What to Know Before You Buy Property in Thailand

Posted in Before You Buy

Buying property in Thailand — Bangkok in particular — is an attractive proposition. The luxury-property sector is booming and prices are far cheaper than those you’ll find in Hong Kong. However, there are certain factors, listed below, you need to be aware of before you consider making a purchase. And be sure to consult an attorney — laws change all the time, after all. 

  1. Foreign citizens are generally forbidden from owning land in Thailand, so many overseas buyers opt for the simplicity of buying a condominium. It’s permitted as long as no less than 51 percent of the total area of all units in a residential project is owned by Thai citizens.
  2. If you wish to buy or build a stand-alone home, you’ll need to obtain a 30-year lease from the landowner. Alternatively, you can form a limited company in Thailand with a combination of foreign and Thai ownership, although no more than 49 percent of the shares can be foreign owned; such a company has the right to own land.
  3. A foreigner is permitted to own land — up to one rai (1,600 square metres) — if he or she provides a minimum of 40 million baht to invest in specified Thai businesses and has received approval from the Ministry of the Interior.
  4. Most buyers from Hong Kong purchase new, off-plan developments, for which the procedure is straightforward: select condo, pay HK$20,000 booking fee, pay a 10 percent deposit within the following two weeks, pay another 10 percent deposit after signing the sales and purchase agreement, then pay the remainder once the property is finished and the transfer of ownership is made by the developer.
  5. If you want to buy a property with cash, you’ll first have to transfer the total amount in Hong Kong or US dollars to a bank account in Thailand before continuing the process. If you wish to get a mortgage, chances are you’ll need to apply for an international bank loan from the likes of UOB, ICBC or Bank of China.
Michael Alan Connelly
A Chicagoan by birth and a New Yorker by habit, Michael has more than a decade of experience in digital publishing at leading titles in the U.S. and Asia. When he's not checking out Hong Kong's newest restaurants and bars or jet setting around the globe, you'll find him hanging out with his dog Buster and enjoying an Aperol Spritz.

5 Hot Properties to Buy in Phuket Right Now

Posted in Holiday Homes

Bangkok may be the world’s most-visited city, but it’s Phuket that has one of the fastest-growing property markets in Thailand. Thanks to the island’s natural environment and beauty, many a luxury resort can be seen investing in the area, which helps to attract a wealth of tourism and development projects. So whether you’re looking for a new base, holiday home, or real estate to investment in, here are the top five hottest properties to keep your eye on.

Villa Sawarin

As part of an exclusive collaboration between acclaimed architects Jean-Michel Gathy and Phillipe Stark, it goes without saying that Villa Sawarin (approx. HK$169,451,700) is exceptionally designed. At this private Cape Yamu development in Phuket’s east coast, traditional Thai elements weave effortlessly and flawlessly into the contemporary aesthetics of this expansive 8-bedroom, 10-bathroom villa. It sprawls over 43,000 sq. ft. of indoor and outdoor space, with highlights that include its own golf practice green and a stunning infinity pool within three acres of beautifully manicured garden. Inside, a spa room, home theatre, fully-equipped gym and yoga studio provide more reasons to never have to leave this magnificent property.  

Avadina Hills by Anantara

Perched on a forested slope overlooking the western shore of Phuket, Avadina Hills by Anantara (HK$87,157,695) is a collection of 16 villas in a prestigious and secluded neighbourhood. Each villa is set against some of Thailand’s best natural views — from the green hillsides just above Layan Beach, to the azure waters of Andaman Sea. The design has been left minimalist, with clean lines and natural materials, which mean the 28,427-sq.-ft. site is completely customisable, from a four-bedroom property to include additional bedrooms, a study, or even a private gym or cinema.

Villa Shanti, Jivana Beach Residences

Along the quiet, peaceful stretch of Natai Beach on the west coast of Phang Nga are several beachfront retreats. But none are quite as eye-catching as Villa Shanti (approx. HK$60,477,360). As one of three villas in the Jivana Villas estate, this six-ensuite-bedroom property is housed in five connected Thai-style pavilions that intersperse the palm tree-lined garden. Across the huge, 68,000-sq.-ft. Space is simple but contemporary style living spaces that allow the sweeping views of the Andaman sea to take centre stage, while a 82 ft. infinity pool and breezy open pavilions (or salas as they’re known in Thai) enable relaxing alfresco moments that are ideal for dining and entertaining guests.

