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Bangkok's condominium market

Bangkok's condominium market continues to thrive, despite rising construction costs, and is fast establishing itself as one of the most attractive buys in the region.

Compared to many other regional capitals, Bangkok offers a value for money proposition that can no longer be found in many of the cities with which it is competing for investment dollars.

Bangkok stands out as one of the most affordable cities in Asia when comparing the average prices of luxury residential properties, based on achieved transactions in completed developments.

For similar grade properties, Bangkok's average price of $2,425 per square metre (psm) is almost one-tenth that of Hong Kong's $20,899 and Singapore's $20,468.

While Beijing posted a slightly lower price of $2,026 in 2006 compared to Bangkok's $2,051, rates in the Chinese capital soared more than 40% to $2,873 psm last year while those Bangkok climbed by a slower 18.2%.

Beijing is closing in on Shanghai's $3,158 psm (+20% over 2006), leaving Bangkok's upper-end properties the most affordable of any major city in the region, 18.5% less than Beijing and 23.2% lower than in Shanghai.

The market here continues to grow steadily in the luxury segment, with increasing sales volumes and new price records for quality developments, according to Raimon Land research.

Demand for new condominiums was in line with new supply as 63% of the 6,940 units launched in 2007 were sold by the end of 2007. A total of 6,214 units were sold in 2007, worth 42.5 billion baht. To date, 5,763 units remain unsold, half of which are in developments that have yet to start construction.

Transfers for complete developments reached 9.6 billion baht, with foreigners representing 20% of purchases. A total of 5,100 units were completed in 2007 with an additional 6,500 to 7,000 expected to be completed this year.

New supply in prime developments will continue to be low this year due to a limited availability of suitable sites and of funds from both local banks and international equity suppliers.

Higher buyer expectations have also created a stronger barrier to entry for developers. Pent-up demand since 2006 is one reason for this, coupled with the high presale and price performance seen in recent developments such as The River and Sukhothai Residences.

Construction and quality standards have risen significantly too. Bangkok is now ready to offer similar properties to its neighbours at a fraction of the price.

The outlook for prime condominiums remains positive but potential risks remain due to the deterioration of the global economy, strengthening of the Thai baht and unfriendly foreign ownership policies.

These factors will combine to result in a sharp rise in selling prices along with higher specifications offered by developers to match high expectations from buyers.

The supply/demand situation is still very balanced and there is very little risk of any oversupply in the future.

The potential risk to any amendments to further restrict foreign ownership does not appear to be an issue now, but there is no sign of the 49% foreign ownership quota being lifted.

In the more affordable condominium sector, our research shows considerable activity as more site opportunities emerge along planned new mass-transit lines. Some of Thailand's largest developers are shifting their focus to this sector and demand in affordable condominiums looks likely to remain high.

This is being fuelled further by low interest rates, which will lift purchasing power and stimulate investment from local buyers. Also helping are signs of a consumer confidence recovery since the last quarter of 2007 and incentives initiated by the new government.

We believe that higher competition from new entrants, some with strong financial capacity, will push developers to offer more incentives and promotions to maintain or gain market share.

However, the potential risk of oversupply of affordable condominiums is rising. The capacity of buyers to transfer units will be a key factor in the following one to three years.(This is the third in a series of four articles based on research by Raimon Land in 'Condominium Focus Thailand: Update of Inner-city Bangkok and Key Resort Areas'. To request a copy e-mail research@raimonland.com or download at http://www.raimonland.com)

Nigel Cornick is Chief Executive Officer of Raimon Land Public Co., Ltd, Thailand's premier luxury international property developer with projects in Bangkok, Phuket and Pattaya.
Source : Bangkokpost.com



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