The past decade, and particularly the past few years, in the Eastern Seaboard Property market has been in a word, “dynamic”. Trends come and go, but it’s those that persevere that are important.
Locals Holding their Own
Reputable and increasingly experienced local developers like Nova Group, Matrix, Heights Holdings, Tulip Group, and new-kid-on-the-block Kingdom Property have taken their lumps and come out the other side much wiser and more versatile.
They continue to offer innovative new products to an ever more demanding market. Pattaya must be the capital of “lagoon-style” swimming pools. The number of new launch parties is now rivaled by the number of title transfer celebrations. Projects launched, built, and delivered are now the order of the day in Pattaya.
A few less experienced and thinly financed local players have met with adversity, unexpected market shifts, and stiff competition. Some have scrambled to reorganize and retool. But gone are the days of flat-out failures and bloodlettings so prevalent in the late ’90s. Project busts have been replaced by buyouts and consolidations. No investors are losing their money, and in fact, some have actually benefitted from changing leadership and capital gains
Big Boys Coming to Town
Traditionally, the Chonburi Coast’s property market has been the exclusive workshop of these foreign-owned and run local developers. For whatever reason, big listed Thai firms had shied away from the Pattaya market with only a handful of projects popping up along the shoreline..
Nowadays I sport a satisfied smile when I see the recent trend of publicly listed Thai mega-developers showing up here in Fun City. It gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling to know they are just finding out what we Pattayans have known for years … the Chonburi Coast is the place to be. The Bangkok Big Boys like Raimon Land, Sansiri, Q-House, Major Development, and LPN are “Johnny-come-lately” to this party, but coming they are … and in full force.
The arrival of these property giants also reinforces the confidence of local players when we know legions of market researchers have all concluded we are in the right place at the right time. None of these big developers wants to wake up in the morning with a mob of angry shareholders carrying torches in their lobby. The research has been done and confidence is displayed with big red construction cranes filling the blue skies over Pattaya. It is very satisfying indeed to see well-financed, SET-listed experienced property developers sinking their teeth into a big tasty piece of the Pattaya property pie
The arrival of the Bangkok Big Boys is accompanied by another continuing trend here in Pattaya, the weekenders. Anyone who lives from Naklua down to Bang Sare knows what I’m talking about. The traffic starts to swell on Friday afternoon, jamming all major thoroughfares for a 48 hour period, only to subside late Sunday afternoon. The weekly Bangkokian invasion has become a ritual.
This phenomenon started shortly after the floods a couple of years ago. Bangkok residents fled south to escape the rising waters and discovered that little sister had grown up. If you want to see evidence of this, go to The Glass House restaurant early on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. What you’ll see is table after table chockfull of thirty-something BMW-driving Bangkokians enjoying seafood and sunshine.
As population density rises and frenetic business activity intensifies, Bangkokians wait with great anticipation for Friday so they can escape the concrete beehive. Anyone who has made the 90-minute trip knows that feeling … as soon as you see that Pattaya skyline … blood pressure decreases … heart rate slows … teeth unclench … ahhh Pattaya; escape at last!
A Tree with More than One Branch
But Pattaya has become more than just a waterfront enclave for European snowbirds or harried Bangkok office workers; growth is rampant in several other market sectors. The burgeoning industrial estates to the north and east of Pattaya have insured hundreds of families are pouring into the province, all in search of family-style housing for purchase or rent. Occupancy and rental yields for investors remain high as housing supplies race to catch up with demand. Several award-winning estates have completed recently and more are on the way to fill the void. When East Pattaya lands a major multi-purpose shopping complex this residential side of town will take on an independent life of its own. A Central Mall-type facility on Sukhumvit Road would certainly do the trick.
And, as one local journalist pointed out in his series of articles, “Goin’ South”, the communities of Na Jomtien and beyond are the new darlings of all the developers. A simple drive down the extreme south end of Jomtien Second Road will shock and amaze anyone who hasn’t been there in the last six months. Epics skyscrapers and resort complexes appear as if by magic. All the way down to the sleepy fishing villages of Ban Amphur and Bang Sare, skylines are changing. Concrete truly never sleeps here on The Chonburi Coast.
New Red Light District
Unfortunately, the rapid expansion on the Chonburi Coast has uncovered some pretty serious shortcomings in local infrastructure. After suffering years of construction on Thappraya Road in Jomtien, the six-lane finished product immediately became full of vehicles pouring in and applying their brakes as there were just too many cars. The long-awaited Jomtien Second Road was completed and instantly generated traffic lights and traffic jams. The widening of Pattaya Beach Road has meant we now have three lanes of bumper-to-bumper traffic instead of two. New roads fill up with cars, motorbikes, and buses as soon as the last patch of asphalt dries. It seems we just can’t seem to catch up with our popularity.
All manner of new infrastructure projects is on the drawing board like high-speed rail and airport links. We’ll just have to do what we always do here in Pattaya; wait and see … and take advantage of them when they come.
Tell any social scientist or city planner about our infrastructure woes and they will grin and say, “That’s the price you pay for growth”. If we didn’t have these kinds of problems, we’d know we had stopped growing. The silver lining to the infrastructure cloud is … the “build it and they will come” philosophy is still working splendidly.
Urban sprawl, changing skylines, and straining infrastructure; sounds like a real city doesn’t it? If I had but one message to convey about Pattaya over the past decade it would be just that; Pattaya has transformed from a boozy little beach town into a legitimate seaside resort. We’ve built it and they are still coming.
Cees “KC” Cuijpers – Serial Entrepreneur based in Pattaya since 1997
Author: Mr. KC Cuijpers
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