If a 3,000-square-foot penthouse apartment with ocean views, club amenities and a sub-$1.5 million price tag sounds like science fiction, visit the Hong Kong marketing agent for the Alila development on Penang Island. Buyers who called at the Connaught Road sales office of marketing agents Raine & Horne snapped up 10 penthouse units in the Malaysian development last weekend. Expressions of interest were secured on five more. Marketing manager Anthony Fussell says the response was so strong the developer has decided to rejig the twin 19-storey apartment towers to enhance views and boost the number of penthouse units to 32. In the revised plan announced last week, the top five floors have been allocated to the penthouse layout. The development features 426 homes on an 18-acre lot, with two apartment towers, condominiums and free standing three-storey garden villas. It is about 15 minutes drive from the beach and about 10 minutes to shopping amenities. The drive to the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, via a bridge, takes about 5 hours. The project is designed with a Balinese architectural theme and features an $8 million landscaping with mature palms. Mr Fussell says the developer acquired the land at a discount from a bank's distressed asset portfolio. Penthouse prices range from $1.46 million to 1.58 million for the higher floor, or $503 per sqft. All property can be acquired freehold. 'The savings have been passed on to the potential buyer here,' he says. 'For example, you get a 3,000 sqft penthouse for roughly US$190,000, which if you were buying in Hong Kong is relatively good value.' One reason buyers are zeroing in on the plush units is handsome annual rental yields, forecast at 5 to 6 per cent, according to the developer. Large rental units are believed to appeal to the multinational IT workforce and their families. The garden villas are expected to yield slightly less at 5 per cent, but long-term capital appreciation is believed to be better. 'The main rental market is an estimated 10,000 expatriates who work in the southern part of the island,' says project developer Hunza Group's marketing manager Juanita Chin. International technology giants such as Intel, Dell, Motorola and Hewlett-Packard as well as Japanese and Korean companies have factories on the island. She said similar developments in the area average 80 to 90 per cent occupancy. Up to 80 per cent financing is available in US dollars, Hong Kong dollars or Malaysian dollars. The developer Hunza is a publicly listed Malaysian company with 25 years' experience in the construction industry. Mr Fussell says the area is ideal for retirement, with golf courses, beaches, varied cuisine and shopping.