No property stimulus in the pipeline
Developers adapting to LTV restrictions
A property stimulus package is absent from the government's plans because developers can adapt to changes such as the central bank's loan-to-value (LTV) ratio requirements, which are deemed appropriate for the current circumstances, says Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana.
The recently approved economic stimulus package is expected to restore confidence and boost money flows in the economy, boding well for the property sector, Mr Uttama said.
The measures may help unlock stalled foreign direct investment, particularly from Japanese investors, who are Thailand's biggest source of foreign investment, he said.
A recent survey conducted by the Japanese Chamber of Commerce in Bangkok showed that Japanese investors were concerned about the Thai economic outlook, reflecting more pessimism than in the previous survey.
Mr Uttama said he believes foreign investors remain confident in the country's economy and strategies, while consumer goods giant Unilever recently picked Thailand for its regional operating headquarters.
The export sector, a mainstay of economic growth, needs to seek new markets, especially Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, where economic growth remains vibrant, he said.
Mr Uttama predicts economic growth of 3-3.2% this year, though the Fiscal Policy Office estimates that the package will raise GDP growth to 3.5%.
Regarding higher down payments for mortgages, Mr Uttama said developers have adapted to the LTV measures.
Starting from April 1, homebuyers are required to make a minimum down payment for third and subsequent mortgages of 30% of the home price, with second mortgages set at 10-20%, depending on how long a borrower has made payments on the first one.
The LTV ratio of 90-100% remains unchanged for those planning to buy a home priced below 10 million baht, but the ratio is lowered to 80% when the borrower buys a residence valued at 10 million baht or higher.
Pornarit Chounchaisit, president of the Thai Real Estate Association, said many residential developers have shifted to launching more low-rise housing like single detached houses, townhouses and duplex houses as condo activity plummeted in the first half.
"Developers that keep launching new condo supply will find it more difficult, as the sales rate is not as good as expected and will result in a large amount of inventory," Mr Pornarit said.
Poor sentiment in the housing market loomed in the second quarter after the LTV curbs took effect on April 1. The new rules had a strong impact on new housing sales in the second quarter.
Mr Pornarit said housing transfers were great in number in the first quarter but dropped in the second quarter, as seen by the decline in many listed developers' second-quarter performance.
He said the LTV limits, which the Bank of Thailand hoped would put a brake on condo speculators, had a strong impact on real buyers in not just Greater Bangkok, but also in the provinces.
"Some civil servants who were relocated to other provinces faced difficulties in getting a mortgage loan in a full credit line because the first home they bought with the home loan was still unsold," Mr Pornarit said.
Local demand was sluggish, he said, and foreign buyers who disappeared since late last year after the global economy slowed and the baht appreciated have not returned.
Phanom Kanjanathiemthao, managing director of property consultant Knight Frank Chartered Thailand, said other property segments like office, industrial estate, warehouse and logistics remain positive.
"The outlook for the rest of the year is still unclear," he said. "Property buyers and investment buyers in the housing market will continue to slow down."