PHUKET: Despite the global economical crisis and uncertainty about political stability in Thailand, various new property developments have recently been launched. The majority of the developers offer units “off-plan” for sale at an early stage of the project development, even before the first brick has been laid.
Some of us may not be familiar with the term “off-plan”. Generally spoken, buying off-plan means buying units which exist only on the drawing table, construction of the project may not even have started. Off-plan sales are offered by developers as they often need to sell their product fast by pricing units extremely low in order to achieve fast and valuable finance to proceed with constructing their development. Purchasing an off-plan unit may have considerable advantages compared to an investment in a completed project. Early birds may benefit from a significantly reduced price, which makes such off-plan purchases extremely interesting from an investment perspective as such units may rise in value during construction, even prior to completion.
Smart payment plans, typically a minor deposit payment, followed by a 30% first installment and a high final payment upon title transfer, allow buyers to effectively secure a high-value asset for a relatively low initial capital outlay. Furthermore, purchase at an early stage of a project ensures that a buyer can choose the best located units in order to satisfy his individual requirements as well as a future buyer in regard to a resale.
Buying off-plan also offers the chance to “flip” a unit prior to title transfer by way of assignment of the buyer’s rights under his/her sale and purchase agreement, which allows investors to save on transfer fees and taxes that occur from title transfer.
Summarized, such off-plan investment may create a “win-win” situation for both buyer and seller: buyers obtain a low price for a quality product with high resale value and sellers are able to receive fast project finance.
However, in order to secure your investment, due diligence should be carried out to minimize existing risks and to prevent you from a worst-case scenario of total loss of your invested funds. Basically, such due diligence should be conducted by a reliable and reputable law firm, whereby appointment of additional experts, such as a surveyor, might be recommended depending on individual requirements.
The importance of such due diligence, particularly when buying off-plan, in part arises from the fact that extremely important points such as secured access, lawful title to the project's land, as well as an
accurate application for the required construction permit or licenses may not have been accomplished, completed or sufficiently verified by a developer.
Additionally, the financial stability of a developer offering such off-plan sales should always be of concern. In this context, the fullest attention should be paid to the reliability and track record of the developer. A professional real estate agent, representing only well reputed developers and ideally having the financial backing of big investors, can be the first credentials to look for to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Simply put, off-plan buying can be an interesting and promising investment, but extensive market research, awareness for potential risks, comprehensive due diligence as well as consideration of generally accepted risk management is mandatory to find the right product, which seems not only to be a bargain, but also fits with your personal requirements on a safe investment. This article was written by International Law Office Patong Beach Co, Ltd, for any questions you can contact ([email protected]) or call ILO’s office (+66-(0) 76 222 1915).
This article first appeared in the February 8-14 issue of the hard-copy
Phuket Gazette newspaper.
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