Managed Developments Versus Stand-Alone Properties
If you have ever shared a house or home with somebody else you may have very mixed feelings about the experience. It may have been fun and maybe doing everything together felt easier and helped to spread the costs? Or perhaps it was noisy, with no privacy and you couldn’t make basic decisions for yourself – so much so, that you couldn’t wait to move out and get your own place? The question of buying a managed development against purchasing a ‘stand-alone’ property isn’t the same...but it isn’t entirely different either!
In Thailand, there is a vast selection of managed developments and plenty of stand-alone properties for you to consider. However, before you fall in love with any kind of property, it is a good idea to find out what you are letting yourself in for. Here is our list of pros and cons for both kinds of property…
Managed Developments – The Pros
  • Security, maintenance and upkeep of the common areas is probably the main advantage of buying a managed development. This means that the common swimming pool, gardens, lifts, walkways, roads, parking etc. will all be looked after even when you are not there so you have total peace of mind.
  • Managed developments often have other services added on. The management company can arrange cleaners to come in and change the towels and spruce the place up before you arrive so it’s ready for immediate occupancy. They can sort out internal repairs when you are not there and when you are there they can put you in touch with reputable local businesses that know the building. They can often arrange airport transfers or other rental services too. Rental management is usually charged at a set monthly rate or as a percentage of rental income.
  • Management companies mostly pay utility bills then consolidate all those bills into one monthly invoice to you. This means you don’t need to worry about paying for water, electricity, Internet, Telephone or Satellite TV – which gives you more time to enjoy yourself rather than worry about sorting out bills.
  Managed Developments – The Cons
  • Sinking Funds! Setting aside regular contributions for a fund towards future maintenance and improvements to the building is a sensible thing to do, but it can cause problems.
  • Costs and maintenance fees for the management development are shared and set by the management company, so you are not in control of these costs. Utilities are often included in the monthly bills too, which is an opportunity for the management company to inflate the prices for their own gain.
  • Service and maintenance costs are usually invoiced on a per square metre basis so be aware of what you letting yourself in for if you are seduced by a larger property – every square metre will hit your pocket.
  • Be wary of the management company itself. Like all businesses, some are well run, while others are abysmal. The last thing you want is to arrive at your dream holiday home to find that it hasn’t been maintained or kept secure in your absence. Do your homework and talk to other owners about the management company and the quality of their services. Also, check over the management contract for a collective termination clause which basically means that if it becomes necessary, a majority vote by the owners can allow a change of management company.
  • Buying into a managed development is supposed to give you peace of mind but to have total peace of mind you need to double check the terms and conditions of the management contract before you sign it.
 Stand-alone Properties – The Pros
  • You are in charge!
  • There are no monthly payments to a management company, you can use your money to service your property how you like.  Perhaps you can’t afford to have the building decorated this year, this way you can put it off until next year.
  • You pay the government rate for utilities. There is no mark up on utility bills by the management company which in the long run may save you a fortune.
  • No communal areas means no shared costs and no sinking funds.
  • Privacy
 Stand-alone Properties - The Cons
  • Security matters. In more remote areas this can be a major issue, but even in busier places you are more open to burglary.
  • Maintenance matters. Unless you have your own reliable staff in place or you have a separate contract for a management company you trust, you won’t benefit from regular upkeep of the garden, pool and house. It really adds to the feeling of luxury if you can arrive at your holiday home when it has been kept beautifully and is perfectly ready for your arrival. Who wants to spend the first week of their holiday catching up on repairs, cleaning and sorting out problems.
  • Tropical homes don’t do well if they are left unattended for long periods of time. The home needs to be aired and the gardens need to be cleared – you really don’t want a jungle out there. Pools also need regular maintenance and cleaning.
 Solutions for your Stand-alone Properties
  • Hire a live-in-maid or other staff. This can work well as salaries in Thailand are relatively low and it may work out less expensive than a management company. However, you need to know that your staff are trustworthy and will maintain the property in your absence, which is always a risk.
  • Take on the professionals. Engage a reputable property management company. Koh Samui has a host of excellent management companies, some of which are owned and run by English-speaking teams. Often, you can choose the level of maintenance and management you require so it is tailor-made to fit your property and your purse.
 Take time to consider all the pros and cons before you make your move – it really is worth the effort!