Quitting Malaysia Real Estate

Site Updates 25 March 2014 |
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Alright, I’ll be blunt here. Business has not been good for me, and I am thinking of taking a breather from Malaysia property. Being an agent is not that fun especially when you can only close one deal in ten days. The path to real estate riches is not that straightforward indeed…

I have been focusing on upmarket real estate at Kajang, Segambut Dalam and Dengkil, but things are rather slow lately. The government’s curbs have really cooled down the market – with Real Property Gains Tax (RPGT) now standing at 30% it’s getting really bad. Even the rental market has gone to the dogs.

At the same time, property portals are upping their prices, and I figure out that the best way to make money is to start one. So meanwhile, I shall be researching these property portals for ideas:-

Someone told me to go join the Property Portal Watch seminar in Singapore but the prices are pretty steep. I am hoping to get a discounted ticket from Simon Baker (he’s a friend’s friend). Let’s see how that turns out.

PS: No, not that actor.

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Loan Tenures? Boring Stuff… But Important!

Mortgage Loan,Property Tips 27 September 2013 |
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Alright, I’m back after a refreshing trip to Bali (see some rather funky pictures here) – that’s the advantage of being just two hours away by flight from here in Kuala Lumpur. :)

In my previous blog post, I already discussed the pitfalls about getting a mortgage in Malaysia (see  this. ) Now we are going to discuss how long should a mortgage loan be? A mortgage loan is perhaps the biggest and the longest loan you’d ever take in your life – no joke! The amount could likely go up to the million mark, and you could easily be burdened by it for at least 15 years and at most 30 years.

In a nutshell, it could practically see your family grow before you finally settle the loan and be off with it forever. You might actually pay it off just in time to get another one for your retirement home.

That is why it is very important to weigh in on the different affecting factors before signing up for a mortgage loan. After all, it is something that will burden you for a very, very long time for a dream house like one from La Grande Kiara which I sold to my friend Gary Tim just last month (I’m quite chuffed about it!) so it should at least be something that you’d be comfortable carrying around.

SIDENOTE: I also have an apartment in Zen Residence in Puchong and Shang Villa in Kelana Jaya selling for very competitive rates! Email me to find out more!

Apart from the price and interest rates of the loan, one of the biggest and prime factors of the mortgage in Malaysia is the term or length of time you’d have carry this loan. Much of the decision is shared between you and your Malaysian mortgage lender (Maybank?), decided on many factors of course.

For the part that you can control, here are the factors that you have to consider before deciding on how long you choose to endure your financial obligation with the mortgage lender:

Price of the home. The more expensive the home, the more likely it is to take longer. It does not take a genius to know that you have to purchase something that you can afford – especially in the long run.
Interest rates. You can choose between the fixed and the variable interest rate. This is the amount of interest that you would have to pay for as long as you’re paying for your mortgage so you have to be comfortable with the interest rates setup because, like I said earlier, that would go on for as long as you are paying.
Monthly mortgage fees. Like the interest rates, this is something that would remain for as long as your loan has not yet been paid in full. It should be something that you would be comfortable and capable of paying today and in the foreseeable future. A lot of other external factors may affect this amount but it would remain within the same bracket (except maybe in extreme changes in the financial situation, i.e. inflation and recession).
Your projected capacity to pay. How old you are, how well your business is going in the Malaysian market, and however way you can see yourself earning money over the coming years should factor in when deciding for the length of your loan. If you take your loan too long, you may become too old to work and earn for your mortgage.
Current financial capacity and the amount of down payment. If the mortgage lender sees that you are capable of making some huge amount of money over as DP, they may allow you a more comfortable term and rate for your loan.

Also, before making a decision, make it a point to ask your mortgage lender your options as far as ending your loan contract prior to term maturity is concerned. Call my broker friend if you need help – Joshua Chan, 016-6917787. Just tell him that I referred you to him. :)

Further reading: iMoney has got a good article on mortgage tenures here - worth a read!

For inquiries, message me at info@property4buyers.com. Now I am back admiring my Barong mask I bought from Bali!

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My Best Advice To Renters Out There!

