With a series of natural disasters and political crisis that has happened globally during the past 12 months, we are urged to realise the fact that we live in uncertainty. Globalisation does not prevent us from the impact of these crises. People’s sentiments have begun to change, from never believing that such catastrophes are real to thinking what they would do if such events happened to them and their families. The frequent occurrence of disasters and crisis is gradually shifting people’s mindset, but no one knows when and where it is going to happen and it is pointless to live in anticipation, fear or panic.
One way to best prepare for unexpected events and to minimize the risk and impact is diversification. Following unexpected events, we believe there is a movement of funds and possibly people. Disasters certainly impact businesses across the board and may prompt investors to diversify to less disaster or crisis prone countries. In terms of people, those fortunate enough to be able to afford multiple homes, may consider purchasing secondary homes overseas which allows them to re-locate in times of a crisis.
Locally, Thailand has had to deal with the political turmoil last year. Since then, many companies have reviewed their risk management plans, insurance and safety policies and IT and data back-up systems. While many businesses have prepared for back-up offices in other locations, many have not yet implemented preventive measures as they may think last year’s event will not happen again. One also needs to consider if the properties are well equipped to deal with a political crisis and protests, natural and manmade disasters from fire to flooding, whether there is an evacuation plan and route in place, are the residents and occupiers well trained to handle such situations, so on and so forth. The nature of Thai people is to easily forget. The political crisis is already a forgotten past for many. The recent Japan earthquake serves as a reminder and reiterates the importance of risk management plans.
In terms of investment considerations, diversification is the key. In the residential market, investing in properties in different locations is one way for investors to diversify their investments to cities which they find relatively safe and possibly suitable for a temporary home if need be or even as part of a long-term relocation plan. The frequency of crisis and disasters that has happened is likely to change people’s mindset from investing only in one key destination, to diversifying into several locations.
Rather than investing only in Bangkok, Thai investors are now buying more land and residential properties in other provinces such as resort areas including seaside and mountain locations. Khao Yai and mountain areas in Northern Thailand are growing in popularity amongst Thai investors. This is partially underpinned by the belief that one of the natural disasters Thailand is prone to is flooding, therefore buying in highland is better. Investing in overseas properties has not been a popular choice for Thais until recently, we now see Thai interest to invest in UK, Europe and other Asian countries.
Thailand may also attract a more diverse group of overseas investors for the same reason that Thais consider buying abroad. Not only does Thailand offer a good lifestyle, friendly people, good year-round weather and a low cost of living, Thailand may also be viewed as a relatively safe zone from natural disasters, and possibly and ideal place if one had to re-locate.
Source: CB Richard Ellis Thailand