Frequently Asked Questions

Why would I want to invest in real estate in Thailand?

The outlook for developing Asian economies is very positive at the moment, and Thailand is highly rated. Thailand is not simply a tourist-based economy, and if you are thinking of buying as an investment, it is important to know that the country you choose to invest in is economically robust and attracts positive economic forecasts.

But why buy in Pattaya or Jomtien?

It is not only tourism that sustains property prices. An increasing number of expatriates and Thais working for global companies are attracted to the province of Chonburi and the rapidly developing Eastern Seaboard. (The automobile industry is particularly strongly represented in the area).

Pattaya and Jomtien, by virtue of their close proximity to Bangkok and its busy international airport, tend to attract expatriate workers. Many Thais have holiday homes here, to take advantage of the excellent climate, the miles of sandy beaches and the myriad of sea-based sports and activities offered. This demand further strengthens the residential market.

It is likely that Pattaya/Jomtien will be the site of Thailand’s first legal casino, and the Bangkok racetrack is expected to relocate to Pattaya as well, both of which developments will significantly boost tourism to the area.

I’m convinced. How do I go about buying?

Why not check out the properties on our website (which is constantly updated), send us an email contact us give us a call, or come in and see us. We will do our best to match your requirements.

Once you have found the right property, our Thai lawyer (or your own) will prepare the contract and the relevant documentation for a very important form you need from your Thai bank, called a TOR TOR SAM. This states that the money you have transferred to Thailand is for the purchase of property, and it is critical that you have this before you purchase, as it allows the funds to leave the country when you sell. It is important that the purchase is completed within 6 months of the issue of the Tor Tor Sam.

You will have to set up a bank account in Thailand to enable you to transfer the purchase monies. Of course, we can assist you with preparing the documentation in advance, but on your arrival in Thailand you will have to visit the bank to complete the relevant forms.

You must advise your bank not to convert the monies into Baht before they arrive in Thailand, as your Thai bank must issue the Tor Tor Sam when they receive your foreign currency.

In practice this is all pretty straightforward, and your lawyer and PAL will monitor the process so that there are no last minute surprises.

Once your bank account is open, you can buy further properties without having to come into the country, but you must arrange to collect your Tor Tor Sam from your bank when you eventually return to Thailand.

We can assist you in choosing a bank in Pattaya or Jomtien.

How do I buy a condo?

Buying an apartment or condominium (“condo”) is the most straightforward land transaction. You obtain the freehold to a condo in Thailand, not a leasehold title, and your ownership is protected by registration in your own name.

There is a legal restriction on non-Thais owning more than 49% of any condominium block and this important consideration will be checked by your lawyer as part of the due diligence process. But assuming you are within the non-Thai percentage, you can purchase in your own name. It’s as simple as that. For a condo purchase you don’t need to have nominees or to set up a Thai company.

There is currently no limit on the number of condos you can own in your own name.

How would I buy land or a house or commercial premises?

In general, only Thai nationals are allowed to buy land, houses or commercial premises in their own names.

Whilst there are some ways by which non-Thai nationals can circumvent this restriction, by far the safest and the simplest route is to set up your own company in Thailand, which will then acquire the property. This is something our lawyer can do for you, but there are a couple of issues to bear in mind when thinking of the company route.

Because of Thai legal requirements, non-Thais generally own 39% of a company’s shares, with “sleeping” Thais owning the remainder of the shares. These sleeping Thai shareholders are usuallya members of your lawyer’s office or his family, and when the company is set up; you will receive the following signed but undated documents from each of the Thai shareholders: a power of attorney, a transfer of shares and a resignation form from each shareholder. Your control is exercised by being a director with authority to bind the company, and your lawyer will ensure you are the sole signatory, if that is what you require.

None of the sleeping shareholders will have any right to represent the company, just as you don’t have rights to represent companies listed on the Stock Exchange just because you own some shares in them!

So, to sum up, the company route is our recommended way to buy land, houses or commercial premises.

However, there are other property-holding methods available besides the own-name and company routes.

