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How to Safely Buy Real Estate in Thailand

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New VS Old Property

In any area you will tend to find a selection of New, Recent and Mature properties many of which may reside on housing or condo project developments. This page discusses some of the advantages and disadvantages in purchasing such properties in order to help you decide what type of property is best for you.

The standard of the properties on the mature developments varies from those in need of refurbishment to others which have already been brought up to date to modern standards, and the price tends to vary accordingly. Whereas, with the more recent developments most of the properties are still for the most part in “as new” condition. Brand New project developments however tend are incomplete and can run the risk of failure during completion if not properly planned, managed and financed by the developer, and therefore this can represent a risk to your investment.

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Mature Development advantages :

  • Buying “off plan” on a new development always has an element of risk that the project may never reach completion and you will be left with a half built house on a building site. Take care to ensure that you don’t deal with risky first time developers who don’t have the capital to complete the project without relying on deposits and stage payments from a high percentage of prospective purchasers.
  • Mature developments are already built and complete, over any teething problems, and come with a proven track record of maintenance
  • Mature developments are often sited in prime locations which are no longer available to new developers, who consequently have to settle for second best
  • With a mature development you can move in straight away and not have to face a long wait for the holiday home or condo to be built and the infrastructure and communal facilities to be completed, as is the case for many properties which are sold “off plan” from a housing/condo developer
  • With a mature development you can see the property in real life prior to purchasing, not just an image or plan of it in a housing developer’s brochure which often make it out to look better than it will ever look in real life
  • Maintenance fees tend to be less than those for newer developments
  • Most mature developments tend to be far more spacious in design and have far more extensive grounds and facilities than the tightly packed new developments
  • The house and condo prices are usually nowhere near as high as for new developments, for which you pay a premium despite the risk, wait and inconvenience
  • It is sometimes possible to pick up a real bargain and thereby have plenty of money to spare to refurbish the property to your tastes with the most expensive appliances, yet still pay nowhere near as much per square meter as that for a new development with the same space
  • Taking into account the numerous advantages above, the upshot is that properties on mature developments generally represent much better value for money than new developments

Mature Development disadvantages :

  • Old infrastructure which may be in need of repair or replacement
  • Can be a scruffy appearance with overgrown trees

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Recent Development advantages :

  • Buying “off plan” on a new development always has an element of risk that the project may never reach completion and you will be left with a half built house on a building site. Take care to ensure that you don’t deal with risky first time developers who don’t have the capital to complete the project without relying on deposits and stage payments from a high percentage of prospective purchasers.
  • Recent developments are already built and complete, over any teething problems, and come with somewhat of a proven track record of maintenance
  • With a recent development you can move in straight away and not have to face a long wait for the holiday home or condo to be built and the infrastructure and communal facilities to be completed, as is the case for many properties which are sold “off plan” from a housing/condo developer
  • With a recent development you can see the property in real life prior to purchasing, not just an image or plan of it in a housing developer’s brochure which often make it out to look better than it will ever look in real life
  • It is sometimes possible to pick up a real bargain for a distressed sale
  • The infrastructure is still fairly new and less likely to break down or need replacing
  • The appearance may still be “as new” but with a little maturity

Recent Development disadvantages :

  • Prices still tend to be top dollar, unless you can find a property where the owner is under financial pressure to sell
  • Maintenance fees tend to be higher than on the mature development projects
  • Plots tend to be smaller and the properties closer to one another with little garden when compared to the mature development projects, which tend to be far more spacious
  • There’s not a lot of scope for profit on resale since top dollar is paid in the first instance for properties on new and recent development projects
  • As with New developments, Recent developments tend not to be sited in prime locations, since such locations have already been taken by mature developments, or are now too expensive for recent developers to consider.

