Seri Bukit Ceylon targets niche market

A model of the Seri Bukit Ceylon service residence in Kuala Lumpur.

IF you are a single female executive or professional who enjoys privacy, independence and the city life, investing in one of Kuala Lumpur's latest serviced residences may be worth considering. 

There are many single women in their late 20s and 30s who have fairly high monthly income. Some of them drive company cars, use company hand phones and have entertainment expenses. They do not have many commitments and at the end of the month, they have much money to spare but do not know how or where to invest. 

They yearn to have a place of their own but not any apartment or condominium will do. It has to be a classy pad to blend with their lifestyle and, more importantly, good security and housekeeping services. 

Although serviced apartments and condominiums had been launched in recent years, some of them are either too high-end or do not have good management. 

The search may be over with the official launch of the Seri Bukit Ceylon serviced residences on April 26 and 27. This 25-storey project, comprising 247 units of service apartments, duplex business suites and penthouses, in Kuala Lumpur's Golden Triangle is offering not only the single woman with high purchasing power but also executive bachelors, couples with no children, senior citizens who are tired of living in a big house or any astute investor, an opportunity to invest in a good, freehold property. 

The price: only RM218,000 to RM428,000 (average RM330 per sq ft) with sizes from 591 sq ft to 1,260 sq ft for the apartments and 1,000 sq ft to 2,100 sq ft for duplex business suites. There are one, two, 2+1 bedrooms units and penthouses. 

Purchasers can opt for a compulsory leaseback scheme for five years where you get 6% guaranteed rental return for three years. Not bad considering current fixed deposit rates are very low.  

According to the developer, the rental market for a one-bedroom unit in the vicinity is around RM2,500 to RM3,500 a month and between RM4,500 to RM5,500 for a two-bedroom unit. 

The developer UM Residences Sdn Bhd (UMR), a wholly owned subsidiary of United Malayan Land Bhd (UMLand), could have built very high-end apartments priced around RM550 psf in view of the very prime location (it is within walking distance to the Bukit Bintang shopping belt) but it rather priced the units affordably to capture a growing market for stylish living. 

So is it a good buy? Well, the Ascott Group must have thought so as it has snapped up 48 units, making it the first en-bloc purchaser. Of the 167 units launched a month ago, 103 units had been sold, locking RM26mil in sales. These include the 48 Ascott units. 

The real booster is, of course, Ascott's involvement in this prestigious development, as the leading international serviced residence chain will be operating 96 units in Seri Bukit Ceylon under its “Somerset serviced residence” label. 

This puts the stamp of quality management on Seri Bukit Ceylon and helps to build purchaser confidence.  

UMR will hold the other 48 units until July this year after which it would sell it to individual buyers. An “early bird” discount of 3% was offered up till the official launch. 

(The Ascott brand is targeted at top executives while the Somerset brand is directed at senior to upper management executives. The Ascott Group is Asia-Pacific's largest serviced residence company and is the serviced residence arm of CapitaLand Ltd, a major property group in Singapore). 

As Ascott Group chief corporate and investment officer Benett Theseira said: “We see good potential in Somerset Bukit Ceylon, with its prime location in the Golden Triangle and modern facilities. Our other residences in Malaysia are performing well.  

“The Ascott Kuala Lumpur achieved improved performance last year and continues to exceed the market in occupancy and rental rates. In Kuching, Somerset Gateway leads the market in rental rates and revenue per available room.” 

Level 1, 2 and 3 will comprise 27 duplex business suites. These units will have double-volume living area, spiral staircase to the master bedroom and 8ft high doors. The five penthouse units may be priced at more than RM1mil but less than RM1.5mil each. 

There is ample choice of unit and layout types as each floor will have 12 units comprising five, two-bedroom units and seven, one-bedroom units. Of the seven one-bedroom units, four will have the size of 640 sq ft and a unit each for the 591 sq ft, 730 sq ft and 748 sq ft types. The one-bedroom unit has a large master bedroom, with generous space for the attached bathroom. 

The two-bedroom units have sizes from 938 sq ft to 1,260 sq ft. 

Unlike most condominium designs where units of over 1,000 sq ft usually have three to four bedrooms, Seri Bukit Ceylon's units stress on more spacious bedrooms, living area and bathrooms. 

Facilities include a coffee terrace restaurant, cafe, swimming pool, spa pool, gymnasium, self-service laundrette, children's playground, covered car park, housekeeping services, landscaped courtyards and barbecue area.  

The 24-hour security system includes use of electronic card access. The recreational deck is on the fourth floor. 

UMLand chief operating officer Henry Leong said he was confident all units would be sold before completion. “This product is a very good investment. We expect the local market will be able to absorb (the units),” he said. 

Seri Bukit Ceylon's key selling points, according to him, include its good location as it is in the city centre where the action is.  

It is also affordably priced and has good layout designs to cater to the more modern group and those who are young and young at heart. It will also have a good management. 

“There's no point buying a condo if it is not properly managed. The value can drop. That's why we have brought in the Ascott Group. We are also strict to their standard,” he said, adding that some corporations had bought a few units for their staff.  

UMLand's major shareholders include Pernas, CapitaLand (a major public listed property development group in Singapore) and Chee Tat Group.  

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