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Monday, 8 November 2010

Ko Samui Properties Newsletter - July 2010

Better late than never!

The question I am continually asked is “How is the market and what is going on?” and sometimes that can be a difficult one to answer. There is no real consistency. The market is not dead but then it is not bubbling with life either. We continue to receive enquiries from interested buyers but their expectations have changed. I have been beating the drum over recent months in this Newsletter about how prices have fallen to the extent that most people are bored with it, but it is a fact that must be accepted if anyone wants to sell in this market. Buyers in particular are very aware of this fact and only looking at what can now be considered as “good value”. And that is an interesting point. In order to sell within a short period of time over the last few months, it has really been about “what is the lowest figure you can afford to accept” rather than “what is the value of my property”. There does now seem to be at least a plateau at which “values” have stabilized which suggests we may be at the bottom with regard to the change in prices. However, please note “maybe”. How long that will last and which way it will go is of course the million dollar question. The two factors relevant to that are of course the political situation in Thailand and the world economic situation.

Whilst on the surface all seems quiet here I do not think we have heard the last of the red shirt protestors but what form their next action will take is unclear. How the Prime Minister handles the situation over the next few months and if Thailand can get to the next General Election without further damaging demonstrations and violence remains open to question. This uncertainty alone I believe will delay any recovery in the real estate market even if by some miracle the international economy sorts itself out.

The last weekend in June brought another speedboat accident carrying people to the Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan. At the time of writing there were no fatalities reported although about 40 people were injured, some quite seriously. It was a very stormy night, but as is often the case here, rain and storms can be very localized and it would seem this particular squall came through quite quickly. As usual there are conflicting reports as to what happened but even in good weather the seas between the islands, once you get clear of the headland, can get very rough. I have a fairly good back ground in sailing over the last forty or so years, and I have sailed down the east coast of Koh Phangan at dusk and into Big Buddha Bay as it became dark and there is clearly a need for better navigation lights in that area, particularly with buoys – of course of which there are none. Local knowledge is one thing, but in the dark, with rain and heavy seas, anyone can become disorientated. It would also appear that whilst the Marine Police had things under control at the Samui end, there was no one overseeing the Koh Phangan end and who could perhaps have prevented the boat leaving until the squall had passed. Health and Safety in Thailand is sadly lacking in every aspect of life. I see it every day on the roads and there is not a construction site in Thailand that would not be closed down by a UK Factory Inspector before he had even walked on site. I know from personal experience that trying to police these issues here is virtually impossible. We have managed to get construction staff to wear safety helmets but safety footwear – forget it. Equally we do not want the extremes of ‘elfinsafety prevalent in the UK in particular where jobsworth H&E Inspectors tell people they cannot climb a ladder to change a light bulb without a risk assessment analysis. There are many more ludicrous examples but some where there needs to be a reasonable compromise. I suspect that may be found in Thailand way before the UK. Or perhaps not.

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