Outlook of the Real Estate scenario in Bangkok

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Where Bangkok stands

A new wave of supply for 2014 and 2015 and a weakened economy exasperated by the political turmoil are two characteristics.

by James Pitchon, CBRE Thailand

Pool CWT CMYK_5MBWhen it comes to the condominium market in Bangkok, the prime downtown areas are split in three: Sukhumvit from soi 1 to 63 and from soi 2 to 42, the Lumpini area which covers Wireless, Langsuan, and Rajdamri roads, and the northern end of Sathorn and Silom roads. These areas are characterized by a mixture of commercial and residential buildings in the same area, which make a nice living environment without business areas that are dead after 7 p.m., and that integrate residential buildings, hotels, shopping centers, and offices in one location.

But unlike what is done in other cities in the world, it’s not possible to give a value by postcodes in Bangkok because, even within the prime downtown locations mentioned above, there are areas that are farther from the main roads or the mass transit stations, that behave more like the mid-town and suburban markets.

Characteristics of the Downtown Market in Bangkok
● High-end, highest prices in Bangkok, and highest quality of product
● Areas where expatriate tenants want to locate
● Areas with best potential for finding investors
● Buyers are 80 percent Thais and 20 percent foreigners
● Who buys property in the downtown: occupiers who prefer to live in in condominiums rather than in detached houses, close to shopping centers, restaurants, and businesses; buyers for rental investment, aiming at expats who stay in Thailand on two- to three-year postings*; speculators
● It’s becoming a low volume/high value market (fewer new projects launched and highly priced projects)
● There are more Asian buyers—particularly from Hong Kong, China, Singapore, and Taiwan—of prime Bangkok property compared to before 2008, when the majority of foreigner purchasers were westerners based in Asia.

Outlook for the Real Estate Market in Bangkok
The downtown market has had a slowdown in terms of new supply and it’s looking healthy, so there is very little overhang of unsold inventory. We have seen prices of the best quality existing projects rising in 2013, and prices for new projects have become more expensive, in line with increased land prices and increased demand for better quality projects in terms of the specification. Developers’ costs have been rising, so prices have as well.

The political turmoil has definitely had an impact on the market. We are seeing a much slower rate of new sales on new projects. However, there is limited amount of stock of these new projects. So what we expect to happen while the political situation continues is that there will be few new project launches. We think it is unlikely that prices will fall, so we will see a slower market, but not a market with massive amounts of oversupply.

The opposite is true in the midtown and suburban market for one-bedroom units, where we see a slower local demand because of the increase in consumer debt; banks are becoming more cautious in their lending for projects and mortgage finance; and we have a record amount of new supply that will be completed in 2014 and 2015. So we’ve got a wave of new supply, and a weakened economy exasperated by the political turmoil.

The New Mass Transit Lines
The expansion of the mass transit lines is the most exciting infrastructure change in Bangkok, and it has had a significant effect on the way that people work, live, and shop. One of the first impacts is that historically the city center of Bangkok was “mobile,” in terms of what is regarded as the city center. To some extent that movement has now been changed because the mass transit has now anchored where the city center is. Most future development of mass transit lines is coming from the outskirts of Bangkok into the city center, and we predict that the most valuable locations will continue to be the core downtown locations of Sukhumvit, Lumpini, and northern Sathorn and Silom roads, because they’ve been anchored by the mass transit systems. This means that the city will develop alongside and around mass transit stations.

Eco-Friendly Buildings
Thailand has not been a bystander in the global trend to develop eco-friendly buildings that include green areas and are equipped with high technology and innovative systems to ensure optimal energy savings. Indeed, Bangkok has the honor of having one of the first U.S. Green Building Council (USBGC) LEED Platinum certificated buildings in the country. Park Ventures Ecoplex, located at the corner of Wireless Road and Ploenchit Road, is a 27,000 square meter building with offices on levels 8 to 22. The building is also home to the 240-room luxury five-star The Okura Prestige Bangkok hotel on levels 23 to 34.

