TUESDAY, April 16, 2024

Wealthy Myanmar citizens buy Thai property to seek refuge from civil war

Wealthy Myanmar citizens buy Thai property to seek refuge from civil war

With Myanmar mired in civil unrest, many wealthy citizens are rushing to buy flats in Thailand, so they have somewhere to take refuge.

Wichai Wiratkapan, the ombudsman of the Government Housing Bank and caretaker of the Real Estate Information Centre (REIC), said there has been a significant surge in properties purchased by Myanmar nationals.

Thailand often serves as a transitional point for many Myanmar citizens before they seek residency in a third country. The kingdom’s real-estate market also offers sound investment opportunities.
According to Wichai, most Myanmar nationals lean towards larger, upscale properties, particularly flats sized 50 square metres and above.

“It’s evident that Myanmar citizens have increasingly been buying real estate in Thailand, especially condominiums, over the past two years,” he said. “In 2021, Myanmar did not rank among the top 10 countries buying real estate in Thailand. This change reflects the instability in Myanmar, which is also harming its economy.”

Statistics reveal a significant uptick in purchases by Myanmar nationals, with 564 units worth 3.71 billion baht acquired in 2023. This represents a significant increase from 2022 when 349 units were purchased, and even more so from 2021 when only 30 units were purchased.

This surge in investment can partly be attributed to the practice of sending children to study in Thailand. Should the civil war in Myanmar persist, more of its nationals will likely seek refuge in Thailand.

Statistics show that Myanmar nationals have become the third biggest buyers of property in Thailand since 2022, surpassing both Chinese and Russians. Notably, the average price per unit for Myanmar homebuyers stands at 6.5 million baht, again outpacing both Chinese and Russian buyers.

Karlo Pobre, deputy general manager and project development consultant for Colliers Thailand, said Bangkok, Phuket and Chiang Mai were the key locations witnessing this demand surge.

In Bangkok, Myanmar nationals tend to favour luxury condos priced at 10-20 million baht in prime areas like Sukhumvit, Phrom Phong and Asoke, or near hospitals, international schools, shopping malls or hotels.

Those in the mid-range segment prefer flats priced 5-10 million baht that are close to BTS stations. Most of the flats in this segment are located in the Ari and Phya Thai areas.

In Phuket, the focus shifts to “pool villas” with a price tag of 40 million baht and above. This preference is driven by the fact that individuals in this group are big businessmen and seek private, high-end accommodation options.

Meanwhile, in Chiang Mai, the interest lies in single-family homes priced between 20 and 30 million baht, particularly favoured by retirees and families seeking tranquillity outside the city centre.