• Buying Condos in Bangkok: The Definitive Guide

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    As property prices reach all-time-high in places like Hong Kong, real estate buyers have started to look for investment opportunities elsewhere.

    One of the most popular cities for overseas property investors in Asia is undoubtedly Bangkok. Being the most visited city in the world, it has a perfect geographical location, good health care, plenty of international schools, comparably cheap property, long-term visas, and the list goes on.

    Still, before you engage in Bangkok real estate, it’s important that you understand what you can expect from the market, where to buy, about condo prices, and more.

    What you’ll learn in this article:

    Bangkok’s condo market

    Bangkok’s condo market has flourished the past years and we’ve seen great price increases in the central areas. Buyers who targeted property along the BTS line and in places like Asoke have benefited the most.

    Land prices have increased immensely around Asoke and in the vicinity. It’s well-known that the central areas have become overcrowded, as a result, developers have started to look for land plots close to the upcoming BTS lines in the outskirts.

    This is something we see in Ho Chi Minh City as well, where CBRE predicts annual price increases of 10-20% for property located within a walking distance to the new MRT.

    Developing areas located some stations away from Asoke (like in Udom-Suk and On-Nut) have great potentials and where developers build many new projects at the moment.

    Overall, we see increased activity in fringe areas, as some developers now focus on the local market. Other developers continue to target foreign investors, that is still a very important segment.

    So how will the market perform in the coming time?

    Analysts predict less activity in Bangkok’s condo market as we see an oversupply of condos, a stagnated growth, and new lending policies introduced as of April 2019.

    condo-in-thong-lo

    Thailand’s new real estate lending policies

    The Thai government has introduced new lending regulations that mainly benefit first time home buyers. We’ve seen similar policies been introduced in Malaysia to attract younger first time home buyers and scare off investors who mainly seek rental incomes.

    With a reduction of mortgage applications, a slight oversupply of condos, and a global economy that weakens, the market will not be at its best for short-term investments, but rather interesting for long-term investments, especially close to the new BTS lines and in central areas.

    Buying condos close to the BTS (Sukhumvit road)

    Foreigners prefer to buy condos close to the central BTS stations that follow the Sukhumvit road. Simply put, most things happen around here.

    Sukhumvit road is the spine of Bangkok’s communication system. You most often start from any of the BTS stations and proceed to any of the bars, malls, hotels or restaurants close to the BTS.

    To many people’s surprise, Sukhumvit road stretches all the way to Cambodia.

    In Bangkok, its prime location starts at one of the main BTS stations, referred to as “Sukhumvit”, or more often “Asoke”.

    Keep in mind that the traffic planning is bad in Bangkok where the central areas tend to be congested, especially during rush hours. Walking long distances is not preferred as you often need to criss-cross between electrical cabinets, bus stops, and street vendors on the pavements.

    Thus, buying condos close to BTS stations from On-Nut to Asoke is a good option, as people prefer convenience. Sathorn and the Riverside become increasingly popular, at the same time as you have plenty of investment opportunities close to the new BTS lines in fringe areas.

    condos-at-sukhumvit

    Buying Asoke condos

    Asoke is one of the main junction points and hosts many high-end hotels like Pullman and Sheraton.

    One thing I like with Asoke, compared to Siam station, is that you can find everything from high-end diners to cosy cafés located just next to small streets and alleys.

    Asoke also has a less touristy feeling compared to Siam, where you’ll see travelers in thousands cramping into MBK to buy cheap electronics and other gadgets.

    Not to forget, if you plan to rent out your apartment, you’ll be able to find expats who prefer to reside in areas around Asoke, like Thong Lor, Phrom Phong, and Ekkamai.

    Buying Phrom Phong condos

    Phrom Phong is a very popular area that you shouldn’t overlook.

    It doesn’t take a long time to walk from the Asoke BTS station to Phrom Phong. Along the way, you’ll be sure to find a great amount of bars, restaurants and shopping malls, like Emporium.