In interview with Lookeast, Univentures President Worawat Srisa-An explained to us the importance of such a revolutionary concept in terms of possibly shaping the future by inspiring other builders in Thailand to implement environmentally-friendly architecture and practices: “As developer of Park Ventures Ecoplex, we are very encouraged that other developers have followed the approach of building environmentally-friendly buildings. Park Ventures Ecoplex has proven that these types of buildings are feasible from the investment point of view and, as a benchmark for grade-A commercial buildings, Park Ventures Ecoplex has steadily increased awareness of green-building practices. There are currently 54 projects in Thailand that are in the process of acquiring LEED certification, and 20 projects—including this one—that are in the process of acquiring TREES certification.”

The building continuously makes its tenants aware of its features through an asset management team that gives them an orientation. “We have also arranged a quarterly campaign called ‘Be Green’ to promote awareness and capitalization of eco-friendly features that have been put in place. In doing so, tenants have been involved with our drive to reduce energy consumption, as well as our initiative to reduce the office waste at Park Ventures Ecoplex,” Srisa-An explains.

–The environment is clearly benefited by a Platinum-certified building. How are its users benefited by it?
–Green buildings perform better than conventional buildings, and the primary indicators are represented in the operational savings. From our experience, Park Ventures Ecoplex has achieved savings of 30 and 15 percent on electricity and water consumption, respectively. Our tenants have also enjoyed savings of 15 percent on electricity use, and this in a healthier work environment because of the green-building features that we have in place. These features include smart elevator systems, CO2 sensors, low E coating on insulating glass units, natural light balancing sensors, and VAV (variable air volume) systems.

Univentures, through its subsidiary Golden Land Property Development, is currently working on the development of For Your Inspiration Center (FYI Center), another eco-building project with office and hotel components. The project is expected to be completed in 2017.

How can you be sure?
by Sirichot Chaiyachot, Attorney at Law, Siam Legal International

You may be one among many people who desire to purchase a second-hand condominium for a variety of reasons: the price may be more affordable and reasonable, or perhaps you prefer the style of the building or the decoration of the unit.

But, when considering such a purchase, an important question to consider is how can you, as a buyer, be assured that the seller is the legal owner of the condominium unit?

There are other issues as well, for example, the question of whether there are any charges or encumbrances affecting the title must be considered as well. Is the owner capable and legally entitled to sell the property to you? If you are a foreign national and wish to purchase a unit from a Thai national, how will you know that the building has not exceeded the foreign quota of the condominium saleable area?

Here are some basic guidelines to help you do the title search yourself before entering into a second-hand condominium sales and purchase agreement.

1
Check the condominium title deed with the relevant land office to verify the following basic information:
● Are the details that appear in the seller’s copy precisely in accordance with the copy kept by the land office?
● Is the title deed real?
● Is the seller truly the legal owner of that condominium unit?
● Are there any charges or encumbrances registered on the title deed, for example, a mortgage or an attachment?
2
Meet with the condominium juristic person in order to establish some background information on the seller, the condominium juristic person, and the condominium building, for example:
● Are there outstanding maintenance fees relating to the unit?
● Are there currently any tenants with the ongoing right to occupy the unit?
● Are there any specific rules or regulations for the condominium co-owners that may affect your decision to buy? For example, do they allow pets in the building? Do they allow gas use for cooking?
● What facilities are registered as common property?
● Are parking spaces available for all units? How many per unit?
● How much is the common area or maintenance fee per month?
● If you are a non-Thai national, is the foreign quota an issue?
● Does the condominium juristic person’s staff appear helpful, professional, and reliable?
● How is the project site and environment? Is it peaceful, well maintained, and situated in a good location?
● How good is the security service and fire protection security?
3
Investigate the following information about the seller:
● Is he/she of legal age and legally competent?
● Is he/she solvent?
● Is he/she the subject of any bankruptcy proceedings?
● In the event the seller is a minor, is the representative acting legally?
4
Finally, do some research on the background of the developer. For example:
● Who is the developer?
● How many projects have they completed before?
● If any, what condition are these projects in now? Have they aged well?

