At the time of this Article’s publication, MahaNakhon officially Bangkok’s tallest building was officially inaugurated and celebrated as an iconic masterpiece in residential and commercial design. A simple review of this past year shows that Bangkok’s Central Business District, saw no shortage of luxury and ultra-luxury Project launches and completions.
With all this hype surrounding new residential projects, second-hand Condos launched the previous year or several years back, often fade and are forgotten by property professionals and the investment community.
To make matters even more complicated, Bangkok’s property market still lacks transparency. As historical sales price data of a Condo Building or specific Unit is difficult to access and evaluate. This combination of constant new launches and opaque market conditions nurture a curious phenomenon that was highlighted by a CBRE Consultancy Report:
“Prices of older condominiums do not move upwards at the same rate as newly-launched projects”
This causes a curious disparity which can range from tens to hundreds of thousands of Baht differences in Price Per/Square Meter of a residential Unit in old condos and newly launched projects. This difference can be surprising considering some Condos sit side-by-side geographically!
Before exploring the opportunities, it is important to conduct a cause-and-effect evaluation.
So why is there such a wide-range in prices?
1. Condo History
Condos or to use the exact legal title “Freehold Condominiums”, are a relatively new affair especially in comparison to more established markets such as the UK and the United States where Property Law has had numerous decades of development and refinement. To be exact the first Condominium Act (B.E. 2522) was only introduced in 1979. This Act gave rise to a Condo development frenzy, with relatively inexperienced Developers designing, building and completing Condos. The result was unfortunately a wave of poorly designed buildings with poor construction standards; this immediately affected resale value especially in comparison to new launches which offered better quality, design and layout options.
2. Poor Management
Residential Condos are subject to enormous wear and tear; common area and facilities (Pool, Gym, etc.) management are important in maintaining the value of a building. The Condos that have kept a good standard of management have seen steady increases in the value of Units; however this is unfortunately not the case in buildings that have suffered from poor or in-existent management.
3. Cultural Preferences
The Thai market without a doubt constitutes the bulk of Condo purchases, with foreign buyers remaining an important but non-vital market. However if you ask any Thai whether they prefer “old or new” and the response is likely to be “NEW”! This is a cultural dynamic which means that the local market automatically flocks to more exciting newer and fresher projects automatically resulting in increases in price.
Despite these factors, there are some fundamental reasons why Old Condos are presenting an increasingly interesting investment case:
– Less Developable Land in the CBD
Residential Condo development is an incredibly lucrative business and this has gradually led to the mushrooming of Condos all over Bangkok’s Prime Business Districts. While land plots are still available, large developable land plots are becoming a rarity. This means that in the coming years, more investors will flock to the “second-hand” condo market. This inevitable increase in demand, can only results in an increase in asking prices.
Interestingly the rarity of land plots, mean that newly acquired developable land in prime areas are being sold at astronomical prices. The only way for developers to ensure return on investment is by developing luxury developments offering smaller economical unit types (I.e. 27 Sqm. 1 Beds). Older Condos residents often benefit from larger Unit Types (I.e. 50 Sqm. or even 60 Sqm. 1 Beds) this is an interesting rental/residential advantage.
– Lower Cost Per/Sqm.
Old Condos offer an unparalleled option to buy in prime commercial areas at relatively affordable prices. The Bangkok rental market in the Central Business District is led by expats/foreigners that tend to favor and congregate in specific residential areas (I.e. Phrom Phong and Thong Lo). These neighborhoods are incredibly expensive, with new launches seeing prices as high as 170,000+ THB Per/Sqm. Old Condos are presenting an attractive investment as they are allowing investors to buy in Condos in popular locations at attractive prices.
– Higher Yields
Bangkok benefits from an active rental market, with young working professionals constantly on the lookout for rental properties. On average Rental Yields in the Capital tend to be between 3-6%, older Condos can in some cases produce yields between 6-8%. This is simply due to the fact that they can be purchased at lower prices, without losing their attractiveness as a rental property.
However as the saying goes “Caveat Emptor” or “Let the buyer beware”, there are numerous Old Condos in Bangkok that are unfortunate value traps that will only make you lose money. As an investor it is always important to conduct extensive research and due diligence. Most importantly engage the services of a reliable and trustworthy Property Agent who can guide you in your Property Search!