Currently trending real estate jargons are SoHo, SoFo and SoVo. SoHo is small office/home office, SoFo is small office/flexible office and SoVo is small office/virtual office. Each is relatively quite similar but differs in terms of functionality.
The built up for these small offices range from 37sq m (400ft2) to 74sq m (800ft2) and are priced between RM480 psf to RM700 psf. As residential land grows scarce in the main real estate hubs such as Kuala Lumpur, property developers are looking at various options to address the need for homes. At the same time, there is a growing preference for working from home — at least that is what the developers say.
The fact that there is no standard sale and purchase agreement (SPA) for SoHos, SoFos and SoVos could be a source of concern for prospective buyers, who may find themselves out in the cold without the protection of the Housing Development (Control and Licensing) (Amendment) Act 2007 (HDA).
The Housing Development (Control and Licensing) Act 1966 Section 3A basically states the minister may “from time to time, by order published in the Gazette, prescribe any type of accommodation to be a housing accommodation. In the event of any doubt as to whether a housing accommodation falls within the meaning of this Act, the Minister’s decision shall be final and shall not be questioned in any court”.
As for the SPA, it depends on whether it follows Schedules G and H of the HDA. If it does, then the property is a residential type and falls under the HDA.
Look out for the fine print that’s usually added at the end of the advertisement, the one that explains unit sizes and minimum to maximum prices. If there is that fine print in the advertisement, the property usually falls under the HDA.
Take note that residential use falls under the definition of commercial property whereas residential land is strictly confined to residential use.
Small-office-home office? How does that work? Well in most cases, young singles, newly- weds and budding professionals take up SoHos for the convenience of being able to incorporate their living area with their work space. These strata-titled properties on commercial land can function as both a home and a workplace. In fact, their modest sizes are the result of a convergence of economic and lifestyle considerations. SoHos don’t need large floor areas thanks to clever interior designing innovations that allow much to be made from small spaces.
Much like its name, SoFos are small units that offer owners greater flexibility in terms of how they decide to use their space –be it for residential or commercial purposes or both. Every unit is void of internal partitions and therefore provide the owners or occupants the flexibility to customise or to fit-out their units as they please. Owners can opt to buy two units side-by-side and erect an internal connection.
SoVos are small offices that come fully equipped with telecommunication and infrastructural facilities that allow for immediate business start-ups. SoVos are commercial properties and thus the developer interest- bearing scheme (DIBS) is available to buyers, where they only need to pay 10% of the price until completion of the project. Owners of these units must be prepared that to pay assessment, water, and electricity and telephone bills based on commercial rates, which are generally higher than residential rates.