29 December CBRE looks back at 30 years of the Bangkok Condominium Market
CBRE celebrated its 30th anniversary of the opening of the company in Bangkok and Ms. Aliwassa Pathnadabutr, managing director of CBRE Thailand, looks back at the last 30 years of condominium development in Bangkok. “When I first joined the company, which was called Richard Ellis in 1988, there were only about 2,600 completed condominium units in downtown Bangkok and now there are 140,000 and about 630,000 in the whole city.”
In 1988, it was possible to buy a condominium unit off-plan in downtown Bangkok for around THB 20,000 – 25,000 per square metre, but purchasers got a bare concrete shell with a very basic bathroom. There were no wall, floor or ceiling finishes, no fitted kitchen, air conditioning, lighting or electrical outlets provided by the developer. Today most condominiums are sold on a fully-fitted basis, including air conditioning and kitchens with appliances and purchasers just need to provide loose furniture.
Prices for new buildings have risen by more than 1,000 percent with many new condominiums selling for over THB 3percenter square metre in prime locations. In the late 1980s, the most expensive condominium project was Somkid Gardens, behind Central Chidlom, where you could have bought a unit off-plan for around 35,000 baht per square metre. Today the most expensive condominium development in Bangkok is 98 Wireless where the developer, Sansiri, says they have sold a unit for more than THB 700,000 per square metre.
The Condominium Act permitting the sale of freehold strata title condominium property came into effect in 1979 and for the first few years there was only limited development.
The late 1980s and early 1990s were Thailand’s “Asian Tiger” years where more than 90,000 condominium units were built in Bangkok. The condominium market was highly speculative with people trading off-plan contracts as if they were shares, with little thought about design, specification or who the end-user target market was.
The result was that some of the developments from that period were quite poor quality. The speculative bubble started to cool in 1994 and finally burst in 1997 with the Asian Financial Crisis. The market came to a halt with construction stopping on half-built projects and no sales. Prices did not immediately fall as the foreclosure process was so inefficient and it was not until the early 2,000’s that unsold inventory was cleared and unfinished projects started to be completed. The first new launches did not take place until 2003.
Since then there has been a big jump in demand, especially in the midtown areas, as young people now leave home before marriage and can afford to buy their own home. It is this social change and increase in disposable income that has fuelled the mainly one-bedroom midtown condominium market.
Overall the Bangkok condominium market has seen 15 years of growth with only a brief slowdown during the 2008 global financial crisis.
The Bangkok market still has one feature that makes it different to many other property markets around the world and that is the relatively low level of secondary sales. Most Thai buyers still prefer new properties bought off-plan or on completion. There are speculative buyers who purchase with intention of reselling before completion of construction, but a relatively low level of re-sales after completion. The gap in pricing between new and old condominiums is growing and only few buildings more than five years old have prices that are close to the prices of new projects in the same location. In Singapore, owners of some older buildings have agreed to sell the whole block in a collective sale for redevelopment where the land value now exceeds the total price of all the units, but that has not happened in Bangkok, partly because the Thai condominium law requires 100% agreement of all co-owners to revoke the condominium.
“I have seen a huge improvement in design, specification and build quality over the last 30 years with developers clearly focused on end-user requirements,” said Ms. Aliwassa. “Looking forward, the market will fluctuate depending on the economic climate and we may see a more active interest in older buildings as purchasers start to see the value in renovation, but there will, as with all cities, still be demand for new buildings.”
About CBRE Group, Inc.
CBRE Group, Inc. (NYSE:CBRE), a Fortune 500 and S&P 500 company headquartered in Los Angeles, is the world’s largest commercial real estate services and investment firm (based on 2017 revenue). The company has more than 80,000 employees (excluding affiliates), and serves real estate investors and occupiers through approximately 450 offices (excluding affiliates) worldwide. CBRE established an office in Bangkok in 1988, followed by its Phuket office in 2004. CBRE Thailand has grown to be the leading real estate services provider, offering strategic advice and execution for property sales and leasing; corporate services; property, facilities and project management; appraisal and valuation; and research and consulting (www.cbre.co.th).