of it.
  • Sometimes the property doesn’t turn out the way it was portrayed in the scale model, brochures or show houses. This can be quite disappointing and if the specifications don’t meet your expectations it can be something you don’t want – and prove difficult to sell of later on.
  • With the current prices of materials and other financial uncertainties like the implementation of the goods and services tax (GST) and other new regulations, developers price their properties at future prices now. This means that the actual value of the property could be much lower, resulting in lower than expected appreciation for the buyer by the time the development has been completed.
  • Due to the number of new units released to the buyers for certain developments, there may be an oversupply during the delivery period. This makes it tough for owners to sell right after completion or rent out due to the stiff competition.

What you see, you get— a better idea?

As with primary properties buying a sub sale or secondary property has its good points and pitfalls too. Generally secondary properties have lower risk, you can touch and feel and see exactly what you’re getting into. It is right there for you to view, not just the property but the area, the infrastructure, the neighbours, the amenities.

These can immediately be gauged as they are usually located in a matured area, with everything more or less established. At times you can get great value for money deals, good agents can actually show you houses with sometimes up to 30% below market value.

The pitfalls are the most obvious: renovation and repairs. Sometimes you may have to redo whole property’s electrical and plumbing works. Other extensive renovations may be needed if the unit is more than 10 years old or was badly maintained.

There is also a higher acquisition costs:  such as the Sale and Purchase Agreement (SPA), loan documentations, and stamp duty among others. It also can be very challenging as you have to find a seller who agrees to sell at the agreed price, which will need three parties to agree mutually, the buyer, the seller and the bank. Once all these are settled you can move in which can take up to a year.

Before you can get your financing approved, banks require the property to be valued by professional valuers, and if the value is lower than the asking price, buyer may need to come up with higher down payment to make up for the shortfall. The home loan’s margin of finance is based on the market value, not the asking price.

More luck than due diligence?

For auctioned properties, luck plays a bigger role. If you are lucky you may get a place that is far below market value and that may be the only way to do so. However, these properties are as is basis, so if it’s a dilapidated old bungalow then that is exactly what you will get.

The upside is, often buyers are able to get their hands on properties in a prime area that are below market price.

However, what you save on the price, you may need to expend on renovation as it usually requires major repairs and renovation as most of these properties are left vacant for some time before the auction. There are also usually unpaid bills, such as utilities, building charges, tax assessments and others. If you are going into buying these properties, you need to prepare at least 30% of the asking price in cash in the event of outstanding bills by previous owner.

Sometimes, the previous owner or his/her tenant may still be occupying the unit and there may be a lengthy process of getting a court order to get them to vacate it.

Auctioned properties really are based on luck at the end of the day.

In a nutshell, these three types of property have their pros and cons. To choose the best one that suit your needs will depend on your risk appetite, financial readiness, needs and opportunities.


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Penang Property Market – Insight Sharing

August 29th, 2014 1 comment

A few days ago, Charles, the founder of, approached me to share with him some of my thoughts on Penang property market. As I shared my views with him, it is my pleasure to share them with the readers here.


Q1. Statistically speaking, property transactions in Penang has been on a downtrend. Based on all the new properties being announced in, do you see the numbers also on a downtrend? Why?

For new properties announced in, I could see a significant downtrend in 2012. Only 88 projects were introduced  compared to 137 projects in 2011. This represented a drop of nearly 40%. The downtrend continued in 2013 with only 80 projects announced. However, for 2014, I think it is on an uptrend again. Within first 8 months, I have already published 76 projects and there are 4 more months to go till end of 2014.

Secondly, developer are also shifting their focus to mainland . Please review the table below:

Year Projects Island Mainland
2011 137 66% 34%
2012 88 64% 36%
2013 80 56% 44%
2014 (as of August) 76 42% 58%

Of course, please be reminded that the potential uptrend in project announcement may not necessary translate into more transactions. I personally think that the demand (either for own stay or investment) for properties in Penang has not changed a lot while the property curbing measures by BNM and stricter loan approvals has contributed to the downtrend in transactions.


Q2. Between a new property launch in island versus one in mainland, which normally gets more attention. Why do you think that is the case?

Obviously, property launches in the Island gets more attention. There’s always a significant spike in the website traffic whenever I publish a new project in the island, particularly for projects in Tanjong Tokong, Bayan Baru, Relau and Sungai Ara area (most popular are those selling below RM600k). The demand for these areas mainly come from the buyers in the electrical and electronics industry. There are people buying for own stay, backup (for various reasons), and also for investment. More than half of the people I know has more than one property in Penang.

However, the gated and guarded housing schemes (especially those with facilities and easy access to Penang bridge) in the mainland are gaining traction since last year. Many are buying for upgrades and some are from Island.

Today, a 2-storey terrace house in mainland is selling at around 600k and achieves more than 80% take-up rate within a few months after launch. I was also told that a gated & guarded 3-storey semi-detached nearby Jalan Song Ban Kheng in Bukit Mertajam was recently transacted near to 1.2 Million in the secondary market.


Q3. Most of the time, what is the type of property which gains the most attention? number of views or comments etc.

In Penang Island, a condominium in a desirable locations which is selling around 600k or less will gain the most attention. The desirable locations includes Tanjong Tokong, Bayan Baru, Sungai Ara & Relau.  For the mainland, there are a lot focus on gated and guarded housing scheme. Properties with prices below 600K seems to be a sweet spot. This is especially when coupled with easy access to the Penang bridge, such as Jalan Song Ban Kheng, Jalan Baru and Seberang Jaya.


Q4. Personally, do you agree that properties in Penang are getting more unaffordable or do you still see lots of values both in new launches and secondary properties?

To be more accurate, I would agree that newly launched properties in a desirable location are getting more unaffordable.

Affordability issue is very subjective. If you start your house search by fixing a location and the new project you wish to buy, that is when the question of affordability comes in. This is worsened with all the new launching by developers and property fairs. Those events would actually further emphasize how nice the new project is and how expensive it is.

However if you start by setting a budget, then only start looking around to see where is the best location based on your affordability, you would be surprised that there are actually a lot of reasonably priced decent houses in secondary market. In fact some of them are in matured and nice location with good accessibility.

To bring the awareness level up, for Penangites, I would like to suggest that the state government or Rehda can organize some kind of affordable housing fair that focuses only on affordable housing projects together with a large collection of affordable houses from the secondary market. Of course, the property fair is not about having a long list of affordable houses from the secondary market. Instead, it should offer an AFFORDABLE LIVING SOLUTION – bringing awareness to the people of decent affordable homes in the secondary market, where you can easily find schools, markets with good accessibility. In Penang, that’s not too hard, really.


by Ken Lim
(Founder and Principal Reviewer,


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