Tropical bounty

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 May, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 15 May, 2009, 12:00am

The retirement market in Thailand remains a vital sector and will continue to do well in popular destinations, although it is experiencing more competition for the 'grey property dollar' from regional rivals, according to property industry experts.

Thailand's attraction as a tourist destination saw millions of visitors coming through its doors in the 1980s and 1990s, and many were so impressed they wanted to have their own slice of paradise. This kick-started a 'tropical lifestyle' property boom.

Those who visited 20 or so years ago, and who are now reaching retirement age, remain attracted to the beach, island or urban lifestyle. They are also impressed by how far their retirement funds can go. The country also issues a dedicated retirement visa to qualified applicants, making it even more popular.

David Simister, chairman of CB Richard Ellis (Thailand), says that while neighbouring countries, such as Malaysia, are also competing aggressively for the retiree sector in property sales, Thailand's traditional popular tourist destinations are also attractive places for retirees.

'There are four top retirement destinations - Phuket, Koh Samui, Hua Hin and Pattaya - in order of prestige and the reverse order in terms of pricing,' Mr Simister says.

'However, in terms of transaction volume, Bangkok has the highest number of foreign purchasers. Thirty per cent of the units sold in new condominium projects in Bangkok, marketed by CB Richard Ellis since 2005, were sold to foreigners.

'Depending on the budget and location, the demand for the retirees segment is spread out across all property types. Phuket caters to a range of budgets, from sea view condominiums to luxury beachfront villas. The Pattaya and Hua Hin markets also offer a selection of condominium and villa/housing projects at a much lower price compared to Phuket.'

Bill Barnett, managing director of C9 Hotelworks, a luxury property and hospitality consultancy, agrees that Phuket, Pattaya and Hua Hin remain the most popular destinations.

'Most often the resort locations are of greater appeal, with a slower pace of life, international health care, recreation and some type of expat social structure,' he says. 'Easy air access to key regional locations, such as Hong Kong and Singapore, add value.'

Both Mr Barnett and Mr Simister also point out that, in this economic climate, developments are offering attractive deals and financing arrangements, especially to those with a lump sum to spend.

'Many condominium projects in Bangkok are now offering discounts for prospective buyers interested in making a quick booking for purchasing multiple units. Some of these projects include The Met, Millennium Residences and Saladaeng Residences,' Mr Simister says.

'These discounts are often not advertised, but developers are willing to negotiate.'

Mr Barnett adds: 'Laguna Phuket remains aggressive with its deferred payment plans and in-house financing options. Also, the dedicated Laguna Villa component is an attractive place.'