Thursday, 11 September 2014

Are you middle class?

Was just surfing around, actually doing some research for work on some socio-economic matters when I stumbled across this interesting definition of what it means to be middle class - apart from white collar occupations and education levels, one quantitative way of defining one's inclusion of the middle class is this:

After deducting your essential expenses such as food and shelter - if you have more than a third (33%) left over for discretionary purchases; then you can call yourself middle class.

Hmm... of course, one can argue what is essential, like should transport be part of that (I vote yes, because you need to get to work otherwise no job, no money) and what part of that transport is essential and what is luxury (i.e. your choice of vehicle)..

Very subjective, huh? Even if it does say 33% clearly...

Do I have 33% discretionary income left over? Ermm.. didn't really count it up.. but I THINK I'm a little bit under probably because loan commitments are a bit high at the moment but the cars are due to be paid off in less than a year, so guess we'll be back in the middle class then!

Right now, I think I'm part of the genteel poor.... hehe

Monday, 1 September 2014

Seasons Garden, Wangsa Maju - part 2

I had some friends over for lunch and one of them said he was interested to check out the Seasons Garden showroom later. So we toddled off to have a look around 4pm today.

[Unfortunately, I didn't take a brochure because I was a bit dazed from cooking all morning and having a rather strong cocktail for lunch! hee hee]

Anyway, the showroom has 3 layouts on show - as usual, loads of floor to ceiling mirrors to trick the eye into thinking it's a lot bigger. Not to mention, good looking finishes that would probably set you back 20% of the purchase price! i.e. yours ain't gonna look that good.

Salient observations:
Pro:
 - high ceilings
 - 3+1 rooms for the 850 sf and 900 sf units, the plus-one is a little study nook, which is ok
 - pretty decent, functional layout
 - has an interesting central garden feature: some greenery is always nice
 - KLCC view for those who want it and unlikely to be blocked

Con:
 - small rooms (could be a pro, you don't need much furniture, just the basics will do)
 - super dense: 1,500 units in all, OMG think of the congestion!
 - only 1 car park, extra one is RM25,000
 - leasehold but in this day and age, and it is within DBKL; who cares right? (well, I still do..)

From what I saw on the board, about 55% sold.
Prices are reasonable as mentioned in my earlier post.

Snob factor: ok, I have to admit, the crowd of interested buyers there were a bit more on the lower middle class or very young (some 20-somethings there); I saw some big families checking out the place and I'm like, can fit or not? Aiyo... 900 square feet for a growing family?

But then again, it would be a much more conducive environment with the enclosed facilities, security et al, if they are currently staying in flats or something... what? I'm just sayin'..

[#sorrynotsorry it's my blog after all]

So, buy or don't buy?

BUY - if you are first time buyer, young exec type looking for a bachelor pad; the value will appreciate but not by much, honestly. Because the area is pretty much working-class, so you know...

Also, BUY if you are a family looking to upgrade a bit for security and facilities for the kids; I'm not being condescending here but if you're living in a pangsapuri or in a run down area now and you can afford this place, then GRAB IT.

DON'T BUY for quick flip - this place looks like it's going to be a family, own stay kind of place.

50-50 on buying for rental - this place is not within walking distance to the LRT, although only a very short bus ride. If there is a moderate number of investors here, given the high density, it is likely to drive down the rental you can charge - hence, the returns may not be worth it for the hassle. But that is your own decision. Personally, I wouldn't. But it is feasible if you can afford to dump in a lot of equity.

Overall, from the showroom - I would say that the developer is positioning it correctly for the area that it is in. The price is bearable for the layout and whatnot.

It is not to my preference but I think it makes a decent starter home or upgrade home for those living around the area and would like a nicer environment.


Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Can new malls 'regenerate' an old area?

Browsing through the PR write-up for Sunway Velocity, one of the points brought up was that the surrounding area of Jln Pudu and Jln Peel (Peel Road - I have fond memories as my mum used to teach at the Peel Road Convent and I used to hang out there, playing on the grounds while she finished up marking books before we went home) was a little 'run down' as it were and the developer said that the project would revitalise the whole area.

So that got me thinking - is that true?

First equivalent that comes to mind is the Kenanga Mall - sad to say, the surrounding area has not gentrified in any way or form. However, it must be said that the mall itself acts more like a wholesaler's mall - so the traffic there is made up of retailers going there to buy stock. It's purely business, so they are not going to hang around and spend on other stuff in the area.

Next, Ampang Point - the shop lots around the complex were built first, and the area was dead for a long time until the mall was completed. Slowly, traffic started to build up and now the place is a parking nightmare! LOL which is a good thing, of course.

Berjaya Times Square - the shops immediately behind did seem to spruce up a little bit.

Viva Home - once the old UE3 was refurbished and rebranded, the mall itself began to do rather decently. It is still fairly quiet but with the cinema and eateries, there is sufficient foot traffic coming in from across the road. However, I don't see the shops immediately behind it benefiting in any way. Still pretty grotty and sleazy, unfortunately.

Interestingly, in Melawati - the old shops near the upcoming office building are being gentrified. There is even an Espresso Lab outlet now and gradually, the older businesses are making way for hip bakeries and cafes. However, you DON'T see that happening to the shops next to the upcoming Melawati Mall.

The pattern emerges - the size of the mall itself and its tenant mix will determine if the surrounding areas will benefit.

A small-ish mall like Ampang Point complements the surround area, thus everybody benefits. Similar examples: the Atria in Damansara Jaya, Cheras Leisure Mall in Tmn Segar. They do not "overpower" the area but acts as an anchor and magnet without overshadowing their neighbours.

A larger mall like Viva doesn't benefit the surroundings at all because the foot traffic won't bother to step out of the building to check out the other shops! Berjaya did help a little but the area behind it was fairly popular with the local residents long before the mall came up anyway.

Office buildings obviously aid the surrounding shops - like Damansara Uptown and what we're seeing now in Melawati.

So back to the original question, will Sunway Velocity help revitalise the surrounding area? My guess is NO.

Because it is going to be huge in its own right and pretty much self-contained. The residents and visitors would not have any reason to walk out and cross the road to patronise any shops outside the mall. The regulars will continue to go to the old shops and eating places (can't really call them restaurants but they are indeed delicious!) but don't expect new influx of customers.

Hence, that was just a PR fluff piece to make buyers feel good But It Ain't Gonna Happen.