Purchasing Property in Thailand

Information about the process of locating and purchasing a property in Thailand...

Foreigners may purchase property in Thailand in their Thai spouse's name. Only the Thai spouse's name will be listed on the Title Deed, but a Memorandum states the foreigner's marriage to the Thai owner. Because the property is purchased jointly, both have legal rights and it cannot be sold without both parties' signatures.

It is possible for a foreigner to own the property (right of superficies) upon a piece of land owned by a Thai national.

There are other options available to foreigners wishing to buy property in Thailand. Advice from professionals in property and law is highly recommended for anyone buying property in Thailand.

Locating a property

Finding the right location is essential when purchasing a home. Factors such as price, distance from work, schools, environment and city versus suburbs, all play a part in the decision-making process. In Bangkok, location is all important, as to travel even short distances by road can take a long time. Properties near to a BTS, Metro station or expressway generally enjoy a premium.

There are a number of ways to find a property. There are homes for sale online, in the local newspapers and signs may be posted in the neighbourhoods. Many home buyers decide to make their purchasing as simple as possible and opt to hire a real estate agent.

Agents are very helpful when the buyer wants representation. When choosing an agent, it's important that communication and mutual respect is established from the beginning. Decide and stick to a pre-determined budget. The agent's commission is approximately three percent plus VAT, although usually the seller pays the commission.

The buying process

The buying process may vary depending on the type of property to be purchased and the way in which it is purchased.

  • For official information from the Department of Lands website: Click here (in Thai)

It is best to also check with experts in real estate for any recent changes to the law.

It is highly recommended that an independent lawyer is hired to draw up any documents required and advice on the exact documentation and paperwork needed for buying or selling properties in Thailand. Part of the transfer is done at the local Land Office where it may not be possible to find an English speaking officer. The documents at the Land Office will be in Thai.

The negotiation

If a real estate agent is involved, most of the negotiating will be handled by the agent. It is important to know what one wants before going into negotiations, such as:

  • Price
  • Terms and conditions: length of loan repayment and interest rate
  • Exactly what items in the house are included in the price
  • Possible renewal if leasehold

It is highly advisable that a complete title search is done by a law firm. A land survey should also accompany this title search. A person can own a house in Thailand and not necessarily own the land, so a thorough search is necessary. Loans from banks and unauthorised money lenders using the land title deeds as security are common in Thailand. When buying a condominium, a title report should be obtained which will state whether there are any overdue fees and whether there is a sinking (or reserve) fund. It should also also state that the condo was built with a valid construction permit.

As of 2008, an amendment of the condominium law gave the consumer greater rights; the developer's contractual requirements include fulfilling claims made in any advertising literature produced by the developer.

Prior to making a final commitment, it is recommended to have an engineer inspect the property for any major defects to the structure and the electrical and plumbing installations.

A home inspection is essential for peace of mind when buying property. This simple process will save money and allow for better negotiations. If problems exist, the inspector should bring those issues to light. Any problems can then be presented and negotiated with the seller.

The Purchase Contract

When all parties involved reach an agreement a purchase contract is drawn up and all parties must sign the documents. A deposit is normally required at this stage. There is no legal requirement for documents to be notarised in Thailand, but all copies of documents have to be signed as being true copies of the original. All parties listed on the deed must sign the purchase agreement.

The agreement can be prepared by the agent or the seller and purchaser. It is important to include everything that is included with the property (for example furnishings, refrigerator).

Closing the Buying Process

After a final check of the property the seller and buyer meet to sign the appropriate documents. The meeting usually takes place either at the real estate office or, if a lawyer was hired, at the lawyer's office. Unless power of attorney is given it will also be necessary to visit the local Land Department office.

The documents required at the time of purchase will depend on the type of property and the method of purchase. If a limited company is involved the amount of paperwork required is large and it is essential that a lawyer is involved. Documents needed will include some or all of the following, check with a lawyer for exact details:

  • Passport or ID card
  • House Registration Document if applicable (Tabien Baan)
  • Marriage or divorce certificate if applicable
  • Power of Attorney form if applicable
  • Foreign Exchange Transfer form from the bank (Condo only)

If the buyer requires a mortgage then the bank will need to be involved as the land title will normally be held in the bank's name.

Completion

After all of the terms and conditions have been agreed upon by all parties involved, all documents should be notarised although there is no legal requirement for this. It is typical in Thailand for all of the documents to be written in Thai; however translations can be made.

After the deposit has been deducted from the purchase price, the remaining balance plus all additional fees and taxes must be paid by the lending institution or the purchaser. A receipt will be issued for the purchase price and the purchaser will get a document confirming the purchase as well as the keys to the property.

Prepared by Graeme Laird