Building Foundations

Building Foundations

Judging by the continually-growing number of real estate developments sprouting up around the city, the rather gloomy economic forecasts seem to have been largely ignored. There is a rush to construct ever bigger and taller living and working properties in the capital. Property developers, in fact, see the sector growing nationwide, particularly in Greater Bangkok and it is expected to remain bullish at least for a few more years.

Demand for homes close to the two mass-transit systems: the BTS and the MRT, is said to be increasing rapidly. The Onnut district tops the appeal table with a target price of around THB 2.5 million per unit. This can rise, however, as high as three to four million baht. The most popular unit size ranges from 35 to 40 sqm.

When choosing where to live, it is vital to consider not only commuting time, but also somewhere that is as stress free as possible, close to shopping malls or markets, and more crucially, maintains a high level of security.

A condo unit is usually part of a larger building which is rented out by a landlord. Facilities are generally superior to an apartment complex, with swimming pools, fitness centers, saunas, etc. With good locations, they provide the extra benefits of longer-term contracts for tenants, utility bills with no added premiums, more personal attention, and a stronger community feel than apartments.

Surprisingly, prices for newly commenced condo projects in Bangkok can be as much as four to five times higher than for older buildings. These are driven not only by location, but also the age, design, specification of the building, and its management and maintenance.

There are significant differences between old and new in a number of prime investment locations in the city such as Sukhumvit, Sathorn and Lumpini. There are several factors which create this striking gap. Historically, the vast majority of condo buyers are Thais and there has been a traditional reluctance to occupy “second hand” properties. Design issues with old properties are often a problem too; even a lack of an attractive lobby area can deter potential buyers.

Many older units have ceiling heights which are as low as 2.4m compared to their modern counterparts with heights of three meters. The actual layout of the buildings can be poor, although the sellable area may be more than 300sqm, the fact  that some rooms have a column in the middle decreases the utility of the space and is arguably no better than a new 200sqm development.

Purchasing property is hugely subjective, according to individual needs, agenda, budget, and lifestyle. Many property buyers opt for professional advice and hire a real estate agent. They can save you time, provide professional advice, and will match both listed and unlisted properties for you. Their fees are usually paid by the seller and generally total up to three to eight percent of the purchase price.

Research the property agents carefully, word of mouth recommendations and testimonials are vital. Ask questions and thoroughly test their knowledge of the area you are thinking of living or investing in.

Do your homework, have a well thought-out financial and business plan. Get the correct advice and whether you are living or investing in Bangkok, you will be laying solid foundations for your future!

Born in England, Christopher Scott Dixon is an experienced writer and ex-BBC radio reporter/presenter. He has contributed many features to a variety of publications in Thailand and in the UK. He has also written 18 books across different genres and is a qualified teacher.