By following the steps in the above guidelines, you will feel more secure and assured that you are dealing with the real owner of the unit and that you are ready to register the transfer of the ownership.

Bear in mind that all the paperwork at the land office will be in Thai. If you are not a Thai national, or you do not have a trustworthy Thai friend who has a legal background, it would be sensible to consult with a competent Thai lawyer prior to entering into any agreement.

Good luck with your new home in Thailand!

Location, Location, Location

Location is no longer a sufficient in buying real estate in 2014.

by Uthai Uthaisangsuk, Senior Executive Vice President, Business and Project Development Division (Condominiums), Sansiri

Sansiri-Quattro-073It seems as if the famous phrase “location, location, location”
is not a good enough strategy on its own for purchasing real estate properties in 2014. Other aspects of properties, such as design excellence, developer integrity, property management, and after-sales services that cater to the needs of buyers and residents, are key purchasing factors. In particular, brokerage services have become increasingly important as many people are seeing property not only as a residence, but also as an investment.

As far as buying a condominium is concerned, the first thing to consider
is to select a development that best suits your lifestyle. An aesthetically attractive condominium is one thing, but if you have an active lifestyle, it may be equally important to select one that also offers a large swimming pool, a sufficient gym, or even bicycle spaces. If you are fond of reading, a community library may also be a plus. In some projects with an emphasis on long-term energy sustainability, there may even be openings along the walkways to allow in natural light, which will help significantly to save energy in the long term. Another aspect that should not be overlooked is the quality of the materials used in the units. They need to be not only beautiful, but also durable and easy to maintain. Having mentioned all the above, people can see why they should pay attention to the design elements of the property they are buying.

The reliability and track record of the developer are of course other important aspects for consideration, and even more so when making a decision to buy properties which are still under construction. It will provide peace of mind to know the developer you are buying from has a long-standing reputation, experience, and trustworthiness in the Thai real estate industry because you can rest assured that your property will be completed according to the specified time, and with quality construction that you expect.

A well-maintained property is one that will increase in value over time, so it is essential to consider a development with professional property management.
With good maintenance, your property will remain at its best and will have a greater opportunity to be rented out or resold at a good price. Sound property management also offers you a brokerage service to buy, sell, and rent properties, making it even easier and more convenient for future options.

It is forecasted that demand will remain high for property investors to purchase properties in upcountry provinces, especially in cities such as Chiang Rai, Udon Thani, and Hat Yai, next to Thailand’s neighboring countries. Investors also believe that residential demand in these border provinces will increase significantly when the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) is in full swing. In addition, investment in vacation condominiums in resort cities will also remain attractive because they can easily be rented out to earn income when they are not in use. Moreover, city-center condominiums in vacation destinations will continue to be great investments to be rented out to expatriates or people who work in the hospitality industry in those areas. These are all interesting investment trends that both Thai and foreign investors should not overlook.

However, location will undoubtedly remain the number one aspect of consideration when buying a property. High potential locations such as areas near the BTS Skytrain and in Bangkok’s CBD will continue to be among the most popular. When buying a property such as a condominium, buyers should consider more than a place to live in, but also a place which they can rent out to earn income if they choose to move—that’s when location becomes important.

Properties in “high-demand” areas usually yield much higher income-earning ability, so understanding which areas are popular for which target groups is certainly a plus. European and American expatriates in Bangkok prefer to reside in Rajdamri, Phloenchit, and areas near BTS stations in downtown Sukhumvit, as well as in other areas along the BTS Sukhumvit route. The Japanese, in particular, prefer places in Midtown Sukhumvit, between Asoke and Ekamai. Condominiums in Sukhumvit Soi 24, 31, 39, 49, and 55 (Thonglor) are among the most popular for Japanese expats because Japanese restaurants and facilities catering to this group are readily available in this area. On the other hand, Thai people, in general, appreciate locations along the routes of the BTS Skytrain and the MRT Subway, and in areas which are not far from the homes of their relatives.

