This review will be focus on a project in KLCC that opened for sale recently. The sale is so exclusive till all the units that opened for sale are fully booked merely from VVIP and repeat purchasers. Forums such as propertywtf and Lowyat just started the discussion for past few days where typically the information has been widely made available prior the launch. Not this project and this developer.
Before we reveal further much information on this project, let us have overview of the KLCC property market and what and why make this project is so hot among the property investors who still have faith with KLCC market. Due to objective to make KL City Centre more liveable that allow people to live, play and work, DBKL opened the floodgate and allow developers to develop service apartments at the commercial lands at the KLCC area. From 2004 onward slew of development have been launched and sold by numerous developers. This at certain point has caused concern that there is property bubble forming in KLCC area. The simple chart below shows the incoming supplies of the high end condominium in KLCC
Average Occupancy Rates
On a first glance looking at above data, it should create uneasiness among the property investors and the current owners. Total supplies for both high end condominium and serviced apartment in KL has increased from below 5000 units to above 25000 units in 2013. More than 5 times increase in supplies. The supplies picked up after 2006 due to slew of new developments. In the same period the occupancy has been reduced from high 85% to 65%. The combination of exponential supplies with reduced occupancy rate should cause alarm and alert not only to property purchasers and owners but to the authority as well.
Here at propcafe we have made quite in-depth study of the KLCC geography and propcafe has divided the KLCC property market to zone 1 and 2. For further reading on this topic, readers can read it http://propcafe.net/zoning-of-klcc-properties-zone-1-and-zone-2-where-and-what-to-investbuy/
Inside the review, propcafe has provided host of information such as brief description of each project such as units, year launched and launching and current prices, general built up etc. This information is very important to investors to make informed decision what are the right assets to invest in KLCC area. However when we look at the table, the offering are wide diverse from as small as 400 sqft to more than 10000sqft. Essentially, the products offered in KLCC catered for every level of market probably with exception of affordable market.
Those property buyers and investors that familiar with property market in KL and Penang will know Monoland. In Penang, they are well known to develop 8 Gurney and Gurney Park at Gurney Drive and Central Park. Monoland also own the Northam Hotel. Where else in Klang Valley, they started with Oval Residence@KLCC. Thereafter they develop Titiwangsa Sentral which all 660units sold out to internal staffs, business associates and selective lucky public. Subsequently Monoland launched Oval Tower in Damansara and quickly followed by three projects in KLCC that almost simultaneously launched. Vipod Suites (which was VP-ed August last year) and SOHO suites (which will be VP-ed after the Chinese New Year) have received tremendous response from investors. These projects are well received due to the selling prices lower than market prices and with majority of the units are smaller than 1000sqft. Therefore the absolute price is quite affordable and chewable by the investors. However there are controversy surrounding these projects…. First of all you need to buy a big size as a pair before you are entitled to buy a small size unit Vipod. As an example, a pair of 1190sqft and 635sqft with purchase price of RM900psf will easily cost the buyer RM1.6million. Similar strategy has been adopted in SOHO where for the purchaser to be entitled of residential unit, they are required to purchase an office unit. Monoland also didn’t forget the Quadro Residences purchasers where the size started from 1600sqft. These purchasers are entitle to purchase a small size unit in Vipod as part of their entitlement. And second strategy that adopted was the purchasers are not allowed to choose units. The unit allocation will be done by the developer. The purchasers do not have luxury to view the sales chart and to pick the units themselves. And unlike other development, the purchasers are expected to sign SPA within 24 hours and handover the 10% down payment without the approval of loan (Yes!). There are no DIBS, rebate and discount offered for the purchase. These sales strategies seems to be strange however it seems to work well with the developer as the developer can avoid holding undesirable and unwanted units. Due to attractive prices and sizes and excellent location, these projects were sold out in almost no time.
After almost 3 years without any new launches, Monoland is back to KLCC with its latest project called Vortex. This project is located on the same land that used to belong to Mulpha that created buzz in property market where the land was sold at RM3,300psf a land record price at that time (source: http://www.theedgemalaysia.com/property/212548-mulpha-sells-jalan-sultan-ismail-land-for-rm3300-psf.html) where Monoland is the buyer. The launch of this project is so secretive to the extent that all the serviced apartments are fully allocated to internal staffs, business associates and to lucky repeat purchasers just in few days. Apparently many repeat purchasers and VVIPs were caught off hands of sudden sale and couldn’t secure unit in timely manner. It is understandable as their previous purchasers are running into thousands where else less than 250 units are available for sale currently. At the time of writing, the available units are fully allocated with more than 700ppl in waiting list. Those dropped units will be allocated to the people in the waiting list.
