Look to the skies. The proof of Thailand’s property market health is easy to see. (Photo: Lego Construction)
A strong baht. A military government. Complexities of ‘owning’ property in Thailand. You’d think all the news is bad for the Thai property market. So why do new condos keep being built? Why do local and international investors keep buying them? What are all those cranes doing? Why do people keep buying property in Thailand?
Let’s do a quick fact check. Thailand’s political machinations – military governments, elected governments, blah, blah – are nothing new in the Land of Smiles. Foreign journalists, living in glass houses, are very good at throwing stones but the economy continues to bubble along despite all the hoopla at the top. And we should acknowledge that none of this is going to change any time soon – its just the way the political process works (or doesn’t work) in Thailand, and has done so for the last half century. The baht remains strong, the economy continues to grow (albeit a little subdued compared to a few years ago), car exports are on the rise again, tourist numbers keep growing – all the KPIs are positive.
And the property market?
The worst person to ask about a property market is the local real estate agent. They will always tell you things are ‘fine’, even when they’re not. Statistics will be twisted and skewed so they support whatever the statistician is trying to prove. ‘Experts’ have to write important sounding articles because they get paid to come up with gripping headlines and astonishing tales of doom and gloom.
The best place to look is at the skylines of Thailand’s hot property zones. Are new condos under construction? Are there new roads and infrastructure? The people with the big money don’t spend unless there is a prospect of good returns. I assure you they do a lot of homework before putting their hands in their pockets. So disregard all the experts and see with your own eyes.
The Thai property market is busy and there is still a lot of investment into the sector. Even if we acknowledge the residual glut of projects constructed in 2013/2014 is still being soaked up, the skylines and roadworks are busy in places like Phuket, Hua Hin, Bangkok and Samui. Whilst there are ‘hot’ zones which have a boom and bust cycle, like Pattaya and parts of Bangkok, the trend in sales and prices across the country, over a decade or more, is upward. Land prices just keep going up wherever you look.
So, from the perspective of an expat with his eyes wide open, it’s quite plain to see that there is still investment being poured into Thailand’s property market. Activity might be a bit more subdued than it was three years ago but there is still plenty of activity. There is positive movement in the legacy market where sellers are being more realistic about their expectations (in other words expecting 4 or 5% annual growth in their investment rather than 10, 20, 30% they might have been expecting, or were promised by the white-shoe brigade). There are many wonderful properties for sale, around the Kingdom, if you have a long-term outlook and some vision.
Question is, where else would you want to invest in property around the world? So much of the more developed economies are having far worse problems with their property market than could ever be said of Thailand.
So do your homework, read all the articles, look at the stats. Then walk outside and look up and see the real activity. Thailand’s property market is alive and well.