Villa Isa, Trisara Residences

This three-floored, six-bedroomed, and two-pooled villa embodies luxury without a doubt, but it also boasts two other precious commodities that many seek — nature and privacy. Framed by lush tropical forests and exotic gardens, the Villa Isa (approx. HK$58,777,200) is a secluded retreat set over a private bay on Phuket’s west coast, where residents have access to their own private beach. Other features of the 21,528-sq.-ft. property include a spa, gym, and tennis courts that are ideal for those who like to keep active, while a billiard room, private cinema and even a unique petanque field for boules sports is sure to keep everyone entertained.

Moon Shadow Villa, The Pavilions Residences

For a little over HK$40 million, you can attain a piece of prime real estate that combines luxury with both comfort and privacy. Located in the peace and quiet of Kamala in Kathu, the Moon Shadow Villa (approx. HK$39,192,750) is one of two parts in The Pavilions Residence and employs ocean views as its main backdrop. Contemporary and spacious design are the key points at this 12,357-sq.-ft. home, with unique features such as double-height ceilings, infinity pool, curved central staircase, wine cellar, and a large terrace for outdoor entertaining making it easy to move in immediately.

As of the publishing date of this article, any aforementioned properties were available for sale. We cannot guarantee that these properties will be available for sale indefinitely, so please check the respective listings for the most up-to-date information.

Fontaine Cheng
Born and bred in London, Fontaine is a self-proclaimed foodie with extensive experience in the luxury lifestyle landscape. When not exploring the world — discovering cultures and tasting new dishes — she can be found sipping a nice cup of tea (or G&T) hoping to adopt a puppy.

In Bangkok, the Luxury Property Sector Is Booming

Posted in Market Report

On the tail of a construction boom lasting the best part of two decades, Bangkok now suffers from a glut of condominiums, with Bloomberg reporting in May that some 65,000 new apartments were added to the Thai capital last year alone, an 11 percent increase on 2017. 

Although it’s been claimed that there are now as many as 450,000 residences sitting unsold across the sun-drenched “Land of Smiles”, and snapshots of more-ordinary properties are yellowing sadly in real-estate agency windows from Hat Yai to Chiang Rai, one sector of the market remains in fine fettle, mainly through demands of the domestic market, but also supported by a steady influx of foreign capital.

That sector is luxury. 

“The luxury end is pretty resilient, though the mid and lower end of the market has fallen off, certainly compared to last year,” says Tim Skevington, managing director at Richmont’s Luxury Real Estate, which represents Christie’s International Real Estate in Bangkok.

Skevington is speaking in early August, from an exclusive gathering to celebrate the grand opening of Banyan Tree Residences Riverside Bangkok, a luxurious freehold condominium tower comprising 133 luxurious units over 45 floors, all overlooking the Chao Phraya River. A large turnout is expected.

“Particularly Thai people but also potential buyers from overseas,” says Skevington, who has more than 15 years experience in Bangkok’s high-end residential market. “That’s an indication of where we are. There’s still a lot of interest in the higher end in Bangkok.”

Thailand’s economy has wobbled in 2019, and tightened borrowing rules kicked in earlier this year. The result is what Bloomberg has dubbed “tepid” demand across the Bangkok property market as a whole (with developers reporting an overall new-project take-up rate of just 55 percent). The steamy City of Angels, however, is still one of the most attractivedestinations on the planet for high-end homes.

There are multiple reasons for this, says Apichart Chutrakul, CEO of leading full-service real-estate developer Sansiri PCL, which is behind some of Thailand’s most sought-after addresses. They range from high build quality and the creative input of megastar designers to a plethora of value-added services and amenities that increasingly come as standard. 

Most attractive of all, however, is the fact that gateway prices are a fraction of those in Hong Kong or Singapore. 

As a rule of thumb, Skevington says luxury properties in Bangkok should be considered those with buy prices upwards of 250,000 baht per square metre (roughly HK$5,920 per square foot). “And then we have super-luxury, which would be from around 350,000 baht [about HK$8,300 per square foot],” he adds. “That’s where we and Christie’s are positioned.”

Real estate consulting firm CBRE, meanwhile, defines “premier” residences as those requiring 300,000 baht per square metre, with about two-dozen Bangkok developments fitting the top-end bill at the close of 2018.

Sansiri recorded overall sales of US$1.5 billion that year, up 25 percent from 2017, and the company is currently bullish. Its sales target for the three years from 2019 is US$5 billion. This year alone, Sansiri will launch close to 30 new projects worth US$1.5 billion. It now boasts four super-premium properties in its Sansiri Luxury Collection. 

