Thai property sector recovery delayed amid Omicron -state loan agency

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FILE PHOTO - Houses back onto a park in Toronto

BANGKOK – Thailand’s property market may not return to pre-pandemic levels until 2024, due to a slower-than-expected economic recovery amid a new coronavirus outbreak and higher inflation, the research unit of a state home loan lender said on Friday.

In November, the research centre had forecast the property market would normalise in 2023 following an easing of mortgage rules to revive a key sector that accounts for about 10% of gross domestic product (GDP) and employs 2.8 million people.

But the COVID-19 outbreak driven by the Omicron variant that emerged late last year had slowed domestic activity, said Vichai Viratkapan, head of the Government Housing Bank’s real estate information centre.

“Rising inflation is also impacting people’s income and purchasing power,” he said. Inflation hit a nine-month high of 3.23% in January.

However, the property sector had bottomed out and should be supported by the relaxed rules and government measures, he said, adding the number of newly built houses and apartments were expected to rise by 35% to 105,000 this year.

But demand from foreign buyers will remain low this year due to the coronavirus outbreak, he said.

($1 = 32.11 baht)

(Reporting by Kitiphong Thaichareon; Writing by Orathai Sriring; Editing by Ed Davies)