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Buying Property

Thailand - Buying Property

Although it is difficult to invest in real estate in Thailand as a foreigner, it is not impossible. There are many legal hurdles for foreigners interested in the country’s property market, coupled with the restrictive regulations on home mortgage financing. Nevertheless, with the right information and real estate experts at your disposal, it is possible to invest in property in Thailand.

Foreigners are not allowed to own or purchase any piece of land in Thailand. However, it is possible for foreigners to own certain types of housing units, including condominiums. These are the luxurious residential units that fetch higher rental and income gains over a certain period. The profitability of condominiums in Thailand has made them quite popular with foreign real estate investors. However, the Thai government has regulations on the purchase of a condo by non-Thais.

Regulations for owning a condominium

A housing unit can only be classified as a condominium if it is registered at the Thailand Land Department as a condominium. In addition, a foreigner can only purchase a condo if it is located within a complex with less than 49% of foreign ownership or occupation. Failure to meet any of these regulations may cause legal problems for the foreigner.

Owning land as a foreigner

Though expat land ownership is not legally permissible, non-Thai nationals can still own land in Thailand. Expats married to Thai nationals can own land in Thailand. You will then be listed as a guarantor and be eligible to finance the land ownership project with your spouse.

You will be required to provide certain documents when applying for land ownership in Thailand:

• A valid identification card or passport • A marriage or divorce certificate • Power of attorney form • House of Registration Document or the Tabien Baan

Tabien Baan Document

The Tabien Baan or house registration document is issued by the municipal council of Thailand. A Tabien Baan is only valid in the province you bought your condo or real estate property. It is valid for life and only describes the occupant of the listed house and not personal details like their full names. If you buy property in a different province within Thailand, you will have to apply for a new Tabien Ban.

How do I buy a condominium in Thailand?

If you are planning to purchase property in Thailand, never try to do it alone. It is important to work with a local real estate agent and a Thai lawyer. In addition, consider other market forces that affect the Thai real-estate market including property tax and capital gains tax.

Working with a real estate agent is important, especially during the initial stages of the property search, as well as signing real estate contracts. A local real estate company in Thailand is well versed with the current housing market price index. They have done their research and understand where all the best housing units within your budget are located.

An alternative property investment strategy for expats involves purchasing housing units outside Bangkok. While houses in Bangkok go for $3500 per square meter, properties on the outskirts of Bangkok go for about $2,000 per square meter.

You should also consider working with a lawyer to deal with the legal aspects of property purchase in Thailand. It is always advisable not to sign anything without your lawyer. A real estate lawyer will also assist you when applying mortgage financing, especially when vetting your eligibility before meeting the lender.

Unfortunately, local banks in Thailand do not offer mortgage finance products to foreigners. In addition, the mortgage services that are available are more traditional ones like fixed interest on a 3-year mortgage; products like remortgaging plans are yet to be found in Thailand. Nevertheless, this is not to say that you cannot get a lender in Thailand; there are ways around it.

If you are married to a Thai citizen, they can apply for a mortgage loan under their name. Alternatively, there are plenty of foreign banks with a huge presence in Thailand. Such banks may offer you a loan. Otherwise, your only other option to pay your mortgage is through 100% equity financing.

There are some conditions to be met to qualify for a mortgage loan. Though these conditions will vary among lenders, the following are general criteria that make you attractive to a potential lender.

• You must have worked or lived in Thailand for more than a year
• You must be married to a Thai national
• Your monthly income should be 3 times higher the minimum monthly payment on your mortgage. This is confirmed through an official letter from your current employer
• You must have a credit history report from your home country
• You must present bank statements for the six months prior to the loan application
• You must present two recent tax compliance certificates
• You must present a copy of sales agreement with your real estate agent
• You must present your passport or personal ID during loan application

Lenders in Thailand operate on a loan value ratio, abbreviated as LTV. The LTV is a percentage of what the total property about to be bought is worth. The LTV for foreign borrowers is around 50% to 60% in local lending institutions, while the percentage can be as high as 80% in multinational financial institutions.

Property taxes in Thailand

Thailand has two types of property taxes: House and Land Tax and Local Development Tax. It is important to understand how much land tax or municipal rates you will be expected to pay once you purchase property in Thailand. Generally, you can expect to pay between 3 to 8 percent tax on the property you own. This percentage is affected by two things: your Tabien Baan registration and the period you have owned the property. Thailand does not levy capital tax gains. However, an income tax of 1 to 3 percent will be levied on any property sold in less than 5 years from the time it was bought.

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