City&Country: Cover Story-- Condos ready for moving in

Bandar Utama in Petaling Jaya is one of the Klang Valley’s property hot spots that is known for overnight queues for its terraced homes. Its developer Bandar Utama Development Bhd has also earned a reputation for constructing homes on the build-then-sell concept in recent years.

altThus, the market was keenly watching the response to its latest three-tower condominium project — 9 Bukit Utama — which was based on the same concept and unveiled two weeks ago. As it turns out, some 70% of the first fully completed tower, called Aria, has been sold. Selling prices start from RM1.164 million or RM512 psf. 

This comes on the heels of the runaway success of two recent condominium launches in the vicinity — The Westside One in Desa ParkCity and Surian Residences in Mutiara Damansara.

Some 90% of The Westside One non-bumiputera condos were sold on the day of launch in June at an average price of RM600 psf.

At Surian Residences, all the non-bumiputera units were snapped up on the day they were put on the market in July. Only 70 bumiputera units remained unsold. Selling prices were RM507,000 to RM1.3 million or between RM550 and RM650 psf.  

Interestingly, both The Westside One and Surian Residences are being sold off the plan.

altBandar Utama Development director Datuk Teo Chiang Hong says he is happy with the response to 9 Bukit Utama.  When asked about the competition in the market, he says he does not compare Bandar Utama Development’s products with those of other developers.

9 Bukit Utama is the second condominium project in Bandar Utama after 1 Bukit Utama which was launched in 2002 and completed and occupied in 2005. 1 Bukit Utama has five blocks that offer 586 units with built-ups of between 1,800 and 2,000 sq ft. At launch, selling prices started at RM370,000 or RM205 psf. On the secondary market today, units with a built-up of 1,981 sq ft are going for RM820,000 to RM960,000.

The 7.5 acres on which 9 Bukit Utama sits is part of a 24-acre freehold tract that also hosts The [email protected] Utama and a section of a 9-hole golf course.

9 Bukit Utama comprises three towers offering a total of 911 units. The 41-storey Aria features 305 units, the standard size of which ranges from 2,286 to 4,719 sq ft. The penthouses measure 7,547 sq ft and incorporate an infinity pool each. The standard units come with 4+1 rooms.

altThere are eight units per floor and each floor is serviced by four lifts. The larger size of the units is based on customer needs, says Teo. “9 Bukit Utama is for the family market. From our customer feedback, we discovered that families like sizes of 2,000 to 3,000 sq ft,” he explains.

9 Bukit Utama, which has a gross development value (GDV) of RM1 billion, is the latest high-rise development launched in the area. While landed homes are all the rage at the present time, condominiums in the Bandar Utama, Mutiara Damansara and Desa ParkCity addresses seem to be just as popular.

In Mutiara Damansara, Boustead Properties launched Surian Residences on July 3. The RM300 million freehold project sits on eight acres and offers 311 units in two towers — one 25-storeys high and the other 23 storeys. Unit sizes range from 850 to 2,443 sq ft.

Earlier on June 5, Perdana Parkcity Sdn Bhd launched The Westside One condominium in Desa ParkCity, which is not far from Mutiara Damansara. The 40-storey building has 338 units of 969 to 2,066 sq ft and the price at the time was RM600 psf.

The positive take-up rate of 9 Bukit Utama does not surprise Gerard Kho, vice-president of Reapfield Properties Sdn Bhd, because property values in Bandar Utama have been on the rise.

He says as land for terraced houses is scarce, and Bandar Utama Development is looking to create terraces in the sky by providing larger condos. “These units are ideal for families who don’t want to be on the ground,” he says. “Or for people who want a change in lifestyle and security yet remain in the same area.”

Says See Kok Loong of Metrohomes, “The condo projects in Bandar Utama are targeted at families due to their larger unit sizes and functional and practical designs compared to those in Desa ParkCity and of the likes of Surian Residences. There is demand for such high-rise products as they are close to amenities and conveniences.”

Bandar Utama Development has another seven undeveloped parcels of land set aside for condominiums in Bandar Utama.

Reapfield’s Kho believes that the condo developments in Bandar Utama, Desa ParkCity and Mutiara Damansara will complement each other as each caters for different market needs.

“In Desa ParkCity, there are more investors due to the appreciation of values in the area of late and its large expat population who like its low density and easy accessibility,” Kho says. “Surian Residences appeals to a mix of investors and homebuyers. Meanwhile, 9 Bukit Utama condos are being bought for own occupation rather than as an investment.”

The second and third towers of 9 Bukit Utama will also feature large units. Beva will be ready in the next seven to eight months while Ceta will be ready six months after. Teo says the standard units will be 2,522 sq ft in Beva and 2,668 sq ft in Ceta. The indicative pricing is not immediately available.

Meanwhile, besides its build-then-sell concept, 9 Bukti Utama uses the Lafarge Toughwall System — a drywall product — as partitions between rooms rather than the conventional bricks and mortar. Bandar Utama Development is said to be the first developer to use this type of product in a residential project. “It is structurally as good as a brick wall,” Teo says.

The drywall partitions eliminate the problem of “wavy” walls due to poor workmanship, he adds.

This article appeared in City & Country, the property pullout of The Edge Malaysia, Issue 828, Oct 18-24, 2010

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