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Thai Property Law

Why Buy Property in Thailand?

Generally for the same reason you would buy property anywhere in the world. Owning means you don’t need to ever pay rent, you can modify and change the property to personalize and there is no risk of eviction and needing to find a new place. Thai real estate also attracts little or no land tax, as such percentage returns are generally better than the west.

In today’s world where banks are paying such miserable interest rates property investment either for appreciation or rental income has become increasingly more popular as people try to get a reasonable return on their money. Likewise many view parking your money in “bricks and mortar” seems safer and surer than the manipulated stock market, or in banks now that many governments have legislated bank bail-ins (meaning the depositors take the losses if a bank fails like in Cyprus).

Is Thailand though a safe place to buy real estate? We have personally been doing so for 10 years and have never encountered any problems, in fact it is much easier than in the west. Likewise in Thailand’s long history there has never been any action whatsoever even suggesting that foreign holdings were unsafe, that includes both civilian and military governments. The business of Thailand is business, it is a major destination for foreign investment in manufacturing, has a large expat population, its economic blueprint relies on a safe investment environment.

Property Ownership Restrictions

  1. Condo Ownership: Essentially foreigners can only own condos if foreign ownership does not exceed 49%. This can be checked with the building management. As such a foreigner can easily sell a condo to another foreigner or a Thai buyer, Thai sellers can only sell to another Thai.
  2. Land Ownership: Only Thai nationals can legally buy land, houses or townhouses. Anyone saying otherwise is not being consistent with the law.
  3. Foreign Land Usage: Foreigners can lease land for 30 years, or obtain a Usufruct a legal system for lifetime of usage. Many sales people will say that leases can be extended for longer, our understanding of the law is that this is not true, in fact if the owner was interested in extending a lease then a new lease would need be negotiated.
  4. Company Property Ownership: Thai Companies (not foreign) can be used to purchase land, however the situation can be complicated as this system isn’t really in the spirit of the law. It is however widely used.

How to Buy?

It is actually very straightforward to buy property. You essentially turn up at the Land Office with your passport and bank draft. The seller brings his title deed (chanote) and other papers depending on the type of property, the Land Office checks the title deed with their copy, transfer tax (about 3%) is calculated and paid by prior agreement, then the title is changed.

Buyers are welcome to use a lawyer if they prefer, however it generally isn’t necessary. Please feel free to forward any questions you may have and we will answer them for you.