To Buy a Property in Thailand as a foreigner, Buying a condominium is the easiest and most straightforward method to invest in real estate. Due to the 1979 Thailand Condominium Act, foreigners can own condominiums anywhere in Thailand 100% outright, as long as the building has not already sold its 49% foreign quota. Each condominium in Thailand when registering with the land department designates 49% of its units for sale for potential purchase by a non-Thai buyer.
This way at least 51% of the building always remains in the hands of local Thai people, however individual units that make up the other 49% can be sold to foreigners outright. Therefore it is legal for a non-Thai, non-resident foreigner to own 100% of a freehold condominium in Thailand. And in fact 17% of condominiums owned in Bangkok are owned by foreign investors.
Unlike condominiums, which of course are covered by the Thailand Condominium Act of 1979, townhouses and detached houses are ‘landed’, they essentially contain an area of Thai land underneath them or around them. As it is not possible for foreigners to own Thai land, then an expat wishing to buy a townhouse or detached house has two options. And split across teachers I know that have bought a townhouse or detached house in Thailand, both options are appealing given individual circumstances.
The first option I will cover quickly and briefly as it is not really relevant to this article, but realistically it would be inappropriate not to mention it. This option is often taken up when the expat or foreign investor knows that he has a stable and solid relationship with their spouse or partner that they can trust. And therefore the property is bought 100% in the Thai person’s name and of course this also opens up the options for finance from a Thai bank.
Option 2 however is the method chosen by foreign investors that feel they do not have the above luxury. They are open to start a company in Thailand in which they can own 49% of the shares. This may sound unappealing, but with the other shares split over 7 or more locals and more than often none of them having any voting rights or knowledge of each other, most foreign investors realize that the company is controlled by them. This means that the Property in Thailand you purchased (Villa, land) can be placed under the umbrella of the company and therefore controlled by the foreign director.
As unusual as a lot of the above sounds to the first time reader, and as ‘fishy’ some of the details come across on the initial read, the systems do in fact work and the savvy expat or foreign investor can and regularly does successfully buy and sell real estate in Thailand. Foreigners have been buying real estate in Thailand regularly for the last three decades and more and more invest in Thai real estate each year. This would not be possible if foreigners were being consistently ‘cheated’ out of their money by the laws of the land.
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