Land prices in Central Bangkok have risen by 1,000 percent in the past 30 years.
This stunning revelation comes from real estate firm CBRE, which established its first office in Bangkok in 1988.
The firm said that land prices rose dramatically during the Asian Tiger boom years from 1988 until 1996.
That was before the market came to a grinding halt during the 1997 Asian financial crisis.
The growth in Bangkok land prices resumed in the early 2000s, and there has been a rapid escalation of prices over the past two years for prime central business district (CBD) sites.
Looking back, CBRE said that two landmark transactions in the late 1980s were the acquisition of an 8-rai (3.17 acres) site on Sathorn by the original developer of Empire Tower for around THB 125,000 per sq wah and the acquisition of a 21-1-08 rai (8.5-acre) site on Wireless Road by the M Thai Group for around THB 250,000 per sq wah. This is now the All Seasons Place development.
The latest sale in Sathorn was the 8-rai site of the Australian Embassy for THB 1.45 million per sq wah in 2017. In Lumpini, SC Asset paid THB 3.1 million per sq wah for an 880-square-wah site on Soi Langsuan.
The largest land sale in terms of value, and a record price for land in Thailand, was the sale of the 23-rai British Embassy site earlier this year to a Central Group / Hongkong Land joint-venture.
A reported THB 18.7 billion was paid for the site.
According to CBRE, the increase in land prices has not been uniform and there has been a huge change in development patterns in Bangkok.
Two big changes have been the opening and extension of the mass-transit systems with the first BTS Line in 1999 and the MRT Dark Blue Line in 2004.
Mass-transit lines have changed the way that Bangkok residents work, live and play.
By the mid 2020s, Bangkok should have about 460 kilometres of mass transit lines, compared with the 402-kilometre London Underground system.
The popularity of Bangkok’s mass-transit routes, with more than 1.2 million users every day, has increased land values next to stations, but not every line or station is equally attractive.
Land values have been partially determined by the popularity of a line and a station.
“The other big determinant of land prices has been urban planning and building regulations, particularly those governing how much space can be built.”
“Obviously if less space can be built on a site then the land is worth less,” said. Kulwadee Sawangsri, Executive Director, Capital Markets – Investment and Land for CBRE Thailand.
Land prices are starting to form a much greater proportion of total development costs as they have risen at faster rates than construction costs.
Total development costs, mainly due to the increase in land prices, have risen and are driving condominiums prices higher – raising the revenue needed to make rental projects feasible.
CBRE said that it expects Central Bangkok will continue to be the most preferred location for the best hotels, offices, retail centres, residences and other types of buildings such as hospitals.
Bangkok will have a clearly defined city centre, with extended development along the mass-transit lines concentrated in clusters around the stations.
The rate of increase of land prices will depend on the level of development activity and the returns that can be generated from development.
It predicted that in some cases, land prices will be higher than the value of an existing building on the plot, and the market will see more older buildings being demolished and the sites redeveloped.
CBRE noted this is already happening with the demolition of Kian Gwan Tower I on Wireless Road and Vanissa Building on Chidlom Road.
There are also plans to demolish the Dusit Thani Hotel and redevelop the site.
So far, it has only been single ownership buildings that have been demolished.
Condominium law in Thailand requires that 100 percent of co-owners agree to revoke the condominium, enabling it to be sold and redeveloped.
This has not happened to date although there are now some condominiums where the total value of all the units is less than the vacant possession value of the land on which the condominium has been built.
The sale of all the units and the redevelopment of the site has taken place in other countries, particularly in Singapore where the number of co-owners needing to agree to a en-block sale is lower.
CBRE said that it thinks it will be very difficult to get 100 percent of condominium owners in Bangkok to agree to sell all the units to a developer.
“Assuming that planning regulations do not change and the amount of space that can be built on sites remains the same, Bangkok’s CBD land prices are likely to continue to rise,” concluded Aliwassa Pathnadabutr, the Managing Director for CBRE Thailand.