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[ 2018-08-27 ]

LGBT Chinese flocking to buy Bangkok and Phuket Property

The top two destinations in Southeast Asia for LGBT Chinese looking for condos to live in are Bangkok and Phuket. According to Juwai.com, a Chinese international real estate website, this is because such buyers feel comfortable in these cities.  

Mainland Chinese buyers that identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) account for about 5-8% of total property buying inquiries in Bangkok, said the websites chief executive Carrie Law.

Over the past 18 months there was nearly US$1 billion (32.7 billion baht) real estate buying inquiries from Chinese buyers.   LGBT inquires ranges at about $50-$80 million.

The purchasing power of the LGBT Chinese was $938 billion in 2017, triple from two years earlier.   This group average monthly income is five times larger than the national average. Disposable income is greater because they do not have children, Ms. Law said.

Even though they have a larger spending power, LGBT individuals face obstacles in their daily life in China. In China homosexuality, as recent as 2001, was officially classified as a mental health disorder.

Many feel free to openly express themselves and live with a partner of their choice in an overseas environment.   To own property in a place they feel comfortable living and visiting is very desirable.

Most international LGBT property buyers are less likely to have children, therefore they invest differently than other Chinese.   Providing an international education or lifestyle for children is generally the primary motivator for most of Chinese buyers.

Buying an investment property or a residence for a second or third home is more likely for a LGBT.   Often they are seen buying in popular vacation destinations for LGBT travellers.

Thailand is perceived as the most tolerant country in Asia according to a recent report by Juwai.com, with Bangkok viewed as a gay-friendly retreat for Chinese tourists and property buyers.

Gay-oriented nightspots cater to Chinese tourist in Thailand and same-sex sexuality is not illegal. Almost a dozen travel companies offer trips to Thailand with gay-themes and some local bar owners have added Chinese songs to their playlist.

Budget is the biggest determinant for location, with LGFT Chinese preferring the central business district.   However if they cannot afford this area they are inclined to purchase in a suburban area with good transit connection. With new luxury apartments in Bangkok selling at $4,500 per square metre, this is one-sixth the price of similar housing in Hong Kong.

In Bangkok buyers can purchase larger homes and condos in more central locations with premium facilities. For lower bracket buyers, Bangkok offers new condominiums starting at $130,000. This is the lowest price of any major city in favor with buyers from Mainland China. Bangkok property appeals to LGBT Chinese buyers as an attractive investment.

Over the last 30 years Bangkok’s land prices have climbed 1,000% and centrally located condominiums have doubled in price in just the last five.

Bangkok property is growing rapidly with Chinese buyers, especially among LGBT buyers.   About 45% of LGBT Chinese have inquired about Bangkok property for the purchaser’s own use and 13% for a holiday home, according to a Juwai.com consumer survey.   Chinese property buyers have made more inquires into Bangkok real estate in the first half of 2018 than all of 2017.

The medium budget of $160,000for LGBT buyers in Bangkok is about 5% to 10% higher than for all Mainland Chinese buyers. They are looking for a central location and convenience.   In additional they want features for entertaining such as larger kitchens and dining areas in the apartments or common spaces they can rent in the building.

Phuket, like Bangkok, appeals to the Chinese LGBT buyers that chase their lifestyle and investment goals. This island in the Andaman Sea is one of the most popular beach vacation destinations in Asia for LGBT tourists. There are dozens of LGBT-oriented venues in the Patong area and each year Phuket hosts a weeklong pride festival.

New property with rental guarantees provided by the developers is a common purchase for LGBT buyers.   These units can be rented out or occupied while visiting Phuket.

Southeast Asia contains five of the top Chinese LGBT international destination for property buyers.   Three factors drive the buyers interest: Tolerance, Proximity and Affordability.   Besides Bangkok and Phuket, the other three destinations include Phnom Penh, Manila and Ho Chi Minh City.

Close geographic proximity, significantly lower purchase prices and low monthly costs have made these markets within reach of a large number of buyers.

By comparison, traditional investment markets such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney and Mainland China have higher prices, fees and restrictions, making real estate investment more difficult.