That fab four includes the company’s first branded condominium project, Khun by Yoo. With construction to be completed in November, its 27 storeys will house 148 residential units ranging from one-bedroom apartments (440-570 square feet) to ultra-luxurious penthouses (3,165-3260 square feet). Interiors described as “playful” come courtesy of legendary French design whizz Philippe Starck, and the average buy price currently hovers at about 380,000 baht per square metre (HK$9,000 per square foot).

“Top-tier buyers can achieve a high degree of design, service and personalisation at prices that are approximately four times less than Hong Kong,” Chutrakul says, singing Bangkok’s praises. “All within one of the world’s most popular and vibrant cities, and a global gateway.” 

Also in Sansiri’s Luxury Collection are Regency-styled, single-house development Baan Sansiri Pattanakarn and prestigious 45-storey condo tower The Monument Thong Lo, which features bespoke trimmings by Bohemian hand-blown glass specialist Lasvit. 

In 2018, the most desired of 77 units in the collection’s 98 Wireless — Sansiri’s 25-storey, beaux arts-inspired residence, with interiors by New York-based designer Anne Carson (formerly interiors guru for Ralph Lauren) — were being offered for as much as 700,000 baht per square metre (about HK$16,575 per spare foot), making it the priciest residence in the Big Mango.

While Thailand is no stranger to occasional financial turmoil, it’s frequently argued that, with tourism being a major driver of the economy, buyers here enjoy a coincidental level of protection when investing long-term in Bangkok’s more exclusive properties. While the Southeast Asian kingdom can be knocked down, its natural charms mean it always bounces back.

According to Mastercard’s Global Destination Cities Index, Bangkok has been the world’s most visited city every year since 2015 (ahead of London and Paris). International arrivals last year hit 38 million; 41 million are expected this year. The more high-net-worth of these visitors, perhaps lured by Thailand’s intoxicating brew of gorgeous weather, convenient regional access and high-end bang for the buck, might jet home with a shiny new home in the portfolio. 

Ease of condominium purchase, says Chutrakul, is another convincing factor. “In other major cities in Asia,” he argues, “it’s almost impossible to obtain freehold land in prime locations, whereas Thai property law allows foreigners to buy and own up to 49 percent of the total area of a condominium on a freehold basis.”

Skevington’s years of experience tell him that the largest percentage of foreign buyers in Bangkok luxury are from Hong Kong, with Singaporeans traditionally taking second place, only recently to be eclipsed by mainland Chinese. “Hong Kong interest has been steady for many years,” he says. “Singapore has been more up and down. Mainland Chinese are more recent buyers. The rest are mainly from Asia, but also from all across the world. But the majority are still Thai.”

Foreign purchasers account for as much as 30 percent of Sansiri’s sales, with investors from Hong Kong and mainland China making up the lion’s share (even with China’s economic slowdown and capital controls limiting cash outflows), followed by buyers from Singapore. But purchasers in Bangkok real estate are increasingly choosy and not every luxury property is a sure-fire winner. 

As prime downtown land becomes ever more scarce (land prices in the city centre jumped 30 percent in 2017 alone) and the market becomes more selective, location is key. The most obvious port of call for the savvy luxury buyer is what Chutrakul calls Bangkok’s “Golden Triangle” of the Siam district, Sukhumvit Road and Lumphini Park. Home to 98 Wireless, this sprawling downtown area accommodates most of the city’s premium real estate – far too many options to list here in total.

In-demand developments include the recently completed Nimit Langsuan, a super-luxurious 53-floor landmark, just north of Lumphini, with 187 freehold residences ranging from 840 square feet to around 6,460. Nearby Magnolias Ratchadamri Boulevard is a mixed-use development overlooking the racetrack of Royal Bangkok Sports Club. It houses 316 residential units in a sculpted 60-storey tower (homes at Magnolias Ratchadamri Boulevard are leasehold, with 50-year terms, meaning lower buy prices than at Nimit Langsuan). The building will also house Southeast Asia’s first Waldorf Astoria hotel.

Longer-in-tooth is Marque Sukhumvit, a freehold condominium complex beside the Emporium shopping mall on Sukhumvit Road at Phrom Phong. Completed in 2017, Marque contains 149 units with 3.4 metre-high ceilings; the plushest also feature private plunge pools.

Just one stop east on Bangkok’s convenient Skytrain sits the Thong Lo neighbourhood, home to Sansiri’s The Monument Thong Lo and Khun by Yoo. Thong Lo has transformed in the past decade to become Bangkok’s most happening entertainment zone, chock-full of stylish eateries, Instagrammable bars and nightclubs, cute coffee joints and boutique hotels. 

