Leading Thai real estate companies are focusing more on senior housing and aged-care facilities as the country is, by definition, an ageing society, says Phil Smith, head of retirement and healthcare business for CBRE in Australia.
The National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) says Thailand has 11.2 million elderly, accounting for 17% of 65.5 million Thais.
An ageing society is one where the number of people aged 60 and older make up more than 10% of the population.
Mr Smith said he will meet with major real estate companies in Thailand today to share his insights on real estate development and business opportunities for senior living and healthcare businesses here.
"There are local developers that have been building condominiums and residences for years. Some of them are listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand," he said.
"These companies want to diversify their core business from real estate to healthcare and senior homes. However, this is the beginning stage for them to enter aged society services."
He expects Thailand to become home to retired people from around the world, thanks to great fundamentals and infrastructure, attractive tourist destinations, and lower costs of living compared with developed countries and some other nations in Southeast Asia. Thailand's warm weather is also suited to the elderly, especially those from cold areas.
Mr Smith also expects foreign developers to form join ventures with locals to develop senior housing and facilities, similar to the business ventures between local developers with foreign companies to develop condominium projects in Bangkok.
CBRE Thailand Co Wednesday organised its first seminar on senior housing and healthcare in Thailand, attended by 100 participants from 50 real estate companies.
Mr Smith told the panel that Thailand is an ageing society and the demand for housing and facilities for senior citizens will increase significantly.
Thailand can learn from the successes of the Australian market, which has more than 3.5 million senior citizens who receive quality services provided by private and government organisations.
NESDB statistics indicates that the number of seniors is predicted to increase gradually in the coming years, which will create a business opportunity.
"There are huge opportunities for senior housing and healthcare businesses," Mr Smith said. "Our study found that senior people [in Thailand and over the world] need specially designed homes with full services."
To cope with the trend, some countries such as Singapore, Indonesia and Fiji are developing senior housing and facilities to serve their citizens as well as foreigners.
However, Thailand is believed to be the most competitive country in the Southeast Asia, due to a high number of attractions and a strategic location.
Some local developers have already started senior projects, such as Jin Wellbeing in northern Bangkok; and Otium Living in Phuket, which is set to serve the international market; and the Forestias in Bangkok's Bang Na district.
Moreover, several private and public hotels plan to enter the ageing and healthcare business.
According to CBRE, many foreign senior citizens from several countries, such as Britain, Japan and South Korea, have been granted retirement visas to live in Thailand.
The top five foreigner groups buying property are from China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and Britain.