Last but not least, buying a condominium is an important decision, and one that should not be taken lightly or made in a rush. Take the time to think it through, so that you can be sure that you are truly buying a property that will best suit your needs and budget. To all future buyers, may your property buying decisions in 2014 be met with great success!

Bigger is not always better
More efficient use of space, rather than more square meters, prevails today in new real estate development.

by Rachoat Wannakanok, Architect, DB Studio

As big cities are more densely populated, urban life has changed dramatically by making the use of space for living increasingly efficient. Location is more important, since less travelling time is preferred; housing developments are rarely seen in central business districts (CBDs); we stack up both residential and commercial units, and sometimes define them as “vertical living”—in short, urbanization is a phenomenon that affects the way people live. Not only in their work, food consumption, or travelling in a heavy traffic, but also in the way they communicate and socialize.

ledaean-architecture-mahanakhon-OMA-Bangkok-View02_1We select our accommodation for number of reasons: not only for a better daily life, but also for inspiration and individuality. Recently, potential buyers have chosen to buy condominiums by location, pricing, apartment size, common areas, and facilities that fitted their behaviors and spending power. Speculators, however, still choose to buy by location, location, and location.

As mentioned, nowadays, housing developments are rarely seen in urban areas, especially in CBDs. Buyers have to compensate between longer commuting time and the size of those units. While the size of a unit in an affordable housing development ranges from 150 to 400 square meters, larger units are considered to be luxurious.

From Smaller, Quality Space to Luxury Condos
Bigger is not always better. Designers and developers are trying to use space on a smaller footprint of land, while creating more quality spaces as well as making better use of materials. Attached houses, which require 35 square wa in land plot, have recently become part of single or detached house development projects, so that buyers can spend the same amount in better locations. However, the construction method in Thailand has begun to change in response to mega projects: the pre-fabricated concrete floor and wall system has replaced the conventional system—cast-in-place concrete structure—in several projects in order to reduce construction time, cost, and quality control. Buyers should be aware of the pre-fabricated concrete’s flexibility, since concrete walls leave no option in wall penetration to create new openings or re-wiring after it’s done.

This philosophy of small space used well has become the new thing in city condominiums, which has emerged at the outskirts or even in the heart of big cities. Budget condominiums (micro living units) go from 25 to 35 square meters for a one-bedroom unit, compared to the conventional type, whose size ranges from 40 to 60 square meters. This change responds directly to clients’ budgets and behaviors: they are now are younger, single-family, individual, and flexible.

Several projects now come with extensive facilities and are fully furnished, which becomes a critical reason when choosing. For example, Via Botani (●Sukhumvit Soi 47, Bangkok) provides a two-storey underground parking lot instead of a parking building in order to keep two huge open spaces, one for preserving an existing old tree and another for the swimming pool and recreational area.

New buyers should pay attention to mechanical and electrical systems, as well as to the quality of the materials provided by the developers, since some of them may try to cut down their construction budgets. Mechanical systems, such as plumbing, transformer capacity, and wiring system become major features that new buyer should know about before making any decisions, and many times these systems are concealed behind the walls and can only be inspected and discovered by professionals. Luxury condominiums will always be more stylish, and provide better facilities in prime locations. When choosing one of these buildings, buyers focus more on the uniqueness of the apartment, the facilities, the materials, and the building’s characteristics.

