• Buying Condos in Bangkok: A Complete Guide

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    Bangkok is the most-visited city in the world and has been a mainstay of the Southeast Asian economy and a center of Asian business for many years.

    Being an “Alpha” city, it attracts everything from retirees, working professionals, families, and entrepreneurs.

    To say that Bangkok’s property market has performed well in the past decade is an understatement. Despite rising prices, it remains one of the most attractive spots in Southeast Asia.

    Before you engage in Bangkok’s real estate market, it’s important that you get your feet wet and learn the basics. Therefore, I have written this comprehensive article where I cover the most important topics.

    Today, we review the following:

    • Bangkok’s Condo Market
    • Buying Condos Near the BTS (Sukhumvit Road)
    • Why is Bangkok popular among real estate buyers?
    • Bangkok Condo Prices
    • Property Listings
    • Real Estate Lawyers
    • Property Management Companies
    • Advice When Investing in Bangkok Property

    Bangkok’s Condo Market

    Bangkok’s condo market has flourished in the past years and prices in the central areas have increased in the multiples.

    Notably, properties located along the BTS line in places like Asoke and Phrom Phong have seen the greatest price increases. The highest concentration of luxury properties can be found here.

    As the central areas have become overcrowded we also see a trend where developers look for land plots close to the new BTS lines in the outskirts and fringe areas.

    Similar activities happen in Ho Chi Minh City as well and where CBRE predicts annual price increases of 10% to 20% for projects located 10 minutes by walking distance from the Metro lines.

    As a result, developing areas located some stations away from Asoke, like in Udom-Suk and On-Nut, have great growth potentials. Increasingly more local and foreign developers build new projects in these areas.

    A reason why developers focus on building more units in the outskirts is to cater to the local market. Some developers continue to construct in prime areas to target foreign investors, which is still an important customer segment for the industry.

    Prediction of the Market Performance

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

    Not surprisingly, the pandemic affected the market badly and prices will most likely continue to fall.

    In 2020 alone, we saw a drop in the launches of new condos by -39%, which speaks for itself. Some agencies such as Keller Williams in Bangkok have started to focus more on the secondary market instead of the primary market.

    The CEO and co-founder of Juwai IQI have shared his view of the market and believe that prices will fall -3.9% in the primary market and -6.9% in the secondary market.

    Property buyers shouldn’t see this as a bad thing as it opens up opportunities in the market. If you want more support, fill in the form at the end of this article for further consultancy.

    Thailand’s New Real Estate Lending Policies

    condo-in-thong-lo

    The Thai government introduced new lending regulations in 2019 that mainly benefitted first-time home buyers. We’ve seen similar policies being introduced in Malaysia to attract younger first time home buyers and scare off investors with a profit-seeking incentive.

    The new regulations targeted second and third time home buyers primarily and with reduced LTV ratios as follows, according to Siam Commercial Bank:

    Less than THB 10 million

    • First house: 90% – 95% loans
    • Paying the first house for 3 years or more: 90% loans
    • Paying the first house for less than 3 years: 80%
    • From the third house and onwards: 70%

    More than THB 10 million

    • First – second house: 80% loans
    • From the third house and onwards: 70%

    During the pandemic, the Real Estate Information Center (REIC) information that we will see relaxed lending regulations to boost the local property market and to make loans more available to home buyers.

    Buying Condos Near the BTS (Sukhumvit road)

    Foreigners prefer to buy condos close to the central BTS stations that follow the Sukhumvit road. Simply put, most commercial activity can be found here, after if Sathorn-Siam and the Riverside become increasingly popular.

    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 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 need to criss-cross between electrical cabinets, bus stops, and street vendors on the pavements.

    Thus, buying condos close to BTS stations between the stations of On-Nut to Asoke is a good option, as people prefer convenience. As mentioned, 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.

    However, these projects are primarily built for locals and where prices remain low.

    Asoke

    condos-at-sukhumvit

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

    An outspoken benefit of living around Asoke, compared to Siam station, is that you can find many bars, restaurants, and cafes. There are plenty of high-end diners to cozy cafés located just next to small streets and alleys.

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

    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, Ekkamai, and Phra Khanong.

    Phrom Phong

    Phrom Phong is a popular area that is also one of the most expensive in the city. It attracts many foreigners who visit or reside in Bangkok.

    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 number of bars, restaurants, and shopping malls, like Emporium.

    Phrom Phong has managed to become one of the “hottest” shopping and lifestyle areas in Bangkok that attracts everything from retirees, working professionals, and families.

