1) Can a foreigner legally own a land in Thailand?
Answer: Normally, a foreigner cannot own a land in Thailand. However, other alternatives exist for a foreigner to acquire land. For more information, please see 'Process to Acquire Land' for more information.
2) Though a foreigner cannot have an ownership of land, ss he/she allowed to own any structure on such land?
Answer: Legally, any building is considered as being a part of land over which such building is constructed. However, a building any be considered as a separate part when it is a tenant of land who builds a building under a leasing agreement. Therefore, a foreigner may own any building on the rented land.
3) How do I obtain construction permission?
Answer: Construction permission may be obtained at the local Administration Organization (Aor Bor Tor), or the Municipal office where your land is located. Structure plans submitted shall be certified by an engineer. A building must have the specifications indicated in the permission.
4) My land was secretly transferred to a third party without my knowledge, but it was not registered at the Land Department. What are my rights and obligations?
Answer: Any unregistered action, with the Land Department, regarding a land is not recognized under Thai Property Law. You are the sole owner of the land.
5) What are Thai Laws regarding a land lease?
Answer: A land lease for duration of 3 years and more must be registered with the Land Department and some fees must be paid. The maximum duration is 30 years which may be renewable for another 30 years. In case the parties agree for a lease of 60 years (30 years with an option to renew for another 30 years) a deposit payment against the rent payable during the 2nd part of contract shall be made at the sametime as a payment of the 1st half's deposit.
6) What is a 'condominium' under Thai Law?
Answer: The condominium Act (The Commonly Owned Housing Act of 2522) defines a condominium as a building featuring privately-owned property and common property. The owners of condominium unit own the land through a juristic person.
7) Can a foreigner legally own a condominium unit in Thailand?
Answer: Any non-Thai who has legally entered into Thailand may have a freehold ownership over a condominium unit, constructed on a land of less than 5 Rai, of certain projects in municipal jurisdictions of the Kingdom, such as Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket. However, condominium units owned by a foreigner shall not exceed 49% of the total space of the condominium project. Other restrictions are applicable.
A non-Thai owner of a freehold condominium unit may transfer a property to other foreigners.
If you wish to buy a condominium in Thailand there are certain points of which you should be aware before choosing your new property:
- How much are monthly maintenance fees and charges?
- How much are sinking funds? (For a use of common parts of condominium)
- Some condominium projects have never been finished for various reasons, so consider carefully before buying.
- If you are interested in A condominium, verify that your ownership of this property would not cause the total of foreign-owned total space of all units to rise more than the 49% allowed.
8) Can I buy a property in Thailand to my absence?
Answer: Yes, a person wishing to buy a land, including a foreigner, may purchase a land without being present at the time of registration of ownership at the Land Department. This shall be done by appointing, by a power of attorney, a lawyer to act on your behalf.
9) What is measurement using for land in Thailand?
Answer: In Thailand, Land is measured in Rai, Ngan and Wah.
1 Rai = 4 Ngan ( or 1,600 Sq.m)
1 Ngan = 100 Wah (or 400 Sq.m)
1Wah = 4 Sq.m
1Acre = 2.5 Rai
1 Hectare = 6.25Rai
Land prices are usually expressed in Bath per Rai or Bath per Wah.
Condominium prices are usually expressed in Bath per Sq.m
10) Can I legally rent out a property in Thailand?
Answer: Yes, a foreign-owned property may be rented out. Some banks may allow you to open an account to collect the rents. You, as a non-resident, must be aware that personal income tax shall be deducted from your income earned in Thailand.
11) If I no longer want to keep a property in Thailand, what are the taxes and fees on a sale of property in Thailand? By what means should I transfer my monies out of Thailand?
Answer: A person earning money from selling property in Thailand is taxed a withholding tax (from 0 to 37%), a specific business tax of 3.3% of the appraised price or the purchase price, whichever is higher, must be paid in case that a buyer has a property in his possession for less than 5 years. A fee of transfer of ownership is 2% of the appraised price. A government stamp must be paid only when a specific business tax is not applicable.
As regards to transferring monies out of Thailand, you must bring your bank account documents and passport to a bank to arrange a transfer. A transfer of more than $20,000 USD must be informed to the Bank of Thailand. A transfer of more than 2,000,000 baht must be informed to the Anti-Money-Laundering Office.
12) How can I buy an apartment, condominium, land or a house in Thailand?
Although the law does not allow foreigners to own land in Thailand, they can own the building on the land. However, there are exceptions:
12.1. A foreign company may buy if it has Board of Investment (BOI) privileges and the land is part of the project (usually manufacturing). Ownership is tied very strictly to the BOI terms and conditions agreed with the company.
