Thailand campus condominiums are the latest trend for property firms seeking to develop new market segments, as they face a period of intense competition in traditional parts of the residential market that is expected to continue well into 2014.
Developers are trying to find new segments with reliable purchasing power, and have been focusing in particular on university students, many of whose families can afford to buy a condo located close to where their child is studying.
Property Perfect, meanwhile, has introduced two Uniloft campus condominiums, at Salaya in Nakhon Pathom province, and in Chiang Mai.
The projects - situated close to Mahidol University Salaya and Chiang Mai University, respectively - are dormitory condominiums, but the company also plans to launch Uniloft condominiums for sale later of 2013.
They will be located in Salaya, Nakhon Pathom, Chiang Mai and Rangsit. Thammasart University Rangsit, Bangkok University, NorthEast University and Rajamangala University of Technology Thanyaburi will be the target markets.
Sansiri,another listed residential developer, has launched five campus condominiums under the dCondo Campus Resort brand, worth Bt6.05 billion combined.
The projects include the dCondo Campus Resort Chiang Mai, worth Bt960 million and located near to Chiang Mai University; the Bt810-million dCondo Campus Resort Kuku Phuket, situated close to Phuket Rajabhat University; and the dCondo Campus Resort Rangsit, valued at Bt1.3 billion and sited close to Thammasart University Rangsit.
The other two Sansiri projects are the Bt1.16-billion dCondo Campus Resort Ratchapruk-Charansanitwong 13, located close to Siam University, and the dCondo Campus Resort Bang Na, which is worth Bt1.8 billion and is sited close to Assumption University Bang Na.
The company also plans to launch two more campus projects, worth Bt2.1 billion combined, by year-end: the dCondo Campus Resort Rangsit-Thammasart, worth Bt675 million, and the Bt1.4-billion dCondo Campus Resort Bang Saen. The latter will be situated near to Burapha University.
LPN Development has introduced a condominium in the Rangsit area, worth up to Bt10 billion and focusing on both university students and people working at the manufacturing plants around the area.
"We are interested in this market segment, having seen purchasing power for buying a place to stay among families who have a child studying at university but currently residing far from their place of study. Some of them [students] have moved from the provinces to the capital. They [the families] want to buy a private home for their child to stay in, rather than their living in a dormitory," said Sansiri president Srettha Thavisin.
He said the company had begun to study the campus market last year, and had kicked off the projects in 2013. They have received positive feedback from the market, he added.
Property Perfect chief executive officer Chainid Ngowsirimanee said the company had started studying the development of condominiums focused on the campus market back in 2011, and had tested the market with a Uniloft dormitory project in 2012.
The project has received positive feedback from the market, with an occupancy rate of between 50 and 80%, he said.
Many customers asked the company when projects with a similar Uniloft dormitory design would be constructed as condominiums for sale, as they were interested in buying a unit costing up to Bt3 million for their child at university.
Given this demand, the company plans to launch Uniloft condominiums this year and next, he added.
In regard to its first campus condominium, on Phaholyothin Road close to Kasetsart University, Pruksa Real Estate managing director Prasert Taedullayasatit said: "We took time to study customer behaviour in this market over several years, and are confident that this is a new market segment for both students' families and investors who buy for rental."
The condo at Kasetsart University is a pilot project for the company, before it decides whether to launch the same concept in other locations.
Bang Saen, Hat Yai popular
According to a survey by Plus Property, demand for condominiums located close to a university is strong.
The research cites the examples of Bang Saen, in Chon Buri province, where a condo project is situated close to both Burapha University and the Kasetsart University Sri Racha campus, and in Songkhla's Hat Yai district, which has a similar project located near to the Prince of Songkhla University Hat Yai campus.
The research shows that as of June last year, the demand to buy condominiums in Bang Saen was strong, with new condo projects comprising 4,760 units being launched in the area and some 75% of the units already sold.
Condominiums priced up to Bt60,000 per square metre are popular in the area, with the main customer targets being university students, people moving from other provinces to work in Bang Saen, and locals.
Hat Yai, meanwhile, had 35 new condominium projects totalling 3,795 units, 73% of which had been sold, said Plus Property.
Hat Yai condo demand is mainly for units costing no more Bt3 million, the research added.