Chinese agencies devouring Chiang Mai property market: association
Property agents warn that an increasing number of Chinese nationals are buying houses in Chiang Mai via Chinese agencies opened using Thai nominees.
The Real Estate Trade Association of Chiang Mai Northern said on Thursday that around 1,000 houses worth over 3 million baht in Chiang Mai are now owned by Chinese nationals, with total value of at least 5 billion baht.
“Chinese have been buying real estate in Chiang Mai for more than a decade,” said association president Non Hirunchetskul.
“Popular methods include buying via online Chinese brokers, or Chinese-run Thai agencies investing over 40 million baht and thereby receiving privileges, or by marrying Thai nationals.”
In a worrying new trend, Chinese investment groups registered with Thai nominees are buying properties in housing projects in bulk and then selling them to Chinese nationals for profit, Non said.
“These companies are 100% Chinese-owned. And since the transactions are done online or in China, they do not generate any income for the Thai government.”
According to the association’s latest survey, housing projects popular among Chinese buyers are in Hang Dong, San Kamphaeng, San Sai, and Mae Rim districts, while condominium units in downtown areas are also highly desirable among Chinese buyers.
Non urged the government to investigate real estate investments for legality and place limits on how much property these companies can own.
“Without any intervention, all properties in Chiang Mai, large or small, will eventually be bought up by foreign investors. Thais might have to rent property from foreigners to live in their own country.”
Hotels and restaurants, too
Chiang Mai hospitality operators have warned of a similar problem in their industry.
Weerawit Saengjak, a representative of small hotel operators in Muang district, added that over 100 small and medium-sized hotels and restaurants in Chiang Mai tourist neighborhoods are now owned by Chinese nationals.
These neighborhoods include Tha Phae and Loi Kroh roads, Som Phet, and Chang Phueak, he said, adding that the properties had been bought via Thai nominees of Chinese companies.
“These companies are investing more than a billion baht to buy and renovate hotels and restaurants in Chiang Mai. The trend is growing and there will be more businesses being sold to foreigners unless we have more effective anti-nominee measures,” he added.