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  1. #1
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    Buying a Townhouse Before It's Built - Have I Lost My Mind?

    My wife and I are looking to buy a second property; a townhouse, so she can get her plans for a business off the ground. We've seen what looks like a nice development of around 30 townhouses about 5 minutes drive from our home in Chiang Mai. The location, a key factor in our decision making, also looks good. The price? The best part of 5m baht for a 4 storey townhouse on about 20 talang wah of land...

    We've spent quite some time looking around and there are actually quite a few similar developments in the area (around Meechok Plaza, if you know CM), most of which are priced more competitively at closer to 4m baht, and often for a bit more space, e.g. 25-30 talang wah. The salespeople at the place we're most interested in (the 5m place) say that their properties are more expensive because the location is better and they're using "Grade A" materials...blah blah. Well, they would say that, wouldn't they? Although actually, I have to agree with them in terms of location, at least for our needs. However, as to the quality of the building itself and the materials used, it's just words at the moment because...building work has yet to start on the lot we're interested in. This is my first "problem" - making the biggest purchase of my life for something which only currently exists on paper makes me feel very uncomfortable. We bought our family home about 6 years ago, so it was a lot cheaper, plus it was an existing house so we could see and touch what we were about to spend our hard-earned on. This is different.

    They have started work on the first 10 or so townhouses and so in my mind, that's a positive because we can take a close look at the construction and try to gauge whether there's any semblance of truth to the (well worn) "Grade A" phrase. However, my second "problem" is; I'm no builder, and so all I really have to go on is my common sense and any info I can pick up from forums like this.

    We had originally intended to rent somewhere, but monthly rent for a new townhouse in this area seems to run to around 20k baht a month, which isn't far off what we'd pay to buy such a place on an 80% (ish) mortgage, which is why we started to look more closely at buying.

    As is always the case, the sales people are saying that these properties are snapped up quickly - which introduces an element of urgency into the equation. Of course, I understand that this is a sales tactic, but from what I've seen, there is also an element of truth to it. For example, with the other developments we looked at, all the townhouses in prime positions on each development were already "booked" or had contracts signed. Whilst I won't be rushed, I have seen the cost of property in Chiang Mai spiral upwards at quite some rate in the 10 years I've lived here, and if that isn't going to end any time soon then it seems to make sense to buy property sooner rather than later, if you can.

    At this point, all I've seen is a glossy brochure and a rough outline of the contract (everything is in Thai, of course). I've visited the site and the site office, seen the scale model, listened to the marketing spiel, etc etc. It's all pretty much par for the course, so to speak, and probably no different to what you'd get at every development like this.

    We're visiting the bank next week to see if they'll lend us the 80% or so that we'll need to buy such a property and so we may not even get to the next stage, but let's assume that we do - what would you be doing next if you were in my position?

    These are some of my thoughts. Like I say in the subject; "Have I Lost My Mind?"

    1. Engage a lawyer to review the contract and explain it to me.
    2. Go back to the site and take a much closer and more critical look at the current construction (try to get an experienced builder to come with me or take photos and post them here?).
    3. Ask for detailed plans (and a list of materials / fittings?) and cast a critical eye over those (and post them here?).
    4. Ask for the land papers, and check at the land office? (Not really sure what we'd check, to be perfectly honest)


    I'd really appreciate any constructive thoughts and advice you kind fellows can offer.

    Many thanks.

  2. #2
    Thailand Expat terry57's Avatar
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    Nothing complicated about it.

    Everything may go smoothly and you have a trouble free build or you could be unlucky and they cock it up from the get go causing you untold grief and expense like what has happened to a recent member.

    Because of the possibility of a total cock up and no recourse as in the real world I would never trust them at all.

    That's just me though and I'm not a gambler. Work too hard for my money to lose it to unscrupulous Thai builders who have no respect for farang.

    Myself would buy a completed house and save all the stress or just save all my money and rent.

    Good luck with it.
    Stroller is a Yerman faggot.

  3. #3
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    Meechok is not exactly a central location so I am surprised the townhouses are so expensive

  4. #4
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    That does sound expensive.

    Something to be aware of with these town house estates is that if not maintained, they can go to the shit pretty quickly.

  5. #5
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    Track record of the builder, go visit other builds they have done (they have built
    other stuff ? )
    Not fool proof, but it will give you a idea of past projects !
    Good Luck
    Mark

  6. #6
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    We had originally intended to rent somewhere, but monthly rent for a new townhouse in this area seems to run to around 20k baht a month, which isn't far off what we'd pay to buy such a place on an 80% (ish) mortgage, which is why we started to look more closely at buying.
    Wow that's expensive! In this area you can get a 3 floor super huge town house for 5k per month. If it would have been 20k, I would have bought one too.

  7. #7
    or TizYou?
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    I wouldn't buy off the plan in Thailand under any circumstances.

  8. #8
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    I personally would not go, the off the plan way, few reasons.
    Forget about the risks of it not being as good as claimed etc, bad workmanship, poor quality materials and all the other stuff that goes on.

