Experts urge flexible home design amid new trends

As the Thai economy and property market recover by the end of next year, housing developers should accelerate the transformation of properties in order to catch up with changing behaviours triggered by the pandemic and related megatrends, according to experts.

Somprawin Manprasert, chief economist and head of the research division at Krungsri Research, said homes of the future will need to be more diverse as stay-at-home guidelines have transformed homes from a living environment to a place of work as well.

“Home design should support work-from-home and ageing residents,” he said. “Internal spaces should be more flexible and open for frequent rearrangements. It should also be easier for home maintenance.”

As homes become more important and mass transit lines allow people to shift further away from inner-city areas, there is ample opportunity to develop residential projects in new locations accessible to transportation that provide larger facilities.

In the future, a family living arrangement will not be limited to parents with children or couples with no kids but will also include unique arrangements such as friends living with friends, siblings living together or father-in-law with son-in-law.

To keep up with this trend, developers should cater designs to this group, Mr Somprawin said.

As technology is now a must, home design should support technology connectivity. One example is to provide electric vehicle charging stations at homes or condos.

“Developers need to adjust as transformation is being underlined,” he suggested. “If the economy recovers and developers cannot sell their units, this means they have not changed their approach.”

Mr Somprawin said full economic recovery to a pre-pandemic level will take place by the end of 2022 as the third wave of Covid-19 has been more severe than expected.

Krungsri Research recently trimmed its prediction of GDP growth in 2021 to 2{28ab41d673507bfe0daf970418d2e81f9476b3e139564442359ad7402c370b16} from 2.2{28ab41d673507bfe0daf970418d2e81f9476b3e139564442359ad7402c370b16}.

As the domestic pandemic has discouraged reopening plans along with the slow recovery of major source markets of Thai tourism, the number of foreign tourists expected dropped from 3 million to only 330,000.

However, there will be more positive factors in the second half. The stimulus package from the government and broad-based growth of exports will support consumer spending and domestic tourism.

At the same time, a faster vaccination programme will lift sentiment and facilitate gradual opening in the second half of 2021.

“Every crisis creates a new paradigm shift,” said Kessara Thanyalakpark, managing director of SET-listed developer Sena Development Plc. “Developers need to change as the market now belongs to buyers.”

She said one of the changes triggered by the pandemic was condo buyers preferring ready-to-move or completed units as prices were lower than newly-launched projects.