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Buying a House in Thailand

January 21st, 2015

Some expats come to Thailand to work while others come to retire.

The foreigners retiring are more than likely the ones who will be interested in buying a house in Thailand for their own personal use or as an investment to earn some income from rentals.

For a smooth transition you should approach it carefully and get the sound advice from a Thai law firm or experienced real estate agent.

Here are some considerations to make when buying a house in the Land of Smiles.

The Law

At a high level, you cannot outright own “LAND” and house in Thailand.

So how do expats buy a house here? Well, there are a three ways.

You simply register the property in the name of a Thai national. (Your friend, trustee or spouse) Second, you can open up a Thai corporation and put the house in its name. Or take a lease duly registered at the land office department.

Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Thai Person Buying the Home

The first way is probably the easiest yet the riskiest method of buying a house in Thailand and that is putting the home you are buying in the name of a Thai national. Most would never co-sign a loan with even a family member in their home country because of the risk involved. However, in Thailand, many expat retirees meet a Thai lady, get married, and then buy a house putting it in the Thai wife’s name. The risk is that if things sour in the marriage, the expat is left with no legal recourse to recover his part of the home investment. Everyone’s situation is different but the point here is to understand the risk involved in this type of home buying arrangement.

Thai Limited Company

The most common way is to open a Thai limited company and then register the house in its name. There are certain requirements that must be met; but for most cases it is a pretty straight forward operation carried out by one the many legal advisors and or accounting offices.

Land Lease

A less popular way is to obtain a 90-year lease on a parcel of land and have a home built. In this case, the expat has a stake in the property but does not own the land it is built upon. The first 30 years of the lease are guaranteed under Thai law with an option to renew for an additional 30 years and another 30 after that.

Using a Real Estate Agent

Before going about buying a house in Thailand, you should ALWAYS seek the services of an experienced real estate agent. The reputable agents are familiar with the area that you are interested in. They also can check the developer of the desired property for its reputation.

Title Search

Another important step that must be taken when buying a house in Pattaya, Thailand is to have a title search conducted with the Land Department by a lawyer of legal advisor. The primary reason for this is to ensure that the seller holds clear title to the property. Additionally, checks are done to verify that there are no liens, mortgages, or leases on the property. The title search will also identify any zoning and planning restrictions which are of interest if you are building a house on the property.

The Deposit

Take the approach of leaving a deposit on any property that you are interested in with caution. Keep in mind that if you leave a deposit on property and it is not title-cleared or there is some other problem then you risk losing it. A deposit is roughly 10-15% of the property’s selling price. Make sure that any contract has clauses so that you can back out of the transaction if necessary. Typical clauses make stipulations such as “subject to clear title” and “subject to agreement.”

No matter what, it is a big mistake to make an attempt at buying a house in Thailand without consulting a Thai lawyer. There are law firms here that help foreigners with this and many other types of transactions. Some expats might think that they can do it on their own but do not realize that they will not be able to read contracts written in Thai language. You can have a home in Thailand but the secret is to know how to go about it without losing a large investment. Consult with a real estate agent and see what is available to you.

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