Similarly to their previous projects, the similar strategies with exception of the pairing system has been adopted. We shall come back on why pairing system is not adopted in Vortex later. Despite of these, it seems that none of the purchasers seem to have qualm handling over the 10% down payment and sign the SPA without the loan approval in sight. For example in some forum such as in Lowyat, it was observed that some of the purchasers were congratulated when they arrived to sales gallery for SPA signing because securing a unit. The whole process of signing, handling over the cheque just took slightly less than 20minutes.
Let’s get back to the fundamental of the property investment. Why this project is so hot? Did the purchasers who signed on the dot saw something that most of us didn’t see it despite the slowing property market as well as the oversupplies in KLCC and luxury condominium?
The Old Rule of property investment is all about location X 3 and Vortex is smacked right in the heart of KL City Centre. Vortex located along Jalan Sultan Ismail and flanked by 32 storey Menara Prudential and Ex-Beach Club. Just right behind the Vortex across lorong Perak, Cecil Chao will launch 4 blocks of service apartment tentatively from 600sqft with preliminary price of RM1500psf. (http://www.theedgemalaysia.com/property/269856-highlight-tycoon-offering-hk500m-to-qfuture-son-in-lawq-resumes-kl-project.html). Across the Jalan Sultan Ismail, Shangrila Hotel and UBN tower is the prominent landmark. Vortex is approximately 700mtr away and walking distance from Petronas Twin Tower 900mtr away from Pavilion Bukit Bintang.
Location from Sales Gallery
Aerial view of Vortex
Current condition of the Vortex Site
Current condition of the Cecil Chao Site
Vortex is short 5 minutes walking distance from Monorail Bukit Nenas station, approximately 300mtr away. For expatriates without car, this is a great news as the monorail will bring commuters to most major destination such as KL Sentral, Berjaya Times Square, Bukit Bintang, Raja Chulan and future Quill Mall. By car, Vortex is easily accessible from Jalan Sultan Ismail. The developer has opened up the access to Lorong Perak from and to Jalan Sultan Ismail. This has reduce some privacy among the residents as cars will use the access as shortcut to go to Jalan P Ramlee as well as some serviced apartment such as Parkview.
Clear access from & to Jalan Sultan Ismail and Lorong Perak
Despite the high density of the project, the developer tried to minimize and disperse the traffic as efficient possible. To ensure a proper segregation of hotel suites guest and residents of the serviced apartments, two tier lifts have been created with each tier consist of 4 lifts that will be serving lower zone ie the serviced apartment and another tier with 4 lifts to serve higher zone ie the hotel suites. Also dedicated lobby and hotel concierge have been created for each serviced apartment and the hotel suites.
Vision and Design
There are 3 components of Vortex in single 58 storey buildings with carpark annex on the freehold 0.72acre. There are retails on the first 2 floors followed by 248 units of 2+1 serviced apartments from 3rd to 34th floor. From 35th to 57th floors, approximately 300 units of studio hotel and finally the rooftop facility on the highest floor.
It is envisaged that retail spaced will be catered for KTV, SPA, Lounges and Bar and Restaurant. Where else the ground will be lobby for serviced apartments and the hotel suites.
At the moment the only product launched in Vortex is the serviced apartment. In total there are 248units with 5 sizes available; 731sqft, 744sqft, 777sqft, 811sqft and 826sqft. All the unit layout are similar and by using the varying built up at different level and orientation, the developer has brilliantly creating the spiralling effect. The typical apartment plan
Unit layout 731sqft, 777sqft and 826sqft
Unit layout for 811sqft and 744sqft
The typical Serviced Apartment
There are not much of info of the hotel studio at the moment with exception it will be fully furnished to hotel level furnishing. There is no plan at the moment whether to sell or kept and lease it to hotel operator. The size is expected to be approximately 400sqft.
The typical hotel studio
The highrise is aptly named as Vortex and rightly so…. The footprint of the building is round but wait… Rather than boring round shape all around, the developer has varied the built up at each orientation and level and therefore creating a complex spiral effect on the building and hence the name Vortex. It will be interesting to see how the effect panned out when the building is completed. There is no scaled model at the sales gallery to assist the purchasers to visualize the building façade.
Some said the façade is an improvisation version of the KOMTAR building since the developer came from Penang….
Nothing ravishing about the facility standard gym, 25mtr lap pool and pub are offered. However the author didn’t investigate how is the facility usage between the residents and the hotel guests. The developer may opt for the pay as you use like what they will do in Vipod.
