Friday 12 June 2020

Batu Kawan: Nothing Comes Cheap

I have been following the development of Batu Kawan for around 10 years. I witness it growing from an embryo to a toddler now.

Yes, it is growing. It's not a miscarriage. 

If you check the label of "Batu Kawan" in this blog, you'll know how much my interest is in its development since it was an empty land with shit everywhere. 

This Batu Kawan is not a plantation company. It's the next satellite town in the mainland of Penang.

I always have a plan to own a property in Batu Kawan and I watched closely those property companies involved.

I quickly signed a cheque to book a unit in Eco Horizon, only to give up after the price of 2 storey terrace was confirmed to be over RM800k.

I went to the initial launch of Aspen's Vertu Resort Condominium in early 2016. The price of those half-furnished units were around RM400 psf, which was not too bad but the total units launched were almost 1,300!

Paramount property also launched their first project of Utropolis Batu Kawan at the end of 2016 called "Sensasi". Even though the price tag was "affordable" at below RM300k, it's only a 500 sq ft single room unit which was more than RM500 psf.

Now 4 years have passed, Eco World has launched 3 phases of its landed projects there, namely Ashton, Byrdon & Camdon. 

Camdon is promoted as "New landed home ONLY from RM426k". Well, you only get one floor of a 2-storey townhouse, not even one and a half floor... I think this starting price of RM426k is only for the upper floor, so it's a "landed home" without a land except car park. 

Aspen has added Vivo & Vogue high-rise & high density projects, as well as a rare landed development Viluxe which was priced almost similar to Eco Horizon. Paramount has come up with two more high-rise projects Suasana & Sinaran.

I read that people queued overnight to book a unit of Vivo Executive apartment in 2019. I thought this only happened in 2010-2012? 

Luckily this Vivo project offers 1,530 units to fulfill the needs of so many people.

Let's check out how many units of apartment have been launched in Batu Kawan now, excluding the low-medium cost Pangsapuri Suria by the state government.

Utropolis @ Batu Kawan

Utropolis Sensasi
2 blocks
Size: 500 - 729 sq ft
Total units: 612

Utropolis Suasana
2 blocks
Size: 926 - 1313 sq ft
Total units: 491

Utropolis Sinaran Residence
2 blocks
Size: 667 - 1044 sq ft
Total units: 982

Aspen Vision City

Vertu Resort Condominium
5 blocks
Size: 740 - 1290 sq ft
Total units: 1282

Vivo Executive Apartment
3 blocks
Size: 730 - 830 sq ft
Total units: 1530

Viio Executive Apartment
2 blocks
Total units: 980

Vogue Lifestyle Residence
2 blocks 
Szie: 530 - 1750 sq ft
Total units: 627 

In total there will be 6,504 high-rise units available when all these 7 projects are completed. Surely, there will be more to come, as Eco World hasn't started its high-rise project.

If you are buying for own stay, there is no problem. If you are buying for investment, then you might face some problem in renting or selling it. 

However, I think long term should be alright if you have the holding power.

I foresee Batu Kawan as a thriving township in the future. That's why I always wish to get a property here either for own stay or investment. 

Before that, everything was blur, you heard the news but not sure whether they were going to materialize. 

We have a 18-holes golf course & Eco Marina cancelled. Bosch's initial RM2bil solar project was called off. The UK Hull University is also nowhere to be seen.

Columbia Asia Hospital, in which its construction was initially expected to be completed in 2019, might see its plan postponed or whatever. 

We saw Ivory divested from its partnership with Aspen to develop the prime land surrounding IKEA, and also Malton exited the land currently occupied by Eco Horizon.

Nevertheless, now we have IKEA up and running, that's the main thing, along with the decent Penang Design Village. 

Hull University is now The Ship Peninsula College who partners with another UK-based University of Plymouth, while KDU is now University of Wollongong (UOW) Malaysia KDU Penang University College. 

Peninsula College is starting their student intake now in Jun 2020, while UOW has done so earlier this year.

SJK(C) Kuang Yu is also said to be relocated to Batu Kawan from Kuala Muda.

For me, the catalyst for Batu Kawan development is its modern industrial park (BKIP). There are Honda, VAT, hp, Flextronics, Western Digital/Sandisk, Micron Memory, Haemonetics, Jabil, Boston Scientific, Hotayi as well as local companies stock market investors are familiar with such as Inari, Pentamaster, Vitrox, UWC, Mi Technovation, Greatech etc.

Bosch is making a comeback after recently signed a deal to set up a manufacturing facility here for the testing of semiconductor components and sensors.

You can imagine how many thousands of people working in Batu Kawan. There will be demand in properties here.

At the moment only the Utropolis Sensasi is completed and put on sales or rent. A simple search online shows that rental rate is not bad with 500 sqft asking for around RM1000, 729 sqft around RM1400 and studio around RM700 in average.

However, I'm not sure whether these rental rates have their market or not. If not, owners might need to drop it substantially to fight off the stiff competition. 

Vervea, the 3-storey shop offices next to IKEA & opposite of Eco Horizon, which were completed quite some time ago, are still mostly vacant even though the asking rental is quite attractive.

After giving up temporarily to grab a property in Batu Kawan since 2013, I do hope that I can get a cheaper one when a financial crisis strikes before year 2020.

Now it looks like the hope is slim.

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