indepth

Returning the shine to The Pearl

Below 10 Years Multi-Own Strata Residential: Bronze: The Pearl

Standing at the junction of Jalan Stonor and Jalan Kia Peng in the heart of Kuala Lumpur stands an eye-catching 41-storey condominium with a clean and white façade that lives up to its name, The Pearl.

The Pearl is one of the first condominium developments along Jalan Stonor. It is a luxury freehold condominium with full-fledge facilities.

“Given its location in the Golden Triangle, most of the owners are investors. About 70% of our residents are tenants and most of them are expatriates,” says The Pearl Management Corporation (MC) chairman Ben Chong.

Sitting on a 1.8-acre site, the condominium is a stone’s throw from Jalan Bukit Bintang. It houses 179 units with built-up sizes ranging from 3,109 sq ft to 7,196 sq ft.

Besides the usual swimming pool, kids’ playground and gym, The Pearl also boasts other more uncommon facilities such as a massage room, a cinema room, a golf simulator, a nursery, a drivers’ room, maids’ room and a bicycle room. Such myriad facilities may be aimed at meeting the residents’ lifestyle needs but the question is, can they be maintained effectively and sustainably?

“Some of the facilities have already broken down before we took over three years ago, such as the cinema room and golf simulator room. With the support of the MC, together, we restored these facilities,” reveals Henry Butcher Malaysia (Mont Kiara) Sdn Bhd building manager Ashvinder Singh, who is also the property manager of The Pearl. 

Henry Butcher was the fifth company appointed as property manager at The Pearl and it seems like the MC has finally found a company that it is happy with and it is no surprise that it emerged a Bronze winner at EdgeProp Malaysia’s Best Managed Property Awards 2019 in the below 10 years multi-own strata residential category.

The property manager’s mission when it first came in three years ago was to increase the condominium’s occupancy and collection rates so that the MC can begin some upgrading works.

“We are proud to say that we have achieved the KPIs that were given to us including increasing the occupancy and collection rates. The management of The Pearl is on the right track now,” says Henry Butcher Malaysia (Mont Kiara) executive director Low Hon Keong. 

The Pearl’s occupancy rate was once as low as 40% and had a debtor aging ratio of up to four months. Today, the occupancy rate has improved to 72%, while the debtor aging ratio has dropped to below two months. And how was this achieved?  

Communication is the key

Low and Chong attribute it to good communication. “Some of our buyers are foreigners who do not actually stay here so there were some problems getting through to them. In many cases, the reason they did not pay (their maintenance fees) was because of miscommunication.

“For example, we could have sent their statements to outdated mailing addresses or their questions on the charges could have gone unanswered owing to poor communication,” Chong explains.

Low recalls there were a lot of phone calls and meetings when the team first took over. “We talked to the residents, we even made appointments to see some of them to explain the billings and charges. Once their doubts were cleared, they willingly paid what they owed.”

The tremendous improvement in the collection rate resulted in healthy finance for The Pearl MC so much so that it decided to reward owners who regularly pay their maintenance fees with two months fee rebate last year and this year.

“Our financial account is very healthy even after we have completed several upgrading and maintenance projects. The team has done a good job in controlling the budget. Therefore, we decided to give the two months rebate last year. We will be doing it again this year,” Chong says.

To boost occupancy rate, Henry Butcher held town hall meetings with real estate agencies and organised roadshows to introduce The Pearl and what it offers.

The MC and the management team also upgraded The Pearl’s website to make it more attractive to potential buyers and tenants.

“We had a simple website which was created by the developer but it was not fully utilised. The owners and residents often get the wrong information about what’s happening at The Pearl from buyers’ groups on social media, so we decided to expand the website use. Besides the basic information about The Pearl for public view, all residents have their own login accounts for announcements and to check their bills,” Chong shares.

Moving forward, the MC and property management team will focus on creating more value for owners by upgrading the “hardware” and “software” of The Pearl.

“Property management is not just about maintaining the building and surroundings but also about maintaining the software — the communication and engagement between the management team, the MC and the residents.

“We are lucky to have an open minded MC who are open to discussions and advice,” says Chong.

The highlights of the Awards:

Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin on good property management:

Lessons in maintenance culture

Landscaped with love

For an overview of the winners at the Awards: Tan Sri Jeffrey Cheah named Malaysia’s Exemplary Leader of Sustainable Development 2019

For more information about the Awards night and the winners, click here.

This story first appeared in the EdgeProp.my pullout on April 26, 2019. You can access back issues here.

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