Thailand could be described as many people’s idea of paradise. The country boasts a pulsating capital city, some of the most beautiful beaches in the World, incredibly friendly people and a delicious cuisine. What more do you need? Thailand was once the backpackers Mecca with a huge selection of budget accommodation, but in recent years more Five-Star hotels, resorts and Golf clubs have sprung up. Because of this an exciting and buoyant Thailand property market has emerged offering real estate to suit all financial budgets.
Despite the world’s economic problems and some political strife in Thailand, it is still an attractive place to purchase property for both residents and investors. Even with a low Pound, Dollar and Euro property in Thailand is still relatively cheap compared to the West.
The Buying Process
Usually an offer on a property in Thailand will not be made until a solicitor has conducted all the relevant searches. If you do want to put in an offer before you have sought legal advice, do not exchange any money. You should only do this after you have been given the legal go-ahead.
When you are in a position to progress make sure that the name in which the property is purchased matches the exact name on your passport to avoid any future complications. Usually you will have to pay a ten percent deposit until the purchase agreement is fully carried out, but this will be refunded if the purchase does not go through, as long as it is not your fault.
The preliminary contract will contain a date stating when the final contract will be signed. At this point you will have to pay the outstanding balance plus any other taxes. The Land Department will be made aware of the deeds, completing the purchase.
General freehold regulations mean that foreigners can own buildings in Thailand, but not land. Due of this the majority of foreigners buying property in Thailand will opt for condominiums. It is less complicated but if somebody desires a villa there are ways of acquiring one freehold. The first option to acquire a freehold property is to to set up a Thai limited company. If the buyer chooses to go down this route they should be aware that they are only able to own 39 percent of the shares. The rest of the shares have to be owned by Thai nationals, who can sign over the rest of the company to you.
Another option is to lease the land that has been purchased. The lease has a duration of 30 years, with the option to renew twice, so it is effectively a 90 years lease. The other option is to own the land through marriage to a Thai National.
Gaining finance for a Foreigner in Thailand can be a complicated process so often Western buyers will raise the finance in their home country and then transfer it to a Thai bank account. This makes sense if you are continuing to work in your home country so monthly mortgage repayments will not be affected by currency fluctuations, if you are earning in your Country’s currency and repaying the loan in this currency.
If however, you are aiming to cover your mortgage repayments through rental income from the property it may be better to have the mortgage in Thai baht.
Fees and Taxes
Usually estate agent fees will come to about three percent of the total purchase price. When planning your budget include a two percent transfer fee, one percent solicitor’s costs and stamp duty of 0.5 percent. A big plus for the buyer is that there is no capital gains tax but if the property is sold within five years of the purchase date. The seller will be liable for income tax. This will be between one and three percent.
If you have gone down the Thai company route then there will be a business tax of 3.3 percent to pay. If you own the land then there will be a local development tax to pay. Some of these outgoings can be negotiable if you are purchasing on a large resort from a well established firm.
New Builds and Resales
There are few properties for resale on the Thai property market. There are opportunities for investors to purchase properties from other investor who are trying to sell for a profit before the completion date. Due to some recent problems in Thailand you may be able to procure a property from an investor at a low price, who is looking to exit the market. In technical terms this is a resale but it will be brand new when you get the keys.
New builds however, provide the greatest choice on the Thai property market. More and more property developments are emerging around the country.
Thailand has much to offer for foreigners, investors and retirement options. The great weather and laid back lifestyle appeals to a majority of foreigners.