Samui investment

Why Thailand ? Why Koh Samui

Thailand has a tropical climate with relatively warm temperatures all year round. The beaches are a great tourist destinations with many world class resorts. Thais are famous for their hospitality, their smiles, and their easy going nature. The country offer beautiful beaches with tropical vegetation, and scenic mountains.

Just like Hawaii, Thailand attracts both vacationers and retirees from around the world. There are many more Europeans and Russian than Japanese ant than Americans and it is becoming very popular with Chinese from Hong Kong, Singapore, and even mainland China and South Korea. Middle Class European and rich Chinese see Thailand as a place where they can afford their own piece of paradise.

Foreign money is pouring into the market and a land rush has commenced back in 2002 with a slow down during 2006 to 2012 then we are now experimenting a new wave of buyer mostly Russian and Asian such as Chinese. Local housing Thai style would be considered substandard by developed country standards. As a result, demand for quality houses and condos far exceeds supply and prices have risen very rapidly in the last 6 years. Even so, property is inexpensive compared to
Hawaii or the Gold Coast of Australia. At Samui Marvel Properties we see a lot appreciation potential and steady growth for the 2014 to 2020 period.
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Thailand is very cheap for buyers coming from more developed countries like Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, Japan, and Europe. Condo’s and houses are roughly 1/3 the prices of Hawaii. Living costs are also very low including household help. Medical care in Thailand in established hospitals has achieved a very good reputation; costs are dirt cheap compared to Europe and other developed countries. The middle east is an important revenue in medical tourism the government as planed to set Thailand as an international medical hub.

The country is very open to the West in terms of trade and culture. It is a democracy, and, except for the far southern part of Thailand, it is a very peaceful society. Crime is much less of a problem here than in foreign countries under the rules as written. The courts have a reputation for enforcing contracts and respecting property rights - though the process can be rather slow.

Market Background

The Thai real estate market is rather primitive in many ways:

  • Real Estate agents are unregulated – anyone can become an agent with no
    training.
  • There are no exclusive listing agreements - the business is brutally competitive.
  • There is no centralized system for listing properties - cooperation among agents
    is rare and you must work with many agents and talk to everyone to find out
    what is for sale.
  • There are no escrow or title companies – the seller holds the deposit and the
    transaction closes at the land title registration office.
  • There are no standard contracts – you hire a lawyer and negotiate all terms.
  • Infrastructure (roads, sewers, power, etc.) are poor in many areas.
    There are various forms of title. For our purposes we would only consider the
    following types (in order of desirableness):
    • 1. Chanote Highest land title available in Thailand
    • 2. Nor Sor San (3) Gor - the same as Chanote except land hasn’t been
      measured precisely. Difference can be as much as 5%. This can be upgraded to
      Chanote by getting an official survey done.
    • 3. Nor Sor San (3) - similar to Nor Sor San Gor but with larger potential
      measurement errors.

Because land with Chanote title gets a premium price compared to the others, some investors buy land with lesser titles in areas they know will soon be upgraded by the government.

With a few exceptions, foreigners cannot hold land directly in their name. The standard practice is to set up a Thai limited liability company to hold title. There are some technicalities to be observed (a Thai citizen must “own” 51% of the shares) but for practical purposes the results are the same as if you owned it directly. If you wish to use the property in an exchange, you will need to lease in
long term from the Thai LLC to yourself.

Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, is near the coast in the center half of the country just between North and south. The wealthiest people in Thailand live here and as do most of the foreign expatriates working in Thailand.

At the moment the area is popular but not nearly as popular as the top three beach destinations in Thailand: Pattaya, Phuket, and Koh Samui. The Thai peninsula stretches along the West side of the gulf all the way to Malaysia. Koh Samui lies this way, an hour’s flight from Bangkok. There are
several islands out in the gulf along with Koh Samui. The closest to Koh Samui, and most developed, is Koh Phangan. This island is 30minutes away by boat.

Koh Samui

Koh Samui has historically been a budget traveler destination. It had been slowly attracting new 5 star hotels for several years. Then a golf course went in and Bangkok Air (privately owned airport) added direct flights from Singapore and Hong Kong. Now the island is accelerating its move upscale and I expect most of the places below 3 stars to be redeveloped as land prices escalate. The international luxury hotel chains are on their way. The boom here started 6 years ago and land prices have roughly doubled in that time. Because Samui is an island and much of the shore is rocky or has shallow water, there is a very limited supply of desirable beach front property. This supply constraint, combined with escalating demand from investors and retirees from Hong Kong and Singapore will ensure continued appreciation of real estate on Koh Samui.

The main resort towns at the North end of the island from Lamai to Chaweng are all within 15 to 20 minutes taxi from the airport. The government wanted to built a new airport to provide access to airlines other than Bangkok Air. If this happens, fares could come down 30-40% and there would be a significant increase in visitors to the island. Thai Airways would then have the capability of putting in direct flights from Tokyo and other major cities. So far Bangkok Air has held off the new airport, so the government may be forced to put the new airport over at Koh Phangan.
New airport on Koh Samui isn’t anymore in the talk although a newly located airport in Don Sak near Suratthani is under discussion.

Conclusion

Thailand is well positioned to capture significant amounts of real estate investment funds from more developed countries. There are several areas that have achieved the momentum and critical mass that will carry them into the top ranks of international class resort areas.

This article is just a brief introduction to the possibilities of Koh Samui and Thailand.