Bangkok residents drive demand in resort property markets

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Real estate agents based in Thailand’s resort areas are seeing soaring interest from the domestic market, particularly from buyers based in Bangkok.

This is in sharp contrast to pre-pandemic times when resort markets were mainly of interest to, and geared up towards, foreign buyers.

Domestic demand has been fuelled by a drive to retreat from city life to something closer to nature, whether it is a seaside or a country setting. In addition, work-from-home changes that could well be here to stay are providing Bangkokians with a wider choice of places to relocate to.

Co-founder and chief executive of the Thai property portal FazWaz, Brennan Campbell, was quoted as saying, “By tracking the data from the second quarter of 2020 to mid-2021 on buying motivation of either a holiday home or for investment purposes, we can see a change in behavior towards lifestyle purchases in Phuket, Koh Samui and Pattaya, with the sharpest uptick being Hua Hin,” adding, “The impact of the pandemic is going to have a lasting impact on what drives Thais to purchase property and there is one thing for certain: the times are changing fast, and people are moving out of the city at a pace we have not seen before.”

Along with a change in buyers is a change in property requirements. Whilst the condo market was a favorite for foreigners due to a relatively low outlay and, crucially, ease of ownership, Thai buyers are seeking out larger properties for family living.

Boon Yongsakul, the chairman of Boat Pattana, which owns the Shambala luxury pool villa project at Phuket’s Bangtao Beach, remarked that the company had foreign buyers in its sights before the pandemic. “But by the middle of last year, we saw a strong influx of Bangkok buyers and this has continued to drive sales momentum to date,” he was quoted as saying, adding, “One of the most notable characteristics among Thai buyers that has changed is the desire for resort living, quality of life and outdoor areas. If you look back five years, island real estate was focused on investment-type condominiums, but today it’s single-family homes or second residences.”

Managing director of the consulting group C9 Hotelworks, Bill Barnett, remarked that pollution in major cities is a factor that is making people consider a residence at a resort location. He was quoted as saying, “Another is the pandemic ‘Zoom factor’ that has created what we expect to be a longer-lasting trend of working from home,” adding, “Real estate developers are now facing changing consumer tastes for flexible specs and recreational areas.”

The marked increase in demand has come as a welcome respite for real estate developers in resort areas, since foreign buyers have all but disappeared, at least for now.

Tjeert Kwant, chief executive of Banyan Residences noted a rise in Bangkokians looking to escape the city to enjoy outdoor activities as part of a healthier lifestyle. He was quoted as saying, “This for us has been the key driver with families and couples looking for spacious second homes outside of Bangkok.”