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Average price of houses at four-year low
Developers shift to low-priced units
KANANA KATHARANGSIPORN
Bangkokpost, Friday April 20, 2007

The average housing price in Greater Bangkok declined to 2.14 million baht a unit as of the end of the first quarter _ the lowest since 2003 _ because most developers are shifting to the lower-end market, according to the property consulting firm Agency for Real Estate Affairs (AREA). ''It [average unit price] reflected the unfavourable market as most newly launched units were in the lower-priced segment. Low prices are affordable for both lower-income earners and speculators,'' AREA managing director Sopon Pornchokchai said yesterday.

In the first quarter of the year, the number of newly launched projects in Greater Bangkok totalled 82 with 16,644 units worth a combined 38.28 billion baht, with an average price of 2.3 million baht.

Of the 82 projects, 77 were housing developments, decreasing by 17% from the same period last year. Total housing units were 16,419, up 12%.

The total housing value was 35.14 billion baht with an average price of 2.14 million baht, down by 9% and 19% respectively from the same period last year.

The average housing price was 2.83 million baht in 2006 and 3.086 million in 2005, according to the company's earlier surveys.

AREA forecast the total number of newly launched projects in 2007 would be 308, down by 16% from last year, with the total value declining 25% to 140.56 billion baht. However, the total number of units would be 65,676, down only 1%, reflecting the shift to lower-priced housing.

Among the total new launches of housing units, two-thirds were condominiums. Units priced lower than two million baht totalled 8,195, or half of the total units launched.

Meanwhile, 2,724 townhouses were launched in the first quarter, accounting for 17%, while single houses totalled 1,379 units, only 8%.

''Most of the units were condominiums, showing significant speculation. Condos are the most suitable for speculation as maintenance costs and depreciation are lower than other housing types,'' Mr Sopon said.

He added that sales of newly launched condominiums in the first quarter grew by 241% year-on-year while those of single houses and townhouses dropped by 86% and 25% respectively.

The AREA survey also showed the lower purchasing power of consumers as more than half of the units were priced between 500,000 and two million baht a unit.

The largest proportion came from condominiums priced at 1-2 million baht with 4,989 units, followed by condominiums priced from 500,000 to one million baht with 3,206 units, and townhouses priced at one to two million baht with 1,033 units.

''The launch of condominiums priced lower than one million baht to more than five million baht continued increasing while others did not,'' Mr Sopon said.

''This situation showed an oversupply trend in the condominium market remained. If there is an economic crisis, the property market may crash.''

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