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Real estate news in Thailand

Economic slowdown in the Thai real estate market offers opportunities

freehold vs leasehold in thailand

Thailand’s real estate market is currently facing significant challenges due to an economic slowdown, rising household debt, and stricter lending criteria imposed by financial institutions. These factors have led to a decline in the performance of real estate companies listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) in the first quarter of 2024 compared to the previous year.

For current property owners, this slowdown could signal a need to be cautious, particularly if they are considering selling their properties. The stricter lending criteria may also impact their ability to refinance existing loans or secure favorable rates for new loans.

Challenges in Market Strategy Shift

Efforts by the private sector to shift focus from mid- and low-end housing to the high-end and tourism markets have encountered significant obstacles. This strategy aimed to capitalize on the returning foreign purchasing power post-pandemic. However, the transition has not been smooth, indicating that luxury and tourism-focused developments are struggling to gain the expected traction. For foreign investors, this means that opportunities may still exist in the mid- and low-end markets where demand is more stable, despite the broader economic challenges.

Government measures and limited impact

Despite government initiatives aimed at stimulating the real estate sector, the impact has been limited due to banks’ tight lending practices. Foreign interest in buying property is slowly increasing but has not yet reached pre-pandemic levels. This indicates that while there are opportunities, especially for long-term investments, the market remains cautious. For foreigners considering purchasing real estate in Thailand, it might be prudent to wait and observe how the market responds to these government measures in the coming months.

Significant decline in property transactions and loans

In the first quarter of 2024, residential property transactions decreased. The number of properties transferred dropped by 13.8%, and the value of these transfers declined by 13.4%. New loan issuances also fell by 20.5%, which led to a slowdown in new property supply, including construction permits and housing launches. For potential buyers, this could mean less competition in the market, providing an opportunity to negotiate better deals. However, the reduced availability of new properties might also limit choices.

Cautious optimism for the second half of 2024

Despite the current downturn, the real estate market is expected to recover in the second half of 2024. This recovery will be driven by government stimulus measures and improving purchasing power. However, caution is advised regarding high-end residential developments, as sales in this segment have started to slow down. For foreign investors, this cautious optimism suggests that while the market may present challenges in the short term, there are potential long-term gains to be made. Investing in mid-range properties or those targeting the returning tourism market could be particularly advantageous.

In conclusion, the Thai real estate market is currently facing economic uncertainty and undergoing structural adjustments. Current property owners should maintain their investments while keeping an eye on market developments. Foreign investors should consider strategic entry points, focusing on segments with stable demand or emerging signs of recovery. With careful planning and close attention to market trends, Thailand’s real estate sector still holds promise for savvy investors.

Written by Matt Timmermans

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