As a normal person, seeing advertisements and pamphlets describing high-rise properties for sale can sometimes be very confusing, especially in Malaysia where new developments are being launched regularly. It is often difficult for a normal person to know the distinct difference between a service apartment and just an apartment complex.
Here we have prepared a brief guide for potential buyers of high-rise units to understand more about the property they are buying based on the terminology used by developers. Of course, buyers should keep in mind that these terms are very fluid and can sometimes be used differently.
A flat is a low cost high-rise building with multiple units that are built at a low cost. Flats often are not gated and guarded and do not have shared amenities like swimming pools, gyms or parks. Usually there is very little or no interior design and units are built with practicality in mind rather than style. The materials used are often very simple and not costly. Also they are very high density and the space of each unit is rather limited.
A simple definition of apartments from official sources is “A suite of rooms forming one residence, typically in a building containing a number of these.” In colloquial Malaysian definition, an apartment is sort of moderate quality high-rise property with basic communal amenities like gyms, swimming pools and multi-level parking. Apartment level properties and above have a dedicated management body and residents pay a set amount monthly as maintenance fee or sinking fund. They usually feature moderate density units, but some may be high density.
In Malaysia, usually when people say they stay in a Condo, they often mean that they own the property rather than rent it. Additionally, Condos are generally accepted to mean a multi-unit high rise that is more posh than an apartment, with modern interior designs and landscaped parks surrounding the property. It is often low density and the units are more spacious and use better, trendier material in their building.
In the past, serviced apartments (also known as serviced condos, service suites etc.) were units owned by hoteliers who fully furnished the property and rented them out. However, nowadays the word ‘Serviced’ can mean an apartment or condo built by a developer on commercial land rather than domestic, making some of the costs of living there higher, like utility bills and taxes.
Studios are basically just apartments without walls to separate the different living areas like the kitchen, living room and bedroom. Basically the whole apartment is one large room. The only place that is cordoned off is the toilet and bathroom for privacy. These types of apartments are very popular with single people.
SOHO stands for small office/home office and is a unique concept brought here from western countries whereby the apartment is fitted with a small office area. These office areas may have a separate entrance from the living space or be designed on a different level from the living space. These units are built for those people who work from home, like freelancers and small company start-ups. SOHOs are often located in mixed developments with shops and office buildings.
Duplex and Penthouse
A duplex actually means an apartment with two floors and a penthouse is an apartment located on the topmost floor of the building and features more space. Duplexes are becoming popular among developers who target growing families.