Buyers return to resuscitate market

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on Feb 11 in News

The entire property market except the industrial sector and serviced apartments is showing signs of recovery as the political situation, the government’s stability and policies to promote foreign investment are helping revive foreign demand.

Aliwassa Pathnadabutr, managing director of the property consultant CB Richard Ellis Thailand, said 2010 had begun with better market sentiment. The improving global economic outlook and brighter perceptions of Thailand’s political situation, together with lower prices than other mature property markets had restored confidence in investing in Thai property.

In the first nine months of 2009, foreign buyers making transactions through CBRE plunged from 35% of buyers in 2008 to just 16%. But the proportion picked up in the fourth quarter to 20%.

”Foreign demand is strong but they wait and see,” she said. ”They [foreigners] are keeping an eye on Thai politics, the government’s stability and policy on foreign investment.”

Meanwhile, property funds and overseas developers will come back later than foreign investors as they consider return on investment, which is influenced by the market outlook.

Last year brought a significant change in condominium purchases. While the value of sales conducted through CBRE last year fell by 30% to 14-15 billion baht from the peak of 20 billion baht in 2008, the number of transactions dropped by only 10% year-on-year.

”Investors diversified risks. They bought smaller-sized units but many more units in various projects, instead of buying large ones and fewer units,” she said.

As high-end condominium prices rose by 5.6% last year to 124,539 baht a square metre on average, developers should offer units sized 15-20% smaller to maintain affordable prices, she said.

”We see a positive sign in the real estate market this year from the government’s initiatives for this sector. The government plans to establish Thailand as a hub for regional offices,” she said.

Ms Aliwassa said the government should consider extending lease terms from the current 30 years to 90 years to stimulate the market and make large-scale commercial projects viable as freehold development is not feasible due to higher land cost.

The supply of downtown condo units rose to 61,522 units as of September, up 14% year-on-year. In total, 17,664 units are under construction in downtown Bangkok, of which 78% are reportedly sold, leaving 3,879 available units, either completed or under construction.

In 2010, CBRE expects a much more competitive market, with project launches from developers who have delayed projects since the onset of the economic crisis in late 2008. New supplies are expected from large developers who have acquired land for development.

”We are very worried about the industrial sector as it is a huge investment. Foreigners are waiting for the government to solve the Map Ta Phut case. If they are not confident, they will hold back investment for a long time,” she said.

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