    Many expats and other foreigners stay in Thong Lor and property prices are high in general.

    Buying Thong Lor condos

    Personally, Thong Lor is one of my favourite places in Bangkok. It hosts one of the biggest Japanese communities in Bangkok and you’ll find many Japanese restaurants and bars in the area.

    It offers a bustling nightlife with long bar streets and plenty of dining options.

    Due to the big influx of Japanese and other expats, condos are sought after in this area and rents and condo prices tend to be high. Prices are among the highest in Bangkok.

    Having a re-sell strategy before buying condos in Bangkok

    The amount of condos has increased immensely from a little bit more than 3,000 to a staggering amount of more than 11,000, in only five years.

    I was surprised to see how many condo units that were empty during my stay at On-Nut station, where I lived some time ago. I only saw one neighbour in my corridor – over a period of two months.

    When you proceed towards the On-Nut BTS station, you’ll see that are several other condos popping up like mushrooms (like Ideo Verve).

    Compared to the condo I stayed, most of the new, more expensive, and strategically located condos can be found right next to the BTS stations. This comes with a higher occupancy rate.

    Buying a 2-3 Bedroom condo close to the BTS line in the central areas can be a good choice to increase the quality of tenants, secure high rental yields, and make it easier to sell the condo later on.

    Some people ask why Bangkok is so popular among real estate investors in Asia. There are many reasons for this, below I’ve listed some of the most notable ones.

    buying-condo-asok-bts

    1. Bangkok is developed

    First of all, Bangkok is a comparably developed city with a GDP per capita that’s well above the country’s average and places like Ho Chi Minh City and Manila.

    Life is convenient and you can find good health care with low costs and plenty of international schools. Thus, Bangkok is a great location for families and retirees.

    Places like Ho Chi Minh City and Manila still have a couple of miles to go to reach Bangkok standards.

    2. Outsourcing of jobs in Thailand

    Many Japanese manufacturers helped Thailand getting back on its feet after the currency crisis hit in 1997. International companies have outsourced manufacturing (low-tech) and assembly operations (high-tech) to Bangkok and its surrounding areas.

    In addition to automotive, there are other tech-companies and corporations in service industries that have outsourced work to Bangkok.

    Naturally, this has resulted in a high amount of expats (especially Japanese) that settle in Bangkok.

    Unfortunately, Japanese investments have shrunk massively in Bangkok the past years as they’ve become more keen investing in other neighbouring countries like Cambodia, Myanmar, and Vietnam.

    With low economic growth rates and a stagnated population, Thailand has much to prove in the coming years.

    3. Thailand offers many long-term visas

    Bangkok offers a handful of long-term visas that can’t be found in places like Cambodia and Vietnam. The visas I refer to are:

    • The Retirement visa
    • The Thai investment visa
    • Thailand Elite Card

    To get a Thai investment visa, you can simply buy a condo with a value of at least THB 10 million in newly built condos, government or state enterprise bonds, and/or deposit the money into a local Thai bank account.

    A benefit is that you can combine these options. For example, you can invest THB 3 million (minimum) in a Thai condo and deposit the remaining THB 7 million into a local Thai bank account, if that’s your preference.

    4. Bangkok condos are still cheap by comparison

    Bangkok property prices are far beyond those in Hong Kong, Mainland China, and in Singapore. And they want a place to store their cash assets.

    It doesn’t matter if prices become a bit ‘overvalued’, the Chinese will continue to pour money into Bangkok real estate.

    5. Bangkok has high rental yields

    Rental yields average at around 4-5%, while you can enjoy higher rates if you do more thorough research. Many investors have experienced higher yields in strategically located property close to Sukhumvit road and along the BTS line.

