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Bangkok Condominiums vs Serviced Apartments

What is the difference between a condominium, an apartment, and a "serviced apartment" in Bangkok?

Apartments, both ordinary and "serviced", are much like hotels, in that one company owns the entire building and all the units within, which are all rented out, none owned.

Condominiums are different. The units are each owned by a different person. None of the individual units are owned by "the building". Some of the owners may rent out their units, and in fact Bangkok condominium buildings tend to have about 30% of their units rented out vs. 70% owner occupied, though the percentages can vary quite a bit. The city center tends to have a much higher percentage of investment properties purchased solely for resale at a later date (expecting to sell at a higher price later) and renting out for income during the years between purchase and sale. However, many owners live in their unit for many years without initially intending to rent it, but then move somewhere else and rent out their unit rather than sell it.

Apartments are usually a little more expensive per square meter for a given location and quality, and offer less diversity in design, sticking to mass market preferences in furnishings. Nonetheless, there are some fantastically designed apartments by professional interior designers. Most apartments come fully furnished, including kitchen or kitchette.

"Serviced apartments" are designed for shorter stays, offering shorter rental or leasing options, compared to ordinary apartments. Serviced apartments are in-between a hotel and an apartment. You can generally stay in some serviced apartments for as little as a few days like in a hotel, though most residents may be there for a month or more, and a small percentage stay for a year or more. Ordinary apartments may have a minimum lease period of six months or a year.

Apartments normally have some sort of maid service available, and serviced apartments have especially good maid services, normally. Both have a restaurant inside the building, a laundry service or shared coin operated machines if not a washing machine inside the units, and perhaps some other conveniences tailored for short stay residents.

The main differences between an apartment and a serviced apartment are the lease term, the kinds of customers they cater to, and the cost per square meter (for a given location and quality). However, there can be a grey area in-between.

Condominiums are individually owned. Some were previously occupied by the owner or someone in their family, but most condominiums are investment properties. There is a fantastic variation in styles of furnishings of condominiums, as well as a wide variety of prices per square meter, from significantly lower than an apartment to much higher for super luxury units. Many investment properties offer good rental values. Most condos are fully furnished, but you can also find lightly to entirely unfurnished.

In apartment buildings, you just pay your electricity and water bills at the office. Usually, the cost per unit of electricity is higher in an apartment building, and many of these buildings make a significant profit from resale of electricity. In condominium buildings, you normally pay for electricity and water by going to a local convenience store to pay your bills (like 7-11, Family Mart, etc., which are all equipped to collect payments for all utilities, mobile phone companies, etc.), or else the landlord will pay them and then bill you. You normally pay the electricity company's rate, which is the cheapest possible, when you rent a unit in a condominium building, just like all other residents.

Condominium buildings have more established, less transient occupants. The occupants tend to be families and working people, not tourists. The ambiance is more quiet.

However, if you are bringing a substantial amount of furniture with you so that you want some furniture removed, or else have special needs or wishes as regards particular ordinary furnishings for practical reasons, then an apartment building offers the advantage of being able to swap furniture to/from their storage stock or between rooms. With condo owners, small changes can be negotiable, but major changes usually not.

Facilities vary. Both condominiums and apartments of all types normally have a swimming pool and fitness center, but vary about things like a garden, playground, nice lounge, and sports facilities.

Condominium buildings and the land they are upon are initially owned by the developer while under construction. Then the units are sold to individual owners and ownership of the land and common elements is usually turned over to a juristic company, which is controlled by a board of the owners, and takes care of maintenance and other matters. The owners pay a monthly condominium fee. (Normally, renters do not pay this condominium fee.)

Rental units in condominiums are usually investment properties. The owners buy the unit and typically plan to resell it after 5 years or more after property values go up, as they usually do (but of course sometimes go down or don't change significantly), collecting rent as a profit in the interim time.

(Most condominium owners tend to be either institutionalized property investors for a living or else exporters who prefer to put their money into property than other investments. Banks in Thailand offer low interest rates. Thailand's official GNP is 68% exports, 7% tourism, and only 25% domestic consumption, whereby there are many extremely wealthy Thai exporters. These exporters are normally very high class and wealthy Thais, usually descended from Chinese immigrants. However, there are increasing numbers of foreign investors in condominiums, since foreigners can own condominiums but not a land & house, so many condominium landlords are foreigners, unlike houses and apartments.)

Apartment buildings have their own standard lease. Condominium owners usually accept our real estate company's standard lease. If negotiating terms of a lease, condominium owners are much easier and quicker to work with, generally, because of less bureaucracy and any lease terms you wish to negotiate don't need approval from higher up.

In our website search form, we separate these three kinds of properties: condominiums, apartments, and serviced apartments. This gives the option for discriminating visitors to save time by choosing the kind of rental unit and environment they prefer. On the search form, you have all the options you want -- you can choose one type, or all types, or any combination for your search.

We have tried to keep our search form as simple yet flexible as feasible, trying to find a happy medium.

Here is our rental property search form: RENT. Note the "Type of Property" row of checkboxes.

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