Mainland buyers seek quick move amid zero-Covid fears
published : 7 Feb 2023 at 07:13
newspaper section: Business
writer: Kanana Katharangsiporn
Ready-to-move-in condos in Thailand are attracting Chinese buyers as the majority of them want to speed up relocation to the country due to concerns over the future of Beijing's zero-Covid policy.
Kashif Ansari, co-founder and chief executive of Juwai IQI Group, the real estate marketing firm that owns the international real estate portal juwai.com in China, said Chinese buyers had a sense of urgency which never appeared prior to the pandemic.
"If Chinese nationals are planning to move to Thailand, they want to do it right away, not in two years. These are the first movers," he said.
According to Tritecha Tangmatitham, managing director of SET-listed developer Supalai Plc, Chinese buyers had resumed condo purchases in Bangkok in early 2022 as they were worried about the lockdown in their home country.
"The Chinese bought large-sized units and wanted to transfer the units immediately as they wanted to stay right away," Mr Tritecha said.
Thongchai Busrapan, co-chief executive of SET-listed developer Noble Development Plc, said the purpose of condo purchases among Chinese last year shifted to buying as a second home from investment purpose and speculation in the pre-pandemic period.
"Active Chinese buyers last year looked for larger-sized units as they wanted to stay as a family," he said. "Chinese demand also moved to low-rise houses."
Pongsethorn Jom Salakshana, chief executive of property developer Fynn Development Co, said Chinese agents were approaching the company as their Chinese customers were interested in Fynn Asoke, its condo project which was recently completed.
"More Chinese want a second home outside China after experiencing the zero-Covid policy," he said. "They now need ready-to-move-in units which were in a limited number in the Bangkok condo market as new supply was halted for three years."
Mr Ansari said over time, there will be more Chinese buyers who have a longer time frame to wait for the project, not only the urgent demand seen today.
"Thai developers need to address buyers' anxieties. The fact that construction has stalled on many development projects in China has made buyers more cautious, and that includes considering off-the-plan projects in Thailand," Mr Ansari added.
He suggested developers explain to buyers how they are legally protected and demonstrate their own track record of successful projects.
He said the countries receiving the most Chinese buyer interest in January 2023 were safe havens and top destinations for education.
The first was Australia, followed by the US, Canada, the UK and the United Arab Emirates.
According to Juwai IQI's enquiry data, in the first full week after China announced its reopening, enquiries from Chinese international property buyers climbed 55% in January and peaked at 70% compared to December 2022.
"In January, Thailand dropped from the top five. Southeast Asia has been a perennial favourite among Chinese buyers, but none of them secured the top five ranking in January."
"The trend would change as we gather more data. But this is what we are seeing now," said Mr Ansari.
He said Chinese buyer enquiries plummeted more than 60% in Thailand during the pandemic. They slowly began to recover in January, and the number was anticipated to pick up during the first quarter.
Though the majority of the top five in January imposed new Covid measures against arrivals from China, he didn't believe test requirements would have a meaningful impact on Chinese travellers.
"The requirements are minor and easy to comply with. The bigger challenge is airline capacity and the cost of flights," he said.
- Chinese buyers