Condominiums offer a level of service similar to that found in apartments, the only big difference being that they are individually owned and so you rent directly from the proprietor. Interior décor, amenities and, of course, price will vary greatly, with properties available ranging from the refurbished to the run-down. The terms of your tenancy agreement will also depend on the owner (and your ability to charm them), with the minimum length of stay, deposits and notice period, dictated by them. Condominiums can be let furnished, partly furnished or unfurnished.
The majority of owners don't advertise with real estate companies, instead choosing to market their property in cheaper ways. This may be advertising in the print press, on one of Bangkok's many property websites, or something as low-tech as a few notices stuck up around the immediate vicinity. Word-of-mouth is of course another big one, and asking friends currently living in condominiums if they know of any available units is a good bet. As is walking into a building and politely asking around. There are literally hundreds of condominium buildings scattered around central Bangkok.
However, if you're unfamiliar with Bangkok, and short on time and patience, professional real estate companies or housing specialists, with their databases of what's available and an ear to the ground, will be more than willing to help. Apart from checking what's on the market, if your after a particular kind of condo or one in a particular area or style, they will call managers of condo buildings that match your requirements to see what's available. (Also have a look at our Condominium Buzz feature.)
Buying a condominium
Interested in purchasing a condominium? You'll be pleased to learn that under Thai law foreigners can buy them outright in many areas of Bangkok. With the recent downturn in the economy (a result of high energy prices and rising interest rates) and the supply of new condominiums showing signs of slowing down, it's almost, if not quite, a buyers' market.
The units coming on to the market have mostly been in the low-mid price range (around the 1-2million baht mark) and therefore, so far, the surge in supply has largely been soaked up by young Thai professionals keen to live centrally. In the first half of 2006, 32 condominium projects were launched in central business district areas with a total of 9,913 units, up 37% on the same period last year.
Of these, 94% have already been sold. As a result of such buoyant demand, prices are proving resilient and actually rose an average of 6% in the first half of 2006. However, this doesn't mean you can't afford to be picky. The mantra 'location, location, location' applies as much here in Bangkok as anywhere else, if not more so, and despite strong competition for the best units you shouldn't settle for somewhere that doesn't tick the right boxes.
If you're going to live in the property, consider its proximity to your work, its distance from the nearest Skytrain or subway station, or the amount of traffic you'll have to endure during rush hours. And if buying to rent, having your condo within easy reach of the Skytrain, subway and expressways (highways) will make it a much more attractive proposition for potential tenants and, eventually, further down the line, for selling (see our Real Estate agents section).