Bangkok’s used units continue to attract buyers

2823_1.gifAs prices of luxury condominiums in Bangkok’s central business district (CBD) have gone up dramatically over the past six years, there has been continued interest from buyers looking for more affordable units in older buildings in the area.

However, according to Jones Lang LaSalle, there are several factors that buyers need to consider when buying used luxury condominium units as divestment under the current market condition – where the levels of both old and new supply are high – can pose a big challenge.

“We have seen continued interest in used luxury condominiums offering relatively attractive prices, particularly in well-managed buildings. Some of these condominiums may be offered at prices as low as half of those commanded by units in newly completed buildings or under construction projects,” said Daonum Lilavivat, head of Residential Agency at Jones Lang LaSalle.

Findings from Jones Lang LaSalle’s recent market study indicate that newly completed or currently under construction luxury condominium units in Bangkok’s CBD are now offered for sale at prices ranging between Bt110,000 and Bt200,000 per sqm, whereas units in older luxury buildings (aged ten years and older) in the same area are available for sale at between Bt55,000 and Bt90,000 per sqm.

“Discussions with our customers who purchased condominiums in older buildings show that aside from lower prices, most of the older buildings in the luxury segment offer relatively larger common space and full recreational facilities. These amenities include large swimming pools, fitness/sauna rooms and tennis courts, which are not typically provided in many new condominium projects. In addition, some buyers prefer the more ‘cozy’ environment offered by older condominium buildings rather than the ‘hotel-like’ atmosphere in new buildings,” says Daonum.

Good time to buy for own occupation
Buying used luxury condominiums in the CBD for own occupation now is a sound decision, says Daonum. “The strong competition in the leasing market due to the rapid growth of new condominium supply has put downward pressure on rents. Many owners who bought condominiums for investment purposes many years ago may now find it difficult to let their units as most tenants prefer newer buildings. For this reason, these investors are keen to divest their holdings,”

She adds that many of these units offer attractive prices and good value for money for those who are looking to buy used condominiums for their own occupation.

Daonum’s view is supported by Jones Lang LaSalle’s new market study which provides an analysis of gross and net yields in the high-end Bangkok condominium market.

Dan Tantisunthorn, head of Research at Jones Lang LaSalle, says “In a study to be published shortly, we found that the average resale price and current borrowing rates have adjusted to a level resulting in a gross yield which would attract end-user buyers. At these same price levels and assuming no vacancy, investors can earn a net yield above long term ‘risk-free’ rates, despite the yield on some of these, such as the recent government bond issue, rising.”

Doanum believes buyers can expect a capital appreciation in the long term as there are less sites/land plots available for new developments, whilst development costs of future projects are likely to rise.

Nonetheless, investors looking to buy used units to let at this time must be very cautious, says Daonum. “Aside from the downward pressure on rents because of strong competition and tenants’ preference for newer buildings, an investor may also have to make a big cash outlay to renovate a unit prior to putting it up for rent.”

Quality of property management – a key factor to look at
Because of old age, the condition of some condominium buildings can deteriorate – so can their asset values. Therefore, apart from price and location, the quality of building/property management is another key factor that buyers must pay a lot of attention to.

“There are a number of older luxury condominium buildings that are well managed and have always been kept in a like-new condition. Units in these buildings are able to sustain their asset value despite the high levels of supply entering the market over the past few years, and have a higher potential to enjoy a capital appreciation once the market picks up,” says Daonum.

“The attitude of the condominium juristic person committee plays a vital role in determining how the building is managed. A committee with a forward-thinking outlook will not be reluctant to invest in property management, including the regular maintenance and improvement of common areas, communal facilities and all systems within the building,” Daonum says.


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