Dream homes in Thailand now also for Finns

The Finns, who has seemed a bit absent on an otherwise thriving Thai real estate market among Scandinavians is likely to become just as interested once realizing the opportunity is there. The easiness with which a newly launched development by Finns could be sold to compatriots just shows the potential.
The explanation, it is said, is that Finns are slow starters but once they approve to something – for sure they can be counted on.
“They are not the ones who make the first moves. That is the character of Finnish people. They like to be more secure in their decisions, which is one of the reasons of our success, that they have a Finnish developer here,” says Jussi Annunen, Managing Director of Nordic Lights Group. “Finns think carefully and once they have found what they like, they make the decision – and that stays.”
Just like in the case of the other Scandinavian countries, fellow countrymen were needed in order to get the ball rolling and Jussi, who on the contrary likes to be first, is a pioneering Finnish developer in Thailand. “I like that position, but don’t take any credit for it.”
Jussi, with 12 years’ experience of working within the hi-tech sector in China and also running a textile company in Hong Kong, had hardly started before he was getting daily phone calls from Finns asking: ‘Do you still have those houses?’
Becoming a developer happened accidentally for him and his business partner. While they in 2005 were checking the construction of their own holiday houses in Hua Hin the opportunity came up to buy some land. Originally they had planned to use the resort town for vacations and a place where to play golf.
“Whenever I had holidays I came here. I knew Thailand well and ended up in Hua Hin because it fits my goal with a house here. Its’ small size, the short distance to Bangkok and easy for my parents to get to – those were the main things.”
One day another Swedish developer told them of a land plot for sale, and as they had discussed investing in Thailand it felt like a natural step forward.
“That was one of those what I call thirty seconds decisions. I looked at my business partner who was nodding his head and the decision was made, just like that.”
If it sounds easy, Jussi explains that he and his business partner are good at taking fast and hard decisions. They take risks, but calculated ones. They saw an opportunity in that there were no Finns around because nobody was providing to them.
Not that they are taking on the role of selling strictly to Finns. By pure coincidence, as Jussi spread the world among his friends while on a trip to Finland for family matters, he started a snowball effect. A friend immediately showed enthusiasm and offered marketing assistance.
“The idea was introduced to quite a few people around us, people who play golf. Suddenly we got calls coming in every day.”
Soon enough the first project ‘Dragon’s Dream’ (the dragon is his Chinese sign) became one of the first Finnish villages in Thailand, as all the 44 houses were sold to Finns for 1.9 million Baht each, and only by word of mouth.
“The first 30 customers know me or someone close to my network. So I put maximum personal effort into this project, because my own reputation is on line in my own hometown,” says Jussi.
The next project launched, Chan Tha Gardens (2 kilometres from Palm Hills Golf Course), is however international already. “We are not tying ourselves of being a developer for Finnish people. I am looking for new buyers’ markets even in Central Europe which are not that much supplied yet.”
The four different house models cost up to around 5 million depending on the plot size. “But from 2.4 million up to 3.5 is what we are mainly aiming at. We have analysed this carefully and we see great potential within this price range,” says Jussi, 42 and single, who foresees a very fruitful market in the years to come and himself in the role as the visionary, the controller and the face that customers will meet.
“My future is developing in Thailand and after that I will still be living here. That is my last dream, to develop quite a few years, and then I will retire in Paradise.”

About Joakim Persson

Freelance business and lifestyle photojournalist

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