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New Development advantages :

  • You are often able to select the position, plot size and type of the property on the development and also specify the property’s level of extras according to your budget
  • Some people just prefer to have a new home that has not been “pre-owned”
  • You are not paying for furniture and furnishings, etc which you will only wish to change as soon as you move in
  • The property is brand new and built to modern standards
  • On site facilities are new and thereby should be in perfect working order

New Development disadvantages :

  • Buying off plan from an inexperienced or unscrupulous developer who has not properly planned, managed or financed the development can put your investment at risk

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We are aware that there is greater risk in buying property “off plan” from a developer, property which is not yet built, rather than buying a pre-owned home that has been built for some time, and so will only promote new developments where we have faith in the financial well-being of and proper funding by the developer, and confidence in them being able to see the project through to completion. However, we accept no liability in this respect.

So, be careful, other real estate agents may be happy to promote any new development which comes along due to the lure of generous commission payments from the developer, and do not assess the risk on behalf of their customers. At the same time as providing reassuring claims of safety and security and quality packages, for which the agent will be paid handsomely, they are the first to wash their hands of any responsibility should anything go wrong and you be left with a half built apartment of house on a construction site which did not complete on time and will probably never complete at all since purchasers are suing for breach of contract to try and get some of their money back.

We pride ourselves on our integrity and take great care to try to avoid being a part of any new development which we feel is running the risk of failure due to improper funding and finance and too much reliance on selling units off plan in order to succeed. We have already declined to promote some new developments for this reason which other agents were happy to promote, yet which subsequently failed to meet their ambitious initial targets.We have seen such projects fail and seen the misery and frustration of those people who were talked into investing in them by the agent and/or the developer.

If you have any doubt whatsoever as to the financial well-being of a new real estate development project, then we recommend for your sake that you steer well clear of them, opting instead for apartments and houses which are already built on mature or recent developments, or which are being constructed by reputable developers with the substantial funds and experience necessary to make their developments a success.

How to Safely Buy Real Estate in Thailand - Rene-Philippe R Dubout

How to Safely Buy Real Estate in Thailand - Rene-Philippe R Dubout

The latest edition of Rene-Philippe R Dubout’s easy to read book on “How to Safely Buy Real Estate in Thailand” is now in the shops and on sale at Amazon.com

How to Safely Buy Real Estate in Thailand - rear cover

How to Safely Buy Real Estate in Thailand - rear cover

How to Safely Buy Real Estate in Thailand by Rene-Philippe R Dubout is a comprehensive guide to any real estate purchase in Thailand, and the updated edition of the original publication provides plenty of experienced advice and legal information, and covers pretty much all one needs to know in order to make an informed decision about property purchase in Thailand, helping you to avoid the potential pitfalls which could lead not only to embarrassment but also to financial loss for the unwary.


Robin Hill, managing Director of Sunrise Services Asia Ltd., was one of the proof readers of the original publication, and his comments are featured on the rear cover of the latest edition. We thoroughly recommend to our customers that they purchase a copy of this useful book, for their awareness and as a useful reference tool for any real estate purchasing consideration here in Thailand.

Chapter 4 “Let the Buyer Beware” provides a good description of the “first time developer” and what to look out for, and chapter 6 “Separating the Wheat from the Chaff” provides a handy Developer Test to objectively test the Developer with a number of questions which generates a score. Using this tool will help everyone to take the correct approach to making a sensible decision, especially those who might have a tendency to think with their heart, rather than their head when it comes to purchasing that dream holiday home.

But such sensible advice doesn’t just apply when considering purchase on a new development…. it should apply to all of your real estate decisions. It’s amazing just how many unsuspecting people are taken in by smiling friendly bar and restaurant owners who use charm, friendliness and generosity in order to manipulate the unwary into some kind of real estate deal which is either going to land them a big commission for doing very little actual work, or which is aimed at manipulating you into paying a deposit on their own risky development venture. Ask yourself, if you wanted to buy a house or condo in your own country, would you go down to your local bar or restaurant for professional advice and listings?!? Of course you wouldn’t, you’d have to be really stupid, right?! Then why on earth let yourself be taken in by these sharks here in Thailand!?! Seek out a professional realtor company who knows the local real estate market and who can offer you sound advice and a range of safe choices.
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