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Skytrain Expanding Its Transit Web In Bangkok

Bangkok’s rapidly expanding Skytrain will add another 464 km of transit routes in the future. A total of 28 construction projects are either in the planning stages, under construction, or have just been completed. The new routes will extend Skytrain’s coverage from central Bangkok to surrounding provinces, as well as link Bangkok’s airports.

Three Skytrain projects are already open for service, including the airport link Skytrain from Phayathai to Suvarnabhumi airport. The other two completed projects are the BTS Skytrain, and the underground Skytrain from Bangseu to Hualamphong. The three expanded routes total 79.5 km.

Currently 5 Skytrain projects are under construction, totaling 83 km. They include the red route Skytrain from Bangseu to Talingshan, which will open within this year; and the blue route Skytrain, from Hualamphong to Bangkae. There is another Skytrain project up for price auction, the dark red route Skytrain from Bangseu to Rangsit, totaling 26 km.

Additionally, there are plans for four more Skytrain projects this year. The Ministry of Transport and Communications plan to open 4 more Skytrain projects for price auction, totalling 54.2 km.
These planned projects include the airport link Skytrain from Don Muang airport to Suvannabhumi airport; and the green route Sky train from Morchit to Saphanmai.

In the next year, there will be 6 more Skytrain projects, totalling more than 100 km, including the pink route from Kaerai to Minburi; the light red route from Banseu to Makkasan; and the orange route from Cultural Center to Minburi.

In the year 2014, there will be 4 more Skytrain projects set up for the price auction totalling 62.7 km, including the violet route from Bangseu to Ratburana; and the orange route from Jaransanitwong to the Cultural Center.

Beyond 2014, Bangkok officials are planning 5 more Skytrain projects, totalling 53.6 km, to include the red route Skytrain from Hualamphong to Bangbon and from Bangkae to Putthamonthon.
If all goes according to plan, Skytrain will have an additional 464 km of transit routes.
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Townhouses, single houses lag behind condos

As most developers shifted to condominiums and projects in resort destinations, the number of new single-house and townhouse launches in Greater Bangkok during the first half was only about one-third of condominiums. condominiums in the area.

The small number of new single houses and townhouses, collectively defined as low-rise units, was mainly due to slow recovery in the segment after the floods last year, said Samma Kitsin, director-general of Real Estate Information Center (REIC).

"The condo numbers were also inflated by units that had been scheduled to launch in last year’s final four months but were delayed," he said.

"Some were from low-rise developers that shifted to the condominium segment such as NC Housing and more recently Sammakorn, after the low-rise segment failed to pick up after the massive flooding."

REIC data peg the number of condominium units newly launched in Greater Bangkok in the first half of this year at 36,400 and that of low-rise units at only about 12,500.

Listed developers launched 75% of the condo units but only 60% of the low-rise numbers, indicating that large developers have shifted more towards condos, said Mr Samma.

He expects the number of new condo and low-rise units in the second half will total 20,000 each.

Most of the low-rise units will enter the market in the fourth quarter, after the rainy season ends and just before the Bank of Thailand’s loan-to-value ratio for low-rises, delayed a year until next Jan 1, takes effect.

Buyers of low-rise units priced at less than 10 million baht applying for a mortgage can receive a maximum of 95% of the home’s value.

Earlier, there were no credit limitations for this price range.

Buyers of units priced at more than 10 million baht must make a down payment of 30%.

"If there are no more floods this year, then the low-rise market may recover. But if flooding happens again, the segment will become mired in a lengthy sluggish period," said Mr Samma.

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Siam Piwat spearheads B35bn Chao Phraya project

Siam Piwat Co, the 50-year-old operator of Siam Center, is joining with Charoen Pokphand Group and Magnolia Quality Development Corporation (MQDC) to develop a megaproject worth 35 billion baht on the Chao Phraya River opposite Mandarin Oriental Bangkok Hotel.

