Saturday, 31 January 2015

Astoria Ampang

Let's be a little snarky for once - really, "Astoria" .. is the developer trying to 'tumpang glamour' from the Waldorf-Astoria of New York?

Did you know where the name Astoria comes from? It is from the old-money New York family, the Asters. Specifically, the erstwhile matriarch Mrs Aster was so incensed that the Waldorf hotel was built next to her mansion that she decided to move out and build her own hotel on the site called the Astoria.

The two hotels later joined up and became the now famous Waldorf-Astoria.

So what does this story have to do with Astoria Ampang?

Nothing really, except for the penchant of Malaysian developers to choose fancy names for their condos that have NO RELEVANCE whatsoever. :)

Anyway, I saw the ads and came across their show booth during the Renovation Expo at the KL Convention Centre that was held during the 3rd week of January.

Only had a cursory glance and a brief conversation with their sales people - the lady was nice but I felt that the older guy was a bit of an asshole, so I also no power to layan him.

He probably thought I was an asshole too! LOL

Anyway, it is the same developer group that is building Arte+ in the same area.

Basically, this little area of Ampang is getting super congested with fairly expensive condo units - at latest count, it is coming up to 5,000 units in all. I can't imagine how it is going to be like - they have to be very strict about not letting people park on the side of the road otherwise, it will be a nightmare.

Another thing I dislike it that the sales people are all touting that there is a "planned MRT station" in Ampang Point. Like, where got?? Don't bluff la wei...

I checked with my friend who is someone high up in the Rapid / Prasarana echelons. He told me so far no plans to have an MRT station there, considering that the Ampang LRT is not that far away.

So should you buy into Astoria? Well, if you want to take a gamble that this is the new Mont'Kiara of Ampang - then go ahead. Frankly the location is pretty good, albeit congested and will get worse with up to 10,000 new cars in the area.

Ampang Point and the Mamanda shops will certainly benefit as it is within walking distance - as will the Korean village of Ampang Utama.

Buy? Hmm... at 800 psf for a leasehold .. I would be hesitant.

But if you are working in town, would like to stay relatively close to work (via the AKLEH) and are used to the traffic conditions (a.k.a. the hell that is known as Jln Ampang - which in all fairness is getting some work done on it at the Jelatek cross-road), then it seems a good buy.

See, I'm not that mean....

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Picasso Residence, Jalan Jelatek

A new development open for registration just appeared on Jln Jelatek.

It looks interesting and the location is good but there are some risky aspects to consider.

Details like floor plans and pricing are not available although it is said to be around RM750 psf which is considered "low" in relation to M-Suites which is about 300m away and going for RM1,200+ psf - of course there are other factors in play with regard to M-Suites.

Anyway, the pros and cons of Picasso according to currently available information:


  1. Location - just off Jln Ampang, it is close to KLCC (about 3km). It has access to the Ampang Elevated Highway (the entrance to the highway is like only 30m from Picasso) and the DUKE. The Jelatek LRT station is a stones throw away. You can drive straight into the KLCC car park within 8 minutes if there is no traffic (and if you use the Smart Tag! LOL) from this property.
  2. Relative low density at 452 units - half the size of the recently launched condos around the area like Arte+ and M-City; low density = more exclusivity
  3. Some amenities within walking distance like Great Eastern Mall (I do like this mall, bijou.. small but has most of what you need - supermarket, restaurants, cafes, hardware, pharmacy) and Gleneagles Hospital - although I doubt you'd want to walk in this area, it is practically a highway, not very conducive to pedestrians.
  4. Price is also relatively low
  5. Design is supposed to be interesting and different but we'll see.
Cons - and they are not small cons:
  1. Location - this part of Jln Ampang and Jln Jelatek is a MAJOR jam area. Although the traffic police help with easing the flow, they do so only up to 7:30 (as far as I can tell) but the area continues to have heavy traffic up to 9pm. Yes, I kid you not. So access roads away from the condo is good but you only have ONE route to the entrance of this condo and Jln Ampang is almost always congested (except for maybe 3am on a Sunday hehehe)
  2. Developer - first time project, new company set up which is a subsidiary of Furniweb Industrial Products Bhd, itself not a property developer. The reason for doing so is that they have a new CEO and new majority shareholder in last year to diversify their business. So how this is going to pan out, I'm not sure. End financing, bridging financing, all of this has not be announced yet. So BUYER BEWARE - make sure the bridging loan provider is strong (be wary if it is a smaller bank like Affin or Alliance).
  3. Leasehold. 'nuff said.
So lets wait for the launch and see how the layout, materials and total package is like. Buying from a first time developer has some advantages - mainly they would want to do their best and give a good deal to make a name for themselves, so it may be good value vis-a-vis pricing and additional things thrown in. 

That being said, I have personally handled loan and recovery cases involving first time developers who have failed spectacularly; leaving the bank to pick up the pieces and handle the buyers/borrowers who have been left in a lurch. So always be very careful with the first timers - yes, everyone has to start somewhere and yes, humans make mistakes. 

So weigh your risk appetite and financial stamina against the risks and returns such a property can give you and decide wisely. 

This is one development that I would say: tread carefully. It is not a no-brainer like some other ones.

Serini and Seasons Gardens are pretty easy decisions for family home buyers.
Wangsa9 is not an easy one to decide and neither is Picasso.

I might change my tune later on, so lets see how it goes :)

Monday, 15 December 2014

Beach or Mountain? Retirement / Holiday home musings ...

I'm more of a mountain person actually - prefer the cool, damp environment.

So here are the choices ... window shopping more like ...

1. A small apartment in Fraser's Hill or maybe nearer Genting - the cost is fairly low, small, easy to look after and most importantly: nice cool weather away from the heat of KL
Cons - damp, mould, leasehold, can be creepy and too much yin energy at times.

2. A large piece of land near Port Dickson - cheap on a per square foot basis, land is better than an apartment, can build my architectural dream home (at extra cost!), possibly more valuable as time goes by because it is a bungalow lot after all.
Cons - hot, sunny, don't know how breezy it is. Land area will become too difficult to handle as I get older.

Ah well... it's not a problem, really.. as I said, just musing about it. Not in a big rush to buy something.

For practical purposes, the land seems like a better deal and the apartment is a nice-to-have thing because that is not going to give any return nor capital gain, but I can start using it immediately.