    In contrast, rental yields average of around 1-3% in Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

    6. Tourism and retirement

    Even if Vietnam’s tourism industry catches up on Thailand’s ditto, many foreigners have Bangkok as their first choice when choosing a place to settle in Asia.

    bangkok-real-estate

    Foreigners have traveled to Thailand and Bangkok for holiday purposes since decades bac. The hospitality industry has evolved into becoming one of the most mature in the region.

    With a number of long-term visas on hand, such as the retirement visa, many foreigners will have Bangkok as their primary choice even in the future.

    Bangkok condo prices

    Condo prices are among the highest around Asoke and you’ll notice that prices decrease the further you go in the direction towards the On-Nut BTS station.

    Let’s have a look at the different price levels in some of the most popular areas.

    Asoke condo prices

    Asoke is one of the prime locations in Bangkok, but not the most expensive.

    Be prepared to pay THB 200,000 (USD 6,400) per square meter for newly built condos close to the BTS station.

    Phrom Phong condo prices

    Condos among the most expensive in Phrom Phong and you’ll find many new luxury condominiums.

    According to our research, you need to pay everything between THB 230,000 – 280,000 (USD 7,400 – 9,000) per square meter for newly featured condos.

    Thong Lor condo prices

    For new condos in good locations, you should be prepared to pay everything between THB 280,000 – 330,000 (USD 9,000 – 10,600) per square meter.

    Phra Khanong condo prices

    Condos are cheaper in Phra Khanong compared to the above mentioned places and you need to pay around THB 170,000 – 220,000 (USD 5,500 – 7,100) per square meter for new condos close to the BTS.

    On-Nut condo prices

    Condos in On Nut are a bit cheaper than Phra Khanong as it’s further away from Asoke.

    Prices for newly featured condos close to the BTS usually start from THB 140,000 – 200,000 (USD 4,500 – 6,500) per square meter.

    Real estate listings in Bangkok

    Bangkok’s real estate landscape is competitive and many foreigners decide to open estate agencies or listing websites.

    Some of my personal favourite websites for condo listings are:

    • Fazwaz.com
    • Thailand-property.com
    • Hipflat.co.th
    • Dotproperty.co.th

    These sites can help you to stay up to date about price levels and information about new condos.

    You can also check our separate article that lists condos for sale in Bangkok.

    Bangkok real estate lawyers

    You generally don’t need to hire a separate lawyer when buying condos. Your estate agent should have contacts with lawyers and handle the communication.

    Still, if you feel there’s a need to get in touch with a property lawyer, some of the following companies should be of interest:

    • Chaninat & Leeds
    • Anglo Thai Legal
    • GAM Legal Alliance
    • Siam Legal Bangkok
    • DFDL
    • Allen & Overy

    Most of the firms have a mix of Thai nationals and foreigners in the management, which is good. This will assure they have an in-depth knowledge of the market at the same time as they understand your problems and needs as a foreign buyer.

    Bangkok property management companies

    Some foreigners need to find property management companies to take care of their properties. If you’re one of them, look no further. Below I’ve listed some of the most credible and popular property management companies in Bangkok.

    • Sense Property
    • Company Vauban
    • Siam Home Source
    • Fresh Property

    The same as it goes with the agents listed above, these companies have both foreigners and Thai nationals in their teams.

    This is preferable to understand foreigners’ needs and to assure smooth communication.

    Interview with Five-Stars property – Over 10 years of experience in Bangkok real estate

    To wrap up this article, Fabrice Lore, the founder and CEO of Five-Stars property, will share some valuable tips when buying condos in Bangkok. It’s a leading agency that has successfully helped many foreigners to buy condos in Bangkok in the past.

    Fabrice Lore

    Fabrice, it’s great to have you here. Can you please tell us about yourself and your current business in Thailand?

    I’ve been in Thailand since 1996. After spending a few years in Koh Samui, I moved to Bangkok in 2005 where I set up Five Stars Thailand Real Estate.

