Ideal condo-living

THERE are innumerable reasons why families move homes, and space constraints is one of the main deciding factors. Customarily, we would see a growing family upgrading from an apartment or a single storey house, to a three or four-bedroom double storey home, or a bungalow, if affordable.

This was a reality 15 years ago, but today, it is very different. The hike in property prices has seen an increase in the number of families living in condominiums compared to landed homes. Although families with an average of two to three children are making 1,200 sq. ft. (minimum) condominiums their preferred home, the general public’s acceptance of condo-living is equivocal.

While condo or apartment living has been the norm for our neighbours in Singapore, Malaysians or at least those up till Generation Y, had the choice of “living on land” when they were growing up. Most condominium occupants in the Klang Valley today will attest to this. It is a process, getting acclimatised towards living in a high-rise.

After two decades or more living in a landed property to be suddenly riding an elevator to get home, takes some getting used to. Yet the demand is there, partly coerced by property prices. Still, there is something about the self sufficiency of condo living that seems to appeal to families.

Property developers discerning the needs and wants of families are establishing self sufficient developments. This is prevalent in landed property i.e. guarded and gated (G&G) communities but more so, condominiums. The luxury of not having to leave home or its proximate surroundings to get groceries or necessities is one of the primary attractions towards a condominium lifestyle.

Obviously, the standard of comfort increases based on the location, price and prestige of the condominium. One can expect free daily zumba classes at a luxury condominium but not in a standard high-rise residence. Still, a decent mid-range condominium has all the basic amenities to keep occupants happy, from swimming pools to clubhouses and cafes.

If anything, the numbers don’t lie. According to the Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association of Malaysia (REHDA), strata residential properties are on the rise and expected to grow further in 2013.

Easing into Condo-Living

Space constraints and cheek to jowl living are the main discontent for many condominium residents who transitioned from landed to high-rise homes. A condo owner in Kota Damansara, Alex Ng said, “It was too close for comfort,” and it took more than a year to learn to drown out all the different sounds that come with living in a condo, from neighbour’s footsteps above the unit, muffled conversations on the corridor, radio and television noise.

“It’s almost like I developed a resistence or I just got accustomed to these foreign elements until I didn’t notice them anymore.”

Juanita Tang on the other hand, appreciates the property downsize because it means less housework and no garden to tend or lawn to mow.

Property Prices Versus Space Constraints

Property prices are one of the main factors that keep young families in condos. Young parents Jason and Alicia Tan moved into a 3 + 1 condominium in Ara Damansara in 2007. Today with a five-year-old daughter, one-month-old baby and a maid, space is their main concern.

Although they would love to live in a landed residential area, preferably a G&G one, the current property prices are too steep. Based on the residential selling price in the second half of 2012, 28% of residential property range from RM500,000 to RM1,000,000, followed by 25% between RM350,000 and RM500,000 and only 15% from RM250,000 to RM350,000.

In 2013, a major increase in property within the RM250,000 to RM350,000 price range to 26% is positive and reflects the rise in strata properties launched. Ultimately, residential landed property prices remain relatively high, with well located, spacious G&G residential landed properties easily costing between RM500,000 and RM1,000,000.

Family-Friendly Condos

The amenities that come with condo living is a major appeal. Family-friendly facilities such as club house privileges, playground, day care centre, outdoor parks, restaurant, sports facilities and gymnasium/fitness centre etc. are the usual premium condominium comforts. Desa Park City which Juanita calls home, comes with a beautiful park where she can go for a walk or a run.

There’s also a clubhouse with a gym, pool and a cafe, plus a strip mall with a variety of shops and a supermarket, all within walking distance.

“What I relish after moving into a condominium after years of living in a landed property is definitely the convenience. Not having to leave the vicinity of my home to carry out simple errands or maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a true luxury. Everything is a walk away.”


Condominiums trump the average landed property unquestionably due to the G&G security features. According to the Tans, “Security was the main reason we chose to live in a condo. Once you are within the property and pass the guardhouse, you’re safe. We can take our time to get in and out of the car and don’t have to be wary and apprehensive, with guards patrolling the perimeter.”

The G&G feature is one of the major rationales driving the rising condominium property trends, making up 23% after those with ‘green’ features. Still, landed property is the ideal real estate type that most Malaysians prefer, with condominiums following second, and service apartments third.

Are property prices likely to drop to allow the average Malaysian more choice? The rise in construction costs are unlikely to make it so. However, many property developers are focusing on the needs of average Malaysians and launching more developments within the RM250,000 to RM350,000 range, which helps them target a wide segment of market demand. This is reflected by the verity that 62% of the market from January to May 2013 involves strata residence types compared to 38% of landed property.

** NOTE – All charts, graphs and figures were obtained from the Property Industry Survey report by the Real E state and Housing Developers’ Association of Malaysia (REHDA).



> The word CONDOMINIUM originates from the Latin words, ‘con’ which means ‘together with’, and 'dominium' which means ‘right of ownership’.

> In the US, condominiums include a wide range of high-rise residential property types like apartments, penthouses, town houses, studio units, duplexes and triplexes.

> In Malaysia, the condominium is perceived as a high-end apartment, usually with good quality fixtures and designed with more sophisticated features.


> Smaller living space means lesser cleaning and up-keeping

> Enhanced security with guardhouses where entry and exit is monitored

> Lesser chance of vehicle and home break-ins etc.

> Additional security features create a safer environment for residents such as electronic access cards to access to particular areas within the development , etc

> Secure and usually, covered parking

> With exception of townhouses or certain high-end condos, you never have to bothered about a garden, porch or garage no more

> Most condos observe a 'no pets' rule which is ideal for residents who don't care for dogs or cats

> Facilities and amenities are provided such as a clubhouse , fitness centre, tennis/squash courts, swimming pool, children’s playground, pedestrians path, car wash services, home cleaning services, launderette, hair salon, mini-market, cafes, bakeries, provision store, child crèche, kindergarten etc.

