Foreign buyers are leading a shift away from freehold units towards high-end properties that offer better services. While Bangkok property buyers may be seeking signs of improvement following the recent elections, it is interesting to note that not only are foreign buyers beginning to return to the market at the top end, but they are also prepared to take leasehold title at a price premium over freehold condominiums, if they are convinced of the quality and potential of the development.

In the past two years Bangkok has seen several leasehold condominium projects launched, including the Residences at the St Regis Bangkok, the Ritz-Carlton Residences, Bangkok, and the Oriental Residence. While buyers’ preferences have traditionally been for freehold property, these top-end leasehold projects are seeing a significant increase in demand.

via Demand for Leasehold Condominiums on the Rise | Thailand Property News.

In the past two years Bangkok has seen several leasehold condominium projects launched, including the Residences at the St Regis Bangkokthe Ritz-Carlton Residences, Bangkok, and the Oriental Residence. While buyers’ preferences have traditionally been for freehold property, these top-end leasehold projects are seeing a significant increase in demand.

 

CB Richard Ellis’ (CBRE) recent roadshow for the Ritz-Carlton Residences, Bangkok in Hong Kong and Singapore generated 18 sales with a combined value of more than 750 million baht. Overall, purchasers at the development have been approximately 60%foreign and 40% Thai. At the same time, the St Regis has gained sales momentum postcompletion, with the majority of sales made to foreign purchasers including Europeans and Scandinavians, Hong Kong Chinese as well as Malaysian.

Ritz-Carlton Residences, Bangkok
In the past two years Bangkok has seen several leasehold condominium projects launched, including the Residences at the St Regis Bangkok, the Ritz-Carlton Residences, Bangkok (picture).

The latest completed leasehold development is the Oriental Residence on Witthayu Road where more than 50% of the units were sold in 2009 and at that time demand was 75% Thai. The project was recently relaunched as a completed development on Aug 25 and it is expected that the remaining 19 units will soon be taken up by a combination of Thai and foreign investors as we have shown keen interest due to both the quality of the project and the location.

The significance of this is that it represents a change in the property market in 2011. For no specific reason there has been a feeling that the high-end market was experiencing a slowdown after a strong run in recent years.

It is interesting to note that in the current market foreign buyers are more confident than Thai buyers at the top end. This is largely because Thailand has successfully weathered a series of political disruptions from 2008 through to 2011 and its economy,while not producing record performance, is steadily moving forward. Recent sales have shown that for the right property, buyers consistently pay more than 200,000 baht per square metre.

But Thailand’s leasehold market is still hampered by legal restrictions like the 30-year registered term, where many other countries offer longer terms.

Cambodia offers a 99 year lease, but Thailand only 30

Whilst a 60-year registered lease term proposed by JFCCT would be a clear improvement over a 30-year registered term, Thailand should be aware that neighbouring countries offer foreign buyers 99-year leases.

Thailand is clearly the most preferred regional location for retirement, and resort ownership. To date, Thailand has been lucky that buyers have been prepared to accept inferior title. This is not something Thailand can bank on in the future.  The CBRE Resort Property team is based in Phuket, and whilst we have seen a recovery in the Phuket property market and sales in top luxury villas with prices of over US$ 5 million, we also note that our fastest selling project has been a resort development in Cambodia.

These buyers have not bought based on Cambodia’s infrastructure, or other services which are at best fledgling or non-existent. They have bought because of the tenure. More interestingly, from a developer’s perspective, they are now paying prices per square meter that exceed many elements of the Thai resort market.

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2 comments
  1. Thanks for this article. I find it interesting that foreign investors in Thailand are beginning to choose leasehold properties. Is the reason for this change primarily because there are such luxury leasehold units on the market? What are the other reasons that foreigners are choosing leasehold investments? I plan to live in Bangkok long-term and will eventually buy a condo. I’m not sure whether I’d like to own freehold or leasehold, which is why I find this article so helpful. I’ll sit down with a Bangkok lawyer soon to discuss my options and find out more about Thai laws. The fact that Thailand only offers 30 year leases doesn’t deter me from investing here. Thailand is a much more appealing location to me than Cambodia, therefore I will be leasing here despite the shorter term. I hope to comment again on this issue after I’ve met with a lawyer.

  2. Although in Thailand the lease is only for 30 years, usual contract term is an arrangement for first renewal opportunity out of which combined with tax implication, the contract is usually renewed..

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