The Ways to Go About Buying a House in Thailand
Some expats come to Thailand to work while others come to retire. The expats retiring are more than likely the same ones who will be interested in buying a house in Thailand. It is possible to have your own abode in the Land of Smiles but you should approach it carefully and get the sound advice from a Thai law firm that deals in this area. Here are some considerations to make when buying a house in the Land of Smiles.
At a high level, you cannot outright own a house in Thailand. So how do expats buy a house here? Well, there are a three ways. First, you can put the house that you want to buy in the name of a Thai national. Second, you can get a 90-year land lease. Third, you can open up a Thai corporation and put the house in its name. Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Thai Person Buying the Home
The first way is probably the easiest yet the riskiest method of buying a house in Thailand and that is putting the home you are buying in the name of a Thai national. Most would never co-sign a loan with even a family member in their home country because of the risk involved. However, in Thailand, many expat retirees meet a Thai lady, get married, and then buy a house putting it in the Thai wife’s name. The risk is that if things sour in the marriage, the expat is left with no legal recourse to recover his part of the home investment. Everyone’s situation is different but the point here is to understand the risk involved in this type of home buying arrangement.
The second way is to obtain a 90-year lease on a parcel of land and have a home built. In this case, the expat has a stake in the property but does not own the land it is built upon. The first 30 years of the lease are guaranteed under Thai law with an option to renew for an additional 30 years and another 30 after that.
Thai Limited Company
The third way is to open a Thai limited company and then register the house in its name. There are certain requirements that must be met in order to start a business in Thailand such as having two million Thai Baht in registered capital and hiring a certain number of Thai employees but some expats are able to secure a home in this manner.
Using a Real Estate Agent
Before going about buying a house in Thailand, you should seek the services of a licensed real estate agent in the country. The reputable agents are familiar with the area that you are interested in. They also can check the developer of the desired property for its reputation.
Another important step that must be taken when buying a house in Thailand is to have a title search conducted with the Land Department. The primary reason for this is to ensure that the seller holds clear title to the property. Additionally, checks are done to verify that there are no liens, mortgages, or leases on the property. The title search will also identify any zoning and planning restrictions which are of interest if you are building a house on the property.
Take the approach of leaving a deposit on any property that you are interested in with caution. Keep in mind that if you leave a deposit on property and it is not title-cleared or there is some other problem then you risk losing it. A deposit is roughly 10-15% of the property’s selling price. Make sure that any contract has clauses so that you can back out of the transaction if necessary. Typical clauses make stipulations such as “subject to clear title” and “subject to agreement.”
No matter what, it is a big mistake to make an attempt at buying a house in Thailand without consulting a Thai lawyer. There are law firms here that help foreigners with this and many other types of transactions. Some expats might think that they can do it on their own but do not realize that they will not be able to read contracts written in Thai language. You can have a home in Thailand but the secret is to know how to go about it without losing a large investment. Consult with a real estate agent and see what is available to you.