House Hunting in Thailand: An Indoor-Outdoor Sanctuary for $1.6 Million

This modern five bedroom house is located on a 2 acre hill in Taling Ngam and offers panoramic views of the Gulf of Thailand from the island of Koh Samui, 16 km off the southeast coast of Thailand.

The three-story house, named Quartz House, is built with crystalline quartz stitching into the rocks that form the interior walls of the rooms on the first and second floors, said the owner, Hugh Kingsley-Heath, who designed and built the house and completed it in the year 2015.

Most of the top floor of the 8,611-square-foot home is outdoors, including two pavilions with angled wooden roofs supported by V-shaped columns.

“The top floor has a lot of glass and a 360-degree view,” said Kingsley-Heath. “However, the lower floors are pretty dramatic too, with an ocean view on one side and the crystal quartz as a back wall.”

From the main five-car parking lot, a path leads through tropical greenery past a 10 by 59 foot pool, hot tub, and pool pavilion to the central pavilion with an outdoor lounge, benches, hammocks, and formal dining area. The dining area adjoins a kitchen and a bathroom, behind which there is a bedroom with a double bed.

The walls are clad in termite-proof, oven-dried pine, while the floors are made of non-slip sand-washing terrazzo throughout (convenient for walking barefoot, Kingsley-Heath said). The bathrooms have polished terrazzo sinks and countertops.

There are three kitchens in the Quartz House; The top floor, with stained pine cabinets and quartz countertops, is the main European-style kitchen. One side has sloping windows overlooking the hills that are shaded by an overhang, and the other side has windows and doors that lead to a sunken terrace set up as a lounge. The terrace extends to the bedroom, which like all bedrooms has a handcrafted pine bed and an en-suite bathroom.

A staircase leads along the rock to the dining area on the second floor with a small kitchen and another living room. Floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors open to a huge artificial turf balcony. A waterfall splashes down the inner rock wall of the living room. The second floor has two double bedrooms including the master bedroom.

On the ground floor there is a Thai-style kitchen for large-volume meals indoors and outdoors as well as two double bedrooms that open onto a covered terrace that is currently equipped as a fitness studio. One bedroom also has built-in bunk beds for children. Floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors open onto the terrace and paths that lead to a second parking lot for three cars. The ground floor also has a large room for storage and laundry.

The property has winding trails that make it popular with yoga retreats and other tourism groups, bringing in $ 75,000 in annual rental income ahead of the coronavirus pandemic, Kingsley-Heath said. The angular roof over the main pavilion collects rainwater for irrigation and drinking water comes from a filtered well. A car park with 30 spaces is available for major events.

The Quartz House is located on a private driveway in the southwest of Koh Samui, a tourist-friendly island with around 70,000 inhabitants. The closest town is Nathon, the island’s administrative and commercial center, about ten kilometers to the northwest. The nearest beach, Taling Ngam, is just minutes away. Samui International Airport is about 27 km northeast and there is a ferry connection to the mainland from the pier in Nathon.

Foreigners have traditionally found Thailand attractive for its reasonable property prices, which continue to be lower than places like Hong Kong and Singapore. In recent years, Chinese buyers have revitalized the Thai market, brokers said.

“There has been a growing component of Chinese money buying investment property, particularly in Bangkok but also in other areas,” said John Jepson, owner with his wife Kulchira Jepson of Samui Property Locator, a company specializing in real estate in Koh Samui Listing for Quartz House.

Current prices for single-family homes on Koh Samui typically start at around $ 130 per square foot and go up to $ 450 per square foot for a luxury beachfront home, Jepson said. Condos typically cost between $ 170 per square foot and $ 250 per square foot.

According to the Bank of Thailand, Thai property prices rose by a total of 46.2 from 2008 to 2018 Percent, increased by a further 5.3 percent in 2019 compared to the previous year. Despite the global pandemic, which slowed sales among both domestic and foreign buyers, the price index continued to rise for the most part in 2020, increasing by 3.3 percent year-on-year family homes in the second half of the year. In the condominium market, prices fell 3.1 percent in the second half of 2020 compared to the previous year.

Some developers in Bangkok have reduced their condos significantly, prompting local buyers to buy any remaining property, said Tim Skevington, executive director of Richmont’s, the Bangkok subsidiary of Christie’s International Real Estate.

“Since then, the mid-low segment – $ 100,000 to $ 200,000 – has slowed, especially sales to overseas buyers,” he said. “But the luxury segment has been very resilient and we have made some significant sales to both Thais and foreigners, particularly in hotel residences in downtown Bangkok and on the Chaopraya riverside.”

Whether luxury sales will spur the market in the future remains to be seen, agents said. However, Mr Skevington said Richmont’s has a backlog of inquiries from buyers in Europe and the United States waiting for travel restrictions to ease.

By viewing and buying virtual real estate, some overseas buyers have benefited from price cuts, said Patrick Lusted, director of Siam Real Estate in Bangkok. “House prices have flattened and fallen in some locations,” he said. “This is likely a good correction for the market as house prices have risen sharply and will allow buyers to make purchases at prices below pre-Covid levels.”

Luca Bernardinetti, the executive director of Mahanakorn Partners Group, a Bangkok law firm engaged in real estate services, said if the market continues to stagnate, it could drive individual and corporate investors to divest. “This offers attractive investment opportunities to investors who can survive the stagnation in the medium to long term,” he said.

Mr. Jepson noted that while the recent surge in Chinese buyers on Koh Samui was driven by tourism companies, more recently buyers have been returning looking to the island as a retirement and lifestyle destination. “There have been requests for houses with more space for gardens, etc., as people are looking for a comfortable living environment,” he said. “You don’t just buy for investment and rental income.”

While Bangkok, Thailand’s capital, is the most famous destination for overseas home buyers, many other areas are popular, such as Phuket (Thailand’s largest island), Pattaya, Koh Samui, Hua Hin, Chiang Mai, Krabi, and Phang Nga.

Most of the overseas buyers are from China, Hong Kong, Singapore, the US and Europe, Lusted said.

A significant community of French nationals has developed on Koh Samui as French buyers were active until about two years ago when the euro weakened against the stronger Thai baht, Jepson said.

“UK buyers fell after the Brexit announcement when the baht gained 20 percent or more against the pound,” he said.

Under Thai law, foreigners can own buildings, including condominiums, but not land. A common arrangement is to buy a house on a 30-year lease from a Thai resident, Bernardinetti said.

In the case of Quartz House, foreigners could buy the house on a land lease or use a Thai business to buy the house and land.

“If a foreign investor owns a company in which at least 51 percent of the shares are held by Thai nationals, the company can own the house and property,” said Bernardinetti, noting that it is a “legitimate business operation.” must act. ”

Most buyers hire an attorney to walk them through the complicated process. The price can go anywhere from 15,000 baht ($ 488) to 150,000 baht ($ 4,880) depending on what services are needed, Mr Lusted said. Closing fees for condominium sales can be as high as 6.3 percent of the price, with around 1 percent paid by the buyer, he said.

Thai banks will not be issuing mortgages to overseas buyers, although United Overseas Bank of Singapore’s Thai operation will lend condominiums with a minimum value of 3 million baht ($ 97,400), Lusted said.

Banks will fund a home purchase under certain conditions when made under the name of a company, Bernardinetti said.

Thai; Baht (1 Baht = 0.03 USD)

There are no property taxes on this house. Annual maintenance fees, including for the gardens and pool, as well as insurance fees are around $ 6,000, Kingsley-Heath said.

John Jepson, Samui Property Searcher, 011-66-87-900-3086, samuipropertylocator.com

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