Tela Thonglor, completed last years and developed by Gaysorn Property (from the same group of companies responsible for the chic Siam shopping mall Gaysorn), is another condo complex to include on the shopping list. “Thong Lo is attractive to investor buyers looking to rent out, because there’s a lot of tenant demand in that area,” says Skevington.

Unlike many other cities internationally, Bangkok was unfathomably slow in exploiting the waterway that meanders through its heart, but that’s also changing. Three new ultra-luxury branded residences have recently debuted on the Chao Phraya’s banks: the aforementioned Banyan Tree Residences Riverside Bangkok, Four Seasons Private Residences Bangkok, and The Residences at Mandarin Oriental Bangkok. And keep your eyes peeled for Magnolias Waterfront Residences, which will be the city’s first residential-only super-tall tower. 

Skevington says Bangkok’s riverside traditionally lacked the facilities and mass-transit convenience of more downtown locations such as Siam and Sukhumvit, but that’s no longer the case. “Just outside the Banyan Residences is the brand-new Gold Line monorail [to begin operation next year], and Iconsiam shopping complex has opened next door,” he points out. “Until quite recently, the riverside lacked these amenities and was quite difficult to get to, but all of that is changing.”

Skevington believes luxury buyers are considering what they will do with a Bangkok property, and choosing locations to suit. “Many luxury residences are bought for ‘lifestyle use’ — as a holiday home or as a pied-à-terre, or for their friends to use,” he says. “With that type of purchaser, a lot are now looking at the riverside. I’d say investors are looking at city-central locations, and lifestyle users are leaning towards riverside.”

Bangkok

After location, it should be noted that Bangkok in the 21st century is a mature luxury market. While the quality of facilities, fittings and finishes remains paramount to a property’s success, a state-of-the art fitness centre, pool and sauna, and the inclusion of top European brands such as Bulthaup, Franke, Dornbracht, Hansgrohe and Bang & Olufsen, no longer cut it in turning the most discerning heads or opening the fattest wallets. 

As well as securing the services of A-list designers Starck, Carson, Gert Voorjans, Lorenzo Castillo, Hutton Wilkinson, Mary Fox Linton and others for the Sansiri Luxury Collection, Chutrakul says the current trend is for the finest residential properties to supply “luxury bespoke services” and “curated experiences”.

To this end, Sansiri — which will collaborate in a residential project with Tyler Brûlé’s lifestyle brand Monocle in coming years — has partnered with concierge specialist Quintessentially. This has allowed the developer, Chutrakul says, “to deliver high levels of personalisation to residents, such as securing tickets to the most exclusive sports and entertainment events, seamless hotel and travel arrangements, reservations to the most exclusive restaurants and anything you can think of that’s legal and moral”.

Gary Jones

5 Hot Properties to Buy in Koh Samui Right Now

Posted in Holiday Homes

If the pristine white sand beaches, crystal-clear waters, and overall relaxed atmosphere of Koh Samui doesn’t sell it for you then maybe these stunning, unique and ultra-luxury properties will. A stable economic environment and profitable market is what attracts both well-heeled travellers and investors from afar. So, whether you prefer the more exotic Thai-style retreats or the modern and creative-designed homes, here are our top choice properties on the island that mixes both city and island life.

Villa Playa

Just 15 minutes away from Koh Samui’s airport is a property that offers the utmost privacy. Located in a small gated community with 24-hour reception and security, Villa Playa (approx. HK$19,187,625) is the five ensuite bedroom beachfront property that is ideal for those that want to “get away from it all”. Spanning 19,682 sq. ft. of space, the villa benefits from an infinity pool with jacuzzi, private terrace, electric awning canopies, and eco-friendly solar panels. The contemporary and clean settings of white walls, natural woods, and green or stone decor elements, creates a bright, open-plan and easily modified living space.

Sky Dream Villa

Should award-winning design and architecture pique your interest, then Sky Dream Villa (approx. HK$16,654,300) in Chaweng Noi could be for you. Thoughtfully designed by acclaimed Thai architect and developer, K. Bodin Sritrakul, the unique property’s creative pod-like roofs add interest but still manage to curve harmoniously with its surroundings. Not only does the four bedroom home hold stunning sea views and an infinity pool, but its interior features a modern and sleek design with sliding glass doors, high ceilings and clean lines running throughout.

