Quick Guide to Purchasing Off-Plan Properties in Bangkok

Off-plan property refers to buying real estate directly from a developer before the project is completed. Although this may seem like a risky way to invest in property, it is a common practice in Thailand, particularly in Bangkok. The advantage lies in the potential appreciation of the property upon completion.

Bangkok boasts a deeply ingrained property ownership culture, where owning a home is considered a cultural norm. This trend has resulted in a surge of development activities, inundating Thai media, social media, and outdoor ads with real estate project advertisements.

For developers, this property ownership culture has been a boon, as Thais prefer to buy properties directly from residential developers, especially brand-new ones. This has made buying off-plan primary projects, whether houses or condominiums, a common practice in the local real estate scene.

In this guide, we will delve into the world of buying and investing in off-plan properties in Bangkok.

Off-Plan vs. Resale Properties: Understanding the Difference

Off-plan property refers to buying real estate directly from a developer before the project is completed. Unlike purchasing a resale property from a private seller, where buyers can physically inspect the property, buying off-plan relies on computer-generated renderings, plans, brochures, and sales galleries.

Although this may seem like a risky way to invest in property, it is a common practice in Thailand, particularly in Bangkok. The advantage lies in the potential appreciation of the property upon completion. Off-plan properties typically take 1-3 years before completion, and buyers usually pay the full price in installments, providing an investment asset with a delayed payment plan.

Developers are keen to sell off-plan units to focus on construction, leading to attractive pre-completion offers, including significant price discounts, freebies such as furniture, and even reduced Transfer Fees and Common Area Fees for a year.

Furthermore, Thais have a strong preference for newer projects, which generally command higher prices per square meter compared to equivalent second-hand properties. This presents an appealing opportunity for both investors and homebuyers, particularly in a thriving market.

Off-Plan & Primary Developments: Understanding the Risks!

The primary risk associated with buying off-plan properties is the potential non-completion of the project or a downturn in the market. Buyers must be aware of the possibility of delays or even cancellation of the development.

Moreover, during market downturns, off-plan projects may become less attractive as investments; meaning that the purchase price is actually higher than prevailing market conditions and actual demand.

It’s essential for non-Thai buyers to be aware that some developers or exclusive agents might charge higher prices for foreign quota units compared to those sold to Thai buyers. Although this might seem unfair, it is a business practice followed by some developers to cover international sales and marketing expenses.

Key Considerations for Off-Plan Purchases

When buying off-plan properties, it’s crucial to treat the investment with the same prudence as any real estate asset. Consider the following factors before making a decision:

Location: As land becomes scarce in central Bangkok, developers are venturing into less conventional areas for new projects. Buyers should assess whether the location has existing demand from both renters and buyers. Opt for locations that are already established business and lifestyle hubs.

Property Specification and Building Facilities: Carefully review the property specifications, including layout, functionality, views, and floor placement. Consider the amenities offered, such as pools, gyms, and co-working spaces, as these are now standard in Bangkok’s real estate market.

Price Per Square Meter: Avoid being swayed by marketing buzz and promotions. Conduct thorough research and compare the price per square meter of the off-plan project with similar properties in the area. Ensure any premium in price per square meter is justified by the property’s unique features, location, or unique selling points.

Developer Reputation: Certain developers in Bangkok, such as Sansiri and Ananda, have earned a reputation for delivering quality projects with good investment returns. New projects from established developers often command a premium, creating a competitive advantage for buyers and investors.

An Overview of Top Developers in Bangkok

Due to the scarcity of land in prime locations, established developers, especially public listed companies like Sansiri and Ananda, dominate Bangkok’s residential market. Considering new condos and residences from renowned developers can offer added assurance and value to buyers.

When it comes to prominent names in Bangkok’s real estate market, several developers stand out for their exceptional projects and reputations. Let’s take a closer look at some of the leading residential developers in the capital city:

Sansiri

Sansiri is undoubtedly one of Bangkok’s most renowned names and could be referred to as the “Rolex of developers”. With an extensive portfolio of completed projects like XT Ekkamai and Kawa Haus, their flagship residence, 98 Wireless, holds the title of the most expensive residence in Bangkok.

