Thailand is renowned in the region for being a lucrative property investment destination. Prices are a snip of Singapore and Hong Kong, but all overseas investors in it to make a buck? Ryan Kwok Fai Thong, Head of Agency Sales at DDproperty, is a property owner in Bangkok and shares his experience of homeownership in Thailand proving it is possible to make a home and also use it as a long term investment strategy.
Having lived in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, it is clear that Ryan feels firmly at home in Bangkok. A Bangkokian for the last three years, he loves the diversity and abundance of choice that the Thai capital gives him citing that it is at the opposite end of the spectrum from Singapore, which he says is a little bland.
"Sure, the tiny island state boasts an enviable infrastructure network and is incredibly safe, but for a single person, it veers on being boring", he laughs.
Job opportunities brought Ryan to Thailand. He has already worked for PropertyGuru for a decade, so it is safe to say he has a wealth of property experience and knowledge under his belt. However, it didn’t stop him facing some challenges with his Thailand property purchase.
Despite having been through the property buying process in Singapore, to navigate this in Thailand was a whole new ball game. Sadly Ryan learnt the hard way having lost a sizable deposit on his first attempt when he was not fast enough to get the paperwork straight. Although he also says his snail-paced agent is part to blame for this too.
This could be one of the reasons that Ryan insists that he only wants to work with a proactive agent. Or it could be that he is accustomed to the efficient and knowledgeable service back on home soil. When searching for a property in Singapore, he would inquire about a property and expect to receive a response from an agent within hours. His experience in Thailand differs dramatically. Some would reply in two or three days, some in two or three weeks, and some not at all.
Like most investors, Ryan believes that price and location are the two main factors when looking for a property to buy regardless of whether this in Singapore, Thailand or Malaysia. But this is harder to achieve without a proactive agent by his side. Maybe agents should take heed that Ryan financially rewards successful agents by paying them a commission.
Nevertheless, the lack of proactiveness amongst Thai agents surprised him. After his first failed, and costly, sale he felt he had accrued experience and knowledge helping secure his current home near Thailand Cultural Centre.
Ryan is sure he has bought well for his own needs but also for investment purposes. A few minutes walk to the MRT, opposite the night market and walking distance to Rama 9, but the icing on the cake has to be the unit itself. A corner unit and located on the top floor – two unique selling points that Singaporeans strive for.
“Only the communal garden is above me and being a corner unit also gives me the peace I thrive and an incredible cityscape view at night”.
The downside is the size. At 27 square metres, Ryan feels on reflection that maybe the unit is a little small and his next purchase will be a bigger unit. But this does not stop him enjoying living here. A confessed introvert, Ryan is an ultimate homebody. He looks forward to returning to his retreat at the end of the day.
“My home is a place to relax as I like being at home. My preference is to be within my own four walls rather than outside when I am not working. It also allows me to step away from the noise and air pollution and properly recharge”.
Despite Ryan being the king of his castle, he is also an astute investor. He chose this location due to its investment growth potential. It is primed for quick access to his favoured locales like Asoke and Thong Lor, but another draw is the vicinity to Rama 9, home to the Chinese Embassy providing a good pool of tenants should it later become a rental property.
It is drummed into Singaporeans that they should own a property, which might explain his eagerness to climb onto the Thai property ladder as well as the attractive price point of properties for Singaporeans. So after two years of renting, Ryan explored the Thai property market using DDproperty to search for properties in his chosen location and then filtering his budget to see what choice he has.
"Thailand offers a varied choice of investment properties", comments Ryan. "The option to own a freehold property is enticing especially as properties in Singapore are typically on a 99-year lease".
Tips for other foreigners looking to buy property in Thailand? "Get familiar with the property buying process in Thailand. Utilise DDproperty to help determine what you can afford and where and then team up with a good agent for a smooth process. Lastly, remember as a foreigner to consider factors such as currency fluctuations that can affect our purchasing power".
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