We have written before on the inescapable reality that Phuket real estate is impacted by global phenomena such as geopolitics, financial markets, and currency fluctuations. And because more people today have the flexibility to choose where they work, the allure of choosing Phuket is easy to understand. It is no surprise that so many expatriates of all nationalities now call Phuket their home.
There are many reasons to be positive about the Phuket property market.
The ever-improving infrastructure on the island is making Phuket an attractive place to live and/or work. Whether digital nomads, families with children or those retiring on the island, the growing expatriate community is part of the reason that we have seen a flourishing economy. Plentiful international flight connections also make the island a convenient place for someone to base their family, while they work Monday through Friday in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia or China.
The increasing number of new international schools attests to the allure of Phuket for young families, but the ability to work remotely or operate a small business from home is not limited to those with children, and it is not even limited to foreigners. Many single digital nomads are also choosing Phuket, and there are, and will likely always be, affluent Thai nationals attracted to luxury property on Phuket Island.
Not only has there been a huge influx of foreigners deciding this is the place they would like to live, but the evidence that tourists are returning to Phuket is also everywhere: bodies strewn on beaches, bars and restaurants coming back to life, shopping centres are crowded, and traffic jams are once again a reality. The numbers have not yet reached 2019 levels – nor are they likely to this year – but there is a discernible difference in the quality of foreigners who are now coming to Phuket.
Tourists have always come to Phuket from all over the world, but which countries were sending the most people each year has always been a very fluid demographic. One thing that has been fairly consistent, however, is that most foreigners have come on vacation first, fallen in love with the island next, before then contemplating a life changing move to paradise.
It has always been the case that the more tourists we get, the greater the interest from non-residents to invest in a Phuket investment property focusing on holiday rentals. But for buyers who don’t want the hassle and wear and tear of short term holiday rentals, even long term rentals seem to currently be offering more than generous returns.
Prior to the pandemic, around 38 million tourists came to Thailand, and nearly one-third of them visited Phuket. While Covid clearly prevented tour groups from visiting, the lockdowns around the world did make people think about where they would like to live if they were ever confined to home again.
It is also worth mentioning again that the real estate market is almost exclusively cash only, with few, if any, competitive mortgage options for foreigners. This inevitably makes the real estate sector on the island far more stable, without the peak-trough, boom-bust scenarios associated with other property markets around the world. No borrowing means no mortgage payments, and no leverage, which protects the Phuket real estate market from rising interest rates, and greatly reduces the likelihood that owners will be forced to sell.
If the trends mentioned above continue for the foreseeable future, then the outlook for the Phuket real estate sector is extremely positive.
But what about any unforeseeable negatives? As mentioned in previous articles, Phuket real estate seems to ride on the back of tourism. So what might upend the tourism industry, not just in Thailand, but worldwide?
The two greatest and potentially most imminent threats to tourism are the ever-expanding global debt/increasing money supply, and the dire situation taking place in Eastern Europe, which could, of course, escalate further.
A new ‘Black Swan’ event could also be the next threat to the Phuket property market. Black swans are unpredictable, but their impact can be devastating. The Covid-19 pandemic was one such event, and even though we have been warned that another pandemic is possible, it would nevertheless arrive without warning.
Global food and energy shortages, financial market meltdown and hyper-inflation – any of these could happen, and some believe one or more of these are imminent, but all would catch the world unprepared regardless.
We have been cautioned for years that the USD will one day cease to be the word’s reserve currency, yet no one is truly prepared for it. Should that ever come to pass, the knock-on effects will be global, not limited to USD investors. People must understand the nature of a contagion: stock market collapses, bank failures, or a debt spiral would certainly have an effect on real estate values the world over.
To paint all of these negatives in a slightly more positive light, Phuket has suffered more Black Swans in the last 25 years than probably any tourist region in the world, and has always proven itself to be a resilient market. Phuket has weathered every storm the world has thrown at us, and has always bounced back stronger. Such is the allure of this amazing tropical island!!
by Thai Residential Phuket Property Guide
This article is from the Thai Residential Phuket Property Guide. To download the 2019/2020 Guide visit ThaiResidential.com