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Chinese Middle Class Flocks to Thai Property Amid Economic Pessimism

Recent data show that Chinese buyers were the largest foreign buyers of property in Thailand last year. Analysts suggest that Thailand’s visa-free policy for Chinese tourists and the lack of anti-Chinese sentiment in the country attracted China’s middle class to invest in Thai property. The phenomenon also reflects public pessimism about China’s economic prospects.

Eric, a resident of Fujian, spent around $276,000 to buy two Bangkok apartments for personal use and investment, seeing the Thai properties as a potential stopover for overseas migration if China’s economy worsens.

Statistics show that Chinese buyers purchased 6,614 Thai apartments worth $927 million last year, nearly 46% of total sales, boosting local demand above pre-pandemic levels. Property managers confirm the influx of Chinese buyers.

While foreign ownership in Thailand is capped at 49% and buying doesn’t lead to citizenship, the visa-free policy and lack of anti-Chinese sentiment are positives for Chinese buyers, according to real estate professionals.

Analysts suggest that the present Chinese capital inflow could boost Thailand’s economy and that it reflects public pessimism about China’s prospects. Some cite the competitive “inner circularity” [of China’s economy] and economic gloom as reasons for the exodus of middle class capital.

Hangzhou and Xi’an recently announced the complete removal of housing purchase restrictions, allowing purchases without eligibility checks. Some view this as a “desperate move” by China to prop up the real estate industry. Despite 29 cities lifting purchase restrictions since early last year, the recovery in China’s property market still seems slow, with current inventory potentially taking 5 years to digest if the present pace of sales continues.

Source: Voice of America, May 13, 2024