Property Tips 3 July 2013 |
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Went to watch a jazz band in Hakka Republic (my favourite fine dining haunt in KL!) –

It was a night out with my close expat buddies here in KL namely Stephanie, Joshua and Terry. We had a couple of drinks, and I had my favourite spaghetti carbonara – just second place behind Deliciously Chocolate’s lemon macarons! :)

During our little get-together Stephanie has asked me about the feasibility of short-term room lets like AirBnB – and whether that option is feasible for expats like her. You see, she rents this huge place in Seni Mont Kiara (2,500 sq ft) and since she is alone with her golden retriever, she felt if she could use the spare space at home to make some extra cash on the side. The following is that I told her.

Indeed, a lot of today’s homeowners have found it convenient to rent out spare rooms in their home. After all, what’s not to love about extra income every month that saves you a lot on the mortgage? However, the balance of the world says it will come with its own problems and equally weighted responsibilities.

I told Steph, “A quick heads up on what you should expect when you put out your home for rent…”

Get Ready For Monster-Sized Headaches!

I guess that in Malaysia (not much so in the UK) the most common, and perhaps the most predominant, problem awaiting a prospective landlord when it comes to renting out his house is centered on the tenant. Since homes are not set up to be shared between different people, privacy and sharing of common household items are just among the most common things that landlords worry about. You share practically the same facilities like the living room, the kitchen, and the bathrooms and toilets (unless you invest on a separate facility for yourself).

John Pratchett's family home

Our spacious family home in Cambridgeshire, UK. We rented out rooms as bed and breakfast to make ends meet, once upon a time…

Another common problem involves the responsibilities on maintenance and security. Everyone who has gone on to experience being a tenant at some point in their lives know that these are very critical areas in rental places are the responsibilities of the landlord. And as a newbie landlord, you are hardly wired to pay for gas, lights, water and internet made for several other people. And so is having to implement rules on curfew, visitors, parties, etc.

And also, more commonly, because you are not formally renting out a condominium unit–say, a unit at the glamorous Sri Kia Peng at KLCC–  some tenants might not take you and your place so seriously when it comes to rent payment. Some homeowners have had their own fair share of problems with getting their tenants to pay on time. Other minor problems involve taxation, unless you do it underground – which raises the risks on security.

In cases like these, the only real security of landlord is to get everything in writing in the form of contracts will save you from a lot of hassle and yes, money. Prospective landlords should also practice prudence in screening the prospective tenants, as well as create and implement fair rules that cover all concerned.

Tips for Stephanie!

So this is what I told Steph if she insisted on renting her room out –

  • Maintain your boundaries. There’s a whole world of difference between being friendly and being friends with your tenant/s. The latter is what you should avoid to be. It will make it difficult to get them to follow your house rules as well as getting the rent promptly.
  • Screen your tenants well. Take your time to interview prospective tenants. Don’t just go for the money! You can’t risk housing a convicted felon in your property! Also, it would be very ideal if you require some police documents and clearances that will prove they are free from run-ins with the law.
  • Prefer professionals. The last thing you want is a tenant who cannot pay up rent just because s/he is jobless. Go for someone with a stable source of income so your monthly payments are most likely assured.
  • Rent it out competitively. Get a fair price for your rooms. Advertise well – go to sites like iProperty, Property Guru, GoodPlace.my, Prop Wall, The Star Property. Pay for premium listings! Get a kick-butt agent to help you (hint hint).

More on this on the next Property4Buyers post, so don’t forget to check our site regularly. :)

ADDENDUM: Steph had me to help her eventually, and she eventually rented out her master bedroom at Seni Mont Kiara for RM2,500 a month on a two year lease. Hurray!

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Notes On Malaysia Mortgages

Mortgage Loan 13 May 2013 |
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NOTE: These are the notes from my recent talk (given together with Clark Lee) at the Malaysia Property Investment Seminar (MPIS) sponsored by Kaiser Associates and Excel Training Consultants held recently in Hotel Armada here in the heart of Petaling Jaya. If you need the slides of my presentation then please drop me an email at jpratchett@property4buyers.com, thank you.

A mortgage loan is probably the biggest and longest debt you’d have to carry your entire life – especially when you are a Malaysian. :) For some Malaysians, making a mortgage is just a manner of getting a loan and moving to another house and another loan in a matter of few years time. To others, the mortgage loan is final and they settle in the house that they have learned to love and the community they decide to live in.

