A foreigner’s guide to buying a house in Thailand

The Thaiger recommends getting good advice on all matters regarding property in Thailand.

Although buying a villa or house in your home country may also include the purchasing on the land where the house sits, there are restrictions to foreign ownership of land in Thailand. Currently, foreigners are not permitted to own land, but there are exceptions to this rule and historic ‘work arounds’ that provide some form of legal tenure, if not quite ‘ownership’ of land in Thailand.

A lawyer can help you understand and follow those exceptions in order to legitimise your purchase of land. For example, there are a few exceptions that are well-known and allow such a purchase to be completed:

  • In the instance of a foreigner buying real estate in Thailand, the ownership of a house can be registered and transferred separately from the land where the house is built
  • The transfer procedure must follow the Thailand Civil and Commercial Code
  • The transfer has to be evidenced in writing
  • The transfer must also be registered with the Land Department’s branch or provincial office.

The sale and transfer of ownership of an existing building, that is separate from the land, requires the current owner and buyer of the house to strictly adhere to the standard procedure detailed at the Land Office. If this is not done, the building will still be legally owned by the developer or a third party who owns the land.

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Steps for buying a house in Thailand

Step 1: Finding a house

As foreign ‘ownership’ of real estate in Thailand has become increasingly popular, there are a few things to consider when buying a house or villa

  • Always make use of registered lawyers and reputable real estate agents in Thailand as they will provide reputable advice and protect your interests when acquiring real estate.
  • Be aware that many of the issues that may arise when buying a house in Thailand can be avoided early on in the property search. Make sure to look into relevant regulations and pertinent laws.

You can check Thailand’s widest range of properties for sale or rent HERE.

Step 2: Setting up your Thai company

Once you have decided upon a house or villa to purchase, make sure to consult a lawyer before signing any documents. Remember that foreigners may not own a house in their own name; however, a Thai registered company in the foreigner’s name may own the house.

Thailand has different types of business entities, with the most commonly used being a Thai Limited Company. For American citizens, the Thailand Amity Treaty is also one way to legally own property. As there are many types of company structures that comply with Thai laws, it is best to consult your real estate agency and a qualified lawyer to find a company that best fits your situation.

Step 3: Buying the house

Once both parties agree on a price, a reputable lawyer should do a title search and check the contract before signing.The title search is deemed very important as it is in this procedure that the buyer would ascertain that the seller is the rightful owner to the subject property, and that all of the property’s paperwork is in place. Also, note the type of Title Deeds in Thailand. Here, we have a list of the following categories of title deeds in Thailand…

  • Freehold Title Deed (Chanote or Nor Sor 4). This type of title gives the holder full rights over the land, to deal with or to use it to the exclusion of others.
  • Nor Sor 3 Gor. A land awaiting a full title is granted this document. This type of land may be sold, transferred, or mortgaged in the same manner as land with freehold title deed as long as it is ready to be a full title deed.
  • Nor Sor 3. This differs from Nor Sor 3 Gor as this title has not yet been measured by the Land Department, as the land has no exact boundaries.
  • Possessory Right. This type of title deed is not recommended as it has not been substantiated by the Land Department, but only with the Local Administrative Office through tax payments.

If you are buying a house off-plan, securing legal advice is needed in regards to buying in pre-construction projects. Additionally, there are transfer fees for your condominium and Thailand property taxes.

Transfer of Ownership

When transferring ownership of a house or villa, the procedