Sixteen years ago, when Tambun Indah managing director Teh Kiak Seng was toying with the idea of building a gated and guarded residential development in Bukit Tambun, Seberang Perai on the Penang mainland, his friends laughed at him.
Teh says the Taman Tambun Indah development, built in 1994, was the first gated and guarded community in the state and his friends told him he was losing his mind.
“They said I was crazy. They asked me ‘who would want to live in the middle of nowhere, right smack in the middle of an oil palm plantation?’ Now, they’ve all had to eat their words,” he laughs. “The bungalow units which we sold at RM380,000 then are going for RM1 million now.”
Tambun Indah has completed developments in all three districts on the mainland — Seberang Perai Selatan (SPS), Seberang Perai Tengah (SPT) and Seberang Perai Utara (SPU) — and has ongoing projects as well.
The three districts are strategically located between the first Penang Bridge and the upcoming Second Bridge. Access to both is just 10 minutes away.
Teh says his decision to invest in property development in these areas in the early 1990s was mainly due to their proximity to the North-South Highway.
“Now, with the second bridge ... also within easy reach, it’s a double bonus for me,” says Teh, a civil engineer by profession.
Since 1998, Tambun Indah has completed 2,336 residential and commercial properties with a GDV of RM560.75 million. Some 569 units worth RM200.28 million are under construction and another 2,532 units, with a GDV RM1.05 billion, will be launched in the near future.
Aside from the gated and guarded developments, Tambun Indah also has other conventional housing and commercial projects.
The developer targets Penangites who want spacious, comfortable housing at more affordable prices than on the island.
“At least 10% of our clientele are those who want more space and security but find they cannot afford the properties offered on the island,” he says. “Like Singaporeans looking for better value for money and more spacious housing are buying properties in Iskandar Malaysia or Johor, or like those moving from Hong Kong island to Kowloon, many people living on Pulau Pinang are looking at the more accessible areas on the mainland.
“Prices on the island are skyrocketing, which could be risky if there is a bubble. But on the mainland prices are growing at a steady pace so buyers are cushioned against risk.”
For example, he says a 2-storey terraced house with clubhouse facilities in the gated and guarded Pearl Garden in Simpang Ampat costs from RM250,000. A similar unit would cost RM800,000 in Bayan Lepas on the island.
“The average wage earner living on the island can no longer afford landed property due to the scarcity of land on the island. But for just RM250,000 to RM500,000, we can provide ideal life products here on the mainland, with security to boot. Half-a-million ringgit won’t even buy you a single-storey house on the island.
“A customer living in Minden Heights on the island sold his bungalow for RM2 million and bought a bigger house in the gated Juru Heights for RM500,000, leaving him plenty of money to put into savings,” Teh recalls.
And young couples who are just starting a family and have been priced out of the island market are also finding good value in Tambun Indah projects, he says.
With a landbank of 209 acres in Bukit Mertajam, Juru and Simpang Ampat, Tambun Indah is also on the lookout for land on the island. And it is looking to spread its wings to the Klang Valley.
“We are looking at the Klang Valley to enrich our landbank and extend our presence. If we want to reach new heights, that’s the place to be. But we will only move in if the price is right,” he says.
The key to Tambun Indah’s success is its emphasis on building properties with a difference. No two projects are the same, says Teh. The company has offered at least 30 different home designs to its customers to date.
“We constantly enhance our products by upgrading our designs to meet the different tastes and needs of our customers. I have travelled a lot to Hong Kong, Shanghai and Canada to look at gated communities to see what is being done there,” he says.
This article appeared in Special Focus Property, The Edge Malaysia, Issue 815, July 19-25, 2010
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