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Down at the Eleventh Hour

Author: Bill Barnett. Category: News Column - Property Report SEA. Posted: 26th Feb 2013

I'm the biggest idiot in the entire universe. I recently spent those dim dark hours of early morning dashing between Bangkok's two airports - Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang.

With a 6 am flight schedule to Bali, I smugly made my way to the latter airport by four forty-five and figured there was plenty of time to settle into one of those comfy chairs with a jumbo cup of caffeine. Instead, after a rude awakening at the check-in counter, I provided much amusement and solicited hilarious laughs from the airline counter staff and 20 taxi drivers who quickly gathered around in some sort of Gangnam-style circle dance. A white-knuckle fast and furious dash to Bangkok's other airport had my heart beating like a Jack Rabbit Slim.

Thankfully my blood pressure has since dropped and a cooling off break has prevailed over my badly damaged ego. I don't meditate, and yoga makes no sense at all. So all I have is bloodshot eyes and crusty computer keys to fall back on while wolfing down a crusty banana muffin.

Speaking about the need for cooling measures, two of Asia's top property markets are still trying to stick their overheated real estate engines into the deepfreeze. Greater China and Singapore have both gone through a series of measures, which still have not done the trick.

Meanwhile, other Asian markets are reporting rising regional transactions from these pent-up giants. Strong economic growth and a skyrocketing middle class have continued to multiply a double dose of both end-users who want to trade up, and investment buyers looking for premium yields.

Throwing a wrench into the equation are the rapidly rising Asian currencies in countries like Thailand and the Philippines. Will the currency appreciation slam the large export sectors and chill down growth, or will the domestic buying pool look to take their stronger currency to buy properties in the UK, Europe and US?

As for the evil spectre of inflation, this looks to be down to a two-horse face with parallel economic highs.

First to blink dies. Don't watch the other guy, just focus on the finish.

Still, Asia is struggling with the uncertainty of a continued domestication of its eight ball in the corner pocket go-to market. How deep? No one is certain. Will the cooling measures bring Asian buyers from nearby countries instead of those from the far away West? After all, all this liquidity needs a home.

Blasting into the Year of the Snake, perhaps we need to substitute a coiled up question mark as our logo of the day. Overheated property prices, and upward heat seeking land values, which continue to defy gravity look set to rule for the moment.

Still I hear this little voice inside of me crying out in the dark, and it's asking about fundamentals. The question continues to be bubble, burst or buoyant, my three drinking buddies, the 3 B's are waiting for me down at the bar.

I'll have a scotch on the rocks please. In fact bring me an entire bucket to help cool me down.

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C9 Hotelworks Founder and Managing Director Bill Barnett is a noted columnist, author and leading authority on travel trend, hotels and property.

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