There are 52 kilometers between the resort towns of Cha Am in Phetchaburi Province and Pranburi in Prachuap Khiri Khan Province, with the holiday town of Hua Hin nestled between them. This idyllic stretch of coastline seems a world away from the chaos and concrete of the cities.
The region is known for Thailand’s old rural charm and beauty, along the Eastern fringe with its unbroken sandy beaches. This is an area of unspoilt beauty that has, for many years, been popular with Thai holiday makers.
What Can Hua Hin Offer You?
Hua Hin grew from a fishing village into a tourist destination in the 1920s after the royal family chose the area as their family holiday destination, and built the first of many summer residences there. As the years passed, property development to satisfy the summer influx of tourists sadly followed the norm.
In the early years of this property boom, some properties of questionable quality were built, many of which have already been razed, and their sites used for the construction of new buildings. To the detriment of the area, high-rise condos normally seen in the cities have sprung up around the town. Fortunately, now the developers are keener to build low rise, esthetically pleasing, quality condos and houses.
Leisure activities now also play a greater role in the thinking of the planners. Hua Hin’s natural beauty is now exploited for the good. There are water parks, themed retail and leisure sites, and Hua Hin now has the greatest density of international grade golf courses anywhere in Thailand.
What Does Cha Am Have to Offer Me?
Another former fishing village, Cha Am has natural beauty in abundance. It is blessed with forest parks, caves and waterfalls, royal palaces, and temples. There is Santorini Park, a Greek-themed picturesque attraction with shops, restaurants and an amusement park. Although the park is expansive its location doesn’t impose on Cha Am’s unspoilt beauty or beachfront.
Is Pranburi a Good Location for My Investment?
In exploring Pranburi we found it to be the most unspoilt town along this part of the coast. We soon found that a peaceful existence is the order of the day there. The beaches are naturally beautiful, and are serviced by a handful of family orientated hotels.
Pranburi is certainly in the spotlight of the buy-to-let property developers who aim to create a peaceful standard of living with quality condos and houses. With easy access to other regional attractions, Pranburi is an extremely desirable location for any investor looking for the ideal buy-to-let property.
You Will Find Good and Improving Transport Links
After the announcement last year of the launch of the Tourism Development Plan, this area looks to have an exciting outlook throughout 2020. Part of this plan is to improve the transport connections to the area.
With driving distances from Bangkok to Cha Am, Hua Hin, and Phetchaburi of 176 KM, 211 KM, and 230 KM respectively, Thais see the area as an easily accessed holiday destination. Driving to the region you will exit Bangkok via expressway number 35 and then go south on expressway number 4, which goes directly through Phetchaburi and Pratchuap Khiri Khan provinces. The three destinations have also been well serviced for many years by buses and vans traveling daily to the area.
Hua Hin airport has, for a long time, had domestic connections to most cities in Thailand. It is also geographically convenient for visitors traveling to Cha Am and Pranburi. More recently, Air Asia started the first international flights between Hua Hin airport and Kuala Lumpur. The area is already showing signs of an increase in business and tourist traffic, not only from Malaysia, but also from Singapore, with travelers using Kuala Lumpur as a transit conduit to Thailand.
The existing rail link from Bangkok to Cha Am takes 3 hours 50 minutes; to Hua Hin it is 4 hours. To Pranburi the duration is 4 hours 25 minutes; visitors can then take a 7-minute taxi ride to the town.
In addition to the existing transport links, there are plans for a high-speed rail link from Bangkok to service the eastern coast of the Gulf of Thailand, although, as yet, no traveling times have been published. The coastal area of Phetchaburi Province has also become more easily accessible with the new Soi 112 road link to expressway number 4.
Is the Current Outlook Positive for My Investment?
In our own numerous travels along the coast, we are immediately struck by the diversity of the area, compared to the excessive density and pace of the formally traditional resort areas frequented by foreign tourists.