    Examples of five luxury condominium projects located here include:

    • MARQUE Sukhumvit – Completed 2017
    • Vittorio – Completed 2017
    • The Diplomat 39 – Completed 2019
    • The Estelle Phrom Phong – Completed 2022
    • Noble State 39 – Completed 2022

    The price per square meter fetch well above THB 300,000 and even close to the THB 400,000 mark in many of the projects.

    Thong Lor

    Personally, Thong Lor is one of my favorite areas in Bangkok. It’s the home of many Japanese people and there is an abundance of Japanese restaurants and bars here.

    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.

    Thong Lor has close to 150 condominium projects, many in the premium class.

    Examples of projects located here include:

    • Rhythm Sukhumvit 42
    • Nusasiri Grand
    • MARQUE Sukhumvit
    • Siamese Exclusive Sukhumvit 42
    • The ESSE Sukhumvit 36
    • Von Napa Sukhumvit 38
    • La Citta Delre Thonglor 16
    • Noble Remix
    • Dhani Residence

    Finding units that fetch THB 400,000 – 500,000 a square meter here is possible, primarily built to cater to Ultra-High-Net-Worth-Individuals (UHNWIs).

    The Importance of Re-Sell Strategy Before Buying Condos

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

    If you ever visited Bangkok and stayed in a condominium, particularly at stations a bit further away from the most central areas, you’ve perhaps noticed that many units are empty.

    Most of the new, expensive, and strategically located condos can be found right next to the BTS stations. This generally results in higher occupancy rates and yields.

    Buying a 2-3 bedroom condos 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.

    Do your utmost to find a reliable and experienced local partner that has experience in catering to foreigners and that understands the market inside-out.

    buying-condo-asok-bts

    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.

    1. Bangkok is developed by Southeast Asian standards

    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. The tourism industry has been active for decades here and the service sector is well-developed.

    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 many other tech companies and corporations in service industries that have outsourced work to Bangkok. Thailand is big in the food manufacturing industry as well, in addition to the petrochemical industries.

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

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

    3. 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.

    Few Asian countries offer this. The Philippines is also a great choice if you want access to long-term visas. The SIRV and SRRV are easily available to investors and retirees.

    Malaysia, on the other hand, offers a long-term visa referred to as Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H).

    4. Property Prices Are Low Compared to Hong Kong and Mainland China

    Bangkok’s property prices might be high by Southeast Asian standards, but are still far lower than those in Hong Kong, Mainland China, and Singapore, for example.

    It doesn’t matter if prices become a bit overvalued, overseas investors, continue to pour money into Bangkok real estate. Bangkok is one of the most-visited cities in the world and will continue to be so for a long time to come.

    5. Competitive 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 a strategically located property close to Sukhumvit road and along the BTS line.

    In contrast, rental yields average at around 1% – 3% in Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Countries like Vietnam and Cambodia generally offer higher yields in the bigger cities.

    But, yields are sometimes not only the most important factor when investors decide where to buy properties.

    6. Tourism and retirement

    Even if neighboring countries like Vietnam and the Philippines have experienced strong growth in the tourism sectors, many foreigners settle in Bangkok.

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

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

    Condo Prices in Bangkok

    bangkok-real-estate

    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

    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.

    Celes Asoke, for example, is a premium project located here and where prices can reach THB 280,000 per square meter.

    A unique 5-bed triplex penthouse for sale at Royce was recently up for listing as well and with a price of THB 245 million. The square meter price was around THB 450,000 (USD 14,500).

    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.

    Below are the prices for units in Ideo Q Sukhumvit 36, for example, which is located in the Thong Lor area:

    • 1-bedroom, 44.48 sq.m: THB 10.12 million
    • 2-bedroom, 62.55 sq.m: THB 14.48 million

    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.

    As the central areas become crowded and prices go through the roof, areas like Phra Khanong will see more projects in the coming years.

    On-Nut Condo Prices

    Condos in On Nut are more low-priced than in Phra Khanong, as it’s one station away.

    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.

    In The Base Sukhumvit 50, for example, prices are as follows:

    • Studio, 26 sq.m: THB 2.69 million
    • 1-bedroom, 30 sq.m: THB 3.2 million
    • 2-bedroom, 46 sq.m: THB 5.8 million

    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 favorite 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

    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.

    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

    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 a condo in Bangkok?

    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 income?

    Foreigners generally have no issues renting out condominium units in Bangkok.

    The market in Bangkok dictates that rental contracts run for a minimum of 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 average at around 4% – 5%, but it also depends on where you buy and the standard of the unit.

    Thanks, Fabrice. 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. It’s important that the agent understands the local market and the most interesting areas to buy.
    • Buy a condominium that offers some added value and avoid standard sizes, especially with 1-Bedroom units. There’s been an oversupply of 1-Bedroom units recently, a reason why it can be good aiming for a larger unit.
    • 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 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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