Exclusive Bukit Jelutong draws steady demand
Ang Hui Hsien 
Bukit Jelutong’s landscape is dominated by landed properties interspersed with greenery

IN the more than 20 years since its launch, Bukit Jelutong has become one of the most exclusive low-density suburbs in Shah Alam, Selangor.

A product of careful planning by Sime Darby Property Bhd, its landscape is dotted mostly by landed properties which has been experiencing good demand despite the slowdown in the property market.

Last year, 58 of these properties were sold, of which 53 were terraced homes, according to portal.

Bukit Jelutong is also known for its open spaces, parks and gardens – a deliberate move by Sime Darby Property to create a natural setting for residents to interact and foster a community spirit.

The developer also purposely avoided building large-scale commercial areas to prevent congestion and preserve the serenity of a peaceful suburb.

The amount of thought that went into its master plan won Bukit Jelutong the Best Town Planning Scheme Award from the Malaysian Institute of Planners in 1997. It also gained state-level attention when it was named the Best Neighbourhood Landscape in Selangor by the state government in 2001.

The peace and exclusiveness offered by the township has attracted certain types of purchasers, namely an older generation who wants to settle down and raise a family in a conducive environment.

Lim says properties in Bukit Jelutong are still underpriced and there is huge potential for growth

Abbie Lim, associate director of real estate agency The Roof Realty Sdn Bhd, says the majority of residents are businessmen, professionals and C-level executives aged 35 years and above who are living with their families.

Lim, who specialises in Bukit Jelutong’s real estate and is a resident there herself, estimates about 55% of households are from the Malay community, followed by Chinese and other ethnicities.


Demand for landed properties

Spanning approximately 890ha on a former oil palm plantation known as the Bukit Jelutong Estate, the township was conceptualised and developed by Guthrie Property Holding Bhd, a subsidiary of Sime Darby.

It is easily accessible via the New Klang Valley Expressway (NKVE) which connects it to surrounding neighbourhoods like Subang Jaya and Petaling Jaya. The completion of the Guthrie Corridor Expressway (GCE) in 2005 further improved connectivity and eased travelling to Rawang.

The suburb’s appeal is complemented by the number of golf courses and country clubs surrounding it such as the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Golf Club and Saujana Golf and Country Club.

This combination of exclusiveness, nature, recreation and location has contributed to stable demand and value appreciation for its residential properties since the township was launched in 1995.

Urban Realty principal and Bukit Jelutong real estate specialist Vincent Yim says purchasers are more inclined towards the area’s landed properties, which he estimates to total about 4,000 units.

Yim says purchasers are more inclined towards the area’s landed properties

By comparison, there are only 2,000 units of non-landed residences comprising apartments and small office/home offices.

“The first phase of [landed] residential properties that was launched in 1997 and handed over in 1999 has appreciated in price from RM280,000 to RM720,000.

“For the last phase of terraced houses in Park Residence, the fair market price for an intermediate unit has appreciated from RM390,000 to RM850,000,” he says.

Lim concurs, revealing that the older phases were initially launched at RM320,000 and are now commanding anywhere from RM850,000 to RM950,000.

“I would say that properties in Bukit Jelutong are still underpriced and there is huge potential for growth. People are paying less yet staying at a prestigious place,” she says.

Despite the significant appreciation, Lim says prices of landed homes there are still considered low compared to other neighbourhoods like Subang Jaya and Glenmarie.

For example, the current market price of a terraced house in Ara Damansara that was launched at RM380,000 is now valued from RM1.2 mil to RM1.3 mil.

Similarly, homes in Temasya Glenmarie that were launched six years ago for RM600,000 are worth about RM1.6 mil today.

“Meanwhile, the selling prices of bungalows with land sizes of 8,000 to 10,000 sq ft in Bukit Jelutong range from RM3.7 mil to RM5 mil.