    Wife and I are looking at buying a house in town in the near future, next few years, kids school thing.
    Had a look around Ubon, old houses in much better areas, more central, ghosts included. Some good deals, may need some fixing up, but Thai houses are steel and concrete, they are OK, it's the rest of the stuff is what falls apart.

    A friend bought a house off the plan, looked nice in the drawings, single story, alleged gated community. First thing I noted, no gardens and not a tree to be seen, concrete everywhere, was like walking into a oven. During the hot dry season it will be aircon 24/7. A month after moving in, a shop opened up across the road, small Soi, motorbikes and cars till midnight.

    Not my cup of tea, that's for sure, it pays to shop around and look at what your needs and wants are. Jim

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by terry57 View Post
    Nothing complicated about it.

    Everything may go smoothly and you have a trouble free build or you could be unlucky and they cock it up from the get go causing you untold grief and expense like what has happened to a recent member.

    Because of the possibility of a total cock up and no recourse as in the real world I would never trust them at all.

    That's just me though and I'm not a gambler. Work too hard for my money to lose it to unscrupulous Thai builders who have no respect for farang.

    Myself would buy a completed house and save all the stress or just save all my money and rent.

    Good luck with it.
    Yes, at least you can see the finished article when you buy a completed house. Renting also remains an attractive option. Thanks, terry57.

  10. #10
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    As most have saiid - sounds very overpriced.

    If you pay for stuff up front - you get a good deal (that's the logic)

    So if someone want's to overcharge you upfront - only bad things will follow.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrAndy View Post
    Meechok is not exactly a central location so I am surprised the townhouses are so expensive
    No, it's not central. The road through is busy one though with a lot of new development springing up, lots of townhouses, some new condos, etc. It's also a nice route through to the government offices and the new exhibition center. In other words, it's not centrally located, but there's an increasing amount of new development and activity in the area. All that said, I don't disagree with you, I think 5m for a townhouse in that area is expensive too, but they're building them and they're selling them, as far as I can see...

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by pinballki
    but they're building them and they're selling them, as far as I can see...
    what proportion have they sold?

    or was that just the developer telling you that?

    even if some have been sold, that does not make them a good buy, necessarily

  13. #13
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    First off - thank you to everyone for your replies so far.

    Quote Originally Posted by DrAndy View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by pinballki
    but they're building them and they're selling them, as far as I can see...
    what proportion have they sold?

    or was that just the developer telling you that?

    even if some have been sold, that does not make them a good buy, necessarily
    I was really referring to all the new developments in that area in general, i.e. they do seem expensive, but they appear to be selling. The development we're most interested in - a newer one - they've marked off around 30% on their plans as sold or "booked". Of course, I've no way of knowing whether they have actually been sold or how much they were sold for, I can only assume that if they're not being offered to the public for sale, it's because they've been sold or are in the process of being sold. On an "older" development closer to Meechok Plaza itself, where a lot of the properties are complete already, all the best situated townhouses have been sold - around 20 townhouses out of about 50 or so. Those properties are cheaper, at closer to 4m baht, but I'm guessing that still sounds expensive to you :-)

    I do agree with you though. Even if they are selling, it doesn't necessarily make them a good buy, either generally, or specifically, for us. Bottom line is that we want to get a townhouse (or similar) in order to get some business plans off the ground. We can buy, but everywhere we've looked, prices seem expensive. We could rent, and that's lower risk, but if our business efforts are successful, then sooner or later we'll need to buy, and prices seem to me to be spiralling upwards in Chiang Mai, with no signs of slowing any time soon that I can see. Forgetting about whether our business efforts are successful or not, property here seems to me to be a decent investment for the average person. We purchased a townhouse 4 years ago for 1.2m baht and sold this year for 2.3m baht. Even when fees and taxes are deducted, that's still a much better return than any bank is going to offer, isn't it? I'm no businessman, but if you're going to put money somewhere, then property seems a good bet...unless the market is in a bubble and you buy at the wrong time...famous last words, eh? :-)

    If we take the issue of price out of the equation for the moment (even though I accept it's a valid discussion point), then I feel like I'm faced with two main issues:

    1. To buy or to rent?
    2. To buy "off a plan" or to wait (and risk missing opportunities)?


    Perhaps we should rent. My wife can pursue her business interests while I try emulating some of Dr.A's savvy property development ;-)

  14. #14
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    Hi Pnball,
    Why not buy land yourself and using the TD forums "build yourself" through these pages find a builder at the right price to do the build of "your" dreams.
    Either way you have got to wait for the build ? might as well be in control.
    Take time to read through these build forums for some excellent insight. Dr.A has done some wonderful builds and could give you some outstanding advice plus others "rickschoppers" etc.etc.

    Too old to Rock 'N' Roll :

    Too young to Die !

  15. #15
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    Just beware mate its dangerous out there !

    I know its not your area but some guys down in Hua hin way got into all sorts of trouble ( serious ) trouble buying off plan ,, there are some dodgy barstewards about for sure .

