Foreign ownership of Thai land, but with lots of conditions
One rai of land in Thailand is all yours to own, if you’re a foreigner, have plenty of money, or are going to stay in Thailand for a long time.
The plan to sell freehold land to foreigners is gaining traction and is likely to become law by the end of this year. It’s part of the Thai government’s intention to attract “high spending” foreigners as part of its economic plans for recovery after the two year ‘Covid hiatus’.
The four groups, often touted, include, individuals with enormous wealth, wealthy pensioners, those who want to work remotely in Thailand (but with minimum earnings), and specifically-skilled professionals.
The Thai Land Department says the offer will be made to foreigners “who are eligible” and meet criteria set by the Interior Ministry and “must invest at least 40 million baht for at least three years”.
Up to 2026, the Thai government aims to attract more than a million qualified (wealthy) people to Thailand attracting an estimated additional income to the country of 1 trillion baht.
Some of the world’s troubles – war in Eastern Europe, climate change, the ongoing Covid Zero policy in China, and the crackdown on democracy in Hong Kong – are playing into the hands of the plan to attract the world’s wealthy to the, relatively, stable shores of Thailand. Russians, Ukrainians, and Chinese (mainland and HK residents) are already buying up.
Brennan Campbell, CEO of FazWaz.com, says that there has been a noticeable uptick in sales of Thai property to wealthy foreigners in the past 7 months.
“We have seen a growth in purchases from high-end buyers from Hong Kong, China, and Russia, amongst many other nations. The Thai property market seems to be the big winner from some of the instability in other parts of the world.”
But the proposal has had mixed reactions from a number of Thai spokespeople foreshadowing possible problems with the new property-for-foreigners proposal.
Sanan Angubolkul, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, says there should be additional requirements.
“Foreigners with the privilege must purchase first-hand land and property only and resell it to Thai nationals only and purchases must be made in designated zones.”
Pornpana Kuaycharoen, Founder and Coordinator of Land Watch Thai, asks the question… “who really benefits from this policy?”
“It’s rich people. Those who already own the majority of land in the country will make a profit from selling it to investors and make the problem of land ownership inequality in Thailand even worse.”
“As a lot of Thai people still own no land, why should we allow foreign investors to take more of the country’s land?”
Other academics are pointing out the need to update Thailand’s property and company laws to avoid unintentional consequences of such a policy.
And many Thais on social media have questioned the Thai government’s U-turn on selling freehold property to foreigners, even if it’s restricted to just one rai.
“I think there will be so many loopholes in these laws, we will end up selling Thailand without even knowing it.”
“We should find ways to improve our economy without selling Thailand on a grand scale.”
“These buyers will just invest and not live here. They don’t care about Thailand.”
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