Chinese buying interest has surged in recent years

Prachanart Viriyaraks | Getty Images

The Wat Saket (Golden Mountain) and Bangkok Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand.

Chinese investors have continued pouring their money into Thailand’s property sector even as the kingdom barrels toward an uncertain national election.

That underscores the Southeast Asian nation’s enduring popularity with the Chinese — tourists from Asia’s top economy have for years seen Thailand as a top spot for holidays. According to recent data from online Chinese real estate portal Juwai.com, Thailand was its most popular country when it comes to inquiries from potential real estate buyers in 2018 — climbing up from the sixth spot in 2016.

Thailand will hold general elections on March 24, but Juwai CEO Carrie Law said the company hasn’t seen “a link between the Thai election and Chinese property buying.”

“While the election is momentous for Thailand, most of the buyers we work with are unconcerned about the outcome,” she told CNBC.

Thailand’s economy has been powering ahead since its 2014 coup, reaching 3.9 percent GDP growth in 2017. That was its best in five years, but that growth is expected to slow a bit this year due to weaker global growth, the World Bank projected.

Even though that recent coup was the second in less than a decade, the political upheaval did little to cool Thailand’s huge property increases.

In fact, Sansiri — one of Thailand’s biggest developers — set up its international business unit in 2014 after seeing growing interest from foreign buyers, said Nanmanas Jiwattanakul, the company’s assistant executive vice president of international business development.

Chinese buyers make up 70 percent of Sansiri’s international sales, she said.

The development — not spurred by any marketing efforts — prompted the developer to set up showrooms in Thailand and overseas catering to such investors, she told CNBC.

“We started to drive (international sales) and also because we started seeing a number of foreign buyers in Thailand,” said Nanmanas.

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