Tipaporn Chearavanont (left), CEO of Magnolia Quality Development Corp, shakes hands with Chadatip Chutrakul, CEO of Siam Piwat, for the start of three joint ventures they plan on the Thonburi side of the Chao Phraya, calling it ‘the largest local private commercial development’.

The investment will be spread over three joint ventures, comprising Grand River Place Corp, Grand River Park Corp and Grand River Front Corp.

Siam Piwat Holdings, wholly-owned by Siam Piwat, holds a 50% stake in the three ventures and MQDC and CP Group share 25% each.

MQDC is owned by Tipaporn Chearavanont, the youngest daughter of Dhanin Chearavanont, who is CP Group chairman.

Chadatip Chutrakul, CEO of Siam Piwat, said details of the mix-used project are not finalised but the plan is for a retail plaza and residential condos.

The project’s construction on a 40-rai plot on Charoen Nakorn Road between the Millennium Hilton and The Peninsula Hotel is expected to start early next year and finish in 2015.

Siam Piwat will conduct a market survey with 5,000 people _ both Thais and foreigners who work and stay in a 20-kilometre radius from Charoen Nakorn _ about their expectations for the project. Survey results will be used to create the project concept and design.

The final design will be completed near year-end, after which booking for retail space will be opened.

Funding will come from loans and the joint ventures’ cash flow.

"It’s the largest commercial development ever undertaken by the private sector. When it’s completed, the project will be a new landmark for Bangkok," said Mrs Chadatip.

"We want to create a physical and emotional landmark, something that can really enhance Bangkok’s status in the region and the world. An iconic landmark on the river can move the city forward like Paris, London and Shanghai," said Ms Tipaporn, CEO of MQDC.

The project aims to increase tourism and business, and should create 350,000 jobs over the next four years, she said


NC Housing plans to enter condo market

20% growth targeted after restructuring

The listed developer NC Housing Plc (NCH) targets an annual growth in a range of 20% to 25% and plans to enter the condominium market this year after restructuring its finances by decreasing short-term loans.

Managing director Somchao Tanterdtham said the company recorded higher sales last year which increased its financial liquidity. Debt-to-equity ratio continued dropping to 0.58 time as at the end of 2011 from one time two years ago.

"Our financial status is strong enough to develop condominium project," he said. "It will be a learning curve for us in the high-rise segment. When the condominium market booms, we will be ready for it."

Its condominium projects will be valued at 200-500 million baht each, with unit prices of 1-2 million baht.

This year, the condominium investment will be only 10-20% of the total.

In face of rising wages, the company will apply prefabrication construction technology on a larger scale. It will apply the technology to duplex houses at two new projects worth a combined 800 million baht this year, or 10% of all units. Last year, the technology was applied to 10 units.

The move will help speed up construction and revenue booking.

Also in 2012, NCH plans to launch six new projects worth 3.47 billion baht in total. They will comprise four low-rise housing projects and two condominium projects. Around 100-200 million baht will be used to buy new plots of land. Last year, it spent 200 million baht in buying two plots for launches this year.

During the first two months of 2011, NCH had 300 million baht in sales, indicating a recovery since the great floods late last year. “Though many homebuyers still lack confidence and the property market is expected to get sluggish this year, we believe to achieve our annual sales target based on the two-month performance,” he said.

NCH targets 2.7 billion baht in sales this year, up from 2.54 billion baht in 2011. Revenue was projected at 1.7 billion baht from 1.48 billion baht last year, up from 1.19 billion baht in 2010. It had sales backlog of 2.7 billion baht with around 500 million baht realised this year.

The 18-year-old developer yesterday launched a new logo in a 10-million-baht rebranding. The logo’s colours were changed from green and orange to green, grey and black.

"The new logo represents the new segment we plan to tap this year with a monolith column, representing condominiums."

NCH shares closed yesterday on the Stock Exchange of Thailand at 1.26 baht, up two satang, in total trade of 3.80 million baht.

