Buying a property in Thailand (House, Land, Condominium)
Buying a Condominium
Buying a condominium, is perhaps the simplest and easiest option available to foreigners.
According to the condominium act, a foreigner can typically acquire up to, but not exceeding 49 percent of a total space of a condominium project. In Hua Hin, typically the Thai owners are 80 percent or higher, in other areas such as Phuket and Pattaya, the foreigners generally acquire 80-90 percent of the condominium projects. However only 49 percent of the foreigners can own it as freehold, the others must lease or use a Thai company structure. Another legal requirement is that the funds used to buy the condominium have been remitted from abroad and correctly recorded as such by a Thai Bank on a Tor Tor Sam (3)
A Tor Tor Sam (3) is an official bank document issued by the receiving bank upon the receipt of foreign currency into your bank account in Thailand. You must request a Tor Tor Sam from your bank when you are remitting funds to Thailand for the purpose of purchasing a condominium, and the Tor Tor Sam must specify that the remittance is solely for the purpose of purchasing a property - Code 5.22.
The owner of each condominium is issued with a certificate of unit ownership. The certificate also has a statement saying exactly what percentage of rights over the common areas of the building each owner has.
Buying a House and Land.
Although Thai law prohibits foreigners from owning land in Thailand, there are various ways in which you can structure your affairs so that you can own land, and still comply with existing Thai laws:
• Nominee with Lease and Option to Buy - you can use a Thai Nominee to purchase the house/land and have a 30 year lease with a 30 by 30 year option from the nominee. In order to be enforceable, any lease for a period of longer than three years must be registered, which involves payment of a registration fee and stamp duty based on a percentage of the rental fee for the whole lease term. The original registered lease remains in force and effect even if the property is sold. The drawbacks to a lease include the fact that the parties can contractually agree to renewals, but this right cannot be registered and is not effective against a purchaser of the property, and that the lessee cannot (without the lessor's consent) sublease, sell or transfer his or her interest.
• Nominee with Mortgage - you can use a Nominee to purchase the house/land and have a mortgage (registered with the appropriate land department office) on the property in your favour. However, in some circumstances the Thai courts have ruled that this was not a bona fide mortgage, but rather it was a mortgage contrived to circumvent the existing laws of Thailand prohibiting foreign ownership of land. It is important to note that only the owner of the land is entitled to mortgage the land; the lessee of land does not have the same privilege.
• Usufruct Interest (Sidhi-kep-kin) - gives you temporary ownership rights to things on or arising from the land. 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 usufructury interest can be sold or transferred, although it expires upon the death of the holder of the usufruct and therefore cannot be inherited.
• Limited Liability Company - this form of purchasing property is the most popular with foreign investors as the Articles of Association can be varied to allow greater protection for foreign minority shareholders where majority Thai ownership is required under the Alien Business Law. Thai law requires that 51% of the shares be held by Thai juristic persons, however, any company with more than 40% foreign interest that purchases land will be investigated by the Central Land Office in Bangkok (under Section 74 of the Land Code) to ensure that the company has not been organized in an attempt to circumvent the prohibition against foreign ownership of land.
This results in the foreign ownership of the company being limited at 39%, but with the recommended changes to the Articles of Association, the foreigner can be the only director of the company, and the only officer of the company who can commit or bind the company in any contractual dealings - effectively giving the minority shareholder control over the company.
Title Deeds in Thailand
A Title Deed is the purest form of evidence that an individual owns a piece of land. Title Deeds are given only for areas of Thailand which are surveyed. For areas which are not surveyed, there are other documents for land possession such as evidence of the possession of the right to utilise the land or other interests in the land. These documents are called "Nor Sor Sam (3) and Nor Sor Sam (3) Kor". Unlike the Title Deeds, these Nor Sor documents are issued to show the possessors' exploitation of the land. Though these documents do not provide ownership rights, as do Title deeds, they can still be registered for transfer of the lands for which they are issued.
Can I Get a Mortgage Loan?
Foreigners generally cannot mortgage properties in Thailand, however, most of the financial institutions in Thailand provide loans for real estate purchasing to Thais and Thai companies. It is common for a real estate developer to arrange for his customers to have a financing package from a financial institution. In most real estate development projects, a down payment can be made in installments from 10 to 24 months. After the down payment has been paid, the sale contract will be made and the balance amount is paid through the loan which is financed from a financial institution. The financial institution requires you to mortgage the property with it as collateral against the loan.
Land Appraisals and 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 fair market value of the land. Over the last few years all of these rates have begun to come closer together. With the East Coast team's wealth of experience in Thailand, they are well placed to assist you in valuing various properties proposals.
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 into account:
• Location - Roads, proximity and access to business, shops, hospitals and etc.
• Telephones - Access to direct lines and IDD facilities
• Water - Mains water and supplementary storage facilities.
• Electricity - Mains connection, and backup generators for condominium blocks
• Security - 24 hour security service, door and window locks
• Cable or Satellite TV connection
• Pest Control - localised spraying and flywire screens on windows
• Hot water facilities - nearly all in Thailand are instant and not storage
• Air Conditioning - a necessity in Thailand
• White Goods - Refrigerators and Washing Machines
My Wife is a Thai National, Can She Own Land?
Prior to 1998, any Thai woman who married a foreigner would lose her right to purchase land in Thailand. She could, however, still retain land that she owned prior to marrying the foreigner. However, the recent (1999) Ministerial regulation now allows Thai national's 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 of property belonged to the Thai spouse prior to the marriage and are beyond his claim.
Are There Property Taxes in Thailand?
There are no property taxes as such in Thailand that are exactly equivalent to the property taxes in the west, however, the most comparable taxes on properties in Thailand 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, is collected by the municipal office or district office, and is only applied to properties used for commercial purpose.
What Taxes and Costs are Applicable to Purchasing a Property?
On all purchase/sale of property in Thailand there is a stamp Duty of 0.5%, a transfer fee of 0.01%, a business tax of 0.11% levied against an owner who has been in registered possession of the property less than 5 years, and Income Tax. There is no Capital Gains Tax in Thailand, unlike many countries, and Income Tax (usually between 1.0 - 3.0%) on property is the comparable replacement. There are no set rules on who pays the income tax, and it is just another part of the bargaining process, as with all the other costs of the transfer of ownership.
Thai Land Measurments
• 1 Talang Mett = 1 Square Meter = 10.7 Square Feet
• 1 Talang Wah = 4 Square Meters = 42.7 Square Feet
• 1 Ngan = 100 Talang Wah = 400 Square Meters = 4,277 Square Feet
• 1 Rai = 4 Ngan = 400 Talang Wah = 1,600 Square Meters = 17,100 Square Feet
• 1 Acre = 2.5 Rai = 10 Ngan = 1,000 Talang Wah = 4,000 Square Meters = 42,772 Square Feet