Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Step by Step Guide to Buying Property in Thailand

In our last post, we discussed why investing in Thailand real estate can prove to be beneficial for foreigners. With Thailand economy growing at steady pace and improvement in transport system in Bangkok area, the time is ripe for foreign investors to invest in Thailand real estate.

The country is strategically placed geographically and offers convenient trade with 3 largest economies of the Asian continent namely China, India, Japan. At the same time, Thailand is the gateway to the countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). It also offers easy access into the Greater Mekong sub-region, where newly emerging economies such as Cambodia, Lao People's Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), Myanmar, Vietnam offer great business potential. By 2020, full-fledged logistical infrastructure along with superb physical infrastructure will be ready to accommodate businesses that want to enter the growing economies of East Asia, upper ASEAN (CLMV), and South Asia. In a nutshell, Thailand will act as a stepping stone for investors and businesses alike looking to invest in the region.



In this post, we will list down the step by step process to buy property in Thailand.

  • Step 1: What kind of property a foreigner can buy in Thailand?

First thing first, as a foreigner, what kind of property that you can invest in? As per the Thai laws, a foreigner can buy condominiums which are freehold and these condos can be 100% in foreigner’s name. If a real estate developer in Thailand develops condominium project, then, 49% of this residential development can be sold to foreign buyers. However, Land properties such as; villa/house, bungalow cannot be owned in foreign buyer’s name. For foreigners looking to invest in land properties, company setup is an option (51/49 share).
    • Freehold
As stated above, foreigners are allowed direct freehold ownership in Freehold condominiums. Foreigners can also invest by way of common property co-ownership with locals.
    • Cap on Foreign investment in residential development (condominiums)
If a developer develops a condominium project (residential development) with 100 condominium units, then, at any given time, foreigners can hold maximum of 49 condominium units in that project and 51 units need to be held by locals.
    • Leasehold
If a foreigner is looking for land properties, then, he/she can effectively use land with a leasehold tenure. He/she is permitted by law to own structures or buildings developed on that land. The maximum duration of such a lease is 30 years. The lease can be renewed upon expiration of 30 years lease term. However, if a foreigner has a registered company in Thailand, then, he/she may also buy land or a house built on land.

  • Step 2: A typical buying process for foreigners looking to buy property in Thailand

  1. To reserve a property, pay for reservation fee (generally 50000 THB).
  2. In 1-2 weeks time period, sign the standard purchase agreement with the developer.
  3. Once the purchase agreement is signed, the foreign buyer will need to make 30% of property value to the developer within 1 month.
  4. If you are investing in a completed property, then, pay 70% final payment in 4 months. If you are investing in an under construction property, then, no further payments are made till the construction is complete.
  5. Once the final 70% payment is made, the developer and foreign buyer will meet at the land department to legally register the condominium with the land department of Thailand.
  6. Within 1 month, foreign buyer will receive the title deed and census registration.
Below is a detailed chart for a foreigner who is looking to buy a condo in Thailand:



  • Step 3: Get the FET Form

An authorized financial institution (normally a Thai Bank) issues a FET form (Foreign Exchange Transaction). This FET form is an official statement by the authorized Thai bank of exchanging foreign currencies into Thai baht. Whenever a foreigner brings native currency to invest in Thai real estate, the authorized Thai bank exchanges that foreign currency to equivalent Thai baht and issues a FET form for the conversion of foreign currency into Thai baht.

The FET-form was earlier known as the Thor.Tor.3 (and pronounced as tor tor saam). The FET form is one among many other documents that are required when buying and registering foreign ownership of a condominium unit in Thailand as a non resident.

  • Step 4: Paying for taxes when a foreigner buys the condominium in Thailand

When buying a property in Thailand, Taxes can always be negotiated between the parties in order to determine who pays for payable tax and duty. Generally, the Buyer will be liable for the Transfer fee and the remaining types of taxes are borne by the Seller.

Transfer taxes - The land department levies 2% of the property value which is based on the value registered in the agreement.

Stamp duty - A total of 0.5% of the registered value will be taxed.

Withholding tax - 1% of the appraised property value will be levied (explained below).

The total withholding tax payable shall in any case not exceed 20% of the total price.

How much of these taxes will be paid by the seller and how much will be paid by the buyer? Well, it shall be negotiated before going to the land department and it shall be explicitly written into the sales contract.

  • Step 5: Paying for taxes when a foreigner is looking to sell the condominium in Thailand

Special Business Tax (SBT) is only payable if the property is sold within its first 5 years of ownership and is levied at the rate of 3.3% of the appraised value.

If one retains the property for more than 5 years, then, only stamp duty 0.5% + the 2% transfer fee are paid.

If the subjected property has been used as the principal place of residence of the seller, then, the seller is also exempted from SBT (Special Business Tax). However, the seller name must also appear on the household registration certificate for at least one year.


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