Knight Frank Thailand: Developers Take Risks of Launching New Projects, to Test Domestic Purchasing Power

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Mr. Nattha Kahapana, Deputy Managing Director and Head of Knight Frank Phuket Operations, Knight Frank Thailand Co. Ltd., said that, in Q3 2021, given the intense and uncontrolled spread of Covid-19 that led to another lockdown imposed by the government, only publicly listed property development companies have been able to launch new projects.

Also, they cautiously launched such projects, with a focus on testing the purchasing power in the market. In Q4, the condo market will start to have more positive news from the announcement of the reopening of the country and the easing of LTV measures, which directly affect the backlog of ready-to-transfer products. Going forward, however, high household debt remains a factor that must be closely watched.

Supply

Results of a survey and analysis by Knight Frank Thailand’s research unit showed that the supply of new condominium project launches during Q3 2021 totalled 2,312 units, a decrease of 70.8 percent compared to the same period last year. It also decreased by 13.05 percent compared to the previous quarter. The number of newly launched condominiums located in the suburbs stood at 77 percent, or 1,608 units, while the City Fringe area housed 30 percent of the newly launched units.

The Central Business District (CBD) had no new launches in this quarter. All the new project launches have been by large operators from public companies such as LPN, ORI, SENA, SIRI, PS and PRIN. Most of the supply is sold at 34,000 to 120,000 baht per square metre, and on average, they will be sold at a price of about 75,000 baht per square metre or at a package price not exceeding 2.5 million baht per unit. These projects each include no more than 600 units.

The launch locations are along the newly operating train lines such as the Blue Line from Bang Sue – Tha Phra, East Orange Line, Red Line in the Rangsit – Thammasat area, and the airport link area of Phayathai – Suvarnabhumi; this is the same case for projects currently under construction. The launch of projects with a small number of rooms with easily accessible price points is aimed at the middle-lower market segment, with locations that are growing and have future potential. It is very clear that most developers are in a testing phase where they are gauging consumers’ purchasing power and confidence; if there is good demand, that is a positive signal for developers to keep investing in the market.

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Demand

During Q3 2021, there was a severe and uncontrolled Covid-19 outbreak that led to the announcement of another lockdown from the government on July 21, 2021. Restrictions included department stores only being able to operate their supermarkets, and pharmaceutical and medical supplies outlets until 8pm. Naturally, almost every business was affected, including condos. The number of units sold from new projects in Q3 was approximately 879 units, representing a sales rate of 38 percent, which is close to the 37 percent sales rate in the previous quarter. Demand mostly came from the group of people whose incomes have not been affected much, and they enjoyed the opportunity to purchase units in projects with good locations. Also, they were able to buy the most well situated units within the projects. Usually, projects will only have 10 to 15 percent of such units. Moreover, these buyers benefitted from very good promotions, such as discounts, giveaways or secret promotions that developers often disclose only when the customer is ready to make their purchasing decision.

Asking Prices

The average asking price of condominiums in Bangkok, as of Q3 2021, increased slightly from the previous quarter. Around the City Fringe area, the asking price was 117,666 baht per square metre, a decrease of 19.4 percent compared to the same period last year, or an increase of 1.24 percent when compared to the previous quarter.

The asking price of condominiums in the suburbs of Bangkok was 64,667 baht per square metre, a decrease of 18.5 percent from the same period last year, or an increase of 0.43 percent from the previous quarter. As for the CBD, no new project launches were found during this period; the average asking price in the previous quarter was 240,609 baht per square metre.

Outlook

In the next 6 months, it is expected that the condominium market will go in a better direction, especially from the demand of foreigners. The latter will gradually re-enter the country after receiving positive input such as the more widespread vaccination rates and the government’s plans to open the country to tourists from 46 countries without quarantine on November 1, 2021. This is positive news for the group of foreigners who are due to transfer their condos but have been unable to travel to conduct their unit inspections.

The government’s temporary relaxing of the LTV ratio, or the ceiling of credit provided based on the total value of a home, is also good news for domestic buyers that want to purchase condos but were unable to do so because of the credit limitations imposed by the government that did not allow them to borrow 100 percent of their total home value. This measure will be effective until December 31, 2022. Going forward, the high level of household debt remains a factor that must be monitored. From the latest figures, the household debt level in Q2 dropped to 83.9 percent per GDP. Despite the decrease, such debt remains at a worrying level and there are default risks, especially for the middle-lower level product segment of the market.

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