If there’s one thing all Malaysians can agree upon, it is that the price of property has gone through the roof.

All over the Klang Valley, complaints can be heard about how expensive it is to purchase a property. In the past, many middle income families were able to afford a link house, semi-detached house or even a bungalow (depending on area).

Today, the average wage earner cannot hope to own a landed property in the central parts of KL. The price has skyrocketed beyond reach. Further away from the city, options to purchase affordable landed properties may still be available.

But let’s be practical about it – the average wage earner holds down a 8.30am-5.30pm job or what is known as a 9am-5pm job. So, he or she will end up travelling to and from work in the peak hours. And as we very well know, being caught in rush hour traffic every day when you live far away from your place of work, can be a never-ending nightmare. Especially during festive seasons, school holidays or (the all-too-familiar situation) when it rains or floods.

All things considered, many folk would rather abandon their dreams of purchasing a landed property and settle for a small apartment/condo, in a more central location where they can be nearer their place of work, their kids’ schools, and other places. For 30-and-40 somethings, proximity to elderly parents is also a consideration.

Getting a Sub-sale Property in a Mature Neighbourhood

Such persons would do well to consider purchasing a sub-sale property in a mature neighbourhood. Why? Because all the amenities are already in place. Infrastructure has already been developed. Schools are already built. Shops are already opened. These areas connect to other areas more easily. They are also usually located in more central locations, when compared to off-plan properties still under construction or newly-completed.

There are other benefits too. One of them is that the reputation and existing value of the apartment/condo is more likely to hold long-term, given that it has been around for (x) number of years. You will be able to assess the quality of the future management of the apartment/condo block, based on its current track record.

Take for example, a 10-year-old apartment/condo. If it is still in good condition and well-maintained today, then obviously, the tenant and owner mix, as well as the efficiency of the management corporation in managing the property, is of an acceptable standard. You are also less likely to face problems with unissued/delayed strata titles, etc. By the time you acquire the property, all the paperwork should have been completed several years earlier. The current owner should be able to provide you with all the necessary documentation when you take over the property.

Consideration for the Right Property

So, if you are keen to explore the apartment/condo sub-sale property market, where should you start?
First, the basics. What are your key questions in identifying the right property for you is?
For most of us, it would be:

  • Location
  • Size
  • Facilities ie. pool, gym, tennis/squash courts
  • Age of the apartment/condo
  • Tenure (freehold/leasehold)
  • Proximity and access to place of work
  • Proximity and access to schools
  • Amenities nearby including shopping, leisure, religious facilities, parks
  • Safety
  • Prestige factor (if applicable)

Searching for Properties

How do you search for apartments/condos on the subsale market? Easy – there is a wealth of information available online and in the newspapers. Iproperty, Propwall and many other websites allow you to search and narrow down potential options. Many have photos of the properties themselves which you can have a look at to narrow down your search further. All these websites give easy access to the respective agents too, by providing the necessary info for you to call, SMS or email the agent concerned.

You could also take the “manual” option and hunt through the classified ads in the local newspapers. The Saturday STAR newspapers usually contain a comprehensive listing of all properties for sale, which have been advertised over the previous week.

Once you’ve identified a potential property, what should be your next step?

Fix a Viewing Appointment

Call up the owner (if it is an offline listing) or the agent, and ask any preliminary questions you may have. Usually they will be willing to share any information with you. However, you will definitely need to verify the information for yourself. Fix an appointment with the party concerned, to discuss further and to view the property. Obviously, it is much easier to fix a viewing in respect of a property which is untenanted/unoccupied. Where the property is tenanted or where the owners themselves still live there, there could be difficulties fixing a suitable viewing time. You may have to make several attempts before being able to book a viewing.

That being said, many agents are willing to show properties even after office hours or on weekends (as long as the tenant/owner is agreeable).

Viewing the Properties

When you go for the viewing, bring along a notepad in which you can jot down details. Sometimes when you are viewing a large number of properties, you can easily get confused as to which is which. Key information to note down is the name and contact details of the agent/vendor, the name and address of the apartment/condo, as well as the size of the property (no. of square feet), tenure and asking price. Sometimes, agents/vendors will allow you take photos of the interior of the property. These will serve as a useful memory-jogger if you cannot really remember which property is which later on.

But be warned…after a while, all apartments can look the same – make sure that you download the photos from your smartphone/camera and save them in labelled folders on your laptop! Happy property hunting!


KCLau
KCLau

Personal finance author and trainer

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