Positive Vibes Felt for the Near Future
Rolling into the fourth quarter of the year, and smoke signals from Phuket's tourism sector are forecasting a return to levels not seen since the bliss days of 2007.
Frustrated holidaymakers are on the lookout for luxury accommodation at top-end resorts or villa rentals during the peak period of mid December to early January. With BlackBerry lines buzzing hot, friends of friends are being searched out on Facebook and impassioned Skypes for help are taking on the atmosphere of an episode of the 'IV series "Entourage".
Perhaps it's a fitting Yuletide scenario: no room at the inn and the three wise men on camels. Although an updated version would no doubt involve carts of Louis Vuitton luggage and an optional sleep aboard a super yacht.
Nine months into the year and real numbers are rolling in, which could silence that mysterious foreign language called "brokerspeak, if only for a moment or two.
Whether you have an iPad, a Kindle, or just the plain old vanilla hardcopy, the latest newsletter from the luxury property sector (according to our criteÂ¬ria, Bt65 million and above) makes for interesting reading.
The year-to-date trading volume is said to be Bt2.34 billion, with 14 "ultra villas" sold, although the headline reads "Resales or a Surging Secondary Market accounting for 83% of the Pie".
What is an ultra Villa?
According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary it's "a country estate, or the rural residence of a wealthy person". Its close relatives include castles, chateaux, haciendas, palaces and of course, mansions. You may have glimpsed the likes of an ultra villa in the home of Zorro, in "Remains of the Day:, or perÂ¬haps in "The Beverly Hillbillies".
Sales of these hideaways on the island fetch an average price per property of Bt167 million, so there was an obvious need to take the whole game to a new level of nomenclature. Leafing through the choices, "super" is too American, reminiscent of a football spectacle; "mega" sounds too much like a mall; "Uber" is just too German. So that leaves us with "ultra".
Phuket does big villas like no other resort destination in Asia. Ocean-front and sea-view, with sizes ranging from a modest 600 square metres up to a number of new ones now hitting 6000 square metres and beyond.
Locations such as Kamala's Millionaires' Mile, Nai Thon, Surin, Cape Yamu and Cape Panwa all host notable versions of private homes where size and aspect both sigh a collective "wow".
Speaking to buyers, sellers and brokers about why people are flocking to resales, rather than into the primary market, gets mixed messages. In many cases the ultra villas that have been sold have prime locations that would be hard to replicate. In other cases the ability to move in is a motivator, along with the perception that current sellers are more receptive to rolling the sleeves and getting down and dirty in the process of negotiation than are developers.
Of course there is a limited current inventory of new projects, with 77 properties on the menu, and this is failing to stir the imagination of the buying pool. Some overly cautious new offerings are still glued to their seats.
However, positive vibes are now being felt, with luxury estate Malaiwana about to launch 12 mega duplex apartments with floor space of 600 square metres, a private pool, and prices from Bt85 million up.
Other proof of life includes a prominent east-coast mixed-use project coming back into development, along with Patong's upscale Bluepoint. So there is action on the sidelines and a few key strikers look set to enter the match in short order.
For now, the top end of the island's property market has a very KIV, or keep in view, outlook for the months to come.