Pattaya condo market braces for downturn
A plunge in Russian arrivals has dented demand in a seaside city long used to growth
The condominium market in Pattaya has been growing continuously since 2007, with a total of 181 projects and 63,000 units developed. While sales showed a slight upturn last year, the outlook has dimmed for this year because of the sharp drop in Russian visitors, who represent a major market for condo purchases in the resort city.
The Jomtien area remains the most popular choice for developers because of its relatively long beachfront and proximity to Pattaya city centre. Thus Jomtien is the priority for potential development after Pattaya itself, where beachfront sites are becoming more limited and expensive. However, Pattaya City continues to see its share of new condominiums, though more developments tend to be scattered around North Pattaya and South Pattaya.
Non-branded developers account for 79% of all the condominium units in Pattaya, compared with 21% for better-known names including those listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand. Many of the non-branded condominiums were developed by locally based companies owned by both Thai entrepreneurs and foreigners. The Global Top Group, Matrix Group and Riviera Pattaya Group are among the well-known developers owned or co-owned by foreign entrepreneurs. It is noteworthy that all of condominiums developed by branded developers were high-rise buildings except The Trust Central Pattaya by Q House, which was a low-rise.
Different buyer profiles can be found depending on locations. The main buyers of condominium units in the area are Europeans and Russians looking for vacation homes or investment assets. Wong Amat and Pratumnak hill, unlike Jomtien and Pattaya City, offer more peaceful and private residential areas with many condominiums occupying beachfront sites with panoramic sea views of Pattaya harbour.
The main buyers on Pratumnak Hill area are Europeans, Britons and Americans, as well as Scandinavian travellers and retirees who usually buy to have a second home or a post-retirement permanent residence.
Wong Amat, where many prestigious projects have been located, is known as the most expensive residential area in Pattaya. It is popular among wealthy Thais, Europeans, as well as Russians who are looking for second homes.
The average annual take-up rate of condominiums in Pattaya was about 2,200 units per year during the 2007-10 period, which represented between 58% and 79% of the units on offer at the time (see chart). Average take-up increased in the 2011-14 period to around 2,750 units, but this represented a smaller proportion of the units developed, most notably in 2011-12, as a glut took hold in the market. Between 2011 and 2014, an average of 6,300 units per year were developed, compared with only 3,200 in the 2007-10 period.
The spot take-up rate in the Pattaya condominium market declined from 2007 to 2009 and bounced back a little in 2010. The rate then fell significantly, from 68% in 2010 to 47% in 2011 and 32% in 2012. The rate recovered to 49% in 2014, resulting in an average take-up rate of 53% for the entire 2007-14 period.
The average selling price of a sea-view condominium last year was 114,025 baht per square metre, which represented a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.7%, from 82,629 baht/m² in 2007. The average selling price of a sea-view condominium was 71% higher than for a non sea-view unit in 2014; this is partly due to the scarcity of beachfront land with proximity to Pattaya city centre area. Better views add significant value to units in Pattaya as the majority of the market is based on foreigners and retirees.
The selling prices of studio units in the area surveyed ranged from 737,500 to 12.71 million baht, one-bedroom units from 790,000 to 30.8 million baht, two-bedroom units from 1.39 million to 54.6 million baht, and three-bedrooms and larger from 4.69 million to 129.9 million baht. It is noteworthy that the minimum unit price for a condominium in Wong Amat is the highest for every unit type.
While tourism to Thailand has begun to recover after a rocky 2014, Russian visitor numbers have plunged because of the oil price crash and the depreciation of the ruble. Some industry executives have forecast a decline of up to 30% in Russian visitors to the country, which has huge implications from Pattaya since it is by far the favourite destination for Russians.
The absence of Russians will diminish the potential for condominium sales in Pattaya. As well, problems could arise with Russian buyers failing to take transfers of units already purchased because they could no longer afford them. n
Risinee Sarikaputra is the director of research and consultancy at Knight Frank Thailand. For more inquiries, email Risinee.firstname.lastname@example.org.