12.2. A new law (Land code Section 96, 2002) allows a foreigner to buy up to one Rai (half an acre) of land to build a house in approved metropolitan areas like Bangkok and Pattaya, providing they also invest at least 40 million Bath for five years in government bonds, recognised property mutual funds or BOI projects. Permission for this must be obtained from the Interior Ministry and the ownership is monitored by the Land department.
12.3. Companies and partnerships also fall under the strict laws on land ownership by foreigners. A foreigner can only own up to 49% of a company and this restricts the ownership of land as well. It is often difficult for even a company with 51/49% ownership unless you use an experienced real estate lawyer.
13) Can I get a Mortgage Loan?
Until recently, foreigners could not get a mortgage on property in Thailand. This has changed since August 2005 and some overseas financial institutions have set up shop to offer special deals to foreigners, including direct personal loans to buy property and mortgage loans on property owned by the applicant in Thailand or overseas. These companies will allow you to mortgage your overseas property and bring the money into Thailand to buy property.
It is common for a real estate developer to arrange for his customers to have a financial package from a financial institution. In most real estate development projects a down payment can be made in installments over 10 to 24months. After the down payment has been paid, the sale contract will be made and the balance is paid through a loan which is financed from a financial institution requiring you to mortgage the property with it as collateral against the loan. The Bangkok Bank in Singapore is now providing home loans to approved customers as well.
14) Can you give me practical advice on the best way to buy property?
There are a number of possibilities. Our lawyers, Siam Legal will be able to advise you on the best solution for you needs. The following briefly explains the various ways to own property in Thailand.
14.1. Leasehold: Thai law allows a maximum lease period of 30 years, with the possibility to extend for a further 30+30 years. At the end of each term, both parties must register the renewal with the Land Department and pay government fees, including stamp duty. This gives the lessee 'ownership' of the land. The downside is that the Lessor may not wish to renew, or the law may change to your detriment in the future. Any capital you invest into leased property is therefore liable to be lost. In addition, leased land is not easy to trade.
14.2. Nominee: You can nominate a Thai to own the property for you. Definitely not recommended.
14.3. Nominee with a mortgage: You can lend the price of the property to a Thai under a legally executed mortgage or loan agreement. There is a small fee payable at the Land office to register it. The advantage to this is that the nominee cannot sell the property until the mortgage or loan has been repaid in full. Our lawyers will also set up a Last Will & Testament when they set up this type of transaction so that if the foreigner dies first the mortgage or loan is discharged in full and the Thai can inherit the property. If the Thai nominee dies first the foreigner can inherit the land, but must sell it to a Thai within 12 months.
14.4. Freehold: Foreigners can buy and own condominiums freehold, giving you full ownership rights to buy, sell, trade and bequeath your condominium. However, the law states that foreigners may only own up to 49% of any condominium building. So make sure your lawyer checks this before buying a property. The seller must also provide a document from the Juristic management office stating that the condominium is fee from all debts.
14.5. Company Ownership: We recommend setting up a company when buying a house. Land or other property that is not a condominium. Our lawyers can help you do this and you control the property without interference from your nominee Thai partners.
15) What is the difference between a Lease and Leasehold?
When you rent an apartment, you sign a Lease .Typically, a lease is for a minimum 12 month in Thailand, although some landlords may consider a shorter or longer term. When you sign a lease you are required to pay a 2 month deposit which is refundable when you move out, less any charges for damage to the property.
There are 2 types of Land Title Deed: Freehold and Leasehold means that the buyer is only leasing the property from the land owner for a predetermined period of time. Thai low stipulates that a property sold with a Leasehold title deed is only valid for up to 30 years. Renewal for a further 30 years is at the discretion of the lease holder (land owner). The property owner may also sell their property with a leasehold title deed. These are the conditions in operation today (2005), but they may change at any time in the future. Obviously, buying leasehold property has its drawbacks.
A Freehold Land Title Deed, on the other hand, gives full ownership rights to purchasers. Under this law foreigners may own a condominium freehold with full rights of ownership. You should always consult a qualified real estate lawyer before signing any purchase agreement.
16) My wife is a Thai National, can she own land?
Before 1998 any Thai women who married a foreigner would lose her right to purchase land on Thai land. She could still retain land that she owned before marrying the foreigner. The recent (1999) Ministerial regulation now allows Thai nationals married to foreigners the right to purchase land, but the Thai spouse must prove that the money used in the purchase of freehold land is legally solely theirs with no foreign claim to it. This is usually achieved by the foreign spouse signing a declaration stating that the funds used for the purchase belonged to the Thai spouse before the marriage and beyond this claim.
