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Opinion: Real estate xenophobia

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: While some Thais are jittery about foreigners buying Thai real estate, particularly land in some form or another, they should remember that they themselves can buy real estate in most western countries, with the rationale being that one can never bring that piece of real estate back to one’s home country.

It is also pertinent to remember that Thai economic growth is sliding,with the Central Bank recently trimming its gross domestic product growth projection for this year to 3 per cent, from 3.8 per cent.

What Baron Rothschild said in the 18th century, ‘the time to buy is when there is blood in the streets’, applies today to China, where punters anxiously watched the Shanghai Composite Index plunge all of 13.4 per cent in July despite government measures to support it.

It is far from surprising that Chinese investors are now searching for safe-haven assets, particularly real estate, in key markets because of the low risk and often good returns one can get from a well chosen property.

This is underscored by a recent CNBC report saying that the Chinese are now the biggest foreign buyers of American real estate, having poured in US$28.6 billion in the past year – more than double the amount invested by Canadians who rank a step below.

A firm bridge from this island to China is already being built, with Charn Issara Development Plc leading the way after launching the 42-rai Baba Beach Club development on Phang Nga’s Na Tai beach, together with its Chinese partner Junfa Real Estate Company, with more Thai-Chinese partnerships surely to follow.

What the sagacious among us hope for, is that the island continues to further develop into a truly cosmopolitan-resort center with room for all nationalities to live in harmony.

However,’harmony’ is the key word. If some locals or foreigners who have invested here suffer financially in one way or another, they will get desperate, and in that desperation may turn to crime and vice, which will ruin Phuket’s future.

As property is most people’s key investment, the more investors who come in and strengthen the market while not building up the much-feared bubble, the better. It would go a long way toward ensuring a rosy future for all of us.

— Nina Suebsukcharoen

 

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