  • Published in Bangkok Post: 29/02/2012 at 02:43 AM
  • Newspaper section: Business
JLL denies Bangkok condo bubble

Despite widespread concern of an oversupply in the condominium market, a property bubble remains impossible, says Suphin Mechuchep, managing director of the property consultant Jones Lang LaSalle Thailand.

"The Thai property market is active, particularly condominiums in inner Bangkok, despite domestic political problems and sluggish Western economies," she said at the Post Today Investment Expo 2012, which runs until tomorrow at CentralPlaza LardPrao.

"Thai property prices are one-tenth those in Hong Kong and Singapore, while the Thai economy remains strong and people have cash on hand. Property purchases are a way to compete with inflation, especially if its an investment for rent."

Some 25,000 condominium units were launched last year, which discounts the likelihood of a bubble, said Ms Suphin.

As Japan’s economy suffered last year, some 20,000 to 30,000 Japanese staff were sent back to their home country.

Although the condo rental market slowed, condos in inner Bangkok with good facilities fared well, she said.

Hot locations for property investment included Sukhumvit Road from Sois 1-63, which generated the highest rent. Other favourable locales were Narathiwat, Charoen Kung and Chan roads due to fewer competitors.

The new BTS extension into Bang Na district attracted many developments, although return on investment for a condo unit there was lower than on Sukhumvit Road between Sois Nana and Ekamai, which boasts 3-3.5% return a year.

Condos on Phahon Yothin, Ratchadaphisek and Lat Phrao roads are 60,000 to 95,000 baht a square metre.

The opening of CentralPlaza Grand Rama 9 and development of a new SET building on Rama IX Road makes that area ripe for more condominium growth.

Ms Suphin said last year’s flooding was comparable to the 2004 tsunami that caused a property price decline for a period, but now prices in Phuket have more than doubled their pre-tsunami level.

She acknowledged the government should have a clear flood prevention plan with a quick response to support the market for low-rise properties.

Supalai warns of risks ahead of new city plan

With the new Bangkok city plan not yet finalised, land deals for condominium development should be postponed.

Supalai Plc managing director Atip Bijanonda said it was not worth buying plots for new projects, as planning requirements may end up being stricter in some areas.

"Developers should be very cautious. High-rise construction earlier allowed in some locations may be restricted," he said.

The Bangkok governor and the Interior Ministry want to change regulations related to road width and construction area in the new city plan, said Mr Atip.

Supalai will this year spend 4 billion baht to buy new land plots.

It will increase the number of new projects launched this year to 19 worth more than 20 billion baht from 16 planned earlier.

Most of the additional projects will be located in areas that are considered safe and unlikely to face major flooding in the future. Possible locations include Khon Kaen, Chiang Mai, Surat Thani, Hat Yai and Chon Buri.

Most of the new projects being launched in Greater Bangkok will be in the eastern part of the city, which was free from flooding last year.

"However, we’re still convinced that there will be no new flood crisis this year," Mr Atip said yesterday.

The company achieved sales of more than 1 billion baht in the first half of this month. Last month saw 2 billion baht in sales.

The company expects 6 billion baht worth of sales in the first quarter and 18 billion baht for the full year, up from 15 billion baht in 2011.

Last year, the company booked 17 billion baht worth of business, but only 15 billion baht was eventually signed.

The company plans to open the Supalai Wellington condominium project for booking from March 5-11 at CentralPlaza Grand Rama 9.

It will be located on 17 rai behind the Thailand Cultural Centre.

The project will comprise nine 19-storey buildings with a combined 1,002 units in the first phase.

Unit sizes will start at 47 square metres, with prices beginning at 3 million baht.

The company plans to develop seven rai in front of the first phase as a commercial area.

The area, 33 rai in total, was once owned by Khunying Potjaman na Pombejra.

