Pros And Cons Of Purchasing A Property Within A Private Development
Many expats who decide to purchase a home in Thailand will generally either choose a resale home or an off-plan house within a private development managed by the builder or a juristic body. There are many benefits to living within a private development, but there are also some drawbacks that must be voiced to gain a balanced perspective. In this post, I will explore the various pros and cons associated with living in a private development.
I don’t know about most people, but for me, a sense of community is a major factor in choosing to live within a development. Even though I am, in general, a very private person, I do greatly appreciate having neighbors around me. There’s something reassuring looking out beyond my garden walls in the evening to see signs of life beyond my home. I like to hear my neighbors’ children playing in the swimming pool or bump into a friendly acquaintance while walking my dog.
I’m not the only one who likes to be surrounded by neighbors. Many of the residents in our community have become very close friends and regularly hosts dinner parties and other events together. Community is such an important part of life as a human being, and if you’re an expat and new to Thailand, it can be challenging at first to meet people and make friends. Your housing development can be a great place to start building your social network within Hua Hin.
Most private developments offer 24 hour security, which personally, I don’t feel is necessary, but some people really like the idea of a security guard manning the entrance of a project. However, a very real benefit to being within a community is having someone keep an eye on your property, especially if you will be away for extended periods. If you make friends with your neighbors, they can periodically check on the house for you while you’re gone to ensure that there are no water leaks, unauthorized entries, pest issues or other potential problems that can crop up while a home is unoccupied.
If you don’t plan on living in Thailand full-time (or even if you do), it can be quite convenient to organize on-going maintenance and repairs via your development. There is usually an office, juristic body or maintenance company on site in case of emergencies or even routine repairs and maintenance, which can be reassuring when living in a foreign country. The office or maintenance company can usually oversee your pool and garden care as well to ensure that it is cleaned and well maintained. Organizing repairs and maintenance through your development can be easier than trying to find a local handyman, especially if communicating in the Thai language is difficult.
Some developments will offer additional services like utility payments and float accounts, which can be a huge convenience for those who only live in Thailand part time or for limited periods throughout the year. While abroad, the developer or management company can pay bills on your behalf, arrange for periodic cleaning and maid service, and/or any necessary repairs to be carried out while you are away.
Other developments will also offer rental services, such as: guest placement and advertising; assistance with guest check in and check out; cleaning and laundry services; and guest interface throughout the rental period. If your home is primarily a rental investment property, or if you rent out the home while you are not in Thailand, it could be convenient for the rentals to be managed by the developer’s management company.
Some developments offer large communal swimming pools, fitness centers, shared solar power systems, on-site restaurants and/or convenience stores, spas, tennis courts, shuttle service to and from town, and sometimes even visa services.
There are some projects offering residents absolutely every service under the sun, and then there are others that provide only a remote-controlled entrance gate. Obviously, the developer’s cost of providing and maintaining the various amenities will be passed on to the residents, so generally, the more services offered by a development, the higher the total communal fees. Well tended communal gardens, street maintenance and lighting, well-maintained perimeter walls, tidy entrances and communal spaces, etc greatly enhance a development and provide residents with a clean, safe and relatively stress-free living environment. Properties within well-maintained developments hold their property values better, so it’s mutually beneficial for everyone within the community to live in a beautiful project while also knowing that the value of their home will be partially reflected in how well the development presents to potential buyers.
Some developers are able to provide underground electricity to the homes within their developments by installing a central electric meter, and running underground power lines to each individual house. Buried power lines greatly enhance the overall look and feel of a neighborhood. While it is more expensive to install and manage, many people do not like visible power lines, especially if they obstruct views or distract from the area’s natural beauty.
It is not always the case, but with many reputable builders, they have an established track record and sometimes hundreds of homes under their belts. This gives buyers confidence in purchasing a good quality home built by an experienced builder. There are also residents and home owners who can provide testimonials to the builder’s competency and also the builder’s own reputation to uphold by building a quality property.
Furthermore, most developers will not only offer the required structural warranty for the home, but will also follow through if there are any defects with the property within that warranty period. With a local builder, it is not always a guarantee that they will rectify any issues during the warranty. Again, this is not always the case: there are rare instances where developers do not have integrity, and there are also many instances where local builders will go above and beyond to ensure the satisfaction of their customers. The main issue is that within a development there is usually more accountability should problems arise with a property down the line.
