City&Country: Real estate secrets - Property and the celebrity

The world of “Lights! Camera! Action!” and paparazzi may seem incongruous with property investment but not for Malaysia’s enterprising young stars. Some of them have already invested in real estate while others are scouting around for good buys.

Stephanie Chai, a model, actress and founder of a wedding portal ( had bought a condominium that had just been completed in affluent Bangsar in 2006. “The price is private and confidential but it has appreciated 50%, and I’m happy!” she says with a smile.

Jojo Struys, who models besides operating her own production house Kyanite Sdn Bhd — which recently produced Project Alpha on top Malaysian bloggers that was aired on and HITZ Astro — has bought a corner terraced house in Desa Parkcity, Kuala Lumpur. She says she bought it for the privacy it offers and the fact that corner units are hard to come by. “So, I feel it is a good investment and despite the recent downturn, property value has actually gone up significantly.”

Another property investor is former beauty queen and chartered accountant Chermaine Poo, who has acted in local and international films and television programmes. Not only does she own two apartments in Suasana Sentral Loft — one for her own use and the other for investment — but she also did these up herself. The apartments are close to KL Sentral, the transport hub of Kuala Lumpur and an address that is becoming much sought-after.

Poo now splits her time between her apartment and her parents’ home in Kuala Lumpur’s Taman Tun Dr Ismail. “Suasana Sentral Loft is in a convenient location, with good and friendly residents and many access roads. The roads from KL and PJ to TTDI are seldom congested,” she says.

Investment is not the only reason celebrities buy real estate. Owen Yap, the popular 8tv Chinese news presenter, stays with his mother in Seremban, shuttling daily to Kuala Lumpur. Recently, the family bought a 3-storey house near their present home. The new house will be ready in the next quarter.

The plan is for Yap and his siblings to move into the new place while their mother may live with them or remain at their family home.

“My mum’s contentment is more important than my own convenience. You can afford many houses in your entire life, but you only have one dear mum,” says the six-footer who tries to spend as much time as possible with his mother after his father passed away a few years ago.

Former model Alan Yun has also invested in a home across the street from his mother’s place in Taman Desa, Kuala Lumpur. He had bought the SOHO apartment in 2005 and now spends time at both places. His apartment also doubles as a pad for guests. Yun, who shot to fame as a model at the age of 16 in the 1990s, now has his hands full acting and running his own marketing and communications company Style Junction. 

Aishah Sinclair and her husband had bought their house on the secondary market two years ago. They grabbed the house although it needed a lot of work because “the price was right”. Renovations to the property, which is located in Kampung Sungai Penchala, Selangor, were only completed last year.

“We got it at a very good price,” says Aishah. “We spent a lot on the rewiring and light fittings. Imagine, the house had only one power point per room! There was a lot to be done.”

Some celebrities, however, are in no hurry to buy property. Petite Sharifah Amani, known for her role in the late Yasmin Ahmad’s movies Sepet and Gubra, stays with her family in a 2½-storey corner house in Kuala Lumpur’s Bandar Sri Damansara. “It is quiet, not a lot of traffic yet and not too many people. Not a busy area like Bangsar where we used to live. But don’t get me wrong, Bangsar still rocks!” she says.

The affable Jonathan Putra, also fondly known as JP, has plans to buy property in the future. He had bought an apartment in Armanee Terrace in Damansara Perdana, Selangor, in 2005 but sold it last year to relocate to a rented three-room apartment in Bangsar. JP says he likes Bangsar for its conveniences. “I’m right next to the LRT and I have three grocery stores within a five-minute walk of my home. There are banks just a step away and loads of convenience shops around for those late-night or last-minute necessities.”

JP has hosted shows on Channel V, a music channel on Astro, and various local terrestrial TV shows.

So, what do our celebrities visualise their dream home to be? What, to them, makes a home? Which part of the home is their favourite and why? And what do they love doing at home? Turn to Page 6 to find out.

This article appeared in City & Country, the property pullout of The Edge Malaysia, Issue 787, Dec 28-Jan 10, 2010.

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