It’s been a busy and tumultuous few years for Thailand, but this little nation and its economy have proven surprisingly resilient to change.
Whether you’re a native or a foreigner looking to relocate, it’s a great time to buy a home in Thailand…as long as you do your homework first!
Find Your Price Range
The first step, of course, is to find your price range and get a sense for what your budget will buy you.
Property search indexes like Property Guru are a great jumping off point for apartments, condominiums, or single family dwellings and detached houses. These specialized search engines make it easy to break down your options by location, price, and style and let you thoroughly explore your options. They’ll also help weed out potential scams or fraudulent offers.
Be sure to budget for post-purchase costs like mortgage, insurance, and processing fees so you don’t get caught overspending!
If you need more detail or more help finding a property well suited to your needs, consider engaging a property agent to help you find the right home for you.
Property agents can be huge time savers, especially if you aren’t already familiar with Thailand or the local geography of the area you’re house hunting in.
Agents can also save you money by negotiating with the seller, who might otherwise stick to a fixed price point. Agents can act as a go between to negotiate a better deal.
Keep an Eye on Growth
Real estate prices are still rising in most of Thailand, but especially in areas around Bangkok and Phuket.
Different types of housing are also seeing different rates of growth. Detached houses have been climbing steadily since 2008, with increases between one and five percent annually.
In comparison, condos are growing at rates of three to twelve percent annually: the longer you wait to buy a condo, the higher price you’re likely to pay!
On the other hand, a condominium is more likely to have a good resale value in the long term. Rapid growth may be a help or a hindrance depending on your long term plans, but it is always an important factor to consider.
Foreign and Thai Ownership Laws
Thailand’s system of real estate laws is complex and has a reputation for being slightly unregulated.
It’s vital for foreign investors or expatriates hoping to relocate to understand the difference in ownership laws for foreigners and Thai natives.
In most situations, foreigners cannot own freehold property. There are some notable exceptions, like the 49 percent rule, which allows foreigners to own a condominium as long as less than half of the units in the complex are foreign owned.
Others have found ways around foreign ownership restrictions by setting up a private company-of-one to own property for them.
Any property purchase is littered with pitfalls, especially for foreign investors. In this complex system, it’s best to have an expert on your side.
Consider a Lawyer
Purchasing property may be a standard contract exchange, but most experts familiar with Thai real estate recommend you have a lawyer on hand to help you negotiate the legal side of your transaction.
While it’s tempting to see a lawyer as a lifeline to help after an emergency, engaging a lawyer right from the start will let you avoid that emergency all together.
Especially for foreign investors, having an expert’s knowledge to draw on will be a lifesaver in your purchase.
Unfortunately, there are disreputable lawyers and law firms in Thailand, hoping to take advantage of the real estate boom.
Carefully check the legal credentials of anyone you’re planning to engage: it is possible for scammers to open a law office where no one employed has any legal background!
Look for good qualifications and good reviews before hiring. Be wary of offices who advertise that they can help foreigners by property as well.
They will often claim they can get foreigners freehold power because of changes to the laws. While there are circumstances where foreigners can own freehold property, and there have been (very minor) changes to real estate law, any reputable lawyer or consultant will tell you that it is still very difficult, and anyone who says otherwise is most likely untrustworthy.
From Phuket to Bangkok, Thailand has proved itself a great place to buy a home and build a life. With a resilient housing market, strong economy, and some of the most beautiful scenery the world has to offer, why wait? Start the search for your Thailand dream house now.
By Daniel Lorenzzo – January 28, 2016