CBRE Thailand: Insights on Evolving Real Estate Trends

Chotika Tungsirisurp, Head of Research & Consulting at CBRE Thailand, provides insights into the evolving landscape of Thailand's real estate, highlighting trends, urban development shifts, and the impact of international investments.

Bridges: What are the emerging trends you foresee in Thailand’s real estate market in the next five years?

CBRE: Thailand has a highly skilled and experienced real estate industry that’s grown over the last six decades, with Bangkok developing from a city where there were no high-rise structures to one where they are common, both in the inner city and in some suburban areas. In the last 30 years, the legendary traffic jams have somewhat eased as mass transportation has extended from the inner city and midtown areas to the suburbs, changing how people move around the city. This process continues to change with plans for the current network of 265 km. of train lines and 172 stations to be extended to 345 km. of train lines with 236 stations by 2027.

We see three main trends over the next five years:

  1. Older single use commercial buildings will functionally become obsolete, and either be renovated, repurposed for alternative use or demolished and the site redeveloped in core CBD locations, depending on the size of the site.
  2. The larger scale mixed-use developments trend will continue, particularly around key locations with mass transit stations. The best office buildings will continue to be located in the core CBD, whereas residential and retail development will expand in midtown and suburban areas.
  3. The office sector has been at the forefront of sustainability and green building practices. Many office developers have sought third party certification of sustainable, wellness and green building practices; however, it is anticipated that this focus will expand across several new commercial buildings going forward. We also expect more green space and greater connectivity for mass transportation.

How has the urban development landscape in major cities like Bangkok evolved, and where do you see it heading?

The development of the mass transport network in Bangkok has been the main catalyst driving urban development in Bangkok over the last three decades. The continued investment in this infrastructure will ensure that a greater proportion of Bangkok is accessible by mass transport, opening opportunities for further urban development. Although the most significant beneficiaries have been resident Thais and expatriates, tourists also enjoy the ease of travelling around the city on these train lines. While the original thought was that the development of the mass transit system would facilitate easier commuting from the suburbs to the inner city, the impact has been much broader. The midtown and suburban areas of Bangkok are now more interconnected than ever, as new transit lines intersect and provide further development. Usually this occurs with fresh residential development, followed by neighborhood retail and then additional commercial development, with new population centers created over time within different areas of the city. In certain parts of outer Bangkok, it is no longer necessary to commute to the inner city to work, shop or take your children to school. We see this trend continuing as the city’s outer areas become more accessible, attracting a larger residential population, which in turn will lead to new commercial development to support the increased population.

Thailand has a highly skilled and experienced real estate industry that’s grown over the last six decades, with Bangkok developing from a city where there were no high-rise structures to one where they are common, both in the inner city and in some suburban areas.

Chotika Tungsirisurp, Head of Research & Consulting at CBRE Thailand

Can you share your perspective on the impact of international investments in Thailand’s property sector?

The real estate investment and development market in Thailand is dominated by domestic players because the law heavily restricts investment in the property sector by international investors. Some sectors are strongly influenced by overseas investment, such as the industrial and hotel sectors, which facilitate foreign ownership if projects meet certain criteria set out by the Board of Investment. Thai real estate developers seek international investment for two main reasons, either to source expertise or are seeking equity participation via joint venture (JV) partnerships. There is international influence both in the construction sector and in all sectors of the property market, mainly through JV’s. Historically, Japanese companies have been the most active investors, particularly in the residential sector (mostly condominiums) where the investment cycle is usually over four to five years and there is a clear entry and exit strategy.

In recent years, international investors have formed joint ventures with Thai developers across all major sectors of the property market and they continue to be investors at the corporate level in major Thai real estate companies. As it remains challenging for international investors to develop real estate directly, we see the JV method will remain the most common way for international investors to participate in the real estate market in Thailand.

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