In Malaysia, it is highly important that you get the right mortgage whether you are in it for the long haul or on a transition period. This is one thing to consider to avoid some potential property investment pitfalls. After all, this loan will only stick with your name if you have a bad record so you had better be making it a clean deal through and through. AND you would have to achieve that at ideally the least expense possible or at the most convenient way possible for you financially.

So we’ve gathered a list of things you should and should not do when you’re applying for a mortgage.


  • Consult a mortgage expert. They may be a mortgage lawyer or a mortgage consultant. They are people who are in the know of the ins and outs of the trade and are likely to give you unbiased advice and opinion on all your queries that concern getting a mortgage loan. Going to your mortgage lender/ broker/ real estate agent may not be the right thing to do since they are more likely to give you advice that will benefit them. They can absolutely help you make the right choice on the type of mortgage to get.
  • Go to different mortgage lenders. Shop around for the best mortgage lender in the area. Consult their representatives to know what’s in their offer for you and compare. You are more likely to make a better choice if you know what you’re getting and missing from the other lenders.
  • Read, read, read. Ask if there’s something you don’t understand. For example, if you are after the famed MK10 condo, read this condo review at PropertyReviews.my. Read the business news (I like nst.com.my). Read your community outpost – especially when you are at places like Mont Kiara, Bangsar and Sentul. Your mortgage lender will give you a good view of how your mortgage contract is going to look like. Make sure you understand every bit of it and ask about whatever you don’t understand. Do not let your ignorance be used against you. Go for trusted banks like Maybank, CIMB and Bank Simpanan Nasional.


  • Overestimate your capacity. This is where a lot of homeowners fail. Always make sure you know how much you are capable of – for the long term. Even when the initial pre-approved loan says you can, only you can actually tell if you can or cannot pay for it.
  • Forget to save up. You’ll never know when you’ll be in a bad financial situation and it is always advisable to have some sort of savings to turn to for your mortgage and other bills should you find yourself in this kind of situation. This is one mistake most first-time investors make, so don’t fall for it.
  • Disregard your other credits. Your personal credits and loans should still be taken into consideration. They will not only affect your credit score and history but will greatly affect your overall capacity to pay for your mortgage loan. Don’t let your credit card shopping put you at risk of foreclosure!

Malaysia property is going through tough times, but don’t be disheartened. I am still bullish about places like Sentul, KLCC and Bangsar! If you need help securing a loan at a good location, just email me.


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Vernon’s Contribution: Reducing Your Bills

Property Tips 11 May 2013 |
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Today we have an article contribution from Vernon Lai, an expert in finding cost savings for businesses. If you’d like to contact Vernon for opportunities to look at your business to identify quick wins for reduction in expenses, call him at 012-4637882. We do not receive any payment from Vernon for the publishing of this article here in Property4Buyers.com. I like to maintain my editorial independence. :)

Phone. Electricity. Water. Gas. Heating. Internet. With all these utilities that come with bills every month to come on top of my monthly mortgage fees :-O In a tight economy such as this, it is hard not to make some cost cutting measures. But how do you make cuts without hurting your comforts at home and that of your family’s?

The rising number of condominiums and real estate property in the Kuala Lumpur district has a lot of homeowners wondering how to save on bills as much as they can. Times are hard, and we need all the help we can get! Here are some very helpful tips.

Vivaldi's Violin

Picture courtesy of Sunway Vivaldi

- Check your appliances and electronics for energy efficiency and for damages. Older models of television, refrigerators, dishwashers and even fluorescent lights are more energy consuming than newer models. To save up on electric bills, make sure they are working in great condition or invest in more energy-efficient models.

- Check your air ducts. Air ducts decide how much of your heating and air conditioning goes around your unit. To enjoy the most out of your heating and air conditioning at the least costs on energy possible, insulate your ducts. Some units, like Lumina Kiara condo, are lucky enough to have a sustainable air-conditioning solution.

- Maintain your water systems. Leaking pipes and faucets as well as busted toilets will keep your water bills high. Stop paying for water that you never get to use and that’s a total waste. If done right, you could cut about a quarter to almost half of your current water bills.