One of the most luxurious high-rise condominiums in Bangkok is the MahaNakhon project (●92 Narathiwas Ratchanakharin Rd, Silom, www.maha-nakhon.com), developed by Pace Development Corporation and designed by German architect Ole Scheeren. Prices range from USD 1.1 million to 10 million, and the development is one of the most expensive projects in Thailand. This green building features a unique “pixelated” glass wall that creates individual units that protrude, and it also has in-room car parking, and private elevator. Size and price are not in question in these type of condominiums.

Outstanding Architecture

Get a glimpse of Le Beau Monde when staying at one of these chic, ultra-stylish, and contemporary design hotels.

You want to be pampered by razor-sharp service, gourmet food, modern facilities, and sumptuous-smelling amenities in your suite. You want to spend your holidays feeling like a celebrity while immersed in a stylish, chic atmosphere, where that dirty martini you love tastes even better when watching sunset from a white sofa bed by an infinity pool. If you want a glimpse of the life of the fashionable society, then you want to spend your next holiday in a design hotel.

Sometimes located in the middle of a desert, sometimes in the jungle, in a downtown metropolis, or by the sea, wherever they are, design hotels seek to create unique experiences for their guests and, if there’s one unique component that they all posses, it’s originality.

While international entities such as Designhotels.com describe them as having “thought-provoking design and groundbreaking architecture,” and others like the International Hotel Awards recognize them annually for their architecture, construction, and interior design, did you know that Thailand is home to some of the most highly regarded design hotels in the world?

Some International Award-Winning Design Hotels in Thailand

InterContinental Hua Hin Resort
(●33/33, Petchkasem Road, Hua Hin, 032 616 999)
● It overlooks pristine surf and white sands
● 119 rooms, three beachfront villas with private plunge pools, and a range of suites
● Six restaurants and bars, from casual to formal, serving authentic Thai cuisine and international flavors
● Golfers who stay here can play the area’s courses, including Springfield Royal Country Club, designed by Jack Nicklaus
Conrad Bangkok
(●87 Wireless Road, Phatumwan, Bangkok, 02 690 9999)
● Located in the exclusive neighborhood of Bangkok’s Central Business District with easy access to shopping destinations
● 391 rooms combining traditional Thai design with the latest technology
● Fitness center, pool, and tennis court
● 2 restaurants, 2 bars, and 2 cafés
● Meeting rooms accommodating up to 1,200 guests
137 Pillars House
(●2 Soi 1, Nawatgate Road, Tambon Watgate, Muang, Chiang Mai, 053 247 788)
● Architectural historians and conservationists worked to conserve the integrity of its original 1889 structure
● 30 suites combining nostalgia along with modern comforts and conveniences
● Two restaurants, two bar/lounges, and The Kitchen for Thai cooking demonstrations
● Swimming pool, fitness, spa
● Personal butler and multi-lingual concierge services
Casa de La Flora
(●67/213 Moo 5, Khuk Khak, Khao Lak, 076 428 999)
● Beachfront resort with 36 cube-shaped villas
● The first modernist hideaway in Khao Lak, presenting cutting-edge architecture and unique design amid tropical nature
● 24-hour butler service and the latest in-room entertainment
● Eco-friendly initiatives
● Restaurant and spa
AKARYN Samui Resort and Spa
Swimming Pool 3(●Hanuman Bay, Koh Samui, 02 514 8112)
● Located in Hanuman Bay’s white sand beach, surrounded by palms and bounded by spectacular granite headlands
● Accommodation in pool suites and villas
● Outdoor and indoor dining options, beach bar, pool bar, and tea salon
● Book and music library, spa
Hilton Pattaya
4.Lobby Lounge 97125(●333/101 Moo 9, Nong Prue, Banglamung, Pattaya Chonburi, 038 253 000)
● Located above CentralFestival Pattaya Beach complex, Southeast Asia’s largest beachfront shopping complex
● Panoramic ocean and Pattaya bay views
● Outdoor infinity edge swimming pool
● Three restaurants and two bars
● Ballroom with outdoor balcony and beach views
The story of INIALA
One penthouse suite and three villas created by world-class designers, nine chefs, and 10 percent of room revenues for charity define this uber-luxurious new beachfront resort in Phuket.