The Facing analysis
As highlighted earlier the site is flanked by present and future highrise building as well as empty land used to be occupied by Beach Club. Potentially, limited units will have unobstructed view with exception of selected facing and high floor. For easier understanding of the facing and direction, authors has divided the views to 8 quadrants to be consistent with the floor layout.
Site Plan with directional facing
Facing South West with the main direction facing the Jalan Sultan Ismail and menara UBN, the high floors are the best bet as it will be guaranteed to be almost unblocked in the future. Furthermore, the facing is away from the Jalan P Ramlee as well as the noises from the pub such as Thai club across the road. However the low and mid floors might be affected by the noise from monorail and traffic from Jalan Sultan Ismail.
Directional View for Unit with facing no. 1
Facing South East, the low floors will directly facing the Thai Club which noise maybe a concern. Furthermore, Beach Club has moved to Jalan Tun Razak and at the moment, there is no plan what will be developed or other pub will move in to the land. The high floor should have a clear view on towards Jalan Perak and Pavilion.
Directional View for Unit with facing no. 2
Not only the mid floors units will face the potential noise from the pub along Jalan P Ramlee and the uncertainties of future development in ex-Beach Club, the view will also be blocked by Crown Regency.
Directional View for Unit with facing no. 3
The Ex-Beach Club Site with carpark
The mid to low floors will enjoy the pool view however all units will be blocked by Crown Regency as well as the future Cecil Chao Centre project with three of the 4 towers are 50 storeys serviced apartments.
Directional View for Unit with facing no. 4
Similar to Facing no. 4, however on mid to high floors, the units will enjoy unobstructed view as long as the massive Malaysia Tourism Centre land is not developed.
Directional View for Unit with facing no. 5
The low floor units will be blocked by the IMC’s carparks
Directional View for Unit with facing no. 6
In author opinion, this direction is the worse direction as all the units will be facing the 32th floor Menara Prudential.
Directional View for Unit with facing no. 7
The mid to low floor units will face similar issue with facing no. 1, however high floor units in this facing will overlooking Shangrila Hotel however with hot west sun.
Directional View for Unit with facing no. 8
In author opinion, the best facing for low floors would be those pool facing units no. 4 and 5. For mid floor units, facing no. 5 would be the best and for high floors units, facing 1 and 2 are the best bet. For facing no. 3, it is excellent facing however the uncertainties of what would be developed on the Ex-Beach club site remain a key issue.
Unit Layout analysis
You either hate or love the unit layout. It is always difficult to work with round shape layout. Just have a look on MK11 with circular master bedroom and living area. The placement of furniture is difficult and a lot of unutilised space. Condos such as Oval KLCC comes with round shape however each unit is large size approximately 3750sqft. Therefore space utilisation is not an issue here.
However with Vortex, the space utilisation has become a big issue here as the smallest unit is 731sqft and biggest is only at 827sqft. With these sizes, the developer has managed to squeeze in 2 reasonable size and squarish bedrooms with their own ensuite bathroom, a kitchen that tucked aside that can be converted to Asian Kitchen easily by fitting in glass door and a study area. However the layout is not perfect and residents need to live with V shape living and dining area. And developer has do without 2 doors access to bedroom which is a much relieve….
From Fengshui point of view, the kitchen stove area is just next to bathroom which is not a good practise.
All layouts are similar with exception the length and width of the unit due to the varying sizes to create the spiral effect of the building. In author’s view, the layout is not perfect however given the idea is to create iconic façade, the need to extract more values (more bedrooms and both are ensuite bathroom which will attract a lot of tenants) from the valuable space, the developer has done an excellent job on the layout.
How the layout compared with the similar offerings in KLCC area?
The limited 793 sqft 2 bedrooms in Vipod is one of the most desired unit in Vipod. With practical 2bedrooms layout, the unit come with 2 bathrooms. The unit comes with open concept kitchen. The only issue is the long corridor towards the master bedroom. There is not dedicated study area.
Vipod: 2bedrooms 793sqft (Courtesy of Shamon Leong of Propwall)
The Vortex layout reminds the author the similarity to the type R2 and R3 of the SOHO Suites by the same developer. However due to squarish design, the SOHO Suites are more superior and with open concept kitchen it create more space at the living and dining area.
SOHO Suites: 2 bedrooms Residential Unit
This is another favourite of the author. Similarly to the above, the units comes with 2bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms. The unit also comes with dedicated study area and open concept kitchen style. Even for type A4, the study area can be converted to a small bedroom with attached bathroom.
