International legal

Real Estate in Thailand the Expat Perspective

Thailand has recently witnessed a surge of interest in property buyers from around the word. One of the first Questions on everyone’s lips when they enter the Kingdom is “How can I own the property I want to buy?”

There are a number of answers to this question, which revolve around the thai law that foreigners may own up to 49 percent of a condominium property. Hence if a property developer has build an apartment block of 100 units, can sell 49 percent of the condominium space (units) to foreigners. In this case each expat who buy one of the 49 units will wholly own the flat in his or her own name.

Buying a house standing on a piece of (Thai)land is a different story. In the past, many people opted for the easy route of buying the house in the name of a Thai friend. Effectively, you are giving them the money to buy a house and hope they do not lock you out after the first argument. History tells us that this method does not always have a happy ending.

Land for building comes with a title deed, or “Chanod” in Thailand. It is possible to have your Thai partner’s name on this document as owner, with your name also registered as mortgagor, as you This means that house cannot be sold without your consent. You can also use a Thai Nominee to purchase a property and have a 30 year renewal options form the nominee. Another method is Usufruct Interest (sidhi-kep-kin) that gives you temporary ownership rights to things on the Thailand. In practice, a Usufruct is limited to a 30 year maximum period; like leases, the agreement can be successively renewed. In contrast to a lease, a Usufruct interest can be sold or transferred, although it expires upon the death of the holder of the Usufruct and therefore can not be inherited.

Finally there is the limited Liability Company, which is most popular as the Articles of the Association can be varied to allow greater protection for foreign minority shareholders. The recommended foreigner ownership share in this case is 39 percent, but with changes to the Articles of Association, the foreigner can be the only active director of the company.

All these choices can be discussed with an experienced Real Estate agent and a satisfactory outcome is normal these days.