“On the other hand, properties of similar sizes in Glenmarie are being sold at about RM6 mil to RM7 mil,” she says.


High-rise conundrum

At the moment, Bukit Jelutong’s residential properties include condominiums such as Elaeis 1 and 2 as well as Suria Jelutong’s serviced residences – the first in the area – which were completed in 2015.

A project by Sunsuria Bhd, Suria Jelutong is a mixed-use development that also consists of shops and retail boutiques.

According to Raine and Horne International Zaki and Partners Sdn Bhd partner James Tan, these and other existing high-rise residences experience stable prices and average demand in general.

A quick check on revealed there were 10 transactions for units in Elaeis 1 and 2 last year at prices ranging from RM368 to RM455 per sq ft.

Seven serviced residences from Suria Jelutong were also sold last year, despite higher selling prices ranging from RM604 to RM662 per sq ft.

Older developments such as Delima Apartment and Seroja Apartment also performed fairly well during the same period, selling five and 17 units respectively.

More high-rises are expected to make their mark in the township’s skyline soon, including Sime Darby Property’s Rimbun Sanctuary Apartments and Radia Residences.

Similar to Suria Jelutong, Radia Residences is part of a mixed development which includes Radia Retail and Radia Offices.

In spite of their encouraging performance, Tan believes the presence of more high-rise developments will override the township’s original concept of being a low density and peaceful suburb.

“I do not think Bukit Jelutong is in need of more of such projects as the township was conceptualised to be a low-density residential area. There are way too many high-rises already [in the township],” he says.

Sharing this view is Urban Realty’s Yim and The Roof Realty’s Lim. Both agree the volume of non-landed properties in the area has tipped the scales, resulting in an oversupply in a low-density township.

To Yim, the situation is exacerbated by buyers’ preference for landed homes as a majority of them are family-oriented.

Furthermore, he foresees that high-rise residences will not perform particularly well in the rental market.

“Residents would prefer to rent a landed property for below RM2,000 per month instead of paying higher rental for a condominium,” he reasons, adding that this will drive up rental demand for landed homes.

Hence, he does not expect upcoming high-rise projects to affect the local population demography.

In view of the existing condominiums as well as on-going projects such as Radia Residences and Rimbun Sanctuary Apartments, Lim also believes there is no need for more high-rise residential units.

She notes such properties usually attract single or young purchasers who want a smaller place that is easier to maintain.

“People who choose landed properties are those who want bigger spaces and a garden. They also want to park their cars in front of their house,” she says.

She adds the en-suite feature in the landed homes was also a major draw for many of those who chose to move to the township.

In contrast to Yim, however, Lim believes the upcoming high-rise residences will affect the area’s demographics.

“It will definitely cause congestion. Bukit Jelutong will no longer be like the original plan – a place which is peaceful, quiet and filled with greenery,” she says. 

Existing high-rise residences in the suburb have been experiencing stable prices and average demand

Commercial segment challenges

While the low density nature of the township is one of the major draw factors to purchasers, it appears to have worked against the growth of commercial properties.

An example is Space U8, a commercial development  opened in 2011, that has many shops, offices and retail units still vacant today.

Highlighting other examples of commercial properties struggling to stay afloat, Lim says places such as D’vida and Plaza Jelutong are still not fully occupied after more than two years.

Only eight units of commercial lots were sold last year, one of which is a 2,250 sq ft retail unit in Space U8 that was sold for RM480,000.

“The businesses are unable to survive for long either due to high rental costs or the crowd is not substantial enough to support the business,” says Lim.

As such, she finds having a shopping mall in Bukit Jelutong unnecessary as supermarkets and hypermarkets like Jaya Grocer, Tesco and AEON are sufficient to meet the residents’ grocery needs.

Yim concurs, saying that commercial properties in the suburb are underperforming because of the low-density population.

“I do not encourage developers to build any large-scale commercial properties here, and it is equally not viable to build a shopping mall in Bukit Jelutong,” he says.

