Property Watch: Impact of weather on the property market

PHUKET: A lot is said about the negatives and positives of the business and economics of the Phuket property market, but it seems that less is said about the realities of the weather here on our green and often wet island, and how that impacts on property.

What is said is often encapsulated in a sugar-coated cloud of positivity – I recall the time there was a campaign within the property market among agents and the like to rename ‘Monsoon Season/Wet Season’ as the ‘Green Season’. This, like the drooping electric cables scattered between various concrete pillars, didn’t really hold up to the test of time.

Before I launch into a property weather analysis, I would like to say that one of the reasons I moved to Thailand was for the tropical climate. I can further confirm that I didn’t really know what tropical meant until I experienced its fluctuations year in and year out.

One of the main aspects of the weather system here means that new property looks great in high season, but if it isn’t maintained it can quickly look like old property. This effectively means that asset management of an estate and maintenance of a property is very important and therefore buying a property can and should involve looking closely at the management plan.

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There is a premium for property which faces the sea or is anywhere near a piece of sand and a glimpse of the sea is involved. The premium doesn’t just involve the premium for the view, it involves having to re-sand, re-paint and recalibrate sun-warped sliding doors, replacing balcony wood and constantly redesigning overhead shade that perhaps the architect didn’t think looked cool in the promotional 3D renderings but your family might appreciate as a respite when they visit.

Aside from the effect of salt and sun, there are quite wide ranging effects from water. It never ceases to amaze me, or the web forum trolls, that there appears to be great surprise expressed each year about the sheer volume of rainfall and that the rainfall is at its most intense for an average of 8 months out of the year.

The fact of the rainfall means that many houses without guttering will need it to prevent damage to their walls and structure. Further, the rain causes that freshly poured and oh-so-popular sandwash to become slimy and brown, unless you treat said sandwash with many chemicals and also employ your own jetwash or outsourced jetwashers to intervene.

The rain also causes legal disputes, fortunately or unfortunately depending on what business you are in. Seemingly unknown to many property developers and land owners, there is a provision in the civil and commercial code of Thailand which addresses this. The second part of section 1340 reads “…if any damage is suffered by reason of such artificial drainage [being from higher land] the owners of the land may, without prejudice to any claim for compensation, require the owner of the higher land, at the owner’s expense, make drainage through lower land to a public waterway or drain.”

There are, conveniently, some Supreme Court cases that support this principle, I am reliably informed.

So, as you watch the raindrops fall on the uneven road surfaces of our developing highways, consider for a moment the impact this water has on the property market here in Phuket and how it could affect your investment and expenses here. If you are busy drafting up a brochure describing the seasons, or reading such a brochure thinking about your ‘usage rights’, consider for a moment, how many times during the ‘green season’ the swimming pool will be used by you and how many times it will need to be cleaned. Consider how many times you might not be able to go to the beach in an eight-month rainy period, and how many times the roads and underpasses will flood, albeit temporarily.

If you are a contractor about to tell your employer that you will ‘finish in 3 months, no problem’, don’t forget – it will rain, your workers will get wet, your materials will get wet and so on. And if you are planning on laying any electric cables – they may get wet too.

Be under no doubt – Phuket is a green island, and still beautiful in my opinion, but it is also undoubtedly very wet.

Desmond Hughes has been an owner and operator of his law firm in Thailand for 14 years, and is a Senior Partner at Hughes Krupica law firm

— Desmond Hughes


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