Moving to Thailand can be the start of an exciting adventure. The country has many different business opportunities for those who are looking for major changes in life. It also offers new challenges for those who want to remain in their chosen professions but want to do something a little different. English teachers, for example, may find teaching English as a Second Language in the beautiful setting of Thailand helps to reinvigorate their passion for their jobs.
But before you can do that, you have to make the move to Thailand, and that means having a place to live. For some, that means renting, but if you’re planning on settling in Thailand for a good number of years, you may want to consider purchasing real estate in the country.
Much like in many countries, you have several options for purchasing real estate in the country. You may wish to purchase a condominium, or you might want to buy a detached house or a townhouse. However, there are a number of legal regulations you have to follow no matter what type of property you want to purchase. Purchasing a condo is the easiest option for a non-Thai citizen if you’re set on owning rather than renting.
Buying a Condo
There are a few additional rules that apply to foreigners who are looking to buy Bangkok condos. While condos are available to anyone regardless of whether or not he or she is a Thai citizen, condo buildings do have a foreign maximum. What this means is that only 49% of the building can be owned by foreigners. The other 51% must be owned by Thai citizens. This means if the building in which you want to purchase your condo is already maxed out on foreign owners, you will have to select another building. There is no way to work around this law.
In addition to the percentage requirement, there are a few other laws related to owning a condo. These rules are a part of the Condominium Act of 2008. This act regulates the sale of condos to foreign investors and individuals. These laws do vary by jurisdiction in some cases, so always check to see if additional laws may apply to your purchase.
Fortunately, there are many condos located in downtown Bangkok and in other major cities. It’s actually fairly easy to find a building located in the area you want that has condos available for foreign individuals. In Bangkok itself, foreign investors account for 17% of all condo owners, which is both a fairly large number and, at the same time, shows that there are plenty of condos still available for foreign purchase.
Financing Your Condo Purchase
It can be difficult to find a Thai bank that will approve a loan for foreigners. Even those who have lived in Thailand under a work permit visa may have difficulty securing a loan. It is possible to find a lender eventually, but you may also want to borrow the money from a local bank before you make the move to Thailand.
The Condominium Act also outlines some regulations on how you must pay for your condo if you are not a resident of Thailand. These rules state that you have to pay for the property in full using your local currency before moving to Thailand. You will have to obtain a Foreign Exchange Transaction Form from a Thai bank and then provide this certificate or coin note, depending on the amount paid, to the Thai Land Department. Note that you cannot pay using Thai currency.
If you do not have a bank account in Thailand, you will pay the condo owner directly or purchase the condo through a third party. It’s often much easier and more secure, however, to open a bank account in Thailand and transfer all funds through the account. Even if your purchase is financed via a mortgage from a lender in Thailand, your loan will generally be done in a currency other than the Thai Baht.
Purchasing Other Properties
Purchasing a townhouse or stand-alone house is much more difficult. In fact, it’s not legal for foreigners to purchase land in the country. Because houses and townhouses are considered landed property, you won’t be able to purchase them on your own. You can, however, actually own the structure built on the land. This creates an interesting situation where purchasing land and a home upon it is often done in two steps. If you do want to own land with a property upon it, you have several different options.
Buy a Home with a Thai Native
If your spouse, significant other, or someone else with whom you have a stable relationship is willing to, he or she can purchase the property your home will sit on. This does put you at a disadvantage, however, because you have absolutely no legal rights to the land at all. If your marriage or relationship ends, there is nothing you can do if your ex decides to sell the land, even if you own or partially own the house.
While it is a risk, having a partner or spouse who is a native of the country purchase the property also has financial benefits. As a native, he or she can much more easily receive financing from a local bank, which does make purchasing the property easier.
Purchase as a Business
A business may own property in Thailand even if that business was started by a foreigner. Many who move to Thailand create Private Thai Limited Companies and purchase the land through these companies. These companies are similar to Limited Liability Companies in the United States in that the shareholders are protected from litigation against the company.
These companies are regulated by the Thai Civil and Commercial Code Section 1096. This section outlines how stock is to be divided, what officials must be elected to run the company, and what paperwork needs to be filed. Once created, the company can then purchase real estate of any type in Thailand.