With the vast number of new condos being constructed in cities such as Bangkok, there is little surprise that many heads are turned. These modern buildings featuring state-of-the-art furnishings and accessories are naturally appealing, but do we get drawn to something just because it’s new? Do we assume that because it’s new, it must be better? For many people, this is inevitably the case, but there are many good reasons not to overlook older condos as they do have so much to offer than what is perhaps immediately apparent.
Many of these older properties often have highly experienced property management company running them. The building will run like clockwork, and any problems which are encountered will be quickly dealt with. Yes, older properties do experience frequent issues, mainly minor. Still, with an excellent management team and supportive committee, these problems can be effectively dealt with using existing, tried and trusted contacts.
Of course, there are far more benefits to selecting an older condo than merely the management team and here are just ten of them:
1. Unit Size
As a general rule, although it isn’t always the case, older condos tend to have larger units than their modern counterparts which can make them feel considerably less claustrophobic. Modern studio units can be as small as 20sqm while it is not unusual to find older studios of 40sqm and above. The trend continues throughout one and two-bedroom units and above. It can make them far more appealing to couples and families who don’t want to be “living in each other’s pocket”.
Of course, it should be recognised that modern condos do have space-saving furniture, making them feel less cramped, but there is still no escaping the fact that the rooms are often half the size. In any case, you can install spacing saving furniture in an older building if you do feel like you want even more space or create a modern feel.
2. It’s Already Completed!
It is sadly a fact that in the current global economic climate, there may be delays with condos getting completed. This is not only frustrating, but it can prove to be costly if you need to rent for an extended period. With an older condo, there is no waiting around for builders to finish, no uncertainty about when snagging is going to be completed and perhaps most importantly, no concerns about whether the developer will go bust before the building is finished.
Knowing exactly what you are buying and having the opportunity to have a walk around your unit as well as the communal facilities can provide significant reassurances. Peace of mind is a big factor which brings us nicely on to the next point!
3. No Nasty Surprises
When you purchase an older property, you know what you are buying, and you won’t have any nasty surprises. Many people like to buy a unit that is a little dated, and they can transform it how they wish (obviously, building rules and regulations may restrict this so make sure you check first!). The current appearance of the unit is not relevant to them; they will see the potential and what can be done. The size of the unit, the quality of the construction overall and the communal facilities are all likely to be more decisive factors.
There is also the fact that if there were any serious structural problems, they would have come to light by now. It is certainly the case if the building is more than ten years old and has been continually well maintained. Although this ongoing level of maintenance cannot be guaranteed, it does give you a very clear indication about what to expect in the future.
4. Value for Money
Older condos do represent excellent value for money in many respects. As the trend, especially amongst younger generations, is to buy new, demand is lower for these older buildings. As such, lower demand leads to lower prices and the square metre prices are considerably less. As we touched upon, if you are looking to refurbish the property, there are some real bargains to be had, although they tend not to stay on the market for too long.
As with anything, it pays to shop around, and if you have the right contacts in the construction industry or indeed, you can do the work yourself, you can make significant profits should you wish to sell your property in the future.
5. Add Your Own Touches
When you purchase a new condo directly from a developer, they usually come fully furnished. In some ways, this is an advantage; you already have everything that you need, and you can move straight in. However, as you are only given a limited choice of options, there may be a few things that you want to change. Units that all look exactly the same can be soulless and lack character plus the homely feel.
With an older condo, you can furnish it how you like and add your own touches. It is unlikely to look like others in the building as, over time; other owners will have also added their touches. Part of any home is having those personal effects which reflect your personality and interests. Many people are reluctant to make significant changes in a new property, meaning that you may “make do” for several years.
Many older locations are in prime locations. Land is in finite supply and older buildings that have stood their years have already taken the best spots. They are likely to be convenient for transport links, local amenities and, of course, bars and restaurants. Some brand new buildings do exist in prime locations, but they are usually replacements for older properties and come with a high price tag.
In addition, whenever you do come to sell your property in the future, demand is likely to be high, thus pushing up prices but also facilitating a fast sale. What is a prime location now, is expected to be a prime spot in several years. While in cities such as Bangkok, the prime areas are spreading out, demand for centrally situated property is still sky-high.
7. Don’t Be Fooled by Higher Maintenance Fees
It is an easy trap to fall into assuming that older buildings have high maintenance fees. Indeed, they are higher, but this is more case of new-build properties having artificially low costs, which will increase rapidly once more units are sold. Comparing maintenance costs is a short-term view and one which can be dangerous if you are expecting prices to remain low in the future.
Older buildings tend to have more stable maintenance fees with little fluctuation, other than inflation-linked, as they will be aware of what costs to expect and budget accordingly. Once the developer warranties expire, the cost for extensive repairs to lifts and other amenities can be astronomical and will need to be paid for by the residents. Inevitably, this we see maintenance fees rise significantly and maybe the beginning of an ongoing trend.
8. Stability of Residents
Older condos tend to have several residents who have lived there for many years, even decades. For lots of reasons, this is a good signal. It shows that they like living where they are and also that they will have probably invested in their property over the years. Just like if you were living in a gated community, the quality of the neighbourhood and those that are living there can have a massive impact on your quality of life.
Conversely, condos that have a high turnover of residents create a lot of uncertainty. You will not know who your new neighbours are going to be, if they will invest in the property and if their move may lead to disharmony amongst other residents. Also, if people are always leaving, what is the reason, is there an underlying problem with the building?
9. Sometimes Less Construction Close By
Connected to the above point regarding the location, condos which are in prime locations often don’t have as much construction work going on around them for the simple reason; there is no land available! Living next door to a building site is no one’s idea of fun as it can cause significant disruption in terms of construction noise and traffic.
While it accepted that there might be other noise associated with being in a prime spot, it is highly unlikely that this will be as disruptive as ongoing construction work which may last several years.
10. Frequently Modernised
The superior quality older condos will undergo frequent modernisation, meaning that their age is largely irrelevant. The building, the gardens and the other communal facilities will undergo regular maintenance to keep them running smoothly. The maintenance fee and the budget for repairs and modernising will have been planned years in advance, and with a quality of a management team, the chances are that in most cases, you will be unaware that you are living in an older building.