Doctor Feelgood Making a House Call
Perhaps it's a sign of my age, but I remember as a young boy the times when the family doctor would come and visit our home. I'd be lying in bed as the wise grey-haired medical practitioner would use a thermometer to check if I'd been struck down by a fever.
After a quick diagnosis, the episode would be closed with the calming advice: “take two aspirin and call me in the morning.”
In these days of all things digital, it's a matter of a fast and furious trip to the hospital and quick LCD readouts. Then an assortment of pills of every shape, colour and description is the rule, rather than the exception.
Instead of a phone date the next day, the prognosis is now wired. At dawn Web MD or another Internet resource comes surfing and it ends up being far more frightening than the comforting words of good old Dr Feelgood.
Too many times, I end up reading about strange and exotic symptoms or debilitating illnesses from Equatorial Guinea or the Trobriand Islands that produce a sudden collapse into coma in mid sentence.
I eventually grew up from a wild childhood and now have more threads of silver than recollections of the family doctor. It's all remarkably reminiscent of the cycle of Phuket's property market. On and on spins Fortuna's Wheel of Fortune, creating cyclical metamorphic changes. Evolve or die has been the poster child for the trade for more moons now than I care to remember.
Travelling the escalator through tourist high season on the island has seen chaotic changes in visitor demographics. The rising stars of Eastern Europe, insatiable Asian travelers and the nostalgic old timers from familiar places in Europe all blend together. Today it's a numbers game.
The banner storyline in real-estate trends remains the buoyant secondary market, which has eclipsed off-plan sales and left the latter trailing in the dust. It's not Sea Biscuit by a nose, but a runaway freight train.
The Christmas and New Year holidays always see spikes in owners listing completed properties for sale, but for the past few months a landslide of condos and villas have entered the listing arena. The serial pattern is consistent when speaking to Phuket's agents.
Anxious sellers now make pilgrimages to multiple agents and list with as many as possible. It would be a mistake to say that these sellers are distressed. They are more a sign of optimism or sentiment that we are now on the upside, so it's time to gather the chips and cash out. For most, it's a fishing expedition with hopes of landing the big one.
Adding fuel to the fire are cashed-up Eastern European buyers who have transacted significant property deals this past year. And then there is the Andara syndrome. This Allan Zeman-led Kamala development has captured the continuing fascination of buyers by re-inventing itself on successful capital-appreciation trades.
At the same time – perhaps not coincidentally prospective purchasers are spurring the dozing giant, and what off-plan developments there out there are starting to see a trickle of sales.
However, as more resale listings emerge it's becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate or even find a pathway though the maze of multiplicity.
There is little doubt that innovations from the West such as multiple-listing services would make an attractive welcome mat for prospective customers. The recent announcement of a multi-million-dollar investment in the mixed use luxury project The Yamu by Singapore property tycoon Ong Ben Seng and Thailand's KS Group demonstrates that institutional confidence is picking up.
The project had stopped mid-steam during the economic crises, and is now set to complete in 2012. Expect a number of other stalled upscale developments to restructure or transact in the first half of this year. This is set to be the most exciting trend for 2011.
Looking back into the dusty shelves of childhood memories, I can crack only a small smile when I think of the family doctor. For property, the Dr Feelgood factor is starting to glimpse the promise of a grin in the days ahead.