Category Archives: My Thoughts

Home Improvement Projects that Don’t Help Your Home Sell

Did you now that a quick fix may actually be better than an outright remodel?

Many of today’s homeowners are looking at (extremely) expensive home improvement projects for the sake of selling their homes at a much higher price. They think that putting up this and that on improvements and additions would sell their house as high class as it looks.

To their dismay, they find out that it does the exact opposite. You thought you found the right homebuyer, but instead you’re back at square one.

See, not every home improvement project raises your home’s marketability. It may increase your house’s market price, but it does not necessarily make it more easily marketable.

SO if you’re thinking about putting up that posh Jacuzzi in the backyard to imitate your sister’s post The Pearl KLCC unit and installing your uber-elite wall-to-wall carpeting, you might want to take a pause and put yourself in the buyers’ shoes. There are a number of home improvement projects that do not help your home sale.

Building 1

And before you call that contractor, here’s a heads up of the home improvement projects you should likely avoid:

  • Exaggerated kitchen upgrades – thinking about the private wine fridge? Or turning everything in your kitchen into granite? Or gold-plating your handles from oven to kitchen cabinets? You don’t want to do that! Unless your whole house is placed in that kind of market (the market of the gold-plating crazy and similar crowds), that would cost you your whole home improvement budget. It would give your potential buyers the precept that it’s actually so much more expensive and that they might actually not afford it.
  • Large pools, home spas, Jacuzzis, and similar projects. They may look posh and beautiful on a summer day but unless you live in the Sunshine State, they may mean extra expenses on maintenance and heating. So if you’re targeting the middle-class to a little above-middle class crowd, adding a pool is unnecessary and is actually a wrong move.
  • Posh bathrooms – if you think a very private bathroom with all the amenities of a 7-star hotel bathroom would do your home sale any good, I hate to tell you that it won’t in a middle class neighborhood. Keep the tiles and colors and even implements low key and simple. It would sell faster when the bathroom is appealing to them rather than is intimidating them.
  • Too many colors on the walls and the floors. Your favorite red shade for the floors to go with your canary yellow walls may not exactly appeal to 90% of the prospective buyers. If you’re really looking to sell your house, leave as little a trace of you as possible. Don’t invest on something too personal because you’re leaving it. If you were to invest in colors of the walls and the floors anyway, go for the neutrals. They’ve been proven by real estate experts to appeal more to buyers because it is so much easier to imagine living in them than in something more personalized.

The key to selling a home, and improving a home for marketing, is to make the house look as generic as possible without taking the quality and style for granted.

Finding the Right Homebuyer

Home sales, except for the real-estate investors who do it for a living, are always an emotional process. One can never forego the affection, passion, and memories that came with living in a home. There are dreams built around it, moments created, and lives changed inside the four corners of a home. That is why homeowners who are selling their house never only use their heads in home selling. These moments tug at the heartstrings and every buyer visit is a bittersweet occasion.

Thus, home sellers never just rely on the numbers when choosing the right home buyer. They use their instincts, their gut feel. I cannot blame them if they seem to be emotionally-attached to their unit at The Manor, Penang and can’t seem to sell it wholeheartedly! 🙂 So, understand that they try to see beyond all the papers and the amount offered to find the right person to entrust what once was their family home to.

Here are some tips to finding the right home buyer:

  • Choose the buyer who negotiates fairly.

All home buyers will try to bargain. That is a known fact in real estate. However, some buyers would go beyond your limits and try to bargain at a less than ideal price. Sometimes, they bargain beyond the acceptable rates and bordering into disrespect. Don’t bother wasting time with these people. Instead, go for those who know the value of the house and those who respect you.

  • Meet your prospective buyers.

You don’t exactly need to be there, hounding the behinds of every person who takes a look at your place. There will always be two or three buyers who are taking more than just a look around – those who are really interested in your place. Take time to know them, it would not hurt to know what your gut feeling says about the person who will take over your house. It would be best to meet them at home too – you’ll get a look at how they will “look at” your home, how they “pry” and how they “touch” your stuff. Observe their mannerisms.

  • Go for the ones who took the time out to meet you.

You’ll know a good buyer when they go out of their way to meet their seller. Like you, they are looking to know the history of the house and the background of the people who once lived in it. Whether they are doing it for safety purposes, or over some sort of ritual or superstition, it is always a good indicator when the prospective buyers of your home want to meet you. Make time for these buyers and have a feel for each other. You’d never want your beloved home to go to someone you don’t think you can trust so go ahead and make time. (PS: I, Avery Nice— will say this only once so listen up: don’t let the fake ones try to sweet talk you into selling the house at an unfair rate however. Trust me, some people will do that so let your better judgment rule).