Supalai won the land for 1.815 billion baht at an auction held by the Financial Institutions Development Fund last year. The price was

SPALI shares closed yesterday on the Stock Exchange of Thailand at 13.60 baht, down 20 satang, in trade worth 37.4 million baht.


REIC: Housing transfers sinking with floods

With about 150,000 houses from more than 1,000 projects in Greater Bangkok and Ayutthaya damaged by flooding, transfers this year will decline by 20%, says the Real Estate Information Center.

Most of the flood-damaged homes are on Phetkasem Road, Bang Kae, Nakhon Pathom and Samut Sakhon. In older projects, the ground level is often lower than road level and they face deeper floodwaters than newer projects, the REIC said.

Even though condominiums look better than low-rise units amid the floods, that segment has also been affected by a sharp decline in purchasing power and site visits.

The number of new and second-hand unit transfers in the third quarter topped second-quarter totals, reaching 43,500 units on a windfall from the first-time homebuyer campaign initiated by the Abhisit Vejjajiva government.

In light of the floods, the REIC says housing transfers in Greater Bangkok would fall 20% to between 135,000 and 140,000 units this year, from 178,000 last year. Low-rise transfers would fall 28% to 76,000 units and condominiums 15% to 62,000 units.

The value of unit transfers is expected to decrease by 26% to 300 billion baht. The market value for low-rise transfers would fall from 228 billion baht to 169 billion, and condominium transfers from 164.5 billion to 122.5 billion.

Customer service playing critical role

Developers look to build reputations

The current flood is testing how well developers and property companies take care of customers, which can affect their reputations and influence future customers.

Sopon Pornchokchai, president of the property consultant Agency for Real Estate Affairs, said housing developers should offer good service and financial support to build brand awareness.

"Quick response to problems and other assistance will help housing developers build brand loyalty. This is an efficient word-of-mouth channel to gain new customers," he said.

Spending money on equipment such as water pumps costs less than advertising and means more to customers, he added.

Mr Sopon said some customers just need encouragement or sympathy.

On the other hand, some developers have been difficult during the ordeal. For some projects that sold out, developers ignored pleas for help or ignored the situation. For other customers, some developers spent too long surveying projects. “This behaviour builds a bad image for developers,” he said.

L.P.N. Development Plc has received plaudits as it mobilised its staff to protect condominiums managed by its subsidiaries. Charan Kesorn, managing director of Lumpini Property Management Co, said the L.P.N. affiliate added staff to take care of as many residents as possible.

One area severely hit by the flood is Pin Klao. As some projects faced high water levels, Lumpini Property provided small boats to bring residents to dry areas and built temporary walkways and bridges. It also bought some food to sell at cost to residents.

"This could not be done without the cooperation of our staff, business partners and all of our co-owners in the projects. We have at least 500 volunteers living in our projects to help protect the properties and take care of other residents," said Mr Charan.

"Since the company began the ‘livable community’ concept 22 years ago, this flood has been a real test of whether it is concrete."

He said a condominium was just a building, but more important was the quality of life of the people living in the project. “Quality of life can matter more than price, size or location.”Baan Lumpini townhouses in Bang Bua Thong, Nonthaburi were developed 17 years ago. Marote Vananan, deputy chief officer for commercial service at Asian Property Development, said it had three levels of flood management: monitoring, at risk and emergency.

For monitoring, AP will check for possible leaks and prepare sandbags to protect risky areas, as well as clean out drainage pipes. Some areas will need dykes.

Water pumps will be prepared to drain the water with security guards monitoring the perimeter of buildings. For at-risk areas, engineers will be on alert to maintain pumps.

"In an emergency, if the inner area of a project is flooded, we will evacuate residents as soon as possible. We have a big vehicle ready if the water level is too high for small cars," he said.

AP also talked with eight hotels in no-risk zones to support its residents in case they cannot find a place to stay. It will subsidise the room rate for a maximum of seven days per unit. Security guards will watch flooded projects to protect residents’ assets.