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

This modern 5 bedroom apartment is located on two acres at the top of the hill in Taling Ngam, offering panoramic views of the Gulf of Thailand from Koh Samui Island, 10 miles off the southeast coast of Thailand.

Called Quartz House, the three-story house is built into the rock with quartz crystal seams that form the interior walls of the rooms on the first and second floors, said owner Hugh Kingsley-Heath, who designed and built the house, completing it in 2015. .

The top floor of the 8,611-square-foot home is largely outdoor, including two pavilions lined with wooden roofs supported by V-shaped columns.

“The top floor just has plenty of glass and a 360-degree view,” said Kingsley-Heath. “However, the bottom is also very dramatic, overlooking the sea on one side and the quartz crystal as the back wall.”

From the main car park of five cars, a path through tropical vegetation passes a 10 to 59 foot pool, jacuzzi and pool stand, reaching the main stand with an outdoor lounge, benches, hammocks and formal dining area. The dining room adjoins the kitchen and bathroom, with a bedroom with a double bed.

The walls are lined with kiln-dried pine, and the floors as a whole are crisp without sand washing (comfortable for walking barefoot, Kingsley-Heath said). The bathrooms have polished basins and a terrace counter.

There are three kitchens at Quartz House. One on the top floor, with stained glass windows and pine quartz countertops, is the European-style master kitchen. One side has sloping windows overlooking the hilltop shaded by a ledge, and the other has windows and doors opening onto a sunken terrace furnished as a living room. The terrace extends to the bedroom, which like all bedrooms, has a handmade pine bed and a private bathroom.

The stairs go down the cliff to the dining room on the second floor with a kitchenette and another living room. Floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors open onto a huge synthetic grass balcony. A waterfall splashes the inner rock of the living room. The second floor has two double bedrooms, including the main one.

The ground floor features Thai-style indoor-outdoor cuisine for large meals, as well as two double bedrooms that open onto a covered terrace that is now equipped as a gym. One bedroom also has built-in bunk beds for children. Floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors open onto the terrace and paths leading to a second car park for three cars. The ground floor also has a large storage and laundry area.

The property has winding paths that make it popular with yoga shelters and other tourist groups, bringing in annual rental income of $ 75,000 before the coronavirus pandemic, Kingsley-Heath said. The corner roof above the main pavilion collects rainwater for irrigation and the drinking water comes from a filtered well. There is parking for 30 cars for big events.

Quartz House is located on a private private route in southwestern Koh Samui, a tourist island of approximately 70,000 inhabitants. The nearest town is Nathon, the administrative and business center of the island, about six miles northwest. The nearest beach, Taling Ngam, is minutes away. Samui International Airport is located approximately 17 miles northeast, and there is a ferry service to the mainland from the pier at Nathon.

Foreigners have traditionally found Thailand attractive for its affordable housing prices, which are still lower than in places like Hong Kong and Singapore. In recent years, Chinese buyers have galvanized the Thai market, brokers said.

“There has been a growing influx of Chinese money buying investment property, especially in Bangkok and elsewhere,” said John Jepson, co-owner of his wife, Kulchira Jepson, of Samui Property Locator, a Samui Property Locator which has the listing for Quartz House.

Current home prices in Koh Samui typically start at around $ 130 per square foot, ranging up to $ 450 per square foot for a luxury beach house, Jepson said. Condominiums typically range from about $ 170 per square foot to $ 250 per square foot.

According to the Bank of Thailand, from 2008 to 2018, housing prices in Thailand increased by a total of 46.2 percent, and then grew another 5.3 percent year on year in 2019. Despite the global pandemic, which slowed sales between domestic and foreign buyers, the price index continued to grow mostly in 2020, rising 3 , 3 percent from year to year for independent single – family homes in the second half of the year. However, the condominium market fell 3.1% in the second half of 2020 compared to the previous year.

Some developers in Bangkok have significantly reduced their condo inventory, prompting local buyers to discover any remaining properties, said Tim Skevington, chief executive of Richmont’s Bangkok subsidiary of Christie International Real Estate.

“Since then, the mid-low segment – $ 100,000 to $ 200,000 – has slowed, especially sales to foreign buyers,” he said. “But the luxury department was very resilient and we have made significant sales to both Thais and foreigners, especially in hotel residences in central Bangkok and on the banks of the Chaopraya River.”

It remains to be seen whether luxury sales will boost the market forward, the agents said. However, Mr Skevington said Richmont’s had delayed questions from buyers in Europe and the United States waiting for travel restrictions to be eased.

Virtual projections and markets have allowed some foreign buyers to take advantage of price cuts, said Patrick Lusted, director of Bangkok-based Siam Real Estate. “Property prices have fallen and have fallen in some places,” he said. “This is probably a good correction for the market, as property prices have been on a very strong trend, and will allow buyers to shop at prices below pre-Covid levels.”

Luca Bernardinetti, chief executive of Mahanakorn Partners Group, a Bangkok-based law firm that runs real estate services, said that if the market remained stagnant, it could push individual and corporate investors to sell. “This will present attractive investment opportunities for investors who are able to withstand stagnation in the medium to long term,” he said.

Mr. Jepson noted that while the recent increase in Chinese shoppers in Koh Samui is due to tour operators, more recently there has been a return to shoppers seeking the island as a retirement and lifestyle destination. “Research has been done on homes with more space for gardens, etc., as people are looking for a comfortable living environment,” he said. “They are not just buying for investment and rental income.”

While Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, is the most important destination for foreign home buyers, many other areas are popular, such as Phuket (Thailand’s largest island), Pattaya, Ko Samui, Hua Hin, Chiang Mai, Krabi and Fang Ng, according to brokers.

Most foreign buyers come from China, Hong Kong, Singapore, the United States and Europe, Mr Lust said.

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

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

Under Thai law, foreigners can own buildings, including complexes, but not land. A common rule is to buy a house with a 30-year lease of land from a Thai resident, Mr Bernardinetti said.

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

“If a foreign investor owns a business, where at least 51 percent of the shares are owned by Thai nationals, the company can own the house and the land,” said Bernardinetti, noting that it must be a legal, operating business. . “

Most buyers hire a lawyer to guide them through the complicated process. The price can range from 15,000 baht ($ 488) to 150,000 baht ($ 4,880), depending on the services required, Mr Lusted said. Closing fees for home sales can range up to 6.3 percent of the price, with about 1 percent being paid by the buyer, he said.

Thai banks will not issue mortgages to foreign buyers, although the Thai operation of the United Overseas Bank of Singapore will lend free condoms worth a minimum of 3 million baht ($ 97,400), he said.

Banks will finance a home purchase under certain conditions when they are made in the name of a company, Mr Bernardinetti said.

Thai baht (1 baht = $ 0.03)

There are no property taxes on this house. Annual maintenance fees, including gardens and pools, as well as insurance costs, are about $ 6,000, Kingsley-Heath said.

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

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