Your home has been a big part of your and your family’s lives. Make sure it goes to the right people – people who will care for it and love it the way you have. Good luck.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Mortgage

Avery says: You are going to carry your mortgage loan for more than half of your adult life. That much is true. That’s also exactly the reason why you should find means and ways to make the most out of it.

You may have gotten the best deal when you first signed up for it, but you have to be on the lookout to keep it that way or improve it. Plus, you have to keep yourself on your toes so it does not go mismanaged that may lead to you getting in trouble and at risk for repossession.

High Rise

This information is pretty much useful to anyone– whether a homeowner, or even a resident living in the most exclusive condo in KL! It’s for everyone, actually– as we all have our stories– good or bad– when it comes to mortgage.

Here are some tips so you get the most out of your mortgage:

1. Pay as much as you can. Instead of getting a home theater system on your credit card (just because you can currently afford it), put your money instead on your mortgage. The more you pay, the more you save up and you know how valuable this can be for your mortgage loan. Prioritize your mortgage over anything unnecessary. When you pay in larger sums and more frequently, your mortgage lender will love you and reward you for it in the form of payment incentives and discounts. That, and the fact that you will get out of the debt faster than what is on your loan contract.

2. Keep your house well-maintained. The last thing you need when you’re paying for your mortgage is another loan in the form of home improvement loan. A house that is well kept will last a few more years without repairs and thus save you the hassle and the expense of having to renovate your house. Invest on home inspections every few years and consider this preventive maintenance.

3. Put all your debts together. Put all your mortgage, credit card and other loans together in the same place. It will make payment easier and more convenient with having a single due date each and in some cases, you can save up on the interest rates if they come from the same lender. It’s also much easier to budget for one amount every month.

4. Get yourself an offset account. I should’ve included this in my previous article that discussed the basics of property investment and management. An offset is simply a bank account that is connected with your mortgage. You pay off part of your mortgage with the interest you earn from your account. That’s hitting two birds with one stone: you get to pay off parts of your mortgage loans (seems small in the monthly rates but believe me, this will be a huge help when you look at the bigger picture) and as well get a bank account that you can get anytime.

5. Be updated of the newest offers on mortgage loans. If the offer is good or beneficial for you, then by all means don’t hesitate to get a refinance. This is also beneficial for anyone planning on selling their houses themselves. Don’t be unaware, too, of whatever gains you’ve earned over the years of paying such as your equity. Knowing these things and how to use them to your advantage will surely slash a huge amount off your debt.

How to: Save Money in Building your Own Home

My mom is an engineer and I’ve seen her plan houses using a language that a web design major like myself will never come to understand in this lifetime or another. But building houses have always fascinated me, I think there’s a sense of immeasurable, incomparable satisfaction to watching the birth of your dream home. 🙂

So I’ve decided early on that I would want to build my house from scratch when I first got here in the busy district of Kuala Lumpur, after I heard how promising Malaysian real estate is. However, now that I’m older and practically more aware of how the world works (aka money makes the world go round and price tags are the wheels that make it move), I realized that it won’t be easy neither would it be cheap.

House

There are many pros and cons to building your own house. It’s also a process of asking yourself thousands of questions about property just to get started. But if you have fully decided that the pros are enough to outweigh the cons, but still would want to save up on money, here are some tips to save money doing so. I find these tips very helpful too, so let’s all just give it a try.

Ditch the contractor.

Settle for an independent builder a la Igor on Restaurant Makeover. I reckon you’ve already decided on the style and design of home you want to see built on your house so more or less you know what you would tell your builder. You can hire the services of a freelance engineer to help you.

Go out to your local DIY and Hardware stores.

Give yourself a good view of the prices of materials you’ll need. Buying them yourself will help you save more on your expenses on the house. Get a list from your builder of the materials with size and amount specifications so you’ll know what to look for when you’re there. Also, ask for a wholesale price whenever you can.

Arrange with your builder to do things that you can do yourself.Green

That does not include building the fences and posts and laying down the foundations, fixing the electric connections, and other more technical stuff. You can, however, opt to do the house painting yourself. If you want to save up on the fencing too, save yourself the expense of a custom made fencing and go to your DIY Fence makers and yes, exactly do that – DO IT YOURSELF.

Keep your house open for adjustments and extensions in the future.

I’ve seen our house get extended and extended time and again. My mom designed it in a way that we can add anything anytime we want and anytime our budget will allow. So our foundations were built for a two-story house even when before we added the second floor home. This will keep your house easier to extend when you have the money to do so. Don’t rush things.

Unless you’re a celebrity, you really do not need the help of a professional interior decorator. Watch home makeover shows, read Interior Design magazines, click on this interesting article, and read books for inspiration. Remember, you’ll never know what you’ll find in the thrift stores and yard sales! Good luck!