SOHO Suites: SOHO Residential Component 2 bedrooms unit
Both bedrooms are with ensuite bathrooms however guest need to access either room if they need to use the bathroom. However it seems that there quite a number of corner with space wasted.
Fraser Place: 915sqft 2 bedrooms
Despite the generous space, the 915sqft can only fit in 1+1 bedroom with shared bathroom. Even the guest will require to access either rooms if they need to use the bathroom. However for residents who need balcony for some outdoor space, Hampshire place will be one of the better choice with generous balcony space across living and master bedroom.
Hampshire Place: 915sqft 1+1 bedroom
For premium paid for space, only 1 bedroom is provided for 753sqft with balcony across the living and dining area. The kitchen is pretty small and the room can be expanded further to be converted to second bedroom.
Hampshire Residence: 753sqft 1+1 bedroom
This 1+1 type bedroom is perfect for Asian who need enclosed Asian kitchen as well as yard for drying clothes etc. The unit comes with 2bedrooms and 2 bathrooms with a balcony.
Idaman Residence: 877sqft 1+1 bedroom
Vortex is attractively priced from RM980psf and all the way to RM1190psf. Every floor the average price is increased by RM4k. Larger unit psf wise will be cheaper by RM25-50psf compared to smaller build up at the same floor.
How Vortex pricing stacked compared with newly launched as well as the subsales serviced apartment in KLCC vicinity?
Few projects have launched such as The Mews (RM1400psf), The Star Residence (RM1500psf), The Banyan (RM1800psf), Dorsett Residences (RM1850psf), Tribeca (RM2000psf) just to name a few, Vortex has been priced as lower than new launches. For the future launches such as Ritz-Carlton, Aurora, W Hotel and so on, the Vortex pricing is still remain at the lower range.
In fact some of the website such as Patchay.com has done a great job compiling all the developments that happening in KLCC (http://www.patchay.com/p/kuala-lumpur-urban-developments.html).
There are new class of condos where the brands are introduced in the serviced apartments. These new class of condos are easily cost RM2K psf onwards with Four Seasons highest transaction price is RM2900psf.
How about the subsales? From both sources below, currently the serviced apartments with the sizes similar Vortex are such as Marc Residence, Hampshire Residences and Place, Fraser Place, Panorama, Vipod Residences and Soho Suites. The 793sqft 2bedrooms in Vipod is transacted at RM1879psf where else the rest which are offering similar build up are transacted in between RM1000- 1500psf.
Source : Theedgemalaysia : the KLCC completed condos and indicative prices
The selective transaction prices taken from the sales gallery
From the pricing strategy, it is obvious that Monoland is practising a under the market pricing strategy to quickly secure purchasers.
What would be external catalyst of this project of this project? Berjaya with its Ritz-Carlton at the Berjaya Central Park will launch their service apartment with size starting from 1000sqft and indicative price is RM2500psf to 2700psf (source : Theedegemalaysia 20.Jan.2014: City&Country). This BCP is just 300mtr away from Vortex location. On top of this, KLCC is currently undergoing a massive redevelopment as well as few lands transacted at record price surpassing the price of land paid by Monoland to Mulpha. For example, KSK has purchased 1.6ha land from UOL with price RM568million which is almost RM3300psf. RM6billion Tradewind Centre is undergoing redevelopment now and Harrod is building their first hotel and serviced residential that will be linked to Pavilion. At the moment it seems that construction in KL City Centre is accelerating and overall this means a good news for KL City when progressing.
The biggest setback in this project in author opinion is no carpark will be allocated for the serviced apartment and the hotel suites. If the residents require a carpark lot, it is available for leasing on first come first serve basis and no guarantee of availability. The carpark lot is available for leasing for RM150 and the rate is fixed for 8 years
The maintenance fee is not decided at the moment however based on Vipod with need to pay for subscription for facilities usage, it is expected to be around RM0.20psf. A very affordable maintenance fee for KLCC condo.
The finishes are expected similar to Vipod, Quadro and SOHO suites. Quality fittings, biometrics lock for main door, VRV aircon, built in water heater, timber flooring for all bedrooms and marble flooring for the living, dining and kitchen area. However, no long bath is given. A fully fitted kitchen with white goods such as hob, hood, microwave, waste disposal, hot/cold mixer will be provided as well.
Standard fixtures and finishes
In author opinion, for those who offered unit, this represent an excellent value in KLCC. The purchasers partake into this iconic façade building, reasonable good location within KLCC, under the market price and well-designed layout for the façade. However similarly to all Monoland project, you need to accept the deficiencies associated with this developer as well as the sub-par after sales customer service.