Local second-home market soars

Local second-home market soars

Domestic buyers swoop on Thai resort destinations amid Covid fatigue and urban flight, say property experts

Thailand's resort real estate markets have experienced a dramatic reset in buyer profiles over the past 18 months of the pandemic, say local property experts. A strong wave of domestic demand has resulted in Thais flocking to the country's leisure destinations and snapping up holiday or second homes.

The seaside resort town of Hua Hin has seen buying interest grow significantly, based on online inquiries, according to data from the Thai property portal FazWaz.

"By tracking the data from the second quarter of 2020 to mid-2021 on buying motivation of either a holiday home or for investment purposes, we can see a change in behaviour towards lifestyle purchases in Phuket, Koh Samui and Pattaya, with the sharpest uptick being Hua Hin," said FazWaz co-founder and chief executive Brennan Campbell.

A similar trend is emerging in Phuket, where foreign buyers have been the main market for resort-grade real estate over the past decade.

Boon: Influx of Bangkok buyers

Boon Yongsakul, chairman of Boat Pattana, said his company's Shambala luxury pool villa project at Bangtao Beach initially targeted legacy overseas buyers in the Laguna Phuket area.

"But by the middle of last year, we saw a strong influx of Bangkok buyers and this has continued to drive sales momentum to date," he said.

"One of the most notable characteristics among Thai buyers that has changed is the desire for resort living, quality of life and outdoor areas. If you look back five years, island real estate was focused on investment-type condominiums, but today it's single-family homes or second residences."

Worsening pollution problems in Bangkok are among the factors that play a part in real estate purchase values, said Bill Barnett, managing director of the consulting group C9 Hotelworks.

"Another is the pandemic 'Zoom factor' that has created what we expect to be a longer-lasting trend of working from home," he said. "Real estate developers are now facing changing consumer tastes for flexible specs and recreational areas."

The trend for buyers seeking a lifestyle reset is clear in Hua Hin where property developer Tjeert Kwant, chief executive of Banyan Residences, says there has been a significant rise in buyers looking to escape the city and enjoy a more healthy, active lifestyle.

"This for us has been the key driver with families and couples and looking for spacious second homes outside of Bangkok," he said.

Mr Campbell said his firm's data for Hua Hin showed that 64% of transactions are now from the domestic market.

"The impact of the pandemic is going to have a lasting impact on what drives Thais to purchase property and there is one thing for certain: the times are changing fast, and people are moving out of the city at a pace we have not seen before," he said.

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