Avery 🙂

George’s Five Questions On Property Acquisition In Malaysia

The Five Questions You Should Be Asking Yourself Before Making a Real Estate Purchase In Malaysia – by George & Avery, the “Partners In Crime”, AveryNiceDesignStudio.org

A reader of this blog has emailed about buying a piece of real estate in Malaysia for the first time, referencing the “state of the Malaysian property market” op-ed that I published earlier (click here to read it). Here’s my response. Benjamin Heong (benjiheong@yahoo.com.my), thank you for your question!

Buying things for the first time will always have that feeling of excitement and exhilaration that only another first-time purchase could match. Buying your first home in Malaysia doubles up that first-purchase excitement. But along with this excitement come a lot of other obligations – payment forms, papers, not to mention the pressure of complying with all the mortgage loan requirements!

A New Chapter

But buying your first home should be the wonderful experience it’s supposed to be. Especially for newlyweds, this is the home where you are to build your life and family together! This is the beginning of a new chapter in your life and this is the home that will witness all the ups and downs you are to encounter.

Most Malaysians rank “buying my first home” up in their priorities list according to research done by MetroSherpa, the property portal (you can find this at MetroSherpa.my).

Drama aside, your home is your personal space and finally getting your own home is perhaps one of the biggest, most memorable accomplishments that deserve half a lifetime of applause. 🙂

So before you lose yourself in the drama and pressures on your way to getting your home sweet home (in Klang Valley or elsewhere), here are some things you should ask yourself to keep the pressure at a minimum.

George’s Five Questions On Property Acquisition In Malaysia

  • Question #1: What am I looking for?

The size of the house, the type, and also the location of the property are some of the things you should consider. The cheapest price tag may not be efficient in location. Do you want a landed property or an apartment?

For many first-time home buyers, they usually consider places like Puchong, Cheras or Petaling Jaya. I have many friends who opted to buy units at Paragon 3 at Seri Kembangan as their first homes. Paragon 3 is developed by Paragon Promenade Sdn Bhd which has got a pretty good track record in Malaysia property development. If you have got a bit of spare change, you can probably consider an apartment like one at Dua Residency (KLCC), or at MK10 (also known popularly as 10 Mont Kiara). Very good choices for first time buyers!

  • Question 2: How much can I afford?

It does not take a genius to know that you should only spend on what you can afford, ‘live under your means’ so to speak. You don’t want to get a mortgage plan that is more than what you and your spouse earns (although, you will get advice on this matter from your lender/bank) and risk a repossession after some years.

  • Question 3: What payment plan should I get?

How long would you want to be paying for your home? And how often would you like to make payments for it?

  • Question 4: Where would you go for your mortgage loan?

Choosing the right financing partners is essential in getting through your mortgage plan smoothly and effortlessly.

On top of getting the right plan, it is with who you’re making business with that matters in making it a wonderful experience. I have had clients who successfully secured loans at very good interest rates at CIMB and Maybank. If you need help on this, contact me – my details are on the right. 🙂

  • Question 5: How can I improve the home?

Sometimes, we decide on buying a house that has had its share of wear and tear and the seller does not make any effort at getting it in tiptop shape.

Any home would look good with some renovation - and this applies to these homes found on Old Klang Road!

Any home would look good with some renovation – and this applies to these homes found on Old Klang Road!

These types of property are both good news and bad news. The good news is that it should not cost a lot. They are a whole lot cheaper than newly built ones. The bad news is, it would cost you to get the home improvements it needs. Make sure the improvements do not cost you more than when buying a house that is more than ready to live in.

I usually get some really good home improvement ideas from this blog. Remember that a nicely spruced up home would result in capital appreciation – this is especially true for houses in areas like Damansara Heights and Kenny Hills. Properties in Bangsar are also aging, and will do well with some renovation. But that’s just my opinion, of course!

The Bottom Line

So, evaluate your situation and your financial capacities. Buying your first home should be a wonderful, memorable milestone, a dream come true and not a horrific nightmare. Call us in for the housewarming if you’re in the Klang Valley!

-George

Apply

Hello, George Lee here, and I am Avery’s business partner. He has asked me to contribute and so here I am.

The Apply apartments in KLCC enclave, Malaysia is easily my favorite condominium development. 🙂 I was a resident in Park Seven for about seven months, but I have always wondered about the nearly Apply units.

So what I did was that I Googled for Malaysia property reviews and then I found this site called PropertyReviews.my (the site URL is http://propertyreviews.my – go check it out!). It has got a compendium of reviews of real estate developments in Malaysia which I really like. It’s still a lot of work in progress, but the content is pretty awesome.

