Local Experience Is Key
As realtors in Pattaya, I truly believe we are obligated to help guide the market. There are many of us here on the Eastern Seaboard who have ten, twenty, even thirty years of local market experience. This experience is invaluable to both buyers and sellers as we’ve seen the ebb and flow of trends and I believe have excellent foresight into future trends, opportunities and pitfalls.
For instance, though there are several accredited valuation agencies in Thailand, including most Thai banks (albeit technically more appraisals for loan purposes than true market valuations), most sellers still rely on local area professionals for property valuations, accredited or not, and most base their asking prices on the merit of their agent’s experience.
It’s never easy telling a seller or potential landlord that their listed property is overpriced – yet this is something that we as agents are obligated to do. I have no problem telling someone they’re 10 – 15% overpriced, though when someone comes in with a property that’s worth 5 million and they think it’s worth 10, this is when things can get uncomfortable – though it’s our job to be honest. I must admit that there were times years ago when I really didn’t want to be the one to crush their hopes of huge capital gains and simply listed the property knowing in the back of mind I’ll never get an enquiry on it. These are not the makings of a good realtor.
Further along the spectrum is the realtor who advises a seller to list well under market price to ensure a sale – one that’s not going to be beneficial to the seller. Of course there are times when a seller asks how low to go to snag a quick sale – this is another situation altogether. But when someone asks what is the fair market listing price for a property and a realtor goes in well under, it really is detrimental to the market as it sets a low level of expectation for other sellers and unrealistic expectations for other buyers.
It’s true the market has changed a lot over the past five years and there are definitely a few dinosaurs around town who have stubbornly refused to change with it, but even their cynicism would be more welcome to me than listening to the advice of the greenhorn handing me a brochure at Central. Making a snap investment of at least $40,000 just isn’t on the cards for most people, nor should it be.
Market statistics are quite easy to come by in the west. In Canada I worked as an account manager for a sizeable newspaper chain and the databases we had at our disposal were incredible (this was 15 years ago – I can only imagine the info available nowadays). Sales statistics, household income, purchasing trends by district, age, education and you name it could be cross-referenced and combined to give very specific market stats and analysis. Needless to say it’s a much different animal here in Thailand. In a country where even the population of Pattaya can’t be nailed down, you can’t expect any true, concrete statistics. One would expect the land registry office to be at least somewhat forthcoming with sales statistics, though it certainly isn’t the case. Forget the number of sales – that most actual selling prices aren’t declared at the land registry make it virtually impossible to truly gauge what is selling and for how much.
Though I do see market statistics printed here in Thailand, they are almost exclusively compiled from new condo/house sales – and though compiled by reputable developers and respected international brokers, I frankly don’t think they cover some of the more heavily traded aspects of the market. And considering the purpose of so many property purchases in Thailand are solely for rental investment, rental statistics here are also unfortunately lacking.
Again, the responsibility of this falls on the dependence of brokers to be knowledgable and forthcoming with their clients. No one knows the true market better than the agents who are entrenched and are not only listing, selling and renting these properties on a regular basis, but have an ear to the ground for other sales and rentals happening around town.
Insightful and legally legitimate contracts, assistance with bank transfers, foreign remittance documentation, title & company searches and property registration are all additional services that a well established agency should assist you with during your property purchase in Thailand. Proper navigation through this process can make or break your purchasing experience in Thailand, so be sure to choose your agent wisely.