September 3-9, 2007 Myanmar's first international weekly © Volume 20, No. 382

City living: condos vs apartments

A security guard patrols Pearl Condominium complex in Yangon.

THE majority of people living in and around Yangon, especially close to the downtown area, choose either condominiums or apartments.

But what is the difference between a condominium and an apartment? In a legal sense it is an ownership issue: But in Yangon there is a more widely recognised definition that depends of whether the building has a lift – if it does the residences are condominiums; if not, they’re apartments.

One Yangon real estate agent said major development of condominiums started in 1996-97 and became popular with buyers in 1998. Apartments, meanwhile, have been trendy since at least 1990.

U Zaw Zaw, manager of Unity Real Estate, explained how some of the better-recognised condominium complexes got started.

“Construction on condominiums projects like Junction-8 and Pearl Condominium started around 1998.

“In other countries, people who buy condominiums are those who can’t afford to buy land. And some condominium buyers in Myanmar are like that too but there are others who want to enjoy the services that come with a condominium,” he said.

U Zaw Zaw said condominium complexes commonly offer security, generators and satellite television access in addition to the elevators that are standard.
He estimated that there are more than 20 large condominium blocks in Yangon.

“If you regard apartments with lifts as condominiums, there will be over one hundred condominiums blocks in town,” he said, adding that many other projects are still under construction.

Ma Tharaphu, from Moe Myint Thawdar Real Estate, said it is the services offered by condominiums that separates them from apartments.

“Apartment owners have to take care of security themselves and most use locked iron doors at the base of the stairway to keep out unwanted guests.”
But like just about everyone in Yangon, condominium block owners have to solve the electricity question.

“Although management committees provide services, one issue they must face is electricity. When the electricity is out, people living on the top floors want to use the lifts but people who live on the lower levels are willing to just use the stairways.

“Then, arguments arise and the management committees have to deal with them,” U Zaw Zaw said.

One kilowatt hour unit of electricity from a generator – prior to the latest rise – costs about K800. However, 24-hour electricity for lifts and water pumps can be obtained from the Ministry of Electric Power (2) but this is yet another cost to residents.

“Sometimes, condominium owners want to sell their apartments because the maintenance and service charges are too high. Higher-end apartment complexes that don’t have lifts – like Shwe Marla, Shwe Patauk and Shwe Sabai – are appropriate for Myanmar’s unique conditions and have lower costs,” he said.

Ma Tharaphu said electricity supply is a consideration that many condominium buyers take seriously.

“Those who can afford to buy condominiums look for the places where there might be regular electricity supply: Foreigners prefer Shwe Hin Thar, while locals choose Pearl, Pyiwa and Blazon condominiums.

“But if tenants have to pay extra diesel charges, the demand for these places falls during periods when the electricity isn’t reliable,” she said.

Ma Tharaphu said people try to look for either apartments or condominiums close to their workplaces when possible.

Another difference between condominiums and apartments is water supply: Condominiums use a central water supply system, while apartment owners deal with this individually.

U Zaw Zaw said: “During electricity shortages condominiums complexes operate electric pumps to move water to apartments and those on the lower levels get water first, while those higher up must wait.

“Now developers have anticipated this problem and build underground tanks for ordinary apartments that contain enough water for the whole building,” he said, adding that this trend started in 2005.

Ma Tharaphu said apartments are usually cheaper to buy and have lower fees but U Zaw Zaw said there is more to the issue than that.

“The problem is building quality; apartments just are not as well-made as condominiums.”

For further information and enquiries, please contact
[email protected]
No. 379/383, Bo Aung Kyaw Street, Kyauktada Township, Yangon Myanmar.
Telephone: (951) 253 646, 240 029 Facsimile: (951) 242 699
Copyrightę 2004-2005 - Myanmar Consolidated Media Co. Ltd. All rights reserved.

Contact: Advertisement - [email protected]   |  Contact: Editorial - [email protected]
Contact: Webmaster - [email protected]