Villa Sila Varee

Villa Sila Varee

With the exclusive Santikhiri Estate’s surrounding environs protected, you can be sure that the natural landscape, sea views, sand rivers, coconut plantations and greenery are a constant at Villa Sila Varee (approx. HKD 15,201,945). Situated on the Southwestern Samui Island, the area is secluded and remains the insider secret for luxury and privacy. The two-storey, 23,368-sq.-ft. property comprises five bedrooms outfitted in the rustic elegance of teak wood furnishings. Outside, an infinity pool, barbecue area, back garden and more supply ample entertaining and living space.

Villa Frangipani

Overlooking Bang Khao Bay, one of Samui’s more desirable areas that is away from tourist spots, Villa Frangipani is a sophisticated house that plays to the strengths of the undisturbed, panoramic views. Look out from the villa over to the Gulf of Thailand and its outlying islands, or make use of the large open-to-nature verandahs towards its tropical gardens. Fitted with terracotta tile roofs and rattan ceilings, this pastoral property uses traditional Thai materials across the 23,659-sq.-ft space with highlights that include a swimming pool, terrazzo bathrooms, and a modern open-plan kitchen.

Villa Skyfall

Located in Plai Laem, at the top northeastern corner of Koh Samui, this luxury home perches itself on a hill and sits just a stone throw’s away to Choeng Mon beach. Villa Skyfall (price on request) is the type of home that a large multigenerational family would enjoy, with a total of eight bedroom suites to fit everybody’s needs. Ocean views are definitely a highlight here, but if dipping into the outdoor infinity pool is not quite for you, you can enjoy the view inside with floor to ceiling windows that invite natural light and breeze to fill the 11,840-sq.-ft., contemporarily designed space splendidly.

Fontaine Cheng
Born and bred in London, Fontaine is a self-proclaimed foodie with extensive experience in the luxury lifestyle landscape. When not exploring the world — discovering cultures and tasting new dishes — she can be found sipping a nice cup of tea (or G&T) hoping to adopt a puppy.

Riverside Living Is Bangkok’s Big New Trend

Posted in Where to Live

It feels like we’re in Bangkok, but we really aren’t. Life on the river is nestled far away from the hustle and bustle of the city, yet we can still sense the essence of urban living — which makes things perfect, doesn’t it?

The comfort of being able to breathe fresh air, far away from the polluted confines of a city filled with traffic congestion — these days, that is a luxury. Being distant enough from the city’s buzzing sound and chaos that often cause pain to our ears is also a luxury. In one way or another, we know that there are lots of perks to living by the river, apart from living a healthier life.

Today, we live such fast-paced lifestyles, trapped in our own bubbles, trying to race against time. It’s overwhelming. It seems like we forget to slow down for those moments in our everyday life and appreciate what we really have. We often opt for the idea of having the city’s skyline by our side, but do we really want to be surrounded by high-rise condominiums that isolate us from the outside world?

Think about waking up to a golden sunrise over the spectacular view of Bangkok’s Chao Phraya river — it really soothes your soul. There’s a slither of calmness in the river that can really perk up your everyday life, one that revitalises your body and soul with positive vibes. Living by the river is a choice to live at a peaceful pace with a finer quality of life.

This is an escape from Bangkok’s notorious traffic. Thonburi is an emerging new city centre that is becoming more cosmopolitan than ever. Thonburi, straddled in the western side of the Chao Phraya River, is an oasis within the city’s main artery. Living here, you are not only privileged with an unobstructed view of the majestic riverside, but you also have all the benefits of living in a central location. From preserving its historical treasures and cultural roots, this riverside community is shaping into a suburbia of sorts — a place where you could see yourself living long term, settling down and raising a healthy family.

Bangkok’s thriving and second city centre has itself well on the map and is more connected than ever, thanks to Bangkok’s growing connectedness via public transport lines. Thonburi has a flourishing art scene and offers quick access to plenty of interesting activities such as to quaint art galleries, fascinating museums, and local markets. With its convenience of location and the Gold line extending BTS transit from Thonburi station, property investors are now shifting to Thonburi more than ever. The neighbourhood offers flourishing culinary experiences, provides easy access to the CBD, is a prime shopping location and features entertainment places like the new luxurious shopping mall ICONSIAM.

Take a stroll along the river’s edge and you will find plenty of options for enjoyable nightlife such as ThreeSixty Lounge Bar at Millennium Hilton Bangkok or 342 Rooftop Bar at Baan Wanglang. Sitting beside the best riverside luxurious hotels like The Peninsula, Shangri-La, Mandarin Oriental, and many others within the area, it’s no secret that Thonburi beats areas like Thonglor or Ekkamai with its thriving scene. Nothing could be better than living an urban life by the serene aesthetics of the river and its stunning views.

Staff Writer