Kara’s Journal Entry #3 (The Right Kind Of Home)

Dear Journal,

o what does a misbehaved librarian write about for her first-ever post to the world? Since I’m up and about at 3 in the morning, lots of thoughts come into mind. But since I’m writing this while reading David Foster Wallace’s “Pale King” and staring into the Kuala Lumpur skyline (I am good at multi-tasking, swear) as seen from my very cosy condominium unit in the KLCC enclave, I can’t help but feel somewhat blessed for living in a condominium that offers a lot of perks(this panoramic view included). So let me share with you my thoughts on finding the right condominium for you, for starters.

A lot of people these days look to condominiums for their urban dwelling needs. Apart from all its amenities, a lot of people are drawn to them because of their prime location – most of which are situated at the center of the city, and their many modern amenities. PropertyReviews.my (hands down my favourite Malaysia property reviews site) actually helped me locate my current place after I typed “condominiums near pubs and libraries in the KLCC area” on its search bar. 🙂 Bottomline is– location is of extreme importance.

However, just like any investment, you cannot simply look into how pretty the condo’s well-kept landscaping looks like or how tall the building is or how conveniently close it is to your favorite restaurant or to your work. More than that, you have to make sure that the living conditions here are worth all the expenses you are to take – yes, they are mostly more expensive.

So if you’re a first time buyer and you’re not too sure about what to look for in a condo, please be my guest and read on.

Kara says…look both on the outside and the inside.

A lot of people make the mistake of settling for less-than-satisfactory condominiums only because they are drawn to what they see inside the units. It may have big rooms and large hallways and a carpeted elevator – but does the building look well-kept to you? Can you stand living in a 40-floor building or are you more low-key?

Kara says… check the neighbourhood and safety.

Are you a yuppie looking for a livelier crowd? Are you married and you have kids and you want to live in a child-friendly environment? Or maybe the security of your area does not go well beyond 500 meters of the building, that you do not feel safe when you are out of your building security’s sight? I go pretty anal over safety– I actually Google these things.

Check this very helpful apartment safety checklist, provided to us by our friends over at the National Crime Prevention Council. Haha.

Check the amenities.

Every condo has its own story, and thus each one has its own set of amenities – pools, bars, gyms, party rooms, etc. In a city that never sleeps like KL, it’s almost impossible to run out of activities, whether it’s during the day, and most especially at night. Getting a unit means you are paying for these amenities whether you like and use them or you don’t. So at least check to see if you’d like what you’re going to pay for.

In my case, I checked fervently by calling my favourite property agent  Alyssa Lee (from Harta Emas Realtors), and by doing so, I was able to get good results. #winning

Fees. It’s all about the mullah

On top of your monthly mortgage fees for getting your condo unit, you’ll have to pay for association fees. You are paying this simply because you are part of the people who own the building. Compare the fees because they may end up more than what you can afford or are willing to pay.

Rules and regulations.

Some condos (not those inside the posh Mont Kiara enclave) allow you the freedom to repaint and do some alteration jobs in your unit. Others don’t allow even so much as change your light bulbs without their permission or outside of their prescribed items. Check to see if the building and association’s rules on occupancy suit well with your own preferences or not.

Just as with every other real estate transaction, you should make your choices well. You can’t just drop your money and sign a 30-year mortgage contract over something you are unsure of. Seek the help of a real estate agent to get a better look at the choices you have. Good luck.

Misbehavin’ Librarian would welcome guest posts and submissions soon! Email me at KaraAWithrow@misbehavinlibrarian.com if you want your 15 minutes of fame. Til next time!

This blog post has been viewed 12,573 times.

Kara’s Journal Entry #2: Condo Hustling

“A condo is more different than a house in more ways than one. Apart from it looking different, the financial and real estate activity that goes with it is also very different. That said, selling a condo unit is, also very different.”

hat was what my real estate mentor (Karl Jensen) told me. Indeed, there are so many things that you can do with a house that you can’t with a condo; quite honestly if you ask me, selling a condo is a much harder ordeal than selling a regular house in the suburbs. For one, you don’t own the building. You don’t own the rest of the space outside of your walls and outside of your door. You can only do so much as to prepare your unit; everything else, you have absolutely zero control over. And the type and amount of change that you can do to your very own unit is also limited! Second, whilst you are limited to things you can and can do just within your unit, you cannot be invulnerable to any financial trends that affect the entire building and the corporation that owns it. If the homeowners’ association fails, if the traffic in your area gets worse, or if the whole condo property’s value depreciates, yours will go down the drain with it.

And there is nothing you can do about these hard facts. Except one.

