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Can Foreigners Buy Property in Thailand?

Can foreigners buy property in Thailand? It’s a question that gets asked every day on social media. It’s also a question that rarely gets answered accurately. The short answer is “Yes” but we need to explore the topic in greater detail to see the full picture.

Owning a condominium in Thailand foreign freehold is the most straightforward option. Owning a dwelling on a parcel of land—such as a villa or a stand-alone home—via a holding company is also a safe option for foreigners who want to buy property in Thailand. Leasehold options are also available, and thousands of foreigners in Thailand have made this option work for them.

Each option has its pros and cons, and those typically depend on what type of property is being bought.

Let’s break this down by the types of property ownership mentioned above.

Can Foreigners Buy a House in Thailand?

Foreigners cannot directly own the land upon which a dwelling sits, but if they wish to buy a villa or house in Thailand and the land surrounding it, they may do so using a Thai company. This is known as Thai company freehold, whereby the Thai company owns the property as an asset.

While it is true that a foreigner may not own more than 49% of a Thai company, lawyers routinely set up a company whereby the foreigner maintains control of the company by dividing the remaining 51% between more than one Thai national. It's also worth noting that the foreigner is the sole director signing off on all company actions.

This is a common way for foreign buyers to obtain property in Thailand; it is 100% legal, and even billion-dollar international business chains operate this way in Thailand.

There are also massive savings related to buying property already owned by a foreigner under Thai company freehold. With Thai company freehold ownership transactions, the name on the title deed (cha-note) doesn’t change. Instead, only the name of the company director changes. Since there’s no actual name change on the cha-note itself, all parties avoid being subject to Thailand’s 6.8% property sales tax and transfer fees. Of course, you’ll need to hire a lawyer to file the paperwork, but this is considerably cheaper.

If a property isn’t already owned under a Thai company freehold, then you’ll need to register a new Thai company. This will cost as little as 45,000 THB (approx. US$ 1500), while annual running costs are roughly 20,000 THB.

You can even use this company to get a Thai visa and work permit that will allow you to stay in Thailand legally. Owning an asset will also increase the company’s credibility for future business transactions.

How to Buy a Condo in Thailand Foreign Freehold

Whether you call it a condo, an apartment, or a flat, according to the 1979 Thai Condominium Act, up to 49% of a condominium block in Thailand can be owned by foreign nationals. This space is called the "foreign quota" and it is based on the total available living space rather than the total number of units.

For example, if a condo project has 100,000 square meters of living space, 49,000sqm of the space can be used for foreign ownership. This might mean foreigners can own 40, 50, or 60 of the units. The number of units doesn’t matter so long as the foreign quota for living space doesn’t exceed 49% of the total living space available.

Due to higher demand, foreign freehold space typically sells faster and it therefore holds a higher value on the market. As such, developers typically sell foreign freehold space at a premium price. Foreign freehold quota premiums vary but an acceptable range might be between 100,000-500,000 THB per unit.

One critical requirement for foreign freehold property is that the funds used to purchase the condo must be transferred into Thailand from abroad. Upon receiving the funds, a Thai bank will issue a Foreign Exchange Transaction (FET) form which needs to be presented at the land office upon transfer of the land title (known in Thai as a cha-note)

To offset the high demand for foreign freehold space, developers try to make their Thai freehold (for Thai entities - a person or a company) and leasehold units more competitive by offering that space at lower prices.

Foreigners may occupy Thai quota living space in a condominium complex by owning a lease on the space—commonly referred to as leasehold ownership, or just as owning land, through a Thai Company.

What is a Leasehold Title?

The cheapest and easiest way for foreigners to obtain property in Thailand is through a leasehold agreement. This is true for all property, including land. Foreigners can then apply for a construction permit to build on the land and put the structure in their own name.

Strictly speaking, the lease may run for up to 30 years. However, it is widely understood that the foreigner and owner can sign an agreement for the 30-year lease to be renewed up to two more times—resulting in a total duration of 90 years.

With a leasehold, it is critical that all parties ensure the information is correct, and that the leased land has the proper title deed (cha-note). It should have a correct contract duration, state the purchaser’s rights to resell it, and include the registration fee. We have a whole article about leasehold ownership of property in Thailand where you can find more information.

Power in Numbers—and the Law

According to InvestASIAN, “A greater number of foreigners buy property in Thailand than any other country in Asia.”

These investors are intelligent, fiscally savvy individuals who see the Thai property market for its true potential. Whether for investment or residential purposes, Thailand has proven itself as a secure and profitable option for over three decades.

Thai law is also clear where ownership rights are concerned. We recommend you conduct thorough research via reliable sources and find a good lawyer to help guide you through the process. Due to potential conflict of interest, we don’t recommend specific lawyers, but we can provide a list of lawyers who previous clients have recommended.

Phuket Property Consultations

Here at Pulse Real Estate, we provide free property consultations to anyone interested in buying property in Phuket. The information we provide is always honest, current, and accurate. Whether you’re buying a residential or investment property, we’ll tailor our information to suit your preferences, your schedule, and your budget. Once we have the information we need, we’ll curate a shortlist of properties for your consideration.

Alex Seago - agent for Pulse Real Estate

Alex Seago

Alex is from the UK and our Managing Director, overseeing the business, managing the sales team, and also taking on clients himself. Alex is also a fluent Thai speaker, who has been living and working in Thailand for almost two decades.

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