- Teach your kids discipline. All your cost-cutting efforts will be useless if everyone isn’t in on the responsibility. Get everyone involved – close the faucets properly, do not waste water, turn off the lights when not in use, do not leave the laptops and computers on standby but shut it off when not in use, unplug electronics when not in use, etc. Discipline is and has always been the first and most effective step in reducing costs at home.

  • Like what you’ve read? Property4buyers would like to hear from you! Email us at contact@property4buyers.com for suggestions and questions!

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Tapping Into The “Kiasu” Psyche!

Property Tips 12 April 2013 |
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So I’ve been in Malaysia making a living selling properties for about six months now, and so this is what I realize. Buying a home is one thing. Selling your home to Malaysians is another! Apart from having to let go of all your emotional attachments on the house, you would have to worry about having to prep up the papers, the technical stuff, and most of all, how to make it look more attractive to your prospect buyers. Malaysians are rather different, and you will need to tap their emotional hot buttons to make that sale. :)

Cambridge John Pratchett

Me and my fellow property agents in Cambridgeshire before I move out to Malaysia. Miss them every single day!

Houses along Jalan Damai in Kuala Lumpur

Selling a house to a Malaysian can be tough if you do not speak the local lingo!

How you present your home to buyers is equally as important as the price you put on your home. So here are simple and doable suggestions on how to prep up your home before it meets its new owner.

  • Get a good broker. Your real estate broker is the primary person that your prospect buyers would face every single day. How this person ‘sweet talks’ the buyer about your house will do most of the work. Get one with a good sales reputation (but remember that the more popular and more attractive their sales track is, the bigger the commission they would likely get). Unfortunately, Malaysian real estate agents can be scummy.
  • Clean, clean, clean. Keep the house clean every single day. Clean every nook and cranny of the house whether or not you’re expecting a visit from your prospective buyer. A clean house is always better than a good looking house. Clean it like the house is getting sold that day.
  • Repair what needs repairing. This is very crucial when selling a house. Buyers will look into the ‘readiness’ of the house. Busted ceilings, chipped painting, or exposed wiring will always be a turn off. Existing damages will mean they will have to pay for its repairs and is a huge turn off in any way.
  • Decorate. Get your copies of Martha Stewart Living, Good Housekeeping and the Malaysia Housewife magazines ready for they will come in handy for when you are dressing up the house. Put accents, bring out your best china, put up your grandest drapes and other home decor. Give your home a makeover like you’ve never done before. (But don’t overdo it; it might end up looking like the Moulin Rouge ripoff stage on Jalan Bukit Bintang).
  • Go online. Everyone is online. Most first time Malaysia real estate buyers look to Google for ideas on where to look for houses up on sale and majority of the bigger real estate brokers have taken to the internet for easier marketing. For example, if you are selling KLCC condominiums then research online so you’ll know what your buyers want– click here to know the latest trends about real estate in KLCC. Look out for specialist area guides like the aforementioned website. This will make it easier for you to make the necessary changes in order for your property to become more attractive to potential buyers. So, give your home that online-ready look. The secret to looking good online? A combination of great pictures and even better description. Look at sites like goodplace.my for inspiration.
  • Be a great host. Give your broker a helping hand. No one wants to make business with a grumpy homeowner. Be ready with snacks and drinks. Don’t go overboard with a whole luncheon; some take-away stuff will do. Be friendly. Tell your prospective buyers good things about the house; after all – you know your house more than any expert broker does.

Selling your house is but a bittersweet affair, every time. But give your house some good lovin’ by making sure it gets sold to people who will love it and take care of it the way you did. By following these simple steps, I’m sure that the future owner of your property would avoid property investment pitfalls–thanks to you. Good luck!

PS: I am looking to network with fellow agents (short of registering with MIEA). Please get in touch if you’re a negotiator and you’d like to exchange notes!

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Warning… It’s A Trap!

Property Tips,Real Estate 10 April 2013 |
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I’m not Malaysian, but I invest heavily in Malaysia real estate because I think that this country has got a bright future – at least as far as the property market is concerned. Let me tell you why.

