Finnish Auditor Changes Hats As Property Developer

As Pattaya and Jomtien become increasingly crowded, Scandinavians are looking further south-east where close to Rayong, the newly-established Rayong Properties assists foreigners find what they want. The operation is under the management of Juhani Ruokokoski from Finland and Vincent Harvey.
They also run V.P. Guest House (where prospective buyers are invited to stay) on Hat Mae Ram Phoeng beach, 15 kilometres from Rayong and have commenced customised construction of houses for Scandinavians.
Juhani, who used to run an auditing company in Stockholm for twenty years, has spent most of the last three years in Thailand with his Thai wife, gradually scaling down his Swedish business to a minimum. Instead he has increased his activities in Thailand, focusing on the less developed Rayong coast.
The collaboration with Vincent was established as they met at Hat Mae Ram Phoeng and Juhani offered him to produce a website. Vincent owned some land and one thing lead to the other.
The new real estate service has so far received great response.
“The website has really been a success from the start during only six months of operation. We have had many customers and many visitors to the website with 6-8000 page views per month. That is quite good,” says Juhani modestly.
The only marketing he did was linking with other websites and optimising it for the search engines.
“Looking at the statistics so far who are most interested in buying houses in this area, nearly 50 per cent are Swedes. It’s a boom. Then Norwegians and Finns follow but not to the same extent.”
As agents they have already sold some houses in this area, and as a result both Thais and foreigners are coming to get help from Rayong Properties in selling their houses.
The great response and Vincent and Juhani’s belief in Rayong as an upcoming area, lead them into becoming also property developers. Now they are constructing three houses on a land plot 1 kilometre inland from the beach and are in the final negotiations to buy another land plot of 2 hectare where they would build at least 40 houses, as they can see a big demand for homes among Scandinavians.
“It’s a very good land plot and not so expensive. The only issue is the access to the area from the beach. If we can solve that, we will buy the land.”
Price of land in the area is quite expensive according to Juhani, but not as costly as in Pattaya. But it has gone up with 25 per cent in one year.
– Because of foreigners buying here?
“Probably, and also, the land owners follow the Pattya area, where it has increased more and more.”
Their first project consists of three houses priced at THB 3.5 million each on a land complex with a common swimming pool. “We are building the first house now, and it works like this; that you only need to construct the foundations of a house and it will already be sold.”
Houses they are agents for are both Thai and foreign-built. The standard is entirely different even though Juhani claims there are also some Thai houses of really good standard available.
– Is the quality better on the foreign houses?
“Yes, all the way from construction to finish. For example, our houses are built with the shell in the Thai standard way with concrete and steel. But the interior, electricity, water, plumbing and kitchenware has Nordic standard.”
The price on such a house is in comparison a lot more costly. Especially the conveniences Scandinavians like are quite expensive as a lot of materials are imported.
Some houses available through Rayong Properties are for sale for THB 1.6 million only. “We had a two-storey house nearby our own project, in Thai style, with three bedrooms,” says Juhani.
In order for the foreign buyers to own the land their house is built on he recommends starting a company to buy it as the best solution. “In most cases when you buy a stand alone house it is much safer,” thinks Juhani.
Some experienced property lawyers in Pattaya assists in order for their clients to have control over the company as minority shareholders in a safe way.
That is achieved by using different classes of shares, e.g. ordinary and preference shares issued to the foreign and required Thai shareholders.
The cost for such a solution is about THB 65,000 Baht altogether for the first year and then about THB 15,000 per year for tax and fees.
On Rayong Properties’ own developments leasehold will also be considered for buyers.
– Why choose Rayong?
“We can see, especially this area between Rayong city and Ban Phe, as very nice with a nice beach. It is quiet, no criminality, and then also very near to everything; central but still not in the city, compared to Mae Pim, which it is quite far away from civilization.”
– Do you anticipate an expan-sion here similar to Pattaya/Jomtien?
“Not on that scale, but more will happen than today. The beach area will change a lot.  Only one year ago, you hardly saw a foreigner here anywhere. Now you see them all the time. It has changed a lot in one year. In two years it will increase but this will not become like Pattaya,” Juhani believes.

About Joakim Persson

Freelance business and lifestyle photojournalist

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