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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Foreign investors still keen on good returns in Thailand

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Foreign investors still keen on good returns in Thailand, says Jones Lang Lasalle

Thailand’s luxury condominium and office markets are definitely still attractive to foreign investors as the return on investment remains higher than in other locations in the region, according to international real estate consultancy Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL).

Despite the economic and political turbulence this year, JLL found that investment by foreign funds or newly established companies in Thai property market was still active with total transactions worth 25 billion baht, said Suphin Mechuchep, managing directors of JLL Thailand.

Office buildings with retail spaces are the most attractive properties for foreign investors, especially those from Singapore and Hong Kong. The annual return on such properties in Thailand was 7.5% compares with 4.5-6.2% in Hong Kong and 5-5.6% in Singapore, according to JLL.

Luxury condominiums in Thailand generate annual yields of 4.5-5.6%, against 3.3% and 4.5% in Hong Kong and Singapore respectively.

But returns on offices and luxury condominiums are higher, ranging from 7% to 11% in Shanghai, Beijing and cities in India.

Dan Tantisunthorn, JLL’s head of research, said higher returns reflected risk in the market, so investments in Hong Kong or Singapore would be considered more stable than in Thailand or the fast emerging cities in China and India.

Ms Suphin said foreign investment in Thailand was lower that it should be due to the lack of property supply. However, planned megaproject development are seen as creating new opportunities for foreign investment in residential properties through joint ventures with Thai firms.

JLL foresees a positive environment for the Bangkok property market in 2007 due to improved factors such as more stable interest rates, oil prices and construction costs.

Caroline Murphy, JLL’ head of markets, said another 307,300 square metres of office space, including 42,000 sq m occupied by owner, would be added to the market next year. It is expected to be taken up quickly as average annual demand in the past four years has been 250,000 sq m.

She said the trend was towards more firms moving outside the central business district (CBD) as they could not afford the high rents in grade-A offices. Therefore, office rents outside the CBD are likely to increase by 11% or more next year.

Mr Dan said the residential rental market in central Bangkok had continued to perform well with high occupancy rates at 80% for serviced apartments and over 90% for apartments, driven by strong demand from expatriates.

He said mid-priced condo projects, particularly with access to the subway and BTS, and planned extensions, were expected to prevail next year in the market.