This country is a beacon for political stability. The general election (the 13th) is coming, and is expected to be closely fought between the incumbent Barisan Nasional and the challenger, Pakatan Rakyat. Still, there are no jitters in the stock market, and prices of property remained fairly constant even when the political situation remains in a state of flux.

There are a couple of hot spots that has superior returns on property investment. I like the Mont Kiara area because the prices are good – especially developments like Haven Ipoh, Park Seven KLCC, and Nada Alam. I have also invested in a couple of units at Mont Kiara Banyan.

On the other hand, I am bearish about Petaling Jaya. This township is aging, and prices of properties in the town centre have been rather stagnant. There are some developments such as PJ8 by IJM Land which is pretty successful, but in general the property market in Petaling Jaya is rather dead. That’s just my opinion, of course. :)

It’s A Trap!

Therefore, it’s a pitfall to avoid when it comes to investing in real estate in Malaysia. You have got to be careful to check if the particular area is appreciating in value. I have got friends who invested in shop lots in Pusat Bandar Puchong and they were having problems finding tenants for their shops. You have got to keep your ear to the ground as far as identifying opportunities for property investments are concerned.

To do this, it is best to engage a local realtor who is well versed in choosing properties – whether if you are in for the long term (i.e. maximizing capital gains) or if you are primarily interested in property flipping. Both require a different set of skills, and if you make mistakes then you might lose money.

In this day and age, the Internet is a wealth of information and knowledge, and as they say, knowledge is power. This is true for real estate investments. Search your local (Malaysian) property portals (sites like Property Guru come to mind) and you will be able to get a feel of what’s out there in property investments. Experts say that 2013 will be a rather quiet year for Malaysia property (you can read more about The Star’s report on this here.) – and so there will be bargains to be had. You just need to look for them.

Also, go to seminars and learn as much as you can from Malaysia real estate gurus. They are there to help you, not to make money. ;)

Finally, always go for reputable developers. I personally like Mah Sing because I really like the people who runs the company. Tan & Tan is also good. In short, look for real estate developers with a good track record in developing and launching properties in Malaysia.

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KLCC Property Investments For The Beginner – What I Have Learned

Uncategorized 9 April 2013 |
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Today’s guest post is from John Lee, one of my clients who have just started out in property investment. He has got an interesting story to share with you, in the most colourful way possible:

Hello, John here. I am a beginner at real estate investment, having started investing only a year ago after attending the famous Malaysia Property Investment Seminar back in May 2012. It has been an interesting journey for me so far, and I have been asked to share my experiences here with the readers of this blog. So here I am.

One of my favorite picks when it comes to choosing an area to invest in is the Kuala Lumpur City Centre (or better known as the KLCC enclave). Originally I planned on hunting for property bargains in Kuala Lumpur but I figured I can do better than that. It is anchored by the famous Petronas Twin Towers, which are once the tallest buildings in the world. It is definitely prime real estate, and definitely not for the faint hearted. I am a risk taker, but you may not, so do not take my advice for what it’s worth…

Here’s a brief review of the developments in the KLCC area which I especially like.

Dua Residency – this is on Jalan Tun Razak, and is the host of the famous Delicious cafe. I am a fan of Delicious ever since it was set up by Benjamin Yong (who then sold it to the E&O group), and I really wanted to live near a Delicious cafe! Dua Residency comprises of two blocks of towers, tastefully designed and artfully decorated.

Troika – a famous landmark in the KLCC area, designed by the famous Foster + Partners architecturial firm. There are some rather affordable units here, but the penthouses cost well over 10 million. Again, there’s a nice cafe downstairs – the famous Acme Coffee Bar which serves rather nice jackfruit cake with premium coffee. I came here with Jessica my girlfriend last weekend and we bumped into a few local celebrities! Awesome place to throw birthday parties, too.

The Binjai On The Park – possibly one of the most expensive condominiums in the KLCC area, nay Malaysia. Very nicely decorated, and manned by very nicely mannered security guards. I have been thinking of getting a unit here for the longest time. Wait until I sell off all my other properties in Kajang, Segambut and Sentul to afford just ONE unit here…

OneKL – famous for having a swimming pool for each unit. Perfect stomping ground for the playboy(I really had to underline that one).

