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Bangkok Bubble

July 29, 2011

The Agency for Real Estate Affairs and Property Consultants (AREAPC) has warned the real estate sector targeting Thai buyers could be heading for a bubble.



It points out that 48,825 units were sold in Thailand in the first half of the year, an increase of 15 per cent on the first half of 2010.

It predicts sales for the year will be double that number – almost 100,000 units.

The agency’s president, Sopon Pornchokchai, said he believed the real estate sector will continue to expand next year, with a further 100,000 units at least being sold.

He said entrepreneurs are confident in the country’s economic expansion. But he warned that if the economy slows in 2013 because of political factors or increased foreign competition, or both, buyers may not be able to keep up with payments on their property.

In addition, he pointed out, the higher supply of real estate and the atmosphere of bullishness could lead to rising competition among banks in the home loan sector, which in turn could lead to increasing amounts of bad debt or non-performing loans.

He added another disturbing factor is that real estate purchases nowadays “are mostly speculative”, especially for condominiums selling for less than B1 million.

Phuket is more stable than Bangkok, said Tanan Tanphaibul, President of the Phuket Real Estate Club. He noted that the condo building boom in the capital has been “tremendous” recently, especially along MRT rail lines.

“The market here, under B2 million per home, is still very active, but there is not as much speculative buying as there is in Bangkok.

“Tourism is picking up and so long as we have political stability I don’t see a problem here.”

He warned, however, that the market needs to keep an eye on the absorption rate – the time it takes for a low-end development to sell out. This is currently about 12 to 15 months nationally, he noted, but added that if it were to slow to 24 to 30 months, that could lead to oversupply.

As for international sales in Phuket, Mr Tanan said these were currently rather slow, a situation he attributed to potential home-buyers holding back because of the current high exchange rate of the Thai baht.

That said, added the Russian market has been growing rapidly, because Russians are coming to the island in ever greater numbers, have good buying power, and often do not want to keep their hard-won money in Russia.

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