Asia Finds a Niche – Housing For Hobbits
Jingle Bill, Jingle Bill. Is the very Merry Season here again already? Apparently so given the greenscape in every retail space my eyes come to rest on. Either that or I've land face down in the street in some drunken Irishman's nightmare.
Hollywood is cranking fast and frantic this year as the epic big screen of the Hobbit is upon use. Bilbo and his crew of freaks, little people with pointed ears and alien inspired round-headed types are among us. I'm not quite sure on the exact political correctness on all manner of Hobbitology. Are there male and female Hobbits? Naturally coming from Thailand the question could be raised about transgender taglines? Do Hobbit's believe in God or is that place they come from just too damned fine to want an alternative universe.
Here we go now with generation Hobbit or as those Mad Ad Men (and women) would say Gen-H. The whole Gen thing seems to be running out of steam. What happens after Gen-X, Y or Z? Do we start again, double the alphabet or add numbers after? Again sitting on a low-cost airline as I write this it seems the sheer stupidity of my fellow passengers is rubbing off.
But meanwhile back on point, the truth is that Hobbit's and Asian real estate have been simpatico for quite sometime. Certainly this year in Thailand the age of Mickey Mouse flats, or to be more polite entry-level condominiums has dominated the center sales stage.
Whether it's been idle chatter from developers in Pattaya saying 20 square meters was far to big; to the recent spate of cheap small condos, which have captivated Phuket, Hua Hin, and Bangkok. A few years ago AirAsia came into the limelight with that adage "Now Everyone Can Fly." For the property market it's now a case of "Now Everyone Can Own a Condo".
Recently I took a look at a new ready to be launched budget condo project's show flat and found my mind drifting to those dog kennels that the privileged class use to house their trophy poodles way up in first class on a legacy airline.
But then I realized the genius of it and a new niche market -Hobbit's. It's mistaken to think that the wee folk can only be found in New Zealand. Last time I checked there were only 23 people living in that faraway country. Yes, it's beautiful. No doubt of the most specular places on earth but would want's to live in the shadow of such beauty all of the time. You'd find yourself continually weeping for now particular reason. Grandiose schizophrenia is never more than a lamb chop away.
So unbeknownst to most of us, Hobbit's have been invading every property market in Asia and buying up these small boxes; which when you are less than a few feet tall, would seem to be more like an ultra-villa. Plus they are from New Zealand so their expectations of luxury and indoor plumbing are well below the line from the rest of us.
Smart money is flocking to Gen-H condos as clearly these people breed like rabbit's and royalties from all those Lord of the Ring's pictures have created a deep market. Silly me. I'd been pondering the rapid rise of the new LCC's (low-cost condos), and it had plagued my downtime for most of the year. Enter a lightning bolt of clarity. Problem solved.
While no one is quite sure how deep the market is, given the region's property experts have yet to figure out the demographics of the Gen-H market. For now developers are humming along with Randy Newman as he sings out about the short people. But in this case short is the next big thing or more correctly Hobbit's that is.