17) What about land appraisals & valuations?
Finding the exact appraisal price for land is difficult since there are generally three different appraisal rates; the government rate, the appraisal company's rate and the rate which is considered to be the fair market value of the land. Over the last few years all of the rates have begun to come closer together.
18) Are there property taxes in Thailand?
There are no property taxes as such that are exactly equivalent to the property taxes in the West. But the most comparable taxes on properties are the Land Tax and the Structures Usage Tax. The Land Tax levied on land is so miniscule that in practice the body charged to collect it rarely bothers to do so. And if they do, they usually wait several years until the amount accumulates. The second tax, the Structures Usage Tax, relates to buildings. It is collected by the municipal office or district office and is only applied to properties used for commercial purpose.
19) What Taxes and Costs are there when I Buy Property?
Whenever a property in Thailand is bought and sold there are four taxes that need to be taken into account (many buyers, especially foreigners, fail to take these into account). In 2001 the government reduced the property tax to 0.11 percent to stimulate the property sector. However, in December 2003, the Cabinet issued a resolution on property taxes and from 1st January 2004 the business tax returned to the original 3.3% rate as a result of the recovery of the property sector. Similarly, the transfer returned to the normal rate of 2 percent from the reduced rate of 0.01 percent.
The following fees are now payable on property transfers:
1. Land registration (Transfer fee) of 2.0% of assessed value of the land.
2. Stamp Duty/Fee of 0.5% of the assessed value or the sale price, whichever is higher.
3. Specific Business Tax of 3.3% of the assessed value or the sale price, whichever is higher. This will be applied to all sales by companies and to any private sales that occur within 5 years of the date of purchase.
4. Income Tax, this is calculated on a very complex formula based on the assessed value of the property, the length of time owned and the applicable personal income tax rate, in practice, this will work out to less than 2% of the price for low to medium value properties and up to 3% for higher value properties.
Because of the local system of taxing property on an arbitrary assessed value as determined by the Land Department, rather than true market value, these taxes could amount to a considerable percentage of the purchase price. Therefore, if you haven't determined during the negotiations that the seller will pay the taxes upon transfer, you could get a nasty shock when a tax bill arrives, often some two or three months after the sale is completed. As in all business transactions anywhere, caveat emptor (buyer beware) rules. There are no set rules on who pays for which taxes and it is just another part of the bargaining process, make sure you discuss it with the agent and your own lawyer.
20) If I buy property and want to live in Thailand, how can I do that?
You can apply for a visa depending on the type of residency laws you would like to stay here under. For example, if you plan to buy a property and run a business you can apply for a business visa, or if you plan to retire you can apply for a retirement visa. The answers to this question is far too complex to go into here. We recommend you talk to your lawyer about this before buying any property.
21) What should I look for in a property?
Whether you are considering renting, leasing or purchasing property there are several infrastructure and other considerations which must be taken in to account.
1. Location: Roads, proximity and access to business,shops,hospital etc.
2. Telephone: Access to direct lines, IDD facilities and internet connection.
3. Water: Government/mains water and/or supplementary storage facilities.
4. Electricity: Government/mains and/or backup generators for condominium blocks.
5. Security: 24 hour security service, door and window locks etc.
6. Cable or satellite TV connection.
7. Pest Control: Localized spraying and fly wire screens on windows.
8. Hot water facilities: Nearly all in Thailand are instant and not storage
9. Air conditioning: A necessity in Thailand.
10. White Goods: Refrigerators and washing machines etc.
22) What is a condominium? What is an apartment?
A condominium is like a flat (apartment) that you can own in common with other owners of units within a high-rise building with complete facilities. This means that each tenant is a share holder in the building and surrounding common property and they pay a monthly management fee based on the square meter size of their apartment to maintain the building and public areas. Foreigners may own a condominium freehold with full rights of ownership
An apartment is a building owned by one owner who lets out units within the building on a short or long-term basis.
23) What is a Townhouse?
A townhouse is a single vertical dwelling in a block of similar vertical dwellings, each owned by one owner.
24) Can you help me decide where to live?
Your agent should be able to suggest the best place to live, based on the information you give him.
25) What you help me decide where to live?
Yes of course! You can call on us any time for help. However, most condominium and apartment building managers speak at least some English and should be able to understand you.
26) How do I pay the utility bills?
