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The number of new project launches in the ultra-luxury (250,000 baht or more per square metre) and luxury (150,000 to 250,000 baht per square metre) condo segments has jumped significantly over the past few years. In 2012, just over 1,000 luxury condo units were introduced, with no new launches in the ultra-luxury segment. In contrast, by 2015 the number of ultra-luxury and luxury units launched had skyrocketed to more than 8,500. In 2012, ultra-luxury and luxury condos accounted for just 1.9% of total condo unit launches, but the figure jumped to 13.7% last year.

If developers continue to launch new ultra-luxury and luxury condos at the same rate as in recent years, demand may struggle to keep pace. Previously, the limited supply of ultra-luxury and luxury condos resulted in relatively high presales rates. However, the aforementioned boom in supply has resulted in declining presales rates. Average presales rates for luxury condos fell from 85% in 2014 to just 58% in 2016.

To counter declining presales rates, some developers (such as Sansiri and SC Asset) have allocated greater resources to selling to foreign buyers, organising roadshows in Singapore and Hong Kong. There remains significant interest in luxury condos from foreigners who are unable to purchase landed property in Thailand for regulatory reasons. In fact, foreign interest in some luxury condos has been so great that the 49% foreign quota has been hit.

Prospective buyers of luxury condos are spoiled for choice, feeling little pressure to rush into a presales commitment. Wealthy Thais may be inclined to invest in luxury condos because they perceive a lack of attractive alternatives. However, the decision for wealthy Thais is less clear-cut than for foreigners as the former have more choices: they can purchase a luxury condo unit in central Bangkok or a luxury home in a suburban area. While luxury suburban homes offer greater living space to accommodate a larger family, luxury condo units offer superior potential for capital gains and greater geographical convenience.

One prime example of an ultra-luxury project that resonated with buyers in terms of both location and design is the Kraam luxury condo developed by NYE Estate, near Phrom Phong skytrain station. The project's luxurious interior design and attractive location helped drive an impressive presales rate of 70%. However, several competing luxury projects continue to struggle with relatively low presales rates because of inferior design and/or location.

While expanding away from low-end condos to the luxury segment has proved fruitful for some residential developers, caution may be advised. With the ultra-luxury and luxury segments becoming much more competitive about any future luxury condo launches. Without a unique design, location or selling point, a new luxury project runs the risk of getting lost in the currently overcrowded market.