Thailand property: the return of foreign buyers

Bangkok_skylineThe year ahead looks promising for Thailand’s real estate industry, although the market is also showing new characteristics, says the managing director of property consultant CB Richard Ellis Thailand.

While foreign buyers have returned – wooed by lower prices than in the region’s other mature markets – they have developed new strategies, Aliwassa Pathnadabutr told the Bangkok Post.

‘Foreign demand is strong but they wait and see,’ she said.

The condo market has seen an especially striking shift. In the first nine months of last year, CBRE saw its sales plunge 30% in value despite seeing only 10% fewer transactions.

‘Investors diversified risks. They bought smaller-sized units but many more units in various projects,’ she said.

Cyrille Hareux of Company Vauban, a Bangkok-based real estate company, says that 2010 has brought a clear shift in the profile of buyers.

‘We are seeing real investors with considerable sums to invest who take a very methodical and strategic approach,’ he says.

‘Rather than making gut decisions after finding a unit they like, they see 14 or 15 properties and set up spreadsheets so they can assess which condominium fits them best.’

For CBRE, the return of foreign buyers to Thailand started in the last quarter of 2009, when they contributed 20% of transactions, after plunging to just 16% over the earlier part of the year – down from 35% in 2008.

CBRE also anticipates a surge in launches, with developers finally uncorking the projects they put on hold when the global downturn hit in late 2008.

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