City&Country: Cover Story-- Moving with the times

Like most young couples, Betty and her husband were looking for an affordable landed property as their first home in 2008. “It took us a few months to finally decide on one and I must say the developer’s 5/95 package was most attractive,” she tells City & Country.

Their pick is a 2-storey terraced unit in S P Setia Bhd’s Bandar Setia Alam in Shah Alam. Other reasons for their choice were the developer’s reputation and the township’s highway connectivity.

altThe 2,500-acre freehold Bandar Setia Alam was launched in 2004, and has seen a significant jump in property prices since. Among the first launches were terraced houses (18ft by 65ft for RM170,000; 20ft by 70ft for RM220,000) and shopoffices (RM800,000).

On the secondary market today, the prices of the terraced homes have risen to RM280,000 (18ft by 65ft) and RM380,000 (20ft by 70ft) while the shopoffices are going for RM1.2 million, says Bandar Setia Alam Sdn Bhd’s general manager Tan Hon Lim.

altThere are 15 precincts in Setia Alam, of which Precints 6, 7 and 8 are still under construction.
Setia Alam is the largest township development to date for Bandar Setia Alam, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of S P Setia.

The site is part of 3,953 acres acquired in 2002 from the family controlling See Hoy Chan Group. The tract was formerly known as North Hummock Estate. About 605 of the 3,953 acres were then sold to the Selangor State Development Corporation (PKNS). What is now known as Setia Eco Park, a joint venture between

S P Setia, Great Eastern Life Assurance (M) Bhd and the Employees Provident Fund, was carved out of another 791 acres.

Setia Eco Park offers mostly high-end semi-detached homes and bungalows. It won the Fiabci (Federation of International Real Estate) Prix d’Excellence Award 2007 for Best Master Plan Development.

According to the developer, about 35% of Setia Eco Park (or slightly more than 1,000 homes) has been developed to date. It is noteworthy that some of the semidees (built-up: around 3,000 sq ft) were recently transacted at RM1.3 million, although they were launched at the end of 2006 at RM720,000. The buyers are mainly from Petaling Jaya.

In a launch on Aug 8, some 74 units of the semidees in Phase 8C saw a take-up of 60%. The homes, priced from RM1.7 million, come with building-integrated photovoltaics or solar panels.

Snapped up
Bandar Setia Alam was a hive of activity in recent weeks. On July 31, some 76 units of 2-storey terraced homes were offered for sale in Precinct 7, or Regia 3, and 93% have been sold so far. The homes (minimum built-up: 2,022 sq ft) went for RM518,000. On the same day, 2-storey semidees called Hedyotis (built-up: from 3,005 sq ft; price: RM968,000) were launched as well, and all 64 of them were snapped up. Tan says most of the buyers were from Petaling Jaya, Subang Jaya, Damansara and Kuala Lumpur while some of them were existing Setia Alam and Setia Eco Park homeowners.

On Aug 7, the developer launched 52 units of 2-storey semidees in Nevada 3 in Precinct 8 (built-up: from 1,749 sq ft; price: RM450,000) — which were fully taken up — and 60 units of 3-storey semidees in Rafflesia in Precinct 6 (built-up: from 4,663 sq ft; price: RM1.6 million) — 75% of which are sold. Rafflesia is situated in what is currently the only gated and guarded precinct in Setia Alam.

The other precincts are built in enclaves with a single entrance system which allows homeowners to form their own residents’ associations and hire security guards for their respective enclaves.

Commercial attractions
The 250-acre commercial Setia City tract is expected to see the completion of the 700,000 sq ft Setia City Mall come 1Q2012. Its anchor tenants are Golden Screen Cinemas and Parkson. While not all details are available, Tan says there will also be a medical centre, colleges and other commercial components such as office buildings, condominiums and possibly a hotel in Setia City. S P Setia’s headquarters — 10 storeys plus an annexe — is also expected to be built here.