    I realized that there were no French-speaking real estate agencies for the expats at this time, so I decided to specialize in this niche market

    Since then, we have been assisting tenants and property investors of all nationalities on a regular basis.

    Many foreign investors are considering purchasing condominiums in Bangkok nowadays. What makes Bangkok so attractive compared to other destinations?

    First of all, the Bangkok property market has of course benefitted from Thailand’s growing number of travelers. People like Thailand and are happy to invest here.

    Buying a condominium in Bangkok is certainly interesting in these regards:

    • No property tax and no inheritance tax under THB 50 million
    • You can purchase Freehold property under your own name
    • Net rental yield of around 5% per year
    • Tenants that rent your unit for at least 1 year
    • Capital appreciation of 3 – 5% per year

    I heard that the supply of condos is high in Bangkok and it can be difficult to resell a condo after some years. Is now the right time to buy and how easy is it to resell a condo?

    The property market average price growth and capital appreciation were steady over the last 10 years.

    I remember the time when we thought THB 100,000 per square meter was high and some developers are now selling way over the THB 200,000 per square meter mark.

    It’s more a question of what to buy than when to buy in Bangkok.

    The same goes for the resale. If you buy the right property, you won’t find it hard to resell. Please refer to our tips at the very bottom of our interview.

    What type of condominiums do you generally recommend to your customers and why?

    If their budgets allow, we like to recommend spacious 2-bedroom units (80 to 130 square meters) and 3-bedroom units as we believe there’s an oversupply of 1 bedroom units.

    The kind of tenants you would have for these units is also likely to be better.

    Which locations should be of interest when buying? Along Sukhumvit road (Thong Lo – Asok) or closer to the river? Any other places?

    Location, location, location as they say. Two thirds of our customers are targeting the Sukhumvit area, between Nana and Phra Khanong subway stations.

    Sathorn is also a sought-after area with easy access to the malls and offices.

    The riverside is a nice and fast-developing area, however not suited for all purposes as it’s slightly further from downtown.

    Can I rent out my condo to earn rental incomes? Are there mainly expats that rent long term, or tourists that rent short term? How are the yields?

    Thai law allows foreigners to own a condominium but also to rent it out.

    The market in Bangkok dictates that rental contracts run for minimum one year. Most tenants would be persons working in Bangkok in offices or from home.

    They usually have working contracts of 2-3 years, so they are likely to renew if they like your unit. In fact, many residences would not even allow you to let your unit on a short term basis, by using Airbnb for instance.

    Rental yields are in the region of 5% net.

    Thanks Fabrice. Finally, if there were 5 tips you would like to share with our readers and potential investors, what would they be?

    • Trust your real estate agent advice. We have been on the ground every day for more than 10 years and know exactly what tenants/buyers require
    • Buy a condominium which offers some added value and avoid standard sizes, especially with 1-Bedroom units. There is so much to offer that we will help you to find something unique
    • Understand that certain developers can have a vested interest and as such a biased sales pitch (as opposed to an agent, they do not have anything to sell to you apart from their own projects)
    • Avoid sales traps such as unrealistic rental guarantees (when something is too good to be true, it generally is not)

    Conclusion

    Bangkok is the number one choice for many Western and Asian real estate investors in Asia. It’s also the most visited city in the world, which kind of speaks for itself.

    Here, you can live in a nice climate with plenty of international schools and great health care in the vicinity. Thailand and especially Bangkok have dealt with travelers and foreigners for decades, thus, the industry is one of the most developed in the region.

    The condo market has performed exceptionally well the past decade, especially in central areas around Asoke. My predictions for 2019 are a bit more pessimistic as it seems like we’re entering a global recession pretty soon, the Thai government has introduced tighter lending regulations, and the market has lost some steam.

    Still, you have plenty of options for long-term investments, especially if you target condos being built close to the upcoming new BTS lines. At the same time, buying in central areas is affordable when comparing with places like Hong Kong and Singapore.

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