The three resort locations in our focus have long been popular holiday destinations for Thais looking for relaxation, recreation and relief from city drudgery. The current Thai generation enjoys greater affluence and mobility than previous generations.
Thai tourists are becoming more discerning in their expectations of their holiday, its location and the facilities. In addition to higher levels of expendable income and mobility, young professional Thais have grown up with a greater exposure to varied cultural ideals. All this has broadened their horizons, expectations, and desires.
It’s not just Thais; in more recent years the region has started to come to the attention of foreign holiday makers; increasing numbers have started to follow the Thai example. They are seeking locations away from the heady, neon throb of the major cities and traditional holiday hubs.
Property investors have not been slow in recognizing these shifting trends, and are now looking for new development opportunities away from the densely exploited property markets in the major cities.
Will Population Changes Affect My Investment?
Thailand’s population growth has been steadily declining over the last 10 years, with the growth for 2019 estimated to be 0.18%, and for the year 2020 Thailand is forecast to show zero population growth. Hua Hin, Cha-am and Pranburi are bucking this national trend with expected population growth for 2019 to be 4.53%, and as much as 5.3% for the year 2020.
This shows us that Hua Hin, Cha-am and Pranburi are enjoying migratory growth to the region. This growth, through population shift, is partially due to modern work practices in our digital, remote world. In many professions the necessity for personnel to be constantly “on site” has been vastly reduced. Many professionals now find it possible to conduct their work remotely from a more pleasing environment, whilst enjoying a better quality of life.
The region could attract 6 million tourists during 2020, all of which is good news for the local economy, but this influx of migrants and visitors needs to be accommodated. Thus, we see property developers acquiring prime sites to build quality buy-to-let properties that offer something extra; something that cannot be found in the cities.
House Vs. Condo in 2020
Anyone considering a buy-to-let property will need to decide between a house and a condo. The prospective buyer must consider whether they are intending to spend their own holiday time at the property. If they are, then their own personal requirements and desires will have a bearing on their choice of property. The final decision should be a meld, a balance between their own point of view and the type of renter they are hoping to attract.
Are Houses a Good Investment?
Dotted along the coast between Cha Am and Pranburi there are houses of all sizes and styles. Town houses, bungalows, beach front villas—this region has it all. We have seen houses for sale ranging from two to seven bedrooms.
As a rental property, houses attract professional Thai couples with—or who plan to have—a family. The year 2019 is already seeing a rise in interest in the area as an ideal location for a family; it is coastal, un-spoilt and has excellent international schools. House lets are also popular with foreign holiday makers who have families, particularly if the property has a pool and easy access to the beach.
There is one additional factor to bear in mind if you opt to invest in a house: maintenance. To maintain your property in good condition, further investment in both time and money is required. The building, gardens, (and pool if there is one) all require ongoing attention from the owner.
Is a Condo My Best Investment Option?
There are more condos than houses being built in the region, and there is going to be a vast choice for the prospective investor. Amongst smaller properties we have seen developments consisting of basic studio-style condominiums. At the opposite end of the market, we are aware of one project that has five-bedroom condos.
Condos have always been popular with single, professional Thais. They are convenient and low maintenance. Condos also tend to be the first choice for expats who are working, or retiring in Thailand, and they are also popular with solo holiday makers.
One of the attractions of investing in a condo is knowing that you don’t have to worry about investing time and money in ongoing upkeep and maintenance. You will pay a fixed monthly maintenance fee to the management company, which takes responsibility for the upkeep of all the communal areas and facilities. For the investor this makes good business sense, in terms of financial planning.
Whether the investor opts for a house or a condo, the outlook for the Hua Hin, Cha-am and Pranburi region is looking bright throughout 2020, and well beyond. Both capital gains and rental yields are expected to exceed the levels that will be obtained from similar investments in city locations such as Bangkok and Pattaya.