    If building your own is an option I would go for it , if not renovate something established
    I'm proud of my 38" waist , also proud I have never done drugs

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dead Metal View Post
    Hi Pnball,
    Why not buy land yourself and using the TD forums "build yourself" through these pages find a builder at the right price to do the build of "your" dreams.
    Either way you have got to wait for the build ? might as well be in control.
    Take time to read through these build forums for some excellent insight. Dr.A has done some wonderful builds and could give you some outstanding advice plus others "rickschoppers" etc.etc.
    Hi DM - yes, it's a good suggestion, thanks. We're keeping an eye out for suitable land, but in the locations we're interested in, so far the plots which have come up for sale are way too big and therefore too expensive for us. Also, whilst we'd get control over the build and have a much better chance of getting exactly what we need, the "self-build-on-a-smaller-lot" approach misses out on some key advantages which these "mini-complexes" (of 20 or 30 townhouses) offer. For example, at the place we're looking at there's already a Tesco-Lotus Express signed-up, a dentist, some tutoring places etc. You know the kind of thing. These businesses all attract people, i.e. potential customers, and there's some additional parking (not as much as I'd like, but...). It's really difficult to find an affordable plot of land that comes with these benefits as part of the "package".

    I'm not knocking your suggestion though. Equally, I know it's just not possible to "have it all" - each approach has it's pro's and con's and I'm trying to make sure I look at all the options before making a commitment.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dead Metal
    Why not buy land yourself
    Quote Originally Posted by pinballki
    it's a good suggestion
    : : : Krungsri Property : : :

    You can thank me later

  18. #18
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    From what I see the decision has all ready been made as all the comments have politely been shot down.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by BKKBILL View Post
    From what I see the decision has all ready been made as all the comments have politely been shot down.
    Far from it. I've really appreciated all the constructive comments, ideas and suggestions, all of which I've taken on board. We're looking closer at the land options and also broadening our search for more attractively priced property and in different locations. Thanks again everyone for taking the time to comment. Much appreciated.

  20. #20
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    I appreciate that, with the basic structure you have outlined, there will be 'potential customers', but I suspect that you will go through a lot of stress before you see any return on the 'buy off plan'. Sometimes, oppertunities present themselves when you least expect them.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by 9999 View Post
    That does sound expensive.

    Something to be aware of with these town house estates is that if not maintained, they can go to the shit pretty quickly.
    We bought a townhouse in Pattaya a few years ago and can confirm what you say. Every single one of them in the area look like hell now, and they are only a few years old. And not just our strip, all the new ones in the surrounding areas too.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dino View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by 9999 View Post
    That does sound expensive.

    Something to be aware of with these town house estates is that if not maintained, they can go to the shit pretty quickly.
    We bought a townhouse in Pattaya a few years ago and can confirm what you say. Every single one of them in the area look like hell now, and they are only a few years old. And not just our strip, all the new ones in the surrounding areas too.
    Even if you maintain your own house, if your neighbors don't do the same the price of your house will drop very quickly.

    My teacher at uni used to say (translated to English by me): "a shed uptown is way more expensive than a villa in a slum".

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrAndy View Post
    Meechok is not exactly a central location so I am surprised the townhouses are so expensive
    Well, some say that the Meechoke area will be the new Nimmanhaemin... Of course many of those saying that are people buying/selling/investing in the Meechoke area.

    IMHO the price is ludicrous. We're talking TOWNhouse right, not SHOPhouse directly on a road or major soi? So all you're talking about is 20 sq wa (value of about 300,000, or 360,000 if I'm extremely generous) and then the cost of building a townhouse.. okay it's a tall one, but I can't see that costing more than 1.5-2 million no matter what grade.

    So in summary: the seller is raking it in.

    You can buy a 3 story shophouse near major intersections of the Middle Ring for less.

    I would look at existing properties and/or empty land. For that kind of money you can be a lot closer into town. We bought a townhouse that sits on 30 sq wa, in town (near the Iron Bridge), for a 1.6 mil. Yes it's old, and only 2 floors. But it's the land price that's the major driver here, not so much what gets built on top.
    Last edited by WhiteLotusLane; 27-06-2013 at 11:43 PM.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by WhiteLotusLane
    I would look at existing properties and/or empty land. For that kind of money you can be a lot closer into town. We bought a townhouse that sits on 30 sq wa, in town (near the Iron Bridge), for a 1.6 mil. Yes it's old, and only 2 floors. But it's the land price that's the major driver here, not so much what gets built on top.
    Now that's a damn good sudjestion and a good way to get a leg-up on the property ladder, without too much pain or financial outlay..

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by WhiteLotusLane
    I would look at existing properties and/or empty land. For that kind of money you can be a lot closer into town. We bought a townhouse that sits on 30 sq wa, in town (near the Iron Bridge), for a 1.6 mil. Yes it's old, and only 2 floors. But it's the land price that's the major driver here, not so much what gets built on top.
    An excellent sudjestion and a quick and easy way to get a foot on the property market, IMHO.

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