With Radia scheduled for completion next year, Yim reveals his pessimism for the development’s retail components.

“My opinion of the Radia project is it will not complement or have any good impact in Bukit Jelutong. Due to the low density in population, the commercial shops will see great challenges,” he says.

Lim offers a slightly more hopeful outlook. “If the retail component can be fully occupied within a short period, then that will be the complement. If it is left empty for a long duration, then it will affect the local market.”


Limited catchment area

Although Raine & Horne’s Tan agrees the township’s limited catchment area and low density population does not provide enough demand to sustain large-scale commercial development, he still thinks there’s a silver lining.

“The upcoming projects will provide an alternative to property purchasers and will not really affect the exclusive image of Bukit Jelutong.

“It is another interesting concept of live and shop similar to Oasis Damansara in Ara Damansara, Petaling Jaya,” he says.

However, properties from the industrial segment have been relatively unaffected by this. The Bukit Jelutong Industrial Park, comprising semi-detached factories housing multinational corporations from low-pollution and high technology industries, has enjoyed marginally stable demand.

A total of five semi-detached factories with built-ups ranging from 3,053 sq ft to 13,190 sq ft were sold last year at between RM383 and RM550 per sq ft.

Yim reveals that big-scale logistic warehousing in the area has been doing particularly well – which could be due to the suburb’s excellent accessibility to several expressways.

Transactions of properties in Bukit Jelutong for 2016

Lack of transportation options not an issue

THE low-density feature of Bukit Jelutong, Shah Alam is proving to be somewhat of a double-edged sword.

While it is a big draw for purchasers looking to settle down in a peaceful environment, the small population makes it challenging to sustain the market for commercial properties.

It can be argued that the availability of public transportation services, or the lack of them, in the suburbs has helped create the air of tranquillity that surrounds it.

One of the few ways to travel to Bukit Jelutong by public transportation is via the KTM Komuter rail line, with the nearest station – Batu Tiga – located approximately 8km away in Subang Jaya. At present, the Light Rail Transit and Mass Rapid Transit lines do not service the area.

In addition, it was only last July when the Smart Selangor free bus service – the township’s first – began running through Bukit Jelutong to ferry passengers to the Shah Alam city centre.

It remains to be seen whether this will be sustainable in the long run, however, as most residents get around using private vehicles.

Urban Realty principal Vincent Yim says an earlier effort to introduce public transportation was unsuccessful. “There was a move to implement some form of public transportation in 2000 but it failed due to low demand. Generally, residents who live in Bukit Jelutong rely fully on their own vehicles,” he explains.

On the necessity of such services, The Roof Realty associate director Abbie Lim points out the income levels of residents there are such that it is not unusual to see one household owning several cars.

“Moreover, e-hailing apps like Uber and Grab are easily available and affordable for those in need. Even the maids call for a cab to go downtown during their off days,” she notes.

Rather, she believes the availability of public transportation services may work against the township’s exclusive image.

“I would say that transportation services have a negative effect on Bukit Jelutong’s upscale image as it is a prestigious area and many of the locals would like to maintain this status,” she adds. 

A tight-knit community

THE Bukit Jelutong community share a tight bond – a quality that is rarely found in many of today’s modern developments.

The residents have an official Bukit Jelutong Residents Association, which regularly holds social events such as unity walks and carnivals.

Some of these events have also garnered media attention, including recent coverage in the local press on a unity walk held in conjunction with Malaysia’s National Day.

These events – and other happenings such as break-ins – are posted on the association’s official website and Facebook page to keep the community updated and alert.

The township’s developer Sime Darby Property Bhd has also played an active role in bringing residents closer, not just in Bukit Jelutong but also in its other developments.

Some examples include helping communities set up residents’ associations as well as organising environmental initiatives in its townships with the participation of local residents.

This article first appeared in Focus Malaysia Issue 255.