As a condo owner looking to sell a unit, the only thing you can do is devise a plan on how to efficiently sell your condo unit despite and amidst all its limitations. Here’s a heads up:

  • Hire a real estate agent whose specialty is selling condo units. As I’ve mentioned quite clearly earlier, condo properties are a much different story compared to houses. And it takes some experience in selling them to actually sell them effectively. The best way to go, if you don’t have the patience and the time to process the sale yourself, is make sure that your real estate agent has sufficient condo sales in her portfolio, like selling some units from
  • Get the necessary documents from the property corporation. You don’t fully own your condo; everything has to go through the corporation and so to ensure a smooth move, make sure you go see someone from the head office and get all the necessary permits and docs. You don’t want to run about this at the very last minute!
  • Make sure to pay for any outstanding fees you may have. No buyer would want to inherit your debt or monthly fee! So make sure that all fees and payments have been settled just before your unit sale is made final. The same goes to all the other elements/requirements/implements related to moving out, transfer of ownership, etc.
  • Price it right. So maybe there are tons of similarities between house and condo selling anyway. Just as with any real estate property sale, make sure your unit and the whole property goes through an appraiser for you to know the fair market value of your unit. That way, you are assured that you are selling your house at the right price and therefore attract more buyers.

This journal entry was written at Stephen Barney Deutsch’s posh Panorama KLCC apartment.

This blog post has been viewed 987 times.

What I’m Reading

I love a good creative nonfiction.I think it’s about time to let you in on what I’m reading right now– if you’ve been paying attention on my last article which you can read here you would remember that I’ve been into David Foster Wallace‘s “Consider the Lobster”– it’s his collection of topnotch essays. All hilarious, witty, razor-sharp, and intelligent, it’s definitely a must-read for everyone who loves a good essay. Sadly, Wallace committed suicide last 2008, but I’d always keep his brilliance with words in spirit and take it me everywhere I go.

On the other side, I’ve also been doing a lot of property reviews as I hunt for pretty condominiums. Found out that there’s another development by Sunrise Berhad that’s reaping in a lot of megabucks right now. Might as well head over there to check the place out– I’ve learned that the more expensive and posh the condominium is, the greater and better the pubs that surround the area will be 😀

More on the books on my shelves soon.


Kara’s Journal Entry #4: Open Houses

Dear Journal,

o you’ve repaired and cleaned and polished your house to a squeaky clean. The lights are new, the electrical wires are brand new as well, the flooring has been replaced, and you’ve practically done everything you need to do to make your house saleable.

Then you decide you want to do an open house to spread the word on your home sale. How do you prepare yourself and your house to get a winning impression at the open house? What changes and additions should you make to your house that are worth taking and are attractive to buyers? Here are some tips, comin’ straight to you from the Misbehavin’ catalogue:

  1. Polish, polish, polish. A clean house is one thing; a polished, shiny house is another. And the latter earns you more points. A polished door knob devoid of hand prints, shiny wood furniture and practically squeaky clean everything makes your house look well-kept and brand new. So go ahead and buy that metal and furniture polish to add some much needed pizzazz to your already clean home.
  2. Depersonalize your home. Remove any trace of yourself and your family from your home. You’d want your house to be inviting to its new owners. You want your prospect buyers to imagine themselves building brand new lives in your home and that is a little hard to achieve if your wedding photos and your kid’s baby photos still hang on the wall. It may be hard, I know– but think of it this way– you’re going to find the right condo or new house again, soon.
  3. Clean out your closets. Others make the mistake of dumping their personal things in the closets thinking the prospect buyers don’t open them up. Well, yes they do. So keep your stuff off the house and dump it in your restricted rooms or get a storage rental for it. You’ll need the storage during the move anyway. Leave out a few things for presentation – some ironed clothes hung neatly, a few jeans, etc.
  4. Remove some furniture. Don’t strip out your home to a bare wall-and-floor; just remove the pieces of furniture that (1) you don’t want to be sold with the house and (2) take up too much space.
  5. Open the windows and use sheer curtains. If the weather permits it, let some natural light get in through the windows. Also, some sheer curtains in bright colors will help create a brighter, sunnier look combined with some great natural lighting.
  6. Mow the lawn and turn on the sprinklers an hour or so before your open house starts. Wet grass creates a very alive, very healthy and very inviting aura to your exteriors.
  7. No pet zone. Pets are not everyone’s cup of tea. Show your house devoid of any trace of pets. Take your pets out and take them back in while the open house is ongoing (at most two hours) or leave your furry friend with a friend or a relative.
  8. Prepare some goodies. Freshly baked cookies not only make your house smell nice and inviting, cookies and some drinks on the table make the prospect guests feel that you actually did put out some effort for them.
  9. Go somewhere. If you have an agent, leave the talking to the agent. Your personal attachments to the house might cause you to say things that are less than beneficial to your home sale.
  10. Put some fresh flowers in different locations around the house and spray on some scents in the bedrooms, the closets and the bathrooms.

It’s always hard at the beginning, but trust me– it’s going to be easier. Just be patient, and you’ll be fine. For references and inspiration, go check out the showrooms for AnjaliFour Seasons KLCC and Senja.

This blog post has been viewed 14,238 times.