Tan says two commercial lots next to Setia City Mall have been sold to Khind Holdings Bhd and Top Glove Corp Bhd. “We believe the mall will create excitement in the township. Now that we have a growing population in Setia Alam, I believe it is a good time to focus on the commercial components such as corporate towers and institutions in Setia Alam. We are currently in talks with some parties on this,” he explains.

He believes the township will enjoy another growth spurt in 2012 with the opening of Setia City Mall and several corporate office towers, serviced apartments and educational institutions on the commercial site in Precinct 1.

The developer is planning some condominiums adjacent to the mall. It is looking at unit sizes of 800 to 1,000 sq ft with indicative prices of around RM500 psf. Also in the planning stage is a convention centre. “It will depend on market demand, but I do believe demand will be there. We’re looking at a capacity of around 150 to 200 tables,” Tan says.

He adds that 300 strata landed villas will be launched in Precinct 6 at the end of the year. “The 3-storey villas will most probably emulate our Duta Tropika project in off Jalan Duta. They will have their own clubhouse. The indicative price for the villas is RM1.5 million.”

While property prices in Setia Alam have seen an impressive rise since 2004, it is clear that the transformation of the township has just begun. Of its 2,500 acres, only 45% has been developed while only 7,500 homes have been sold to date. So far, the township is home to about 150,000 people.

Prior to the completion of the Setia Alam Highway in 2006, which cost the developer some RM150 million, the only entrance to the township was via Jalan Meru in Klang. Perhaps that explains why Klangites make up the highest number of buyers in its earlier phases.

The township’s aim was to provide affordable housing with security as its main feature — Tan says a perimeter fence runs round the whole of Bandar Setia Alam — but improved accessibility via the new highway has accelerated demand for its properties and boosted values.

“Back in 2004, when we launched the first phase of Setia Alam, we saw many buyers from Klang and the surrounding areas. These days, our buyers are from all over, be it Subang Jaya, Cheras, Kepong, Damansara or Shah Alam. We have many young couples and families choosing to live here,” he explains.

Among the reasons Setia Alam is a choice location for homebuyers are accessibility, good environment, convenience as well as comfortable living, he adds. “We have a high number of repeat buyers, who in turn recommend Setia Alam to their relatives. Word of mouth is our main marketing tool, really. We have a Chinese and Tamil school each and a national primary school now. Our secondary school will be operational come January next year.

“So far, 7,500 homes have been sold in Setia Alam and 5,500 handed over,” he says.

The township also boasts the Setia Badminton Academy that was established in 1997 with Han Jian as chief coach. The 1985 world champion had coached the country’s team that won the Thomas Cup in 1992.

With its property prices escalating on the secondary market as well as in its recent launches, will we see Setia Alam repositioning itself as an affordable to high-end housing development like Setia Eco Park?

“Setia Eco offers only bungalows and semidees while Setia Alam offers semidees and a range of link houses. Over the years, the designs of homes have become more contemporary to meet market demand.
Our positioning has not changed per se but it has been improved to cater for market needs. More buyers are looking at gated and guarded developments and we see a growing market here. Hence, the reason for the gated and guarded Precinct 6 in Setia Alam.

“The difference between Setia Eco Park and Precinct 6 is that Setia Eco Park offers an open living concept with no gates or fences while Precinct 6 offers normal homes with fencing on top of being gated and guarded.”

As for pricing their latest 3-storey semidees at RM1.6 million, Tan says this does not reflect a change in the township’s positioning.

“These homes are a result of market demand. We felt it was timely that we introduced some new product sizes and designs. The Rafflesia semidees are a new type that has never been launched before. We envisage launching more of such products and we are looking at offering small enclaves with the gated and guarded concept,” he adds.

So, expect more news on Bandar Setia Alam in the near future.

This article appeared in City & Country, the property pullout of The Edge Malaysia, Issue 819, Aug 16-22, 2010

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