> If you’re in urgent need of help, your neighbours are just a few steps away

> The use of a multi-purpose hall or space for big gatherings is usually rent-free for owners

> In times of electricity failure or water cuts, there’s usually generators or spare water tanks that help maintain residents lifestyles, at least for a little longer


> Additional fees for maintenance and amenities such as access to facilities , whether one uses these or not

> Tolerance due to shared common spaces and close proximity living style eg. no late night parties that are too noisy or boisterous; home theatre system or television volume must be controlled; you can’t have your kids running wild and screaming or wailing as they wish;

> No pets allowed in most high-rise residences (although some residents manage to sneak pets in and keep them silent and living like humans within four walls and on tiled/marble/wooden flooring etc.)

> Rules, regulations and a set of by-laws that bind the owners whom can be fined or even taken to court if not adhered to

> Participating or volunteering time to be part of residence committee

> Lesser privacy as at times neighbours can have full view of another’s home interiors especially those without curtains, blinds, one-way or tinted glass, or some sort of cover/shield

> Close proximity living including vehicle space. Car enthusiasts will agree on this one, especially those who hate having ‘dimples’ and minor dents

> Space constraint for growing families, those with 101 gadgets or sports equipments.

> Residents who own more than one vehicles may not be fortunate to get enough parking bays

> Home renovation and services can only be carried out at certain times and hours of the day

> Time-out space is limited especially when couples quarrel or individuals need some space and time on their own like in the case of a studio apartment

> Fixtures, furniture and fittings cannot be too large as it may not fit into the smaller living space, not to mention, the lift

> Not much control of what’s on the exterior like walkways, corridors, landscaping, exterior walls etc. unless you’re on the resident’s committee


> Reputation and track record of the developer.

> Take into account the feng shui positioning of the property; where it faces or is it at a cul-de-sac; the facilities or amenities next to the property; if it is located next to a highway, factory, vacant land etc.

> Type of material and interior fittings.

> Check for leaks, termites or plumbing and electrical wiring defects.

> Better to buy the worst unit in a good development instead of the best unit in a bad development. The value of the property depends on whether the property can either be re-sold at a profit or rented at a good rate.

> Special rates, Bumiputera rebates and discounts offered by property developers during the launch period. Property prices increase upon completion.

> Speak to current residents, owners, guards and maintenance workers of the development for insights beyond what the real estate agent or property seller has provided.


> Insured value/sum insured – Get a professional property valuer to estimate the value of your property based on rebuilding costs. For property insured by the bank, the coverage is usually based on the amount of loan taken. It's advisable to top up coverage for better protection. Householder policy holders should declare items they want insured to get full compensation. Maintaining documents, receipts and photographs of these items prove helpful in the event of a claim.

> Average condition - If the insured value in your insurance policy is less than the rebuilding cost, the 'average condition' will apply in the event of a claim. It is advisable to re-evaluate your property and its contents annually for a more accurate insured sum that covers renovations, enhancements and additional movable household items.

> Insurance purchase responsibility - Insurance only needs to be purchased upon vacant possession from the developer. It is mandatory for the 'management' to purchase fire insurance for the entire building for strata title properties. Still, respective unit owners or tenants are advised to purchase or top up on the coverage. Do check if your bank already required you to purchase property insurance beforehand.

> Making a claim – Notify your insurance company in writing with full details as soon as possible and take necessary measures to mitigate further loss. Advisable to contact your insurance agent immediately to find out relevant procedures and action required.

> Complaint – If you are dissatisfied at any time regarding your insurance claim or policy, submit a written complaint to the complaints unit of your insurance company. For further action, you may take the matter up in writing to Bank Negara or the insurance mediator at the Financial Mediation Bureau.

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Good To Know

When purchasing residential landed property, one is paying for the land and the building structure. When purchasing insurance for it, concentrate on the costs of re-building the structure and the contents of the home. Employ a valuer to estimate these costs before taking up a comprehensive insurance package to ensure coverage of the costs of re-building and loss of contents. Strata-titled owners are advised to purchase both houseowner and householder policies as the insurance they are required to take under the high-rise management only covers the cost to re-build the structure.

Information from

Helpful Websites on Property Matters:

For the list of PROPERTY TRANSACTION FEES & DUTIES and many other important facts, procedures and processes on buying/selling property in Malaysia, visit the National House Buyers Association website at

> For interesting information pertaining property and real estate matters, visit BFM’s The Property Show at

> Malaysia's first home loan comparison platform, visit

> Laws, regulations and guidelines pertaining to Malaysian housing property, visit

> For legal guidelines when buying property in Malaysia, visit www.hhq,

> For My First Home Scheme, visit

> Ministry of Housing and Local Government, visit

> Malaysia My second Home (MM2H), visit

> For feng shui advice, contact S. BS. Surendran, Accredited Master Feng Shui Consultant, Bioenergetician and Traditional Vaastu Practitioner at

FIABCI Malaysia is again conducting its Smart Investment in Property Seminar on Sat 6 July 2013, 9 am to 4pm at the Berjaya Times Square Hotel, Kuala Lumpur.

Six esteemed speakers will explore the Malaysian Property Market pursuing the core theme “Post GE 13 - Where ?”

Registration Fee (inclusive of lunch, tea/coffee breaks, seminar material and certificate):

· FIABCI Members RM 288 per pax (early bird discount RM 256)

· Non-Members RM 338 per pax (early bird discount RM 288)

The registration form can be downloaded from