Today, the Bangkok Metropolitan Region (BMR) has 525,889 vacant housing units which are mostly sold but does not have any residents. This situation indicates a bad sign. Dr.Sopon Pornchokchai recommends reusing these vacant housing units to prevent economic loss.

Dr.Sopon Pornchokchai, President of research and property valuation center in Thailand, Agency for Real Estate Affairs (www.area.co.th), in the name of President, Thai Appraisal and Estate Agents Foundation was supported by Metropolitan Electricity Authority (MEA) to evaluate a number of vacant housing units. Vacant housing units (Every type of housing units) are housing units which use less electricity than 15 units per month which indicates that there is almost no use.

The number of vacant housing units is crucial for both the government and the private sector. The government needs to develop housing policies and development plans, while the Metropolitan Electricity Authority (MEA) needs to install electricity meters to match residential demands. Private sectors, especially real estate developers, need to avoid developing projects in the over-supply area as these vacant housing units might become competitors. Theses information is also crucial for financial institutes, investors, and home buyers.

The latest surveys found 525,889 empty housing units (including condominiums, detached houses, semi-detached houses, townhouses, and shophouses) in the Bangkok Metropolitan Region (BMR). There are 110,000-120,000 units of new housing developments every year in the BMR. It means that these vacant housing units could still be in the market even without any new developments for 4 and a half years. This number indicates that we have a significant amount of vacant housing units, although it does not signal great danger.

These 525,889 vacant housing units make 10.3% of the 5,097,815 total housing units in the BMR, which means that there is 1 vacant unit in every 10 housing units. This ratio was lower than the situation during the Tom Yam Goong crisis, 20 years ago. In 1995, Dr.Sopon Pornchochai founded 14.5% of vacant housing units from the total housing units in the market. Then in 1998, the ratio of vacant housing units reduced to 12.0% of the total housing units in the market.

9.2% of the total low-rise housing units are empty (there is 1 empty unit in every 11 low-rise housing units). While 13.9% of the total condominiums are empty (there is 1 empty unit in every 7 condominium units). As condominiums are mostly used for an investment purpose while low-rise housing units are mostly used for residential purpose. Investors should invest in condominium carefully during this situation.


Compare to other countries such as Japan, Tokyo has 11.3% of vacant housing units from the total housing units in the market. However, the whole country has 14.0% of vacant housing units from the total housing units in Japan. People in Japan, especially young people, migrate from rural areas to live in urban areas. As Japan is an aged society, there is less demand for homeownership. Moreover, the maintenance cost is considered high due to high wages. People prefer to build new houses instead of renovating old houses.

In Thailand, the areas with the highest percentage of vacant housing units are Nonthaburi, Bangna and Bang Yai which has the rate of vacant housing units as followed, 13.7%, 13.5%, and 12.6%, respectively. These areas are popular among migrants to buy houses and condominiums for an investment purpose. The areas with the lowest rate of vacant housing units are Bang Phli, Min Buri, and Lad Kra Bang which has the percentage of vacant housing units as followed, 8.4%, 8.8%, and 9%, respectively. As these areas are far from the city center, there are less housing developments than others.

The top 3 safe zones which have low rates of vacant housing units are as followed. No.1 is Bang Phli area which has a total of 198,272 housing units; 16,674 or 8% of them are empty, which means there is 1 empty unit in every 12 housing units. No.2 is Min Buri area which has a total of 226,940 housing units; 19,976 or 9% of them are empty, which means there is 1 empty unit in every 11 housing units. No.3 is Lat Krabang area which has a total of 156,375 housing units; 14,009 or 9% of them are empty, which means there is 1 empty unit in every 11 housing units.

The top 3 danger zones which have high rates of vacant housing units are as followed. No.1 is Nonthaburi area which has a total of 335,421 housing units; 45,848 or 14% of them are empty, which means there is 1 empty unit in every 7 housing units. No.2 is Bangna area which has a total of 231,192 housing units; 31,289 or 14% of them are empty, which means there is 1 empty unit in every 7 housing units. No.3 is Bang Yai area which has a total of 221,492 housing units; 28,016 or 13% of them are empty, which means there is 1 empty unit in every 8 housing units.

