Buyers from Singapore and Hong Kong are helping to prop up the ailing condo market in Thailand’s resort destinations, although sales remain scarce. This once vibrant sector had been softening even before Covid-19 delivered a heavy blow, a trend attributed last year to a strong Thai baht and Sino-US trade tensions. However, agents are banking on a Chinese-led rebound once tourism recovers. In its latest report on the Phuket market, CBRE found that the total number of units sold in the first half of 2020 shrank by 71.2 per cent year on year. The majority (90 per cent) of those that sold were investment-oriented products, most of which offered rental guarantees. Conversely, sales of villas rose by 19.2 per cent year on year, although these were mostly to local buyers, and none were in the luxury category. Prakaipeth Meechosarn, head of advisory and transaction services in resort property sales, CBRE Thailand, said that as a rental market heavily reliant on tourism, buyers are waiting for a post-Covid-19 recovery. Want to WFH from a ski slope? Here’s how “When the market returns to pre-pandemic levels, they could rent out their villas. In the meantime, some owners have been occupying and enjoying their properties themselves,” she said. “Nonetheless, we continue to see strong interest (in condominiums) from buyers in locales such as Hong Kong and Singapore, as well as some Europeans who are based in Asian countries. “We’ve had a limited number of sales from Chinese buyers; however, this target group could significantly contribute to the rebound of the Phuket condominium market once the tourism market recovers.” With Phuket having limited beachfront opportunities, Meechosarn cites Natai in Phang-nga as an area with potential. One project attracting strong interest is Veyla Natai Residences, Natai Beach, a collection of 15 highly designed units with freehold title deeds on a 110-metre stretch of white sand beach, only 30 minutes from Phuket International Airport. Prices range from 67,000,000 Thai baht (US$2.2 million) to around 98,000,000 baht (US$3.3 million). In a normal year, Tim Skevington, managing director at Richmont’s, the Bangkok affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate, could expect healthy results from Thai property road shows held in Hong Kong. “On occasion, we sold more than a hundred units on a weekend,” he said. This year, being unable to engage physically with clients, his agency has relied on online lead generation. “On the whole, buyers from Hong Kong who’d been numerous before the pandemic have delayed their decisions until the travel restrictions are lifted, which is understandable,” Skevington said. Luxury homes 5 times bigger than London for the same price? Try Dubai Whereas property sales to investors and owner-occupiers have continued during the pandemic, many buyers of resort units in Thailand have a different motivation. They want to use them themselves, so are less likely to commit based on a virtual inspection, he explains. However, Skevington believes buyers have not lost their desire to purchase. “We have a waiting list of people wanting to come and view when travel reopens, across all segments from the higher to lower end,” he said. Agents also have inventory to show them. “Quite a few projects have completed in the last few months while people have not been able to travel, and are ready to move into,” Skevington added. Meanwhile, he says there are also plenty of Thai buyers for resort projects, which Skevington regards as a bellwether of market trends. “Foreign buyers look to the local market as a vanguard tool, and that’s very positive at the moment,” he said, citing strong sales in recent weeks of two condominiums in MontAzure, a mixed-use development on Kamala Beach, Phuket. Designed as an exclusive community, the project is set over an area of 454 rai (73 hectares) with a master plan that has also been designed to include eco-sustainable hillside developments, including a medical wellness spa and a retirement village. The low-density approach to the site allows for organic community gardens, rainwater harvesting from natural catchment, and adventure and hiking trails throughout a 200 rai (72) protected rainforest nature reserve. Making homes work: how the pandemic is changing how we live Within MontAzure, Twinpalms Residences is a 75-unit luxury beachfront condo development comprising fully managed and fully furnished one- and two-bedroom apartments ranging in price from 16,200,000 (US$538,000) baht to 39,000,000 baht (US$1.3 million). MGallery is a 236-unit condo development managed by the Accor Hotel Group with fully furnished studio and one-bedroom apartments ranging in price from 7,500,000 baht (US$249,000) to 10,800,000 baht (US$358,000). Kevin Hodges, sales manager for Phuket at Siam Real Estate, says the island has quite a network of retirees (or future retirees), and holiday homeowners from Hong Kong, who can take a direct flight to Phuket International Airport. “Phuket is easy place to retire to,” he says. “Visas are relatively easy for retirees (to obtain), we have first class hospitals and other infrastructure, great beaches, shopping and an all-round good lifestyle.” Hodges also notes a growing trend among expat and Hong Kong Chinese families who are relocating to Phuket. “Dad will work within the region, while mum and the kids stay in Phuket, which has fabulous international schools with a lot of foreign teachers, living in a four- to five- bedroom villa, at a fraction of the cost of an apartment in Hong Kong.” Targeting investors, one of the projects Siam Real Estate is currently marketing is Radisson Phuket Mai Khao Beach. These beachfront hotel condo units range from 7.1 million baht (US$236,000) for a studio of 41 square metres, up to 25 million baht (US$830,000) for a 129-square-metre suite with a private pool. All units have sea views and offer a 6 per cent return over three years. Construction is already under way and the units are expected to be completed in the final quarter of 2022, ready for early 2023 occupancy. How much would you pay to have a Nobu or Ramsay restaurant in your building? Buying guide What you can buy for 108 million baht (US$3.6 million): A grand villa “fit for a king” in the northwest of Phuket island. Set on 6,800 square metres of land – and including a helipad, golf course, tennis court, pool and 16-car garage – the 1,355-square-metre, three-storey villa boasts sea and forest views, with furnishings sourced from around the world. What you can buy for 67-98 million bah (US$2.2-3.3 million): A freehold, beachfront unit at Veyla Natai Residences, Natai Beach, north of Phuket. Owners and guests at the 15 residences share use of a 25-metre salt water pool, a sun deck and an outdoor lounge – all with beautiful beachfront panoramas, along with a dedicated reception and professional management services. Want more stories like this? Sign up here . Follow STYLE on Facebook , Instagram , YouTube and Twitter .