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Top Questions To Ask When Buying A Property In Thailand

Posted by Location Real Estate on March 29, 2024

Introduction

Thailand, with its stunning beaches, vibrant culture, and welcoming atmosphere, has become a popular destination for property investment and retirement living.  However, the allure of the tropical life shouldn’t overshadow the importance of being well-informed before diving into the property market.

Understanding the legalities, navigating potential risks, and asking the right questions are crucial steps to ensure a smooth and successful home-buying experience.

Understanding the Thai Property Market

House prices in Thailand vary depending on location, property type, and proximity to amenities. Popular tourist destinations like Phuket and Koh Samui generally command higher prices compared to more rural areas. Infrastructure development projects and the overall economic climate also play a significant role. 

A more detailed breakdown of factors influencing house prices in Thailand includes:

Location

Beachfront properties and those situated in established tourist areas will naturally be more expensive compared to properties further inland. Urban areas like Bangkok will also have higher average prices compared to more rural locations.

Property Type

The type of property v price depends on the location – a sea view or city condo could command a higher price than a detached house in some key locations. Mostly there’s more for your money when buying a villa. Luxury villas with private pools and expansive gardens will command a premium price tag.

Land Size

The size of the land parcel plays a significant role in determining the overall property value. Larger plots will naturally be more creative, especially in sought-after locations.

Proximity to Amenities

Properties close to desirable amenities like international schools, hospitals, shopping malls, and entertainment venues will generally fetch higher prices.

Age and Condition

The age and overall condition of the property will also influence the price. Newly built properties in pristine condition will be more expensive compared to older houses that may require renovations.

Infrastructure Development

Areas undergoing significant infrastructure development projects like new transportation links or commercial hubs can experience price increases in anticipation of future growth.

Potential Risks of Buying Property in Thailand

Foreigners can only directly own freehold condominium units, with a restriction that foreign ownership within the building complex cannot exceed 49%. When it comes to land ownership, the restrictions are tighter but for the actual building itself, this can be owned in the foreigner’s own name. Foreigners are generally not allowed to directly own land in Thailand but under certain conditions and with proper legal safeguards in place to protect your investment there are still options available for foreigners wishing to have a landed property.

Another crucial aspect to consider is inheritance. Thai inheritance laws differ from many Western countries. Under Thai law, foreign inheritance of property can be a complex process. Inheritance will be subject to Thai probate laws and court approval to appoint an executor is needed. 

For a Land lease the right and obligation can be inherited as long its stated in the original land lease agreement which is registered at the land office. If the property is held through a Thai company, then the shares in the company will be subject to inheritance. Condo’s which are held directly in the foreigner’s name can also be inherited. 

For land that has been owned by a foreigners Thai Spouse or Partner then that land can be inherited by the foreigner, but they have a maximum of 1 year to then sell the land as they are unable to own it in their own name. 

Consulting with a lawyer specializing in Thai property law is essential to ensure your wishes are met regarding the future of your property. They can advise you on the most appropriate way to structure your property ownership and can help you draft a will that is compliant with Thai law. It is essential that both foreigners and their Thai spouse or Partner have a Will. 

Key Questions to Ask When Buying a House in Thailand

1.    What is the Legal Framework for Foreigners Buying Property?

In Thailand, the legal framework around property ownership for foreigners is quite specific. Foreigners are not allowed to own land outright but can legally own buildings, such as a house, erected on the land. One common method for foreigners to invest in Thai property is through a long-term lease agreement, typically for 30 years and renewable for two further 30 years, giving a total of 90 years. Another option is purchasing property within a condominium development, where up to 49% of the unit space can be foreign owned. For more comprehensive details on property ownership laws for foreigners in Thailand, the Thai Government’s official websites and legal resources such as Thailand’s Department of Lands provide up-to-date information and guidance.

2.    How Do House Prices Compare in Different Regions?

Property prices in Thailand vary significantly depending on the region. Major cities like Bangkok and tourist hotspots such as Phuket and Koh Samui tend to have higher property prices due to their popularity and development levels. In contrast, rural areas and less developed regions offer much more affordable options. The real estate website DDproperty provides an extensive database of property listings across Thailand, allowing for a comparative analysis of house prices in different areas.