When I was moving out from my unit in Park Seven, I was considering of going to Marc Residence, Ceriaan Kiara, or the Binjai On The Park. Yes, I am completely in love with the KLCC area – it has got the unmissable view of the KLCC Park as well as the Petronas Twin Towers. Awesome!

Idaman Residence – My Choice

And so I finally settled down at the nearby Idaman Residence (click on that link for a review by the good folks at KLCCCondominiums). I managed to get a bargain because the prices have somewhat flattened over the past few years. Somebody told me that KLCC is not that prestigious anymore, but I begged to differ. I have always preferred apartments over landed properties anyhow. This could well change when I am hitched with children though…

The Malaysian government has launched a scheme for foreigners to own properties through the “Malaysia My Second Home” program. I am not sure if I am eligible for it, but my friends at local real estate agencies have advised me to do so. Since I am only renting a unit at Idaman Residence, I feel tempted to buy it outright because I like this place too much. My office is at one of the two towers, and so I walk to work every day and it’s really convenient. Also, Dua Residency (on Jalan Tun Razak) is nearby, and it houses a nice restaurant called “Delicious Cafe” which I like very much. Avery would come around and we would have a blast.

Till my next blog post…

GEORGE (georgelee2@ymail.com)

Avery’s Maiden Thought – Landed Property or Not?

Hello, Avery here – from your friendly neighborhood web design studio! I am going to talk to you today about the relative advantages and disadvantages of landed properties. These are the considerations I made when I started building up my web studio. I had wanted to rent a service apartment to be converted into my studio and then I had second thoughts…

Property Decisions…

Buying a property should never be a light decision. One of the main issues that a buyer will need to think about before buying one is whether he should look at condominiums or landed properties. Find out the advantages and disadvantages of landed properties here… in my humble opinion of course. 😉

The Advantages

  • Better Appreciation

Landed properties are known to appreciate better than condominiums in terms of value as more time goes by. In fact, this particular trend is seen in the majority of landed properties out there.

  • More Space

Landed properties are also a much better choice when you look at the living space itself.That was my main consideration when I was shopping around for a place for my web studio.

We used to be renting a place near the Sunway Pyramid shopping centre, but we have since moved on to Desa Parkcity

We used to be renting a place near the Sunway Pyramid shopping centre, but we have since moved on to Desa Parkcity

While condominium owners only own their units and have to share certain common areas with the rest of the residents in the condominium, landed property owners actually own the house and the land that the house is on. This means that they can do whatever that they want to with the land.

Some of the things that you could do with your land if you have a landed property is create a landscaped garden or simply use the extra space to rear your pets. These are some things that condominium owners cannot do. Some condominium owners aren’t even allowed to have pets in the building to begin with! This poses a problem as I am quite attached to Rover and Sammy, my two golden retrievers. :p

The Disadvantages

  • Higher Price

If the most important thing for you is to find a property with a low price, then you might not want to opt for a landed property. Generally speaking, condominiums are known to be much cheaper compared to landed properties, though this will also depend on the layout and size of the properties. In some cases, for example the condominiums in the Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) area, properties may have sky-high prices – indeed they can be more expensive than bungalows in the suburbs. For more information, check out http://klcccondominiums.com.my – a good resource on condos and apartments in KLCC.

  • Fewer Amenities

Some buyers might not be interested in buying landed properties because they do not have the extra amenities that condominiums tend to have in their pre-packaged sale prices. Upmarket condominiums usually have top-notch facilities that fit the top living standards of the people who live in them, for example, such as badminton and tennis courts, a swimming pool, a gymnasium and 24-hour CCTV security systems.

Condo

Think about it.. Luxury or practicality?

If you own a landed property and want the same conveniences as mentioned above, then you will have to join a gym or a sports center, as well as buy your own security system.

  • More Maintenance

Condominium owners do not need to worry about maintenance a lot of the time because the property’s upkeep will be dealt with by the condominium’s management company. This will cost a fixed monthly sum, though.

The Verdict

In the end, the choice to look at condominiums or landed properties will depend on why you want to buy one in the first place, though. If you want to invest in a property, then you might want to opt for a condominium since it will yield a higher return on investment. Plus, it costs less to maintain a condominium unit overall.

However, if you plan on living in the property that you buy, then it would be best to opt for a landed property due to its higher appreciation and bigger living space. In the end, it will simply boil down to your personal living style and preferences, though.

As for me, I finally settled at this place near my house called Desa ParkCity. It’s an awesome place, and I like it a lot. If you wanna come around, give me a call and coffee’s on me. 🙂 Here’s a handy map –


View Larger Map

Much love,

-Avery