Mr. Nattha Kahapana, Deputy Managing Director and Head of the Knight Frank Phuket Office of Knight Frank Thailand, said that although the overall economy in 2020 slowed down from the Covid-19 situation, the Super Prime and Prime condominium market remains active. This is because most buyers are high-level customers who are not very affected by the situation. Also, the condominium market at this level represents a small market segment, without a large supply. The supply of condominiums may not grow significantly due to the fact that the project must be located on a prime land plot that is by business and economic centres, convenient transportation modes, and a complete array of facilities; such plots are quite difficult to obtain.
From research conducted by Knight Frank Thailand, it was found that, as of the end of 2020, the total supply included 3,898 units from 29 projects. In 2020, only one Super Prime condominium project was launched, namely, Baan Sindhorn, with a total of 32 units.
As for the cumulative sales of Super Prime condominium units, 3,422 units were sold out of the total supply of 3,898 units, reflecting a sales rate of 88 percent – an increase of 10 percent from the previous year. There were 410 new Super Prime condominium units sold in 2020, which increased from the 314 new units sold in the previous year.
Prime condominiums included a cumulative supply of 4,696 units from 21 projects, with no launches in 2020. As for cumulative demand, there were 3,922 units sold out of a total supply of 4,696 units at the end of 2020, accounting for a sales rate of 84 percent. The sales rate increased from the previous year, which stood at 73 percent. There were 510 new units sold in 2020, increasing from the previous year where 361 new units were sold.
Mr. Nattha added that Super Prime and Prime condominium buyers include Thais with high purchasing power as well as foreigners from Japan, China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Europe. The latter purchase Super Prime condos as the units are strategically located in key and important business centres of Bangkok, spanning to the Chao Phraya River. Such locales are comfortable and convenient, close to amenities, shopping malls, tourist attractions and workplaces. Travel is easy, with connectivity to all major parts of Bangkok. In addition, foreigners also consider that the prices of condominiums of this level in Thailand are still cheaper compared to those in their home countries.
Demand for Super Prime condominiums in 2020 continues unabated. However, there is only a slight increase in supply, with just 32 units added to the supply in 2020. As for the Prime condominium market, there has been relatively good performance amidst the economic slowdown due to the high purchasing power of both Thais and foreigners that have already been very interested in these projects. Moreover, during these times of crisis, it is easier for buyers to negotiate on the selling prices; normally, prices of condominiums in this segment are almost never discounted.
With the situation during this period, some developers have offered units for sale at a lower price than the market price, especially in leasehold projects. The latter are projects that Thai people do not normally buy; when there are price reductions, however, they decide to buy and keep the units as they believe the projects located in ideal locations are getting increasingly difficult to find.
Most of the Super Prime condominiums are located in the Sukhumvit area, which accounts for 46 percent of the supply, followed by the Lumpini and the Chao Phraya Riverside areas, at 28 and 21 percent, respectively. The Sathorn and Silom areas only house 5 percent of the Super Prime condominiums.
Most of the Prime condominiums are located in the Sukhumvit area, accounting for 37 percent, followed by the Sathorn and Silom area and the Lumpini area, accounting for 29 and 26 percent, respectively. There are only 8 percent of Prime condominiums situated by the Chao Phraya River.
The average selling prices of Super Prime condominiums at the end of 2020 was 382,301 baht per square metre, a 3.2 percent drop from 2019; the average selling price in 2019 was 395,000 baht per square metre. The average selling price of Prime condominiums at the end of 2020 was 278,330 baht per square metre, a 5.7 percent decrease from 2019; the average selling price in 2019 was 295,000 baht per square metre, reflecting the fact that the developers discounted their prices in order to close out sales, especially in projects that have been completed and are ready to be transferred.
Meanwhile, some projects did not reduce their selling prices and only delayed increasing prices until their projects have been completed. Some project developers refused to reduce their prices because they see this as a period of uncertainty; should the economy recover in the future, selling prices would be able to rise in line with the increase in land prices as the project is in the best location in Bangkok. Also, the construction cost reflects that the project developer focuses on meeting construction standards that use quality materials imported from abroad, as well as on functional design to meet both external and internal uses.
Also, project residence and building management is provided by international hotel brands, offering more comfort and convenience to buyers. Super Prime and Prime condominiums thus maintain their desirability amongst wealthy buyers with relatively high purchasing power.
Mr. Nattha concluded that the Super Prime and Prime condominium markets remain relatively unaffected by the economic downturn caused by Covid-19. Condominium buyers of this level are not impacted by the current situation. However, these buyers are being careful with their spending; they use less cash to buy and borrow about 50 to 70 percent of the selling price from financial institutions because they want to retain cash for the expansion of their other businesses.
The growth of the condominium supply at this level was found to have slowed down, due to operators delaying any new investments. Also, land that can be developed for these types of project are limited and scarce, but that does not mean that the amount of these projects will be reduced or disappear altogether. If the economy improves, there will be constant demand for condominiums at this level; selling prices tend to rise steadily too, due to the increase of land prices in prime locations, which are limited. As a result, demand from high income buyers still exists in the market.
An important factor that will make condominiums of this level more attractive, in addition to their choice locations, is that developers cater to the needs of this customer group as much as possible, including the development of unit functionality, use of energy efficient building materials, employment of innovation and technology within the project, and the offer of special privileges for residents. Some developers even bring in a hotel chain to manage the project as a Branded Residence – to meet the lifestyle needs of residents as well as to strengthen the purchase as an investment. The latter is to be kept as an asset without the expectation of returns. There are not many such projects, and buyers of condominiums at this level comprise a small group