The story of Iniala Beach House (●www.iniala.com), Phuket’s newest luxury resort, comes from adversity and inspiration.

Penthouse-Ext-3AThanatos, the ancient Greek personification of death, has flirted with Mark Weingard, 47, on several occasions. Like when he was supposed to be in a meeting in New York’s World Trade Center South Tower, which he graciously missed the morning of 9/11. When he split with his fiancée a few days before he was going to join her in Bali, where she passed away in the 2002 bombings. And when he saw his beach house washed away in front of his eyes by the Boxing Day tsunami in Phuket, in 2004.

Weingard, who began his career as a successful trader in the U.K., then decided it was time to do something for the world, and after ten years during which he collected more than USD 10 million in donations, he has helped hundreds of people through 13 education, health, and rehabilitation projects in Thailand, Indonesia, and India.

And good deeds carry good karma. Two years ago, Weingard started working on an uber-luxury beachfront hotel in Natai Beach—in the same location where his beach house disappeared with the first tidal wave a decade ago—and everybody is already talking about it as one of Thailand’s (if not one of the region’s or the world’s) newest and most amazing design hotels.

Penthouse-Bedroom-3AThe Design
Iniala Beach House is a 10-suite retreat that mixes design, gastronomy, and art from around the world. Opened in early December 2013, it is located 20 minutes north of Phuket Airport, and it offers uninterrupted views of the beach and the Andaman Sea. The residence comprises three villas and the Iniala Penthouse, each available to rent as a group or by individual villa/suite, and each with its own spa and personal therapist. Talk about luxury holidays.

The hotel was created by 11 designers, among them some of the world’s most renowned, including the Campana Brothers of Brazil, A-Cero from Spain, Joseph Walsh of Ireland, Mark Brazier-Jones, Graham Lamb from Britain, and Thailand’s Eggarat Wongcharit.

Hence, the residence is a real work of art that fuses in its design traditional Thai architecture with organic, contemporary forms created by designers from Spain, Ireland, Britain, Brazil, Russia, the U.S., and Thailand. Born out of a traditional beach house built in the last century, each bedroom and living space at Iniala is completely different from the others. Graham Lamb created several contemporary villas around the original structure, with Thai healing hands as his inspiration to create sumptuous carved roofs clad in teak, that reflect Thai traditions.

Gnocchi With Pesto and Parmesan-1AThe Food
Iniala’s restaurant, Aziamendi, is overseen by Basque chef Eneko Atxa, the youngest chef to have ever received three Michelin stars in Spain.

Combining traditional European techniques with quality Thai ingredients, Atxa’s concept for the restaurant includes signature dishes like “bonsai tree of juicy cherry tomatoes, truffled egg, foie gras ash, mushroom tea, snapper with morning glory and petits fours, including white chocolate and mint, and cloud.”

The Art
Alongside Aziamendi’s world-class cuisine, the groundbreaking restaurant also features the Iniala Art Gallery, presenting some of Asia’s most talented and best-known contemporary artists.

The inaugural exhibition is showcasing Indonesian and Thai art that highlights some of the artists on view within Iniala Beach House. The multimedia display includes brass sculptures by Entang Wiharso, carved musical drums and a lantern installation by Nasirun, mixed media painting from Made Djirna, and introducing paintings by emerging artist Krissadank Intasorn.

Giving Back to the Community
As with all of Weingard’s projects, Iniala also has a very strong charity element in which 10 percent of room revenues and 5 percent of the food, beverage, and spa revenues will go to charity and community projects. As this is not a percentage on profits, even if Iniala breaks even, it will still be giving back to the community.

A philanthropist, Weingard is planning on starting the “1,000 fires foundation” this year, with the aim is to inspire other companies to give, and with the belief that if he can convince 1,000 companies to do so, then the world would be changed.

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