Prices and Negotiations
Having been in real estate in Thailand since the year 2000 (and engineering, construction, and property development before then), I have been through countless negotiations as the objective third party. The landlord and often their spouse and/or other family members are on one side, and the tenant and possibly their company are on the other. You may try negotiating directly with the landlord if you wish, but it is recommended that you have a good agent deal with the landlord. Often, with the landlord getting pressures and comments from others on "their side", the real estate agent is a very important voice of reason and especially expertise to the landlord, to counter pressures and often lack of expertise by their peers. Landlords often respect professional brokers as both experts and a neutral third party.
Unfortunately, it is fairly common for new brokers, either Asian or expats, to simply relay requests between the two sides. Indeed, they may be intimidated by the high relative status of both sides. Not so with our company. As the neutral third party advising both sides, we have experience and skills in ways of analyzing a situation and working out a mutual agreement which works for both parties at a particular price. I'm not going to give away all our expertise on the internet to our competitors, of course, but suffice it to say that we have a long history of analyzing and dealing with a variety of situations and details. As the expat Managing Director, I often step in to help out my agents with negotiations once a tenant has chosen a place.
Next, let's back up and start with the basics:
Renters and buyers normally want to know how much they can negotiate a price. A general answer is that it varies between apartments vs. condominiums & houses.
The prices for houses and condominiums are normally negotiable. How much you can negotiate varies widely from property to property. Some landlords state the price they expect. Others pad it a little for negotiations, or are not familiar with the market price (especially during times of fluctuation such as recession).
The prices for apartments are different, more difficult to negotiate or not negotiable.
Apartments and condominiums are different by definition: Only one owner owns all units in an apartment building and standardizes on prices. In a condominium building, different units have different owners.
Apartment buildings normally will not negotiate significantly on price, if at all, because if one renter gets a better price than another renter, then the renter who is paying more will often become unhappy and feel like they were dealt with unfairly or ripped off by the owner. A lot of dischord can happen in an entire building if one renter gets a special price.
Apartment buildings have standard prices in writing and normally stick to them. However, for that price, you can often negotiate what is included in that price, since that's not so simple and obvious to compare with other tenants. Nevertheless, there are limits on what's included for the same reasons -- if somebody proudly brags that they got a lot of stuff included, their own ego massage can cause a lot of dischord to others, so owners have their limits.
Houses and condominiums are much more flexible on prices, since you are dealing with different owners, and different furnishings in style and quality. They don't care what the neighbors think, since that's none of their business.
The styles and furnishings tend to be fairly standard and very similar between different units in an apartment building, but vary greatly between condominium units or houses.
If you want furniture added, taken out, or changed, then it is easier in an apartment building because the owner can just shift furniture between units. With houses or condos, the owner must move things in or out, which they are usually willing to do, or even buy items. (See the section on Furnished or Unfurnished.)
The electricity and water bills are usually higher in apartment buildings, but the lower government rate for houses and condos. In an apartment building, you pay the apartment building, not the government. The apartments often add a surcharge, which varies from building to building and can be quite substantial. We always find out the price per unit at the start.
Generally, you pay more for apartments, but get a little bit better local support and service. Condominium buildings also normally have a service office and maintenance team (supported by the condominium owners association and bylaws) and things like a laundry service on one floor. Where there's supply, there's demand, but apartments are more centralized in management.
Condominium and house village fees are normally paid by the landlord and included in the rent, not paid by the tenant. (After all, the owner is the one responsible for their payment.) The tenant normally pays for consumption of electricity and water. Usually, the tenant pays their own internet and cable TV, but internet and cable TV can be negotiated as included in the lease since they are fixed monthly charges. You just need to choose which package (internet speed, number of TV channels).
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