Dr. Sopon Pornchokchai, the President of Thailand’s Agency for Real Estate Affairs (AREA), has taken a high-profile swipe at Chinese buyers and investors.
During the ten-minute recorded interview that was aired early this morning on Channel 3, Thailand’s most popular television channel, he suggested that Chinese buyers and property investors represent as much as one-third of all property purchases in Thailand.
Certainly, in Bangkok there is significant evidence from property developers and real estate agencies that as many at 40 percent of all buyers at condo developments are from mainland China and Hong Kong.
In the television interview Dr. Sopon (pictured) called on the Thai government to establish regulations to control the number of Chinese buyers.
He cited the example of Malaysia where, in some states, foreigners can only purchase property above a certain price point, and Singapore where an additional buyers’ stamp duty is payable by overseas buyers.
He also mentioned Taiwan, where he said that property buyers must stay in their property for at least three years, and are allowed to stay for four consecutive months per year at a time.
Taiwan banks will also only provide 50 percent mortgage finance to property buyers, he said.
Given Thailand currently offers nothing in the way of residential rights when purchasing a property, any move to provide such rights would probably be welcomed by Chinese buyers, and other overseas buyers, who can currently only come to Thailand using a tourist visa if their property purchase does not qualify for the investment visa.
Without providing any evidence, Dr. Sopon suggested that Chinese nationals along the border areas of northern Thailand are using the ID cards of recently deceased Thai nationals to purchase property, with the help of corrupt Thai officials.
He also suggested that Thailand’s Board of Investment needs to adjust its rules and regulations, and lower the 99-year property leasehold period.
The interview is certain to create reactions from the Thai government, Chinese buyers and investors, and those within Thailand’s property and real estate sectors.
Without the support of Chinese buyers right now, Thailand could wave goodbye to up to 40 percent of current condo buyers – and the income they provide to the country.
Is that really something that will truly benefit Thailand?