Accommodating the Future
Migration, tourism and property development have always gone hand in hand, each one feeds off the other. Many reputable real estate developers are acquiring sites in Hua Hin, Cha Am and Pranburi, predominately for mid-range and upper level buy-to-let property developments. The overall emphasis on new condo and house developments is on quality low rise properties, with greater sympathy for the existing aesthetics and infrastructure of the region.
It would seem that lessons have been learnt from the way in which other cities such as Bangkok and Pattaya have been indiscriminately developed to the point of exhaustion. It seems very likely that in the future these cities, and their investors, will pay an economic price for their past excesses.
From our research, under the Tourism Development Plan announced last year, the vision seems to be very clear. Against the backdrop of the plan, our impression is that the authorities of Hua Hin, Cha Am and Pranburi are keen to avoid the mistakes of the past—which continue to be made by other areas that have undergone major property redevelopment.
Our research also shows that the Tourism Development Plan is dictating strict regulatory restrictions for property developments in the region. Importantly, it is imposing restrictions which dictate the height of any new beachfront property development. The edict states that any beachfront property built within 200 meters of the high tide line cannot exceed 15 meters in height. Generally, this would mean a four-story building. Thus far, it would seem that this regulation is being adhered to.
What Will Be the Cost of My Investment?
It is the norm in Thailand for advertised properties to quote the selling price as the overall purchase cost of the property, and to equate the cost per square meter. We have always found this to be a useful piece of information.
In Hua Hin, currently, prices of condos typically range from 48,000 Baht to 65,000 Baht per square meter. The higher end is for beach front locations with excellent on-site facilities. Some town houses are on sale from 27,000 Baht per square meter; at the other end of the market a detached property close to the beach can cost up to 70,000 baht per square meter.
As a general rule, an investor can expect to pay a bit more in Cha Am, with higher end condos being priced at up to 110,000 Baht per square meter. Similarly, a detached villa can be priced up to 120,000 Baht. Obviously, these are quality beach front properties with good transport links and excellent on-site facilities. However, we have found two-bed condos with a sea view on sale for 42,000 Baht per square meter. Although that may seem to be the lowest end of the market, we did find a condo for sale at an incredible 19,000 Baht per square meter. We must stress that this condo was in an isolated area away from all amenities and with poor transport links.
Within the region, the Pranburi area is currently the most desirable location to make a property investment, and that is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. At the lower end, an investor can expect to pay around 57,000 baht per square meter for a condo, with houses starting at around 40,000 baht. We did come across a discounted property for 26,000 baht per square meter, but we believe this is an isolated example.
Investors with the most discerning desire for the perfect location, very best quality build and unsurpassed facilities, can expect to pay up to 120,000 Baht per square meter for both condos and houses.
Will I Be Able to Negotiate a Discount?
Prospective investors should do everything they can to maximize their potential to strike a good deal through negotiation. The basic rule is, the earlier you show interest in a new property development the better your negotiating position.
Once you have found a development that is of interest to you, act early. Agreeing the purchase of a condo or house off plan is financially better for you and for the developer. An early decision to purchase a property means you can expect a big discount.
Grand Marina in Pranburi is newly started project offering 30% discounts to investors buying early off plan. Investors taking advantage of this discount will very likely find that their property is well into capital gain by the time the development is completed and the property transfer has been undertaken.
To Sum It All up for You
Throughout our time researching the property market for 2020, our conclusions are very clear. We are convinced that the 52-kilometer stretch of coastal Thailand from Cha Am to Pranburi is going to become one of the most desirable (if not the most desirable) regions for property investment this year. Capital gains and rental yields are going to be very impressive.
We cast our thoughts back over all the developments we have checked in order to select the one single project that we believe stands out above all the others. We looked for a quality build, with excellent facilities and transport links. We also looked for that little something extra. We finally settled upon our top choice, a project that ticked all our boxes, plus a bit extra. So, what is that little something extra? Its own Marina with private waterway access to the sea. The Grand Marina Pranburi, we are convinced, will be the best investment of 2020.