Buying a property when the project is still under construction is quite standard in Bangkok. This is usually the process of making a down payment on an off-plan or pre-sale condo.
This practice allows local developers to secure buyers and potentially secure financing from Banks, prior to starting the construction of a residential project.
In exchange for the potential risk of non-completion, buyers are rewarded by lower property prices and enticed with a delayed payment plan.
Since the property they are buying is not completed, they are usually only required to pay a down payment of 20-30% of the total purchase price, with the remaining 70-80% due upon completion.
This fast-paced system of real estate sales has fueled a Bangkok residential boom in recent years.
Pre-sales and flip investment strategy
This style of purchasing property is available to both Thai and International buyers with some investors making “speculative bets” on off-plan property.
The pre-sales and flip strategy is straightforward
Carefully select a high-potential and popular off-plan project and purchase a condo unit at a good price, possibly at a discount.
Hold the “Property” for a few months or years (Depending on the project’s completion date) and eventually try to “flip/ resell” at a profit.
This simple and straightforward investment strategy has the following pros and cons
Pros of a pre-sales and flip strategy
- Buyers only need to make a limited upfront investment (Usually 20-30% of the total price of the condo). The outstanding amount (70-80%) is due upon completion of the development.
- Selling an off-plan condo is straightforward with little paperwork and no government sales taxes.
Cons of a pre-sales and flip strategy
- This strategy is only successful when the real estate market is booming and prices are increasing. When the market is declining, off-plan properties are relatively illiquid assets and can be difficult to “flip/ resell”.
The pre-sales and flip transfer process
Reselling an off-plan property contract is simply a contractual amendment.
The seller is basically requesting that the developer transfer the name on a “Condo Sales & Purchase Agreement” to that of the new buyer.
Important details to note
- Some developers charge an administrative fee to transfer names on a “Condo Sales & Purchase Agreement”
- If the new buyer is a foreign national, they need to be aware that due to Thai Foreign Exchange Transaction Laws & Regulation, the full amount (100% of the sales price) of the condo will still need to be transferred to the developer. The initial 20-30% down payment initially paid is then refunded by the developer within 30-45 days after completion and transfer
- The new buyer needs to be cautious, as there is no government involvement and “very light” paperwork in the sales/ transfer of rights process. They should confirm directly with representatives from the developer’s sales/ legal team, that the “name transfer” was officially completed before making any payment to an off-plan flipper.
Sales Commission to Property Agents for Pre-Sales/ Off-Plan Flip
Despite being common practice, especially in Bangkok’s fast paced real estate market, it may come as a surprise that there is no established agency commission standard.
With most agencies adding an arbitrary commission on top of the desired “net price” of the sale. Therefore, it is important for off-plan flippers/resellers to ensure they recheck commission rates of any Real Estate Agency they work with.
The rewards and risks of off-plan flipping
The fast-paced nature of flipping off-plan property can in many ways be compared to trading stocks, which can result in fast profits.
This strategy is often lucrative for deep pocketed investors that can afford to bulk-buy several units and negotiate discounts with the developer. On the other hand, smaller investors should instead seek a price advantage by obtaining discounts from motivated resellers or motivated developers.
Some final words of caution, a “resale and flip strategy” is essentially speculation and is a risky form of investment. The market for off-plan units is usually illiquid if the general property market is facing a negative outlook. Contractually a developer cannot force a buyer to complete the transfer of an off-plan unit. However, if a buyer is unable or unwilling to pay the final installment, they will have to forfeit their down payment of 20-30% and lose all rights to the property.
This is a high risk and high returns strategy, and should be analysed and act upon with caution.
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