QUESTION & ANSWER
PROS AND CONS OF STAYING IN BANGKOK CBD
Q : I am a Singaporean and I am thinking of buying a condo around Wireless Road or somewhere in the CBD as my second home. What are the pros and cons? Facilities that I must have include a swimming pool, gym, proximity to the BTS skytrain and MRT, as well as the right to rear a small dog. Also, first rate security system and at least one car park. A duplex would be preferable too. Could you recommend me some condos – both new and sub-sale? Would appreciate the price range, area, and why you think the particular unit is suitable for me and my wife. My budget is Baht 30 mil.
PL : The biggest pro to buying in Bangkok is the amazing living experience the city has to offer, from a vast array of shopping, dining and leisure options to a vibrant social and cultural scene. Being the capital, the city is extremely cosmopolitan and it offers a good getaway experience.
On top of this, buying in Bangkok’s CBD has numerous advantages from an investment perspective, most notably its potential capital appreciation. Land plots for new developments are becoming extremely rare and the ones that are available are increasingly expensive, therefore this makes current launches and existing condos in an area increasingly valuable; this is inevitably putting upward pressure on prices. On top of this, Bangkok is a cosmopolitan city and it benefits from a stable rental market (short and long-term).
The biggest con on a lifestyle level is that Bangkok is becoming extremely pricey and unfortunately space now comes at an expensive premium. In some areas of the CBD, prices above 200,000 THB per sqm are becoming a norm, therefore if you are looking for a “modern condo”, you may have to settle for a compact living area. Interestingly, some Condos completed in recent years, are not even offering 3-bed options. If you decide to have more space, you may consider “older condos”; however, if that is the case, it is important to conduct extensive due diligence and ensure you do not buy a value trap. Numerous old condos are deteriorating as a result of poor building management and/or poor construction and design.
In terms of recommendations of specific condos, ideally, I would need more information on the number of beds and size you require. Also, the CBD is quite extensive and there are many areas with distinctive character/feel you could consider. Most of my expertise lies in the Sukhumvit area of the CBD, and in this area you could consider numerous options such as Quattro by Sansiri, Millennium Residence and Aequa 49.
One thing I would not advise is “rearing a pet” in the city even a small dog, as Bangkok is surprisingly not very pet-friendly. Most condos prohibit owners from having animals in their condos, forcing numerous residents to sneak their beloved pets in handbags (if possible!). To make things worse, if you were to restrict your search to pet-friendly condos, that would reduce your options to only a handful of potential buildings.
Bangkok’s condo facilities standard is usually very good with most buildings in the CBD offering a pool, gym, 24-hr security and more. Numerous luxury developers of existing and off-plan condos go out of their way to create a 5-star living experience!
Pierre Leung is the Sales Manager of Fresh Property, a boutique property agency that specializes in Sales and Rental of Residential Property in the Sukhumvit Area of Bangkok. He can be contacted via www.freshbangkok.com or Pierre@freshbangkok.com
HOW TO RETIRE IN JAPAN
Q : I am thinking of retiring in Japan. How do I go about it? Is there a retirement visa for foreigners?
ZNM : Unfortunately, there is no specific visa for foreigners wishing to retire in Japan. The vast majority of foreigners who have retired here have done so via either a working/business visa, spouse visa (through marriage to a Japanese citizen or permanent resident), or long-term residency.
1. Work visa – generally speaking, the easiest visa to get, as all it requires is a job offer from a company willing to sponsor the applicant. The main drawback to this visa, however, is that it is only valid as long as the person is employed – not exactly conducive to retirement purposes.
2. Business visa – anyone who has approximately USD50,000 to invest in a Japanese business (the actual investment amount may be reduced based on the number of Japanese employees who will be hired by the business) can apply for and receive a business or investor’s visa – however, while certain areas may allow six temporary months for investors to set up their business operations first, before investing their funds and hiring staff – the general idea is that the money has to be invested, and the business operating, for this visa to remain valid.
3. Spouse visa – the requirements for this visa are the least stringent technically – however, the validity of this visa depends on the validity of the marriage (simple civil unions or de-facto relationships do not apply), and the termination of the marriage would usually lead to the termination of the visa as well.
All of the above visas, while essentially temporary in nature, can lead to a long-term visa which, over the course of the years, can lead to permanent residency and retirement. This is not a straightforward process, however – generally the pre-requisite is a reasonable minimum annual Japanese income obtained for six years (two consecutive three-year “long-term” visas), coupled with proven proficiency in written and spoken Japanese – after which the applicant may apply for permanent residency, which will enable him/her to retire in Japan regardless of employment, income and/or any family associations.
It is worth noting that, due to Japan’s rapidly shrinking population, it is widely believed that immigration reforms allowing for easier migration may be one of the country’s most pressing and necessary issues to tackle – however, at this point in time, these reforms have yet to take place.
Ziv Nakajima- Magen is Manager of Asia- Pacific, Nippon Tradings International (NTI), which specialises in assisting investors in capitalising on Japan’s vast property market. He can be contacted at: zmagen@ nippontradings.com or mobile +61 468 366 423
Q : I read that in March, Dubai developer, Limitless has begun work on a long-delayed USD550 million housing (340 villas and apartments) and tourism project in Halong Bay in north-east Vietnam. Are there other beach or island resorts that are being developed with the foreign investor in mind? In these areas, are there special rules to allow foreigners to own landed villas or shoplots?
AW :According to the geographic location of Vietnam, if you look at the shape of the country, it has a long coast line along the South China Sea. There are a whole plethora of beach and island resorts in Vietnam. In central Vietnam, Danang and Nha Trang are popular beach resorts with small offshore islands for tourism. In the South, we have the resort areas of Mui Ne and Vung Tau along the coast. At the southern-most tip of Vietnam is the rapidly developing tourist hotspot of Phu Quoc, an island located in the Gulf of Thailand.
With the boom in the second homes market and tourism in Vietnam, beach side and island locations have become very popular with real estate developers. The second homes market in Vietnam is usually targeted at the wealthy. Previously, such products were catered to the local market. However, with Vietnam’s acceptance into the World Trade Organisation, foreign developers have accessed the market and raised the bar on the quality of the products in line with international standards.
Most second homes developers have courted internationally renowned brands to manage their resort projects. Brands such as Hyatt and Intercontinental are brought on-board to provide their management expertise and high level of service.
Prior to the revision in the Law on Residential Housing that took effect on 1 July 2015, most second home developers have solicited foreign buyers through Long Term Lease Agreements. Now, foreign buyers can make investments directly via a Sale and Purchase Agreement. That said, in Vietnam there are no special rules to allow foreigners to own landed villas and shoplots in these areas; foreign ownership of all residential properties in Vietnam is subject to a single law.
Since the new law took effect, most developers have launched premium grade second homes products with foreign investors in mind. Since consumer consumption of second homes is limited to the wealthy locals, foreign investors present a new market that have the financial ability to invest in such product class. Foreign investors from a variety of countries have already shown great interest propelled by the growth in tourism. Sensing big opportunities in this segment, investments in the area are poised for a surge in 2016.
Aidan Wee is the Managing Director of Somot Realty and is a Licensed Property Salesperson (Accredited by the Council of Estate Agencies in Singapore). Browse www.Somot-vn.com, call (+65) 9345 8633 or email aidan.property@ outlook.com