Sansiri’s developments fall under various project brands, such as The Base for affordable housing, XT Ekkamai for the upper-middle segment, and luxurious properties like The Monument Thonglor and Khun by Yoo.

Ananda

Another highly active residential developer in Bangkok is Ananda, which has earned a reputation for building condominiums close to mass transit lines, catering to young working professionals.

Their hip and trendy brand appeals to those looking to enter the property market. Ananda targets different market segments through brands like Ideo for the mid-range market, Unio and Elio for affordable developments, and Ashton for luxury condos.

AP Thai

AP Thai is a ubiquitous developer in Bangkok, known for its modern and classy condos. They have been actively involved in high-rise condos, mid-rise condos, and housing projects, both in central and outer areas of the city. Their brands include Aspire for affordable housing, Rhythm for upper-middle-class residences, and The Address for the luxury market.

Raimon Land

Raimon Land focuses on the upper-middle and luxury segments of the real estate market. They have a reputation for delivering high-quality projects with meticulous attention to detail. Their flagship projects, such as The Estelle Phrom Phong, 185 Rajadamri, and Tait 12 Sathorn, are located in prime areas like Phrom Phong, Rajadamri, Sathorn, and Asoke.

Origin Property

Although relatively new to the scene, Origin Property has made a mark by developing affordable low-rise condos in the eastern part of Bangkok. With aggressive expansion efforts, they now have projects across the city, targeting young professionals and affluent individuals. Standout projects include Origin Thonglor and Origin Phrom Phong.

The Process of Buying Off-Plan Properties

Purchasing new projects directly from developers offers buyers a straightforward and hassle-free process. Typically, the steps involved in buying off-plan properties are as follows:

Sales Booking: The buyer pays a Sales Booking amount, as set by the developer, and receives a Quotation detailing the unit and payment dates.

First Payment: Immediately after the Sales Booking, the buyer transfers 15% of the total selling price of the property. Subsequently, the developer prepares a Sales and Purchase Agreement (SPA) for the buyer’s review and signature.

Second Payment: After confirming the SPA details, the buyer is expected to pay an additional 15% to the developer, making it a 30% deposit in total.

Remaining Final Payment: The outstanding amount of approximately 70% of the sales price is paid upon property completion.

Inspection and Transfer: Upon completion, the buyer inspects the property, and if any defects are found, they are fixed before the transfer. The developer handles all the legal formalities, and the buyer receives a “Condo Welcome Box” containing access cards, appliance warranties, the original title deed, and household registration book.

Important Points to Consider:

  • Some Sales and Purchase Agreements may be provided in both Thai and English, but some developers may only offer agreements or addendums in Thai, as Thai courts recognize the Thai language.

By understanding the leading residential developers in Bangkok and the process of purchasing off-plan properties, investors and buyers can make well-informed decisions in this thriving real estate market.

Selling and Flipping Off-Plan Condos

One common question that arises when considering off-plan condo purchases is whether it is possible to sell the property before transfer or even flip it for a profit. The answer to this question largely depends on the developer’s policies and preferences.

Fortunately, most developers do allow such transactions and may only charge a small administrative fee for processing the name change. This flexibility is beneficial for buyers who may not wish to proceed with the transfer when completion draws near, providing a liquid market for investors.

Off-plan properties offer the convenience of relatively easy pre-completion sales or flipping. This means that investors have the option to sell the property to another buyer before it is physically completed. This can be an attractive opportunity for those looking to make a quick profit or capitalize on market changes.

Beware of investing in the “Sizzle not the Steak”

Investing in off-plan properties can be likened to investing in the “sizzle not the steak.” As these properties are yet to be completed, there is a speculative element involved in the investment. It is vital for buyers to conduct thorough research and due diligence before making a decision.

Buyers should be aware that developers often incentivize property agencies to promote their projects by offering higher-than-average commission rates. In Bangkok, these rates can range from 4-8% for new developments, whereas the standard commission rate for secondary market resales is 3%. While this may attract agents to push certain projects, buyers should rely on their research and judgment.

While there are incredible opportunities to invest in high-quality off-plan projects at favorable prices with potential upside, buyers should proceed with caution. Due diligence is essential to ensure the investment aligns with their financial goals and risk tolerance!

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