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Buying property in Thailand – An FAQ for foreign buyers

As a foreigner, can I own land in Thailand?
No, you cannot own land in Thailand, you can lease land for a maximum of 30 years. Any lease over 3 years must be recorded at the local land office. If you are married to a Thai, they can own the land in their name and you can register an usufruct on the property giving you lifelong rights to use and manage it (but no rights to sell or own the property).

Can I own a house?
Yes, you can register a house in your own name at the land office. Note, the land the house sits on will be leased to you as mentioned above.

Can I own a condo?
Yes, you can own a condo 100% freehold. Each condo building has 51% of units allocated to Thai nationals; the remaining 49% of units are available to non-Thais.

Can I get a mortgage in Thailand?
Some villa developers offer private finance options based on individual cases. Banks typically do not give mortgages to foreigners, even if they are married to a Thai. We will soon have information regarding mortgages for foreigners on freehold properties (condominiums) only, in any part of Thailand.

What taxes and fees are involved in a property purchase and who pays?
If purchasing a freehold condo in a project licensed under the Condominium Act or any real estate in a government licensed housing development, consumer protection laws specify that the developer may ONLY pass on the transfer fee at a percentage of 50% to the buyer. However, there is no fixed rule in the law on how the land office fees and taxes are split between the seller and buyer in a private sale or sale in a private development, so this should be agreed early on by both parties as part of the sale and purchase agreement. The following land office taxes and fees apply to the purchase of condos, land, land and house, and the transfer of a house separate from the land and are charged by the land office at the time of transfer: transfer fee (2%), Specific Business Tax (3.3% and if applicable), Stamp Duty (0.5% and does not have to be paid if Specific Business Tax is paid), Income Withholding tax (for companies fixed at 1% and a progressive rate for individuals). We feel the best case scenario is that all these fees are split 50/50 between buyer and seller; however, there seem to be some regional differences to this protocol some and some would say that all taxes are the responsibility of the seller, and only the transfer tax should be split 50/50. Again, it is best to get this cleared in detail early on and recorded in the sales purchase agreement. Note that these taxes cannot be calculated exactly prior to due diligence at the local land office.

Are there other property taxes?
At the time of writing, there is no general annual property tax in Thailand. For land and properties used commercially (rented out, company owned properties, used as storage, etc) an annual land and house tax is charged at a rate of 12.5% over the yearly rental or assessed yearly rental. There have been talks of plans to introduce a more general property tax and reform the system, though there is no concrete news on this yet. There is a small local maintenance tax on undeveloped land only.

Should I use a lawyer?
We definitely recommend using a lawyer. The process can be complicated depending on the type of property you buy, the current ownership status, and your intended ownership method. We can recommend several good lawyers in town, and ultimately the choice is yours who you employ.

Can I leave my Thai property in my will?
We recommend making a last will and testament in Thailand and properties can be left to your heirs, however there are a lot of variables depending on the type of property and its ownership status so do consult with your lawyer to gain a full understanding of this.

What is a chanote (Thai title deed)?
The chanote is often used as a blanket term for ‘title deed’ in Thailand. However, this is not accurate. There are several types of title deed in Thailand, and it’s normally one of the first things you would ask about when buying a property here. The ‘chanote’ is the highest level of title deed and therefore the most preferred. The next level of deed is the ‘Nor Sor Sam Gor (NS3G)’ – these are the only 2 title deeds that are viable for real estate investment. Below the NS3G is the Nor Sor Sam (NS3), land on this title has not yet been accurately surveyed and the area must be confirmed with neighbouring land. Note that NS3 land can be upgraded to NS3G or chanote, but you must have a lawyer conduct due diligence before proceeding with any investment. There are numerous other title deeds in Thailand, but we would not recommend even considering them.

How much does it cost to run and maintain my property?
Condos will have a flat fee based on square meterage and usually paid yearly. An average fee maybe 30 Baht per month, say for an 80 sqm unit = 2400B per month x 12 = 28,800 Baht per year. This fee is for building maintenance, security, rubbish collection, swimming pool running costs, gym (if applicable), common area electricity + water + maintenance, etc.
Villas will vary greatly depending on the size of the property, type of development and services supplied. A high level estate that offers 24 hour security, good common area maintenance, pool and garden maintenance, rubbish collection, shuttle service, etc may cost around 5500 Baht per month for a 150 sqm house on 500 sqm of land.
On top of these expect to pay water (50-500B per month) electricity (700-3000B per month) and Internet (700B per month), depending of course on size of property and usage.