For example, you can purchase a house and land through a nominee, but then secure your interest through a long-term lease (e.g. 30 years plus two options to extend the lease for a further 30 years, being 90 years in total). The lease, including the extensions, is then registered at the land office to protect your interest.

You should talk to us and your lawyers well in advance to decide what would be the most suitable method for you in each case.

How can my ownership of property be legally protected?

Title to land in Thailand can be either registered or unregistered. Condos are, with few exceptions, registered titles.

On the day of completion of the purchase, you will go to the land office with your lawyer, you will pay the balance of the purchase price to the owner, and you will receive the original copy of the title deeds. The land office will then delete the selling party’s name from the register and add yours as the registered owner.

Payment of the property transfer tax will be completed at the Land Office. If you cannot attend, your lawyer can attend on your behalf.

If you buy unregistered land you must immediately register the land at the Land Office. Your lawyer must exercise great care on your behalf when you buy unregistered land.

In the case of leasehold land, any lease of over 3 years duration must be registered at the Land office to protect you if the landlord sells the property to a third party.

How long does the legal process take?

Because the purchase will invariably be a cash deal, there will be no delays caused by a mortgagee’s requirements or valuations. The documentation can be agreed and completion can take place usually within 7-16 days of the sale being agreed. If you are setting up a company, you might need to add a couple of days to this estimate, but your lawyer should be able to expedite the setting up of a company for you.

My girlfriend/wife is Thai. Can she buy on my behalf?

She can, but she must also sign a declaration, to be confirmed by you in writing, that the purchase monies are solely her own funds and that they do not belong to you. The implications of any future breakdown in the relationship are obvious. We strongly advise either buying a condo in your own name or forming a company for any purchase of houses, land or other property.

How do I send the money over to Thailand?

You must open a Thai bank account (see Question 3). You must then transfer the monies (electronic transfer is best) from your local bank to your Thai bank ensuring that it arrives in your “local” currency, unconverted into Baht in order to comply with the requirements for obtaining a Tor Tor Sam from your Thai bank (see Question 3).

What about tax?

Your tax position in Thailand will obviously depend on whether you are buying or selling a property, and whether you are taking or granting a commercial or residential lease. If you have any specific queries please contact us and we will endeavour to supply you with the necessary information. It is worth noting that tax rates are generally lower than in most developed countries, and it is important to ensure you have a good accountant who can assist you with your tax planning.

Do you know trustworthy lawyers and accountants I can use?

Yes we do. It is important to use tried, tested and trustworthy professionals. Our legal and accounting partners understand the importance of our emphasis on client satisfaction and will provide you with English translations of the important documents you will sign.

What investment return can I expect if I buy to let?

You can expect yields on sea-view condos in Pattaya and Jomtien of between 7 and 10 percent (often significantly higher). Your return obviously depends on what price you buy at, and the cost of any redecoration/refurbishment works you carry out. We can help you try to find the right property at the right price if you are looking to buy to let. Please let us know what your investment criteria are at an early stage.

What investment return can I expect if I buy to let?

You can expect yields on sea-view condos in Pattaya and Jomtien of between 7 and 10 percent (often significantly higher). Your return obviously depends on what price you buy at, and the cost of any redecoration/refurbishment works you carry out. We can help you try to find the right property at the right price if you are looking to buy to let. Please let us know what your investment criteria are at an early stage.

If I wanted to rent out my property, could you do it for me?

Yes. Contact us.

What are the usual outgoings on a property in Thailand?

The usual annual outgoings for a condo consist of a service/maintenance charge – for communal maintenance, security, common parts lighting, cleaning etc. Utilities such as water and electricity are calculated by meter, and are payable monthly. It is important for your lawyer to check that a seller of a property has paid his service charge up to the date of the sale.

I am too busy to come to Thailand just now. Can you find a place for me?

Yes, we can. You will need to let us know your specific requirements contact us and enquire which will assist us in advising you.

Remember, if you are buying a condo, we can move very quickly on your behalf, but if you incorporate a company you will need to have the paper work sent to you by courier for your signature and this must then be returned to your Thai lawyer.

