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Borneo Life Testimonial : Helping Ms Rooney from UK find a property

Helping Ms Rooney from UK find a property


Firstly, let me introduce myself. I own and run a property development business based in East Dulwich, South East London. My time is spent working on both large and small projects in the central London area, and seeking out lucrative investment opportunities abroad, which is how I became involved with Samuel Chai, one of the Directors of Borneo Life.

I first met Samuel when I answered the Santubong Suites advertisement he had placed in a well known property broadsheet. The advert began as follows:

“A rare opportunity has arisen to be part of a property project in Borneo. It is one of the most exclusive and luxurious condo-style developments ever to come onto the market from this part of the Far East, a place where the equatorial climate guarantees sunshine all-year-round.” And went on to describe the units at Santubong Suites as “all commanding views of the South China Sea, Borneo’s outlying islands, mangrove forest and an Arnold Palmer-designed golf course, all against a backdrop of two fabled mountains, in an area which enjoys National Park status.”

OK, so far so good, I was interested.

“Facilities within the development include a swimming pool with pool terrace and coffee lounge, a gym, meeting rooms, a clubroom, kids’ playrooms, lifts, one allotted parking space and round-the-clock guarded security with card-only access. Full management services are provided at very low costs for the whole development, but apartment management, which includes sourcing tenants and internal maintenance, can also be arranged.”

OK, tell me more.

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“A range of other amenities are within close proximity to the development. The city centre is only 20 kilometres away and is served by an international airport. The city itself is practically crime-free and very friendly. Elsewhere you’ll find a rich local culture and several luxurious beach resorts and hotels. A marina is planned for construction in the near future. The area holds an annual rainforest music festival and is a paradise for scuba diving, jungle trekking, jet-skiing, kayaking, mountain biking, mountain climbing, snorkelling, golfing, fishing and surfing. The list is endless.”

Now I’m very interested.

“Visits to the country and the site can be arranged by us if necessary. We can also arrange for a resident’s permit, which is renewable annually. The cost of living is ridiculously low. Sterling has enjoyed a 14% appreciation in the last six months. Given the weaker local currency, now is the best time to buy. Property has good prospects for capital appreciation and good rental income. One big advantage is that the tenure of the apartment comes with a 900-year lease, which is extremely rare for Borneo and almost equivalent to freehold status. “

OK, now I’m hooked and reaching for the phone!

Somehow it all seemed too good to be true and given I’m a hard-headed businesswoman I would take quite some convincing. However, being the consummate professional that he is, Samuel soon managed to persuade me that Santubong Suites was exactly as described and more besides. What finally ‘clinched’ the deal was the fact that Borneo Life had also brought an apartment. That spoke volumes about what a good investment it must be.

Over the coming months Samuel effectively held my hand throughout the entire purchase process: liaising with the developer in resort, helping me with the paperwork that needed to be completed, and he even managed to get me a bank loan through his contacts with the Manager of Maybank in Kuching. This was by no means a small feat. Maybank had never before considered lending to a foreigner, but he managed to persuade the Manager that doing so would be good business, and as a result Maybank have now opened the doors to other UK and European investors.

Fellow Borneo Life Director, Victor Chai, (Samuel’s brother based in Kuching) regularly sent through photos detailing progress in finishing the apartments, and answered the queries I raised about the developer, the location, the resort and comparable projects. I was so impressed with how smoothly both Samuel and Victor handled the business arrangements, that I didn’t feel I needed to fly out to Borneo before making my final payment, such was the trust they engendered.

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I went across in January 2006, to collect the keys to my new apartment. Victor, picked me up at the airport and drove me to the local Holiday Inn, where I would be staying while I got to know the area. From then onwards, I couldn’t have been looked after any better. The advantage to having someone like Victor is that he has so many local contacts: carpenters (I had bespoke beds and bedside cabinets made), a local upholster for my curtains and blinds, furniture and lighting wholesalers etc. etc. By the end of my stay, I had brought or put deposits down on all my furniture and furnishings. Not only did he spend all day, every day, driving me round, to do my shopping, he also managed to negotiate the best possible price on my behalf for each of my purchases. It would have been impossible to have done all this on my own, not only do I not speak the language, as a foreigner I’m sure that as soon as I walked through the door of any shop the price would have gone up by 10%, now down!

Victor was also generous enough to take me out to dinner each night, to a variety of restaurants both in Kuching and closer to the apartments, and on the days that we weren’t shopping he introduced me to the local area. He really made me feel welcome.

When I left Borneo, Victor saw to it that the furnishing programme was kept on track. He took delivery of everything I ordered, inspected each purchase and sent it back if there was even the smallest fault. In the interim he liaised with the local water and electricity companies to set up my accounts and to get services to the flat. He dealt with Santubong Suites management to put right a couple of small defects with the flat, and by the time I came back again in June 2006 I was able to stay in my beautifully furnished apartment.

My apartment is now being managed by Borneo Life, and I know that it’s in safe hands. In addition, they have even managed to let it several times through well worded and strategically placed adverts in local papers, and through local contacts. I know that both Samuel and Victor have been working hard to raise the profile of Santubong Suites and Malaysia in general, both in the UK and abroad, and no doubt Samuel will fill you in on the progress they have made.

To close, I am extremely happy with the way that I have been looked after by both Samuel in the UK, and Victor in Borneo. I found both to be totally trustworthy, and professional in all their dealings with me. In fact, we have become friends, not just business colleagues, and when I was over in June I had the pleasure of going out with the family.

I now regard my Santubong Suites apartment as my second home and it is only work commitments that prevent me from visiting more often. Given the warmth of the people, the ridiculously low cost of living out there, the climate and the luxury of my apartment – I will certainly be retiring out there in just under 10 years’ time.

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If you require any further information, or need clarification on any of the points raised in this correspondence, then please do not hesitate to contact me.

Yours faithfully

(Managing Director)

Testimonial by : Caroline Rooney
Email Address :
posted: 2007-01-25

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