Buying Property

Location. Location, location, location. When buying a property location means everything. If you want a beach side condo with a sea view you will pay double, triple, quadruple or even more for that. What will the area look like in the near future? Will there be new projects blocking your view? Are there any Bath Bus routes nearby?

Choose your Real Estate Agent carefully. A real estate agent is a middleman that is not really needed since all the developers have their own sales office and sales team.

The real estate agents are trying to earn a living, put bread on the table and they do that by closing the deal. Closing the deal means that the real estate agent will get his commission. Real estate agents often charge commissions that can range up to 6% of the sale price of the condominium. Seen through the eyes of a real estate agent all condominiums are luxury condos, even a small 30 sqm standard condo is a luxury condo. All plots of land are dream plots of land. Of course they all say it, after all they are salesmen and they are good at talking, their objective is to close the deal and to maximize the profit.

The real estate agents do not have the freedom to speak out if something is wrong. Understand that they are paid by the developers, the developers are their sole source of income, therefore they need to have a good relationship with them. You do not bite the hand that feeds you….

Choose the developer carefully. The developers often use exaggerated images in advertising. You might call it product scams or false advertising and you would not be wrong. Some developers are building chicken cages that they present as luxury condos. You might end up getting cheated as you would like to get what you paid for. At least you would like to get the same quality that you saw in the showroom when you signed the contract. Sometimes that is not the case, you will find out it is the artist’s impression only, reality can differ. One thing is sure, if you want quality you must pay for it. If you want the electrical systems, the plumbing system, interior design etc. have a western standard you will need specialists to do the work. Some developers hire the cheapest contractors and then you might end up having a lot of problems later. Nobody want problems. Here in Thailand the walls can be very thin. You don’t want to hear your neighbours arguing or watching TV, do you? Make sure the walls are not just 2 inches thick. Choose a developer with a good reputation, they do exist.

Developers use different strategies to attract buyers. Some rely mainly on pricing and the known term ‘value for money’, some offer extremely attractive payment terms. Others focus on brand marketing, increasing the recognition of their brand name. Some developers focus upon the quality of their build.

Many people choose to buy ‘off plan’. Simply put,  this means they are purchasing a property which has not been built yet. Bear in mind that when buying off plan there is a risk factor involved. With all the new projects here in Pattaya there is a risk that some of these projects might fail. Are the really enough buyers for all these new condos? I hope there are, truly, I wish to see a lot of new projects, but sometimes I do get worried.

Would you like to live in a quiet area so you can get a good night’s sleep or maybe you don’t mind the noise from a bar in the neighbourhood? Who will be your new neighbours? Some thais like to invite their friends and family to stay in their condo. I have often seen they leave the front door open to get some fresh wind because the use of aircons is expensive. The more people the merier. It can be quite noisy. The thai mentality is very different from people from the western world. The thais generelly do not mind sharing music and cooking smells with other units while foreigners are more comfortable keeping to themselves. Noisy pets can be a nightmare. Maybe you do not mind a dog barking all day and night? If possible, find out who your new neighbours are.

Find out what the maintenance fees are. There will be some developers that have maintenance fees that are too high to cover the actual costs. The maintenance fees are there to pay the staff (reception, cleaning, security), pool maintenance, trash disposal, electrical usage in the common areas. And to paint and maintain the building.

Go to the construction site and see if there is any activity is going on. If you do not see a lot of workers something could be wrong. You could go to the Ocean 1 Tower construction site in Jomtien, take a good look around and make up your own opinion. But people do not like to talk about failed projects, mostly because some of the developers are still around and some of them have actually built some world class condos in the past. Certainly, a project will fail if too few people buy. You can not blame the developer if there is a slow down in the world economy. But you can blame yourself if you do not do your homework properly: search and thou shall find.

And one last thing: Don’t wait too long. The good condos at the good prices will only be available for a short period of time. The off plan condos are often 25 – 30% below market value (before construction starts!) but you may only have a couple of months to make your decision.

In short:

  • Choose the location carefully
  • Choose the Real Estate Agent carefully
  • Choose the developer carefully
  • Choose your neighbours if possible
  • Be aware that ‘off plan’ means a risk factor
  • Check the maintenance fees
  • Go to the construction site
  • Don’t wait too long

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