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Dude, where’s my car?

Dude, where’s my car?

My journey today has led me into the deep dark caverns or better yet the dark underbelly of a condominium car park.  Time passes slow as I slowly ease my way around pillar and post in drench coated anticipation of finding a parking space. Needless to say I finally hit the wall and can go no further.

It’s the ultimate doomed journey that ends in tragedy. Suddenly I start playing the theme song to that dearly departed thriller The X-Files who’s slogan “The Truth Is Out There” randomly pops into my head. Truth, yes, but parking is not out there anywhere as far as I can see.

One spinoff of the solid sustained growth of the consumer class in Thailand has been the skyrocking rise in automobile sales. Even former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra climbed onto the bandwagon with her ill-fated new car buying scheme that enabled first time car purchasers to a tax refund.

Today across Thailand last prices continue to push upward as property developers look to maximize salable floor areas, and yet for the most part forget about the end-users desire to park their cars.  Abuses of building regulations run rampant and what might be shown as parking in official submission drawings are often later converted to shop spaces, maintenance area or other commercial opportunities.

Parking is no longer a given and in many cases has been elevated to an endangered species. One interesting phenomenon is that developers never quite realize that homeowners might have visitors who also need to park or service companies that deliver goods, or carry out renovation works.

In Bangkok a key mantra of condominium purchasers or renters is access to the BTS or MRT public transportation lines.  Even in Phuket the lines are blurred as urbanization is pushing up two car families and the second vehicle ends up wedged into a nook or cranny in some obscure location.

Thailand needs to understand that longer term, the toxic approach to planning and regulations has to take into account the modern metric of vehicle ownership.  On the other hand bright developer might even start to cash into unique selling proposition of having adequate parking that can fit the homeowners and their footprint of visitors and traffic.

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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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