Carrie Law, chief executive and director of Juwai.com, the Chinese international property portal, said there have never been so many buying inquiries for Thai property.
“This reflects excellent offerings from developers combined with quality, lifestyle and investment prospects,” she said.
“This is also the result of other factors driving Chinese consumers to seek appealing overseas property in the price ranges available in Thailand, particularly given Beijing’s regime of capital controls and a lack of alternative investment opportunities within China itself,” she said.
Ms Law said the ongoing infrastructure developments in Thailand provide Chinese buyers with confidence in Thailand’s long-term economic potential.
US-China trade tension will be another key driver that will shift Chinese buyers’ interest from the US to Thailand, she said.
Last year was the first time Thailand had the most inquiries for any country on Juwai.com, according to the website that reaches more than 3.1 million Chinese-speaking users monthly and showcases 2.8 million listings from 90 countries.
From ranking as the sixth most popular destination in 2016, Thailand rose to third place in 2017 before hitting the top spot last year.
Following Thailand in the latest rankings are Australia, the US, Canada and the UK.
By total value invested, Thailand was ranked fourth with US$2.3 billion (B73.2 billion), following the US ($30.4 billion), Hong Kong ($16.2 billion) and Australia ($14.1 billion). Malaysia came in fifth with $2 billion.
In terms of volume, Ms Law estimated some 15,000 new Bangkok apartments were sold to buyers from mainland China and Hong Kong during 2018.
They accounted for about half of all foreign buyer purchases in Bangkok.
This means if Chinese buyers purchased units at an average price of B5 million, the total investment during 2018 by mainland and Hong Kong Chinese buyers was B75 billion.
The top six searched cities in Thailand were Bangkok, Pattaya, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Sattahip and Samui with a total enquiry value of $547.7 million. The median enquiry price was $122,000.
Buying for investment was the top motivation among Chinese buyers, accounting for 72.4% of purchasers, followed by personal use, holiday, retirement, education and rental.
Last year’s top three most enquired listings in Chiang Mai were led by a two-year-old single detached house with a usable area of 305 square metres priced B5.65 million.
This was followed by a one-year-old single detached house priced B7.48 million with a usable area of 240 sq m and a two-year-old condo unit sized 30 sq m, priced B650,000.
While Bangkok led all other global property investment destinations in terms of Chinese interest, there are long-term threats to Bangkok’s appeal, especially the high levels of pollution seen recently.
“Chinese buyers don’t want to go overseas just to encounter the same levels of air pollution they have to put up with at home,” she said.
As there will be a large number of condo projects being completed and transferred to Chinese buyers this year, Ms Law suggested Thai developers prepare a transfer process and after-sale services specifically for Chinese buyers.
“Thailand will have a general election in the next couple of months. Instead of waiting for things to settle down, developers should be making plans,” she said.
“Last year we suggested Malaysian developers make plans as their country had approaching general elections. Those who were prepared had the advantage.”
Juwai.com on Tuesday (Jan 22) signed a memorandum of understanding with Prop2morrow.com, a Thai investment property website that will be a reseller for Juwai.com in Thailand.
“We will be a channel for overseas businesses that do not have servers in China,” said Ms Law. “As long as you don’t have a server in China, you will be invisible to Chinese consumers.”
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