3.    What Are the Property Taxes in Thailand?

Thailand’s property tax system underwent significant changes with the introduction of the Land and Building Tax Act in 2020. Property taxes now depend on the property type and its use—residential, agricultural, commercial, or vacant land. More detailed information on property taxes, including rates for buying and selling properties, can be found on the website of the Revenue Department of Thailand.

4.    What is the Process of Buying a House in Thailand?

The process of buying a house in Thailand typically involves the following steps:

  • Finding a Property: Use real estate agencies such as Location Real Estate, websites, or personal networks to find available properties.
  • Due Diligence: Conduct thorough checks on the property’s legal status, ownership, and any encumbrances.
  • Agreeing on Terms: Negotiate the price and terms with the seller, often facilitated by a real estate agent.
  • Signing a Sales Agreement: Both parties sign a sales agreement, and the buyer usually pays a deposit.
  • Transferring Ownership: The final step involves paying the remaining balance and transferring the property’s ownership to the local Land Department office.

5.    Can Foreigners Secure a Mortgage in Thailand?

Securing a mortgage in Thailand as a foreigner is challenging. Some Thai banks offer mortgage loans to foreigners, but the requirements can be strict, including proof of income, work permit verification, and a significant down payment. Alternatively, international banks with branches in Thailand may provide financing options for foreign buyers. There are however finance options available from some developers which most foreigners that require some kind of finance utilize. 

Additional Considerations

When buying a property in Thailand, conducting due diligence is a crucial step that should not be overlooked. Due diligence means thoroughly checking and verifying every aspect of the property you’re interested in. This process helps you understand exactly what you’re buying and can reveal any potential issues or risks associated with the property. Here’s why it’s important and how to conduct it:

Why Due Diligence is Important:

  • It ensures the seller legally owns the property and has the right to sell it.
  • It identifies any outstanding debts or liens against the property that could affect your ownership.
  • It assesses the physical condition of the house, including any repairs or maintenance that may be needed.
  • It verifies that the property complies with local zoning and building regulations.

How to Conduct Due Diligence:

  • Start with a title search at the local land office to confirm the seller’s ownership and check for any registered liens or mortgages on the property.
  • Ensure that all construction on the property was done with the proper permits and complies with local regulations.
  • Hire a professional inspector to examine the property’s structure, electrical systems, plumbing, and other critical areas.
  • Ask for a history of property taxes and utility bills to ensure there are no outstanding debts.

Conducting due diligence might seem daunting, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the process in Thailand. However, it’s a critical step to protect your investment. Real estate agents, legal professionals, and property inspectors with experience in the Thai market can provide invaluable assistance.

 

Why Working with a Reputable Real Estate Agent or Lawyer is Crucial?

It is extremely important to stress how important it is to work with a trustworthy independent real estate agent or lawyer when you’re looking to buy a property in Thailand. 

It is vital for several reasons as the Thai real estate market can be complicated, especially for people from other countries. They help you minimize the risks of buying property, ensure you understand all the costs associated with buying, guide you through how taxes work and the paperwork for buying a property and of course project you again potential pitfalls.

Why does this matter so much? Well, a good agent or lawyer really knows all about the laws on buying houses in Thailand and the local market which is vital. Location Real Estate is known for being reliable and giving great advice, making sure our clients know what’s going on, and keeping them safe during the whole process.

Conclusion

To wrap up, buying a house or condo in Thailand can be an exciting adventure, but it comes with its set of challenges and considerations. We talked about the importance of asking the right questions, like understanding the legal framework for foreigners buying property, comparing prices across different areas, knowing about property taxes, and getting familiar with the buying process. We also highlighted how crucial it is to work with a reputable real estate agent or lawyer, like those at Location Real Estate, who can guide you through the complexities of the market, ensure thorough due diligence, and help negotiate the best deal for you.

If you’re thinking about buying a property in Thailand, doing your homework, and seeking professional advice cannot be overstressed. The real estate landscape here has its unique intricacies, especially for foreigners, and being well-informed and prepared is key to navigating it safely and successfully.

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