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Friday, 13 February 2009

Rain, Valuation and Tourist Police in Koh Samui

Sometimes things get delayed - as is this Blog which should have gone out in December so please read it in that context!

I am not commenting on the present situation in Thailand as there is really not much more to say that cannot be read in the Newspapers and seen on the television and the situation is still fluid. It has obviously badly affected the tourist season and for those still brave enough I can see that there will be some cheap deals in the hotels over Christmas.
Well the rainy season has well and truly started and there has been plenty of rain during November. As expected all the usual places have flooded but there are some positive signs as well. Since the last major flooding here the Municipality has carried out several drainage improvement schemes and they appear to be working. It is doubtful that any drainage could have coped with the volume of water that fell on the island in such a short time but once the rain stopped many of the affected areas cleared very quickly. Emergency measures put in place on the prediction of heavy rains also worked. The flooding that normally occurs between the traffic lights at Bophut and the entrance to Fisherman’s Village has been noticeable by its absence due mainly to the huge pump in place on the corner. The road near Plai Laem Wat between the 7-11 on the Tong Sai Bay turn and Cheongmon which always floods used to take days to clear but now is gone within a few hours of the rain stopping. Bangrak as well with its new road and drainage system has coped well. There are still bad areas and the road just north of our office between the PTT station and the Laem Din turn still floods badly and takes time to dissipate as does the road through Laem Din which despite the new road and drainage there has been closed. We always expect rain at this time of the year and hopefully with it coming “on time” presages an end before the Peak Season over Christmas and the New Year.

The great issue to be faced by a valuer in these troubled economic times is justifying a valuation figure against actual sales in the market when such sales are few and far between. Only Thai qualified valuers can prepare valuation reports that can be used in the Thai Courts or by Thai banks. As a Chartered Surveyor in Thailand valuations I prepare are not acceptable to the Thai authorities. However, I can and have prepared valuations relevant to real estate here that are acceptable to the UK Courts. Justification of value in these instances is important and very relevant should there be a dispute between the parties in Court. I therefore have to be diligent in my research, logical in my reasoning and arrive at a valuation figure that is fair to both parties. I must therefore look at all the evidence available to me which includes asking prices, changes I am seeing in asking prices, land prices, building costs, etc. The Market Value of a property as defined by the International Valuation Standards Committee of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors is defined as follows:
‘The estimated amount for which a property should exchange on the date of valuation between a willing buyer and a willing seller in an arm’s-length transaction after proper marketing wherein the parties had each acted knowledgeably, prudently and without compulsion.’ How do you proceed if there are no willing buyers at the valuation date? This does not mean that the property has no value as it obviously has a value to the present owner and there would be a figure at which that person would no longer be a willing seller. So it is a bit of a conundrum. In the final analysis I have to form an opinion and make a judgement and provided the basis upon which I arrived at that judgement is clear, logical and fair I can do more.

There is an article below announcing details of the new Samui Tourist Police location between BigC and Samui Town Centre. The Tourist Police come under a great deal of criticism mainly for not being available or easily contactable when they are needed. This was certainly partly due to the main office being in Nathon with a small portacabin office behind McDonalds on the Lake Road and also because the national contact number of 1155 does not work on Samui. At a meeting a few months ago which I attended they were well aware of the complaints and were working to resolve them and hopefully this move to a new location more accessible to the majority of tourists will do that. The other point that was made at the meeting was that the Tourist Police are not just there for the tourists but are available to assist all expatriates on the island including long term residents and can act as an interface between the local police and the foreigner. Certainly the Tourist Police officers will have a better command of English although not fluent by any means. This is where the Local Civilian Volunteers come in who hail from various different countries and have a good range of languages between them. Sadly there is inevitably a section of the community who see the volunteers as “wannabe cops” strutting round in uniform. I know a number of these volunteers and this is not the case. The uniform is necessary so that they are identifiable and they do carry identification to confirm their legitimacy. If they did not you can guarantee they would be accused of being “undercover snoops” for the Police. That is not their job and they are aware of it. Some are retired residents on the island and some business people who give up a few hours a week to give something back to the island. They do not have any powers of arrest nor are they armed as some people seem to think. They are there as an interface and from what I have seen do a good job. Tourist Police Contact Number: 077 43 00 18

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