While this is not a hard and fast rule, it is generally easier to sell a house that is located within a development versus a house that is located outside of a development. In our experience, most home buyers prefer to buy a property within a community, whether for the social aspect of being part of a neighborhood or a security aspect of being surrounded by other people. Whatever the reason, homes within developments tend to sell more quickly and tend to hold their values better than homes outside of developments.
Any time a service or amenity is provided for the residents’ convenience or enjoyment, the residents will naturally have to pay for it. The developers pass the cost of these services on in the form of communal fees and sometimes (not always) utility surcharges. Some developers who provide electricity and water to the project, especially in the case of underground electricity, will charge an administrative fee for preparing monthly or quarterly billing. Some developers also charge a higher usage rate above the municipal costs to cover their costs for maintaining the infrastructure (transformers, meters, pipes, etc) and labor costs.
It is possible to find less expensive (or even free) developments in which the amenities or services provided are very minimal or non-existent. For example, there are a few projects that have installed motorized gates at the entrance and provide residents with a remote control to open the gate themselves. The residents pay for their remotes and a minimal fee to maintain the gate. Another example is actually the development in which my family and I live: there are no entrance gates or any security. The road inside our project is public, so access cannot be restricted, which means that no one in our neighborhood can block the road with an entrance gate or a security guard. However, we have lived in our home for nearly 10 years and have never had a security breach or any attempted break-ins.
Many developments will have rules and by-laws regarding aesthetic appearance, and sometimes conformity, of the homes within the project. In theory, this is a great idea to ensure everyone’s property value is maintained and privacy guaranteed. For example, a development could have a rule against building 2 story structures that may overlook a neighbor’s home, or a minimum setback to the property line (which is technically the law, but not always followed) to ensure all residents’ privacy. The development may also have a rule about the color of the house, the roof tiles, the perimeter wall, etc to discourage residents from being too “creative” and ending up with a purple house and blue roof tiles (I’ve already seen it here…) Ostensibly, these are good rules, but some people may want the creative freedom to do what they please with their property and may feel that a development’s rules are too restrictive.
Some developments pack the homes in as tightly as possible to capitalize on the land value. While this is not necessarily a bad thing and we acknowledge that not everyone wants or needs a large land parcels, smaller plots may limit the privacy around your home. Most people don’t have any interest in listening to their neighbors’ conversations or watching them soak in their swimming pool. We have seen situations where home owners fall out with their neighbors and feel obliged to sell quickly and relocate for peace of mind. Of course, this is not a common scenario, but it does happen.
Less Opportunity for Expansive Views
With privacy being a major concern in most developments, it has become standard practice in Thailand to build tall concrete walls around each property, but often this eliminates any potential nearby views. There are certainly security and privacy benefits to having a concrete perimeter wall, but it can make the overall community feel imposing and claustrophobic, especially if the developer doesn’t allocate any land to public “green space” or communal gardens. Donating land to the development for communal “green space” means the developer can’t sell that land for a profit, but it does usually make a development that much nicer.
That said, perimeter walls assist in keeping out the stray dogs and keeping pets inside your property. Additionally, if for example, you enjoy swimming naked in your own pool, then a large wall can be very beneficial. At the end of the day, the majority of moderately priced developments in Hua Hin don’t offer stunning views. Often, the only thing you can see beyond your wall is your neighbors’ rooftops. To compensate for no external views beyond your wall, professional landscapers can create stunning tropical gardens within your property, making your internal views the main attraction. However, for those looking for expansive views, in most cases, you will be forced to look outside a development.
At the end of the day, the choice is yours to live within a private development or not. Each individual buyer has different property needs, expectations and preferences, and what suits some people will not work for others. There are many benefits to living within a community, but there are also some important benefits to not living within a private development. Buyers should be aware of thee pros and cons of both scenarios before deciding on a home to purchase. As always, your professional, experienced real estate agent should be able to answer your many questions about buying or building a home within an established development versus purchasing a property outside a project. Our professional agents at Executive Homes Hua Hin are always available to answer your questions and can provide our real estate insight for home buyers new to Thailand or the Hua Hin area.