Resilience of foreign buyers put to the test as turmoil seen hitting short-term confidence Thailand is once again under scrutiny around the globe as political turmoil rocks the capital city of Bangkok. But property analysts say it is too early to judge whether the social upheaval will deter foreign buyers from continuing to invest in holiday homes in Thailand. Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej imposed a state of emergency in Bangkok on September 2 after bloody clashes between government supporters and anti-government protesters that left one person dead and 44 injured. Some shops were shut and more than 400 schools have been closed since last week. For foreign homebuyers drawn to the country by its sunshine and beaches, last week's events have a familiar feel about them. Since the end of absolute monarchy in 1932 Thailand has so far seen 18 military coups, and it is yet to emerge whether the 19th is on its way. 'Obviously, there are some concerns from foreigners given the week's events,' said David Simister, the chairman of CB Richard Ellis Thailand. 'But we believe it is too early to judge the short-term effects.' Some potential buyers had put their plans on hold, he said, while others were going ahead. From August 26 to September 2, CBRE secured buyers for 16 high-end units during a property fair, said Mr Simister. Six were bought by foreign buyers and four of those were sold on September 2 - the day that the first major clashes took place in the capital. A further 10 units were pre-sold during the same period, he said. Separately, 22 units in another luxury project in the central business district were sold during the first three days of September, including six to foreigners. Mr Simister said that provided strong evidence that the market had so far remained resilient in the face of the unrest. There was also no indication that buyers had shifted their attention to alternative markets as a result of last week's events, he said, noting that unrest in the past had mostly only a short-term effect on confidence. Steven Tjen, an executive director for CBRE Indonesia, echoed this view, saying he did not believe the alternative destination presented by Bali would benefit from events in Thailand. 'Bali and Thailand offer two very different property products and tourist destinations,' said Mr Tjen. 'We don't think the long-term focus of buyers is likely to shift because of the unrest.' Citing Bali as an example, he said foreign buyers had continued to invest on the island since the 1970s and had not been deterred by intermittent upheavals. Lawyer Michael Lorenz, a senior partner with Michael Lorenz & Associates, agreed. 'Social unrest does not usually affect foreigners directly and they generally feel safe in these situations,' said Mr Lorenz, a specialist in the Thailand property market. Compared with the relatively more aggressive crowd behaviour in Indonesia, Mr Lorenz said Thailand appeared to foreigners to be a safer location. But the latest events were likely to have at least a short-term effect, said Mr Simister, who forecast a possible slowdown in new project launches over the coming months. But this was unlikely to trigger price discounting, he said, since there had been limited speculation in the market and banks had taken a prudent approach to making loans. However, Mr Lorenz felt prices could ease temporarily, and suggested that buyers planning to make an investment in the market might put their plans on hold for 'three to six months'. Supply in the pipeline, political uncertainty at home, a cloudy global economic outlook, and prospective interest-rate rises could see prices easing in the short term. Thailand may be a good place for a second home but not an ideal place to bet on capital appreciation given the relatively slow growth and immature market.