Bear in mind that you must at some stage open a Thai bank account to obtain the Tor Tor Sam (see Question 3). You must do this in person to enable you to transfer the funds to Thailand.

What about buying from a property developer?

A common way of purchasing condos or houses is direct from the developer.

Usually there is a sales office near the construction site, and you simply go along, look at the plans, talk to your lawyer and to ourselves, and, assuming you hear nothing negative, simply reserve a condo even before the ground is broken or whilst the building is being built.

The purchase price is often paid to the developer in stages as the development goes up.

In the recent past, by the time the better developments have been built, many apartments have been sold off at a profit. This is obviously a reflection of the recent economic circumstances and the desirability of certain developments.

It is as true in Thailand as it is in your own country that location is one of the golden rules of real estate investment. We can help you select a suitable development for your needs.

Can I get a mortgage in Thailand?

No, not if you are a non-Thai purchasing a condo in your own name, although Thai lending institutions will lend to Thai companies specifically set up to acquire property, providing you have at least one Thai director.

In our experience, most buyers re mortgage or sell property in their home country and buy in Thailand with cash. That way you can move quickly, and you can be sure there will be no uncertainties as to the availability of funds just before you complete.

We can discuss various lending solutions if you need to borrow money in Thailand to buy or renovate property.

Partners in your investment

Because of our reliability and commercial skills, we believe our investment department has a unique product available to clients who wish to invest in Thai real estate but who are too busy to oversee the purchase, renovation, letting and subsequent sale of a property. Please contact us for more information.

What do you think are the differences between Pattaya and Jomtien?

Pattaya has a very lively nightlife and an established bar and entertainment scene, which some people like and some don’t. But there is much more to Pattaya than its entertainment, as it is a thriving, vibrant commercial city in its own right.

It also has a beachfront running parallel to Beach Road, which leads into Walking Street, all of which offers a fascinating glimpse into the lively life of Pattaya, day or night.

Located less than 10 minutes away from Pattaya, Jomtien is a quieter, more relaxed place, possessing a fine, sandy 6 kilometre beach. It is one of the fastest developing area in Thailand, and this is evidenced by the amount of new, exclusive condo blocks and housing developments being built on the road from Pattaya to Jomtien Beach.

Many Jomtien inhabitants jump aboard the very cheap taxi buses and travel into Pattaya for the night, then come back to enjoy the more relaxed atmosphere of Jomtien. But Jomtien is also well supplied with bars, excellent restaurants and shops if you prefer to give Pattaya a miss altogether.

Anything else I need to bear in mind when investing in Thai property?

Of course, no investment is risk-free.

If you are buying property abroad as an investment, you should be aware of the risk of fluctuations between your own currency and the local currency. The upside is that if the local currency strengthens against your own currency, you could win three times over – big capital gains, excellent rent yields, and a stronger local currency when you come to sell and convert back into your own currency!

You may like to look at some recent statistics to see why we think Thailand is a good place in which to invest.

Another issue for some people looking to invest abroad is political stability. Thailand has a very stable constitutional monarchy, and rejoices in its democratic institutions.

Thailand is a neutral, Buddhist country. It is a peaceful place in which to live and work. Some worry that they might be unable to find tenants for their property, but Pattaya and Jomtien are very popular tourist destinations, which reduces the risk that you might buy a property and not be able to let it. We will also work very hard to ensure that your property is permanently tenanted.

Finally, if you are sensible, and follow our three golden rules of property investment, you should not go far wrong.

  • Can you get good title to the property? The answer in Thailand is yes. So your name (or your company name) will be on the title, which obviously protects your investment.
  • Do not over-borrow to fund your purchase, as you may be unlucky and find periods where you have no tenant but the bank still wants to be paid, and repossession is to be avoided at all costs. Because you will generally be a cash buyer and you will have no mortgage in Thailand, this should not be a risk.
  • Choose the right location, either in one of today’s popular areas or (usually for less money) in an area which, in a couple of year’s time, will grow into a prime location. We can help find the right land, condo, house or commercial premises for your specific investment requirements.