Marc Residences – again, the host of a Delicious cafe. It’s also near the clubbing area of Jalan Sultan Ismail, so it’s strategic if you’re the clubbing kind. If you’re a 90 year old grandparent then, well, what the hell are you doing in KLCC?

Finally, you may be wondering where I got the money to invest in real estate properties in a prime area such as KLCC. Well, if you happen to read magazines like the Tatler, you’ll find people like me there. We inherited all our monies from our parents. I won’t even have to use property portals to sell all my property in the future like Pratchett said in his previous article, haha! You really think that we are all self-made men? Are you kidding me? Even Donald Trump had a rich father. Bow, peasants!!

Indeed, we shall bow, Lee. Indeed, we shall.

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Real Estate Bargains in Kuala Lumpur – Where to Find Them?

Property Tips,Real Estate 12 March 2013 |
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[dc]H[/dc]ello, John here again. Many of my clients ask about investing in properties in the Kuala Lumpur area, and so this is my standard answer to them. In Kuala Lumpur, it can be a bit hard to determine what a real estate bargain consists of. Experts generally agree that real estate bargains should bring together a good financial program, a good price and a good location. When it comes to properties in Kuala Lumpur (especially in the Kuala Lumpur City Center or KLCC), bargains are also only considered a bargain if they are sold at market price or lower. I will teach you how to spot these opportunities ;)

Defining a real estate bargain in Kuala Lumpur isn’t necessarily a science. However, there are still several criteria that a property has to meet in order to be considered a bargain, as follows:

  • The selling price of a bargain has to be lower compared to the selling prices of other properties within the area that are being sold at the same time.
  • Kuala Lumpur properties need to be well-situated, so be careful of properties that are badly situated. No matter how nice the property specifications or building layout may be, the property itself has to balance out with its location. Ideally, you should find a place that is near or in a good area and has good amenities and services at the same time. It would be a bonus for it to be near public transportation links, as well.
  • If required, the loan to value or the mortgage value has to be from 70% to 100% – a great rate for the property industry in Kuala Lumpur. However, it would be important to note that an apartment in the area with a 100% loan to value isn’t necessarily a good bargain.

There are also three things that you will have to keep in mind prior to looking for a real estate bargain:

  1. Before settling on a property, make sure you look at a ton of other properties first. Although some buyers may be content with visiting five properties or so at a time, most buyers in today’s day and age would prefer to look at fifty different properties before making a decision.
  2. Naturally, you have to be perfectly clear about what you are looking for in terms of Kuala Lumpur properties. Do you plan on living there permanently, for example? If so, then you have to be ready to deal with all of the expenses that comes with that kind of commitment. Conversely, if you are only buying it as a temporary residence, then you will have to decide whether you will be able to sustain its expenses whenever you aren’t there. You may be eyeing that posh unit at the St Mary Residences in KLCC but if you can’t afford it, settle with a unit down the road (Stonor Park or Marc Residences for example).
  3. Some buyers turn to Kuala Lumpur for buy-to-let investments. If you are doing the same, then you should look for a rental yield above 4.8% (call that the John Pratchett rule). In some cases, this yield may reach up to 8% in some areas. If you are looking for buy-to-resell investments, on the other hand, then you should look into a mid-term or long-term thing because it could take some time for the property price to go up.

Now, if you aren’t confident in real estate investments yet, you have to make sure you hire a legal adviser to help you out. Otherwise, you could find yourself in a messy situation and lose a lot of money in the end. If you need help, just contact me. You can also do research at a site like PropertyReviews.my – it’s really informative when it comes to property market data.

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Some Updates!

Site Updates 6 March 2013 |
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Hello, John Pratchett here. Quick note that I am traveling to some outskirts of Malaysia for the next month to check out some property investment opportunities, and if you are an existing client of mine then be aware that I might not be responsive to phone calls and emails. I will be going to the Penang property trade show as well as to some rural areas in Kedah to look at commercial land acquisition.

In my next blog post, I will share some data from the field, and also some exclusive data on asking and transacted prices for properties in Mont Kiara – particularly 1MontKiara (office lots), Mont Kiara Bayu and Solaris Dutamas. Be right back!

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