If you are renting, most building will pay the bills for you and add them to you monthly rent. It is a good idea to find out the cost of utilities before you move in so that you know how much you will have to pay. If you are living in a house we can advise you on the best methods of payment. For example, most utility bills can be paid direct from your bank account and the receipts sent to your residential address. Nowadays you can also pay utility bills at any 7/11 store. When buying, you should also inquire about telephone and electricity connection fees.
27) How safe is it to live In Thailand?
Thailand has an enviable reputation as a very safe place to visit and to live. The people are friendly and there is relatively little crime against foreigners. However, like anywhere else in the world, there is always the potential for crime. If your agent feels an area you visit is not safe, he should advise you and suggest alternatives. We all want you to enjoy your stay here!
28) Will I need to bring my own furniture? Can I buy quality furniture in Thailand?
There is plenty of fully furnished apartments and condominiums available. If you don't plan to stay in Thailand permanently it may be better to leave your furniture in storage back home. Even if you plan to rent or buy a house, you can always get one fully furnished. If you prefer to furnish it yourself, your agent can advise you on the best places to shop.
29) What sports and exercise facilities are available?
Thailand offers a wealth of sports including golf, trekking, para-gliding, diving, fishing, squash, jogging venues and so on. Serviced apartments and condominiums usually have their own exercise rooms and swimming pools.
Ask your agent to show you properties with the facilities you want.
30) How fast can you find me somewhere to live?
As fast as possible. We will prepare a list of properties that have the features you are looking for after we discuss your needs with us.
31) What about schooling for our children?
Thailand boasts some of the best international schools in the region in all the most highly populated centers like Bangkok, Pattaya , Chiang Mai, Phuket and Hua Hin. Fees are high but so are their teaching standards. In Hua Hin there are many English Program Schools which boast English Speaking teachers.
32) What is the minimum rental contract and what are the terms and conditions?
Most rental periods are for one year although some shorter terms are available. In most cases you will need to pay a 2 months deposit and one month rental in advance when you sign the contract. Sometimes, especially for longer contracts, the landlord may require 3 months deposit. The deposit is refundable when you move out, although the landlord may deduct expenses for any damage to the property during your tenancy.
33) I'm moving to Thailand, which is a completely new country, with different customs, from my home country. What can you do to make it easy for me?
If you plan to stay here for more than 1 year and you have never been here before, we recommend you take a cross-cultural seminar that will explain the many strange and different things you will encounter in your daily life.
34) Do I have to pay an agent any additional fees for finding me a property in Thailand?
Not usually. The seller or renter will pay your agent's fees.
35) What is the procedure if I buy a condominium?
The procedure for buying a condo is extremely easy. The first step is to select the property you want to buy and ensure that it has a Chanote (or at least a Nor Sor 3 Gor) freehold Land Title Deed. Your agent will negotiate the best possible price for you and the seller. When you have an agreement, ask for a copy of the Land Title Deed from the seller. The buyer pays for the lawyer's fees. The seller (usually) pays the transfer fees and taxes, as well as the agent's commission. Then follow these steps:
35.1. Visit your lawyer with the seller and your agent where we will lay out the terms of the dea, and give the lawyer all the documents, including a copy of your passport, bank account details and the land title deed. At this stage you may be asked to give a deposit to the seller, usually 20% of the purchase price. You will be issued with a receipt that states you will forfeit the deposit if you pull out of the deal for any reason. Or if the land title deed does not clear at the land office. Your agent should ask the seller to allow the lawyer to hold the money in escrow until you are ready to sign the sale papers and pay the purchase price.
35.2. The lawyer will prepare a Sales and Purchase Agreement ready for both parties to sign.
35.3. The lawyer will send one of his staff to the land office to check that the land title deed is free and clear from any encumbrance, debts, etc. He will advise if there is any problem with the title deed.
35.4. Meanwhile, your agent or lawyer will take you to the bank to open a bank account if you don't already have one. New restrictions have been imposed on foreigners opening bank accounts in Thailand but your agent should be able to help you overcome these legally.
35.5. You will transfer the full cost of the condominium to your bank account less any deposit you have already paid.
35.6. The lawyer will accompany you to the bank when the money arrives to work with the bank to get the proper paperwork required for a condominium purchase.
35.7. The lawyer will call another meeting when everything is ready to conclude the deal. You normally meet at his office, sign the papers and hand over to the seller the cashier's cheque (or money in whatever from you are paying).
35.8. When this is done the lawyer will accompany you and the seller to the land office to complete the transfer of the land title deed to you, the new owner. This should only take a few hours, but it could take up to 4 or 5 days in some circumstance. Don't worry. Once you and the seller have signed all the sales and purchase papers and handed over the money the property is legally yours and you are fully protected under Thai law.