Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Buyers Snap Up KL's The Binjai

Source : The Business Times, November 11, 2008

UNHINDERED views of the iconic Petronas Twin Towers, 20 hectares of park land at your doorstep for leisurely daily walks, plus conveniences a stone's throw away. That in a nutshell is the essence of The Binjai On The Park, Malaysia's premier development in the Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC).

In just two months, nearly a third of the 171 units have been snapped up - its average cost of RM3,000 per sq ft (S$1,258) is apparently not a deterrent to those wanting a piece of what is arguably the country's most desired residential address. At current prices, it is certainly the most expensive.

So appealing is the proposition of a freehold residential address - the only such one in the KLCC precinct, which incidentally has its own exclusive postcode - that 51 individuals have put down a deposit.

The moneyed buyers are 'a good mix of businessmen, professionals, entrepreneurs, old money as well as new money', revealed Hashim Wahir, chief executive of Layar Intan, the developer of The Binjai, and KLCC Property Holdings during a recent media tour of the top-end real estate many have heard of, but not too many have had the privilege to view.

Although the spectre of a global melt-down in stock markets and a worldwide recession could prove a damper for really big-ticket items, Mr Hashim maintains The Binjai's 20 per cent premium to other similar developments is not unreasonable. In any event, 'time for us is not a factor', he declared alluding to the company's considerable holding power.

Layar Intan is a subsidiary of KLCC Holdings, which is in turn the parent company of Bursa Malaysia-listed KLCC Property Holdings. KLCC Property is the real estate arm of national oil company Petronas.

Both the parent and listed companies have what financial analysts describe as a 'virtual monopoly' on the existing commercial properties surrounding the KLCC precinct. These include two of its most well known, the Petronas Twin Towers and the shopping mall Suria KLCC.

Although one thousand odd people have registered their interest in The Binjai, its starting price of RM6 million obviously positions the development for a different class of owners. Prospective buyers are by-invitation only and vetted, and Mr Hashim makes it clear he would rather have purchasers 'wanting to buy for home-stay'.

A third of those who have bought units are foreign, mostly expatriates who live in Malaysia or who often travel to the country. For foreign buyers whose currencies dwarf the local ringgit, the value proposition is undeniable.

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