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Small-sized condo market booming

Small-sized condo market booming

Does size really matter? It certainly does in Thailand’s off-plan condominium sector. Since the recovery period post-Global Financial Crisis (GFC), the country’s ramp up of entry-level property has been a success story.

In Bangkok, the trend has been prompted by development along the BTS and MRT lines, which has attracted young urban working types both as buyers and also renters. What is dynamic to this story is given relatively low unit values, that conversely high levels of debt can be obtained unlike higher value properties.

Thai-listed developers have flourished in this environment with low down payments on pre-sales and mortgages only kicking in upon unit registration. Rising use by Thai real estate buyers of credit is in many ways inducing even broader levels of demand.

Another key factor is the easing of restrictions by the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority (BMA) that allows less parking spacing for condominium buildings located near to major transport access, hence saleable floor areas are being maximized. Effectively despite soaring land prices, building efficiency is geared towards high-density developments.

Switching over to the resort markets, a similar push has taken place, though in much less numbers. This has also expanded into tertiary cities in the provinces, which traditionally has been only very localized low-rise product.

One question for many in the industry is now deep are the tertiary markets? The answer to this is now coming to fruition as many larger Thai developers are renewing their focus on the bigger apple of Bangkok.

Even foreign buyers are jumping into the trend, as regional Asian investors from Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Mainland China like the ability to hold freehold property. Second is a lower horizon of yields, given stress in their own home markets, they are not willing to accept long-term rental yields in the range of 2-4% with the medium of 3% becoming a new rallying call.

Thailand is not alone in the smaller is better migration of real estate transactions. Ultimately condominium sizes are still reducing with overall pricing points going lower. The Asia-wide population boost of a younger working class, together with available credit are key elements that are expected to be a constant in the decade ahead. Small is indeed set to be the new big in the foreseeable future.

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Bill Barnett has over 30 years of experience in the Asian hospitality and property markets. He is considered to be a leading authority on real estate trends across Asia, and has sat at almost every seat around the hospitality and real estate table. Bill promotes industry insight through regular conference speaking engagements at key events and spends substantial time with his feet on the ground on research projects and gathering market intelligence. Over the past few years he has released four books on Asian property topics.

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