‘A rose by any other name would smell as sweet’ is a popular reference to William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. This phrase has been used over the decades to send many messages across, from the fact that beauty is only skin deep and what matters is inside to trying to explain that things may not really be how it’s made to sound like.
In the past week, this phrase gained centre stage in the world of Malaysian real estate. Newly-elected member of parliament (MP) for Lembah Pantai, Fahmi Fadzil, had asked for Bangsar South to revert to its original name, Kampung Kerinchi. This request was made during a meeting with Kuala Lumpur MPs and Kuala Lumpur mayor Tan Sri Mohd Amin Nordin Abdul Aziz.
This news has got the real estate community buzzing. The jury was out on whether this name change would affect property value in the area. Opinions were varied and divided.
What’s in a name anyway? Is it important?
Does it make any difference what an area is called? Of course there must be some differences. Otherwise, why would Sungai Buloh be now called Kota Damansara, and Segambut Dalam be referred to as North Kiara?
Even the most naive and well-meaning among us must see that there is a vast difference inthe branding and general perception of Segambut Dalam and North Kiara.
There is another saying , “a rose is a rose is a rose”. This was part of a poem, “Sacred Emily”, written by Gertrude Stein in 1913. This is interpreted as meaning “things are what they are”.
In the world of properties, this will probably translate to “it doesn’t matter what a certain development is referred to, what matters is the quality of the development itself”.
Although there is merit in this, I think many other things matter as well. And how the property is branded is of utmost importance, especially in these modern times where buyers are more discerning and particular about where they invest their money.
Choices are aplenty, so how you differentiate your development will play a major role in its eventual success.
In the case of Bangsar South, how will the name change affect the properties there? The worry now is that once the name is changed to Kampung Kerinchi, will property prices start going down? I don’t think so. A more cosmopolitan and modern sounding name will certainly help in the branding of a location.
Did the name Bangsar South help in the success of the location? Did it help in the sales of properties? Did it matter in the grand scheme of things? Most certainly it did.
Bangsar South sounds way more cosmopolitan that Kampung Kerinchi. Sure, the old name has much history and nostalgia. But history and nostalgia doesn’t sell properties. Branding does. And the name change to Bangsar South was a game changer for that location.
Years later, the area has become highly successful and sought-after. It has developed a life of its own. Everyone knows the area as Bangsar South. Everyone refers to it as Bangsar South.
In fact, I think I would be hard pressed to find even one person who still refers to that particular residential and commercial enclave as Kampung Kerinchi.
So, I believe a name change for that location so late in the day will be of little consequence to property values.
In my opinion, most people will still refer to any development in that location as Bangsar South. Perhaps people may refer to the location where the public housing is located as Kampung Kerinchi. But really, I don’t think you will ever hear anyone say, “let’s go to Kampung Kerinchi for dinner and drinks”. It will continue to remain as Bangsar South.
I think property values will continue to rise as the area becomes more developed and established.
May be the authorities should reconsider their intention? May be the older part of the neighbourhood can revert to Kampung Kerinchi and the swanky new neighbourhood can be left as Bangsar South? This way, it is a win-win situation.
The Pakatan Harapan government has been in power for more than a month now. And they have shown themselves to be a government of the people and for the people. Here’s hoping they will take into consideration everybody’s needs before making a decision on the name change.
Until then, happy hunting and may the force be with you.
Siva Shanker is a real estate practitioner who tries to manage the labyrinth of the property market honestly while consistently maintains a high standard of ethics in his practice. He welcomes feedback via [email protected]
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