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David, a prospective property purchaser, who has been living in Phuket for several years, wrote "With so many second hand properties on the market a thought occurred to me as to what criteria purchasers are really looking for before they commit themselves. What sells and what doesn't, I say this as I am still contemplating building my own home, and in the event I had to sell for some reason I wouldn't want to find myself with an un-saleable asset. Excluding price and location, what is really in demand, three, four, or five bedrooms? Studies, maids quarters, inside and outside kitchens, swimming pools extra ? Maybe you could do an article along these lines, then hopefully more ideal properties will be built in the future that you could sell more quickly."

If only life were so simple. A formula to define buyer demand would certainly simplify the process for the property builder and agent alike and theory deliver homes that were considered ideal in every way by the consumer.
Unfortunately in property (and indeed in any other supply / demand equation) the situation is rarely as numerically quantifiable as one would like. With perfect data (rarely available about any market and certainly not available for property transactions in Phuket) one can in theory say what product is currently most in demand. But what will be in demand tomorrow - or more poignantly in 18 months time when the house you are planning to build today is ready for occupation?

A developer hoping to sell or a home builder with an eye on preserving re-sale value has to be something of a crystal ball gazer to predict future demand. Just because, say, larger 4 bedroom homes are currently in higher demand does not mean that in 3 years time they will not be over supplied (as developers rush to supply a perceived current shortage). All very hard to predict. But that said your point is well taken, that several developments have certainly been far wide of satisfying buyer demands and lie empty or are hard to sell. Those developers certainly should have been able to do better.

Buyer demographics are also very important - what is in demand by Thai first time home buyers and retiring expats considering setting up a home in Phuket are very different. What works for one, would not work for the other. Developers certainly need to define the market they are trying to supply.

To tackle all the various buyer groups in turn and analyze their current needs would be a very long process that could fill this column for months. I will however try to give you some of what I see as the buyer trends and demographics as far as they relate to Non Thais buying their first home in Phuket, in an attempt to answer you question relative to this particular group.
Average buyer age is increasing. Purchase budgets are increasing. Intended property use has expanded over the last decade from small serviced second / weekend apartments to a greater range of sizes running up to larger semi permanent or even permanent family homes / retirement homes.
That however is not to say that if you build big and expensive homes that you will be able to sell them (again there are plenty of examples). For a product to be in demand, requires that it meets many non numeric qualities. The catch all cliché is as we all know … location , location , location. What this means of course is far more than physical co-ordinates, it means the sum total of master plan, environment, neighborhood, view, design, fashion, appeal, quality, presence, security, management, style, class, … a whole string of adjectives that most of us recognize very easily when we see them but are often hard pressed to define or specify.
In the final analysis, the home that will sell easily in the future is the one that is perceived to have the those qualities that give it greatest appeal to buyers at that time. Size and number of bedroom while they will be very important to each individual buyer, will have not such a great impact when you consider the overall buyer market as a single entity. Location, great build quality, good maintenance, pleasing environment, designs that still hold appeal are key are now and will in the future always be the key to salability.