For more in-depth analysis, every price range of condominiums in Bang Yai, Bang Phli, Bangna, Min Buri, Bang Kapi, Nonthaburi, Bang Khen, Bang Bua Thong, and Khlong Toei are to be concerned. As the rate of vacant housing units in these areas are as high as 13.5% - 17.5% (there is 1 empty unit in every 6 condominium units). Theses vacant housing units could compete with new housing developments in the area, causing the housing prices to remain low. Investing in condominiums in these areas need good cautious.

Dr.Sopon Pornchokchai recommends the government to support second home sales for these vacant housing units, as followed.

  1. Organize home auctions under a market valuation to benefit everyone.

  2. Establish Vacant Housing Units Loan funds to support the renovation costs of bringing these units back to use. The owner can sell these units at a better price than selling it before renovation.

  3. Establish funds to buy empty second housing units for renovation and resell. These funds can buy properties for the cost of 90% of the market value. This action could support owners of vacant housing units to earn money for other investment.

Dr.Sopon Pornchokchai also recommends that the government should support people to reuse vacant housing units to prevent economic loss. A renovation of vacant housing units could also increase economic activity. Besides, it is cheaper than building new developments, and buyers can surely own the house. As minimum wages in Thailand is still low, the renovation cost is lower than in Japan which has higher wages and a higher proportion of elders.

Moreover, Dr.Sopon suggests that Thailand should collect Land and Building Tax for vacant housing units. If the owners buy residential properties and do not use the properties, the juristic person could seize these vacant housing units for sale. They could use this money for project maintenance. The government should also change legacy tax to be applied to every unit without exception; the rate could vary by the property value.


empty housing, vacant housing, Real Estate

Dr.Sopon Pornchokchai, President, Agency for Real Estate Affairs which is the foremost and largest real estate information and valuation centre in Thailand conducted the survey of real estate markets on monthly and quarterly basis.  The latest survey by end 2019 found 2,359 projects still had available units for sale in the Bangkok Metropolitan Region (BMR) in 2020.  Around 1,987 of them had over 20 units which implied that they were still very active.  This meant that Bangkok was the most active real estate particularly for housing in the ASEAN region.

In 2019 alone, some 480 projects were newly launched in the BMR.  This figure was more than that in 2018 where 457 projects were launched.  However, the number of units launched in 2019 at 118,975 units were some 5% less than the launching in 2018 at 125,118 units.  In terms of value of the development of the newly launched projects in 2019, it was Baht 476.911 billion (USD 15.636 billion) which was some 16% less than that in 2018 which was worth at Baht 565.811 billion (USD 18.551 billion).  Considering pricing, in 2019, a housing unit offered was Baht 4 million or USD 131,148; however, the price was Baht 4.6 million or 150,820 in 2018.  The price was down for 12%  That the prices were down was due to the fact that the economy might not be growing significantly.  The GDP growth of Thailand was 3% which was one of the lowest growth.  Not only less-developed countries to Thailand, Malaysia with a higher GDP per capita or more advanced than Thailand still possessed a higher GDP growth than Thailand. While the number of newly launched units was 118,975 in 2019.  The number of units absorbed or bought in the market was only 99,862 units for housing in the BMR.  In 2018, the number of units bought was 120,557.  This implied that the demand was decreased by 175.  Although property developers and the government tried very hard to promote the sales, it was still ineffective. Another worry was that there were still some 218,881 units still available on the hand of the developers at the end of 2019.  It was only 119,768 units in 2018.  This was an increase of 19,113 units.  According to AREA’s survey, every year the absorption was 110,000 units.  Therefore, the 218,881 units could totally be absorbed within two years if there was no new supplies.

Dr.Sopon expected that in 2020, the number of units launched could be the same as in 2019.  The more the government stimulated the markets to buy the housing units, the more new production will be added into the markets.  Many would buy for speculation because currently the saving interest rate was only 1% The proportion of speculation from local and foreign buyers might exceed 40% of the demand.  Therefore, danger could be foreseen.  Prior to any new launching of a project, an intensive study with scrutiny is a must.


Real Estate Market, Bangkok Outlook, Housing market



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