He’s been threatened, even with death, over the years, but Mark Wolf continues to sift through thousands of classified ads to get the best results for his busines
I see the bad posts. Some I ban. Some I message. Some send me threatening messages in return. Even the occasional death threat.
I feel like I'm an online addict. For the past 10+ years, I have been reviewing classifieds and property posts on (now) four separate websites in Thailand. And in the property and tech sectors for over 40 years.
Thankfully, I have help. Fulltime Thai staff who are young and full of energy. And AI (artificial intelligence). Unheard of years ago; now my friend.
Unlike many other websites, we personally review every listing. We have always reviewed every listing. My former partner at BahtSold.com often reviewed listings well into the night and always on weekends. It is a thankless job. We now finish by about 8 pm each day. Including weekends.
What are the weirdest and funniest posts? That is for another article.
I also have a confession. I can't read or write Thai. "Taxi Thai" is the best I can do after 20+ years in this Kingdom. Maybe it's my senior age; maybe I'm tone-deaf; but likely I am lazy.
No photo - delete. Copy of another listing - delete. An inappropriate photo - delete. No description - message. Wrong category (e.g. Office building in Villas for Sale) - message or fix. Location in the middle of the ocean - message or fix. On and on.
But I would love to delete the listings that are double - or half - of the reasonable price. Yet, I cannot. There are property agents who quote a much higher price to unsuspecting buyers only to collect the difference at closing as their inflated "commission". This practice has slowed with the loss of tourists, but a few agents still practice it weekly on our websites.
Or agents who lower the asking price to get inquiries. They respond that the property was sold or rented, but they have other great options for you to choose from. And quickly….
What categories have the most scammers? Electronics. Get Rich Quick courses. Businesses for sale. MLM help wanted. Interns needed. And of course, property.
Because there are no licensing laws - or even rules - in Thailand for property agents, everyone seems to consider themselves an experienced agent. If you ever rented a condo or bought a home that is the only experience that most "so-called agents" feel they need to get into the property business. Not so long ago, the Thailand government posted that there were 190,000 freelance property agents in the Kingdom. Who knows? Probably a lot less today. But in any case, too many in my opinion.
Most do one (or less) transactions a year. Most have no formal training. Many expect a "quick buck" without ever providing a service. And some are downright criminal. The same can be said of some owners and landlords. There are also many professional agents who, like me, wish the bad ones would disappear. But a website is not a good barometer of character - only the listings they post.
I see the bad posts. Some I ban. Some I message. Some send me threatening messages in return. Even the occasional death threat. I see them all. Just like the prices that are posted. Including a young lady trading her "former" boyfriend's 4-bedroom waterfront pool villa for a used Mercedes. Or accepting 100k baht for a 2-bedroom condo that had the wrong paint scheme. Or the expedited sale of a luxury villa for 1 million baht because a fortune teller said it was haunted. I could continue to expound for hours.
Asking prices for condos and villas - and everything else - vary greatly by numerous factors. But for studio size condos, which I often use as a barometer of trends, current asking prices are lower now than in pre-Covid times. But not in Bangkok. Certainly, lower in Phuket, Samui, Jomtien, Pattaya, and Chiang Mai. In some cases, 50% lower. I have recently seen condos for sale at 15,000 baht/square meter. And rentals of 5,000 baht/month and less. That was unheard of pre-Covid.
Why does Bangkok seem immune to a worsening residential property market? I suspect many factors. And maybe it still will. But for now, asking prices seem reasonably solid and transactions are still occurring.
What do I expect the future holds? That is for another article.
Can you make money in the property market during these unprecedented times? Absolutely. Again, for another article.
My young daughter claims that my eyes are popping out of my head from my reviews of listings. Especially when I am supposed to be reading her books at bedtime. She may be right. But how else can I be the "market superhero" who sees all and knows all in Thailand? Until I am replaced by a smart computer…
Mark is a 40+ year veteran of real estate and technology. He has developed many real estate projects in the US and founded many property and related companies. In Thailand, he is the founder or co-founder of online platforms BahtSold.com, ProperDee.com, ThailandCommercial.com and classifieds.thairath.co.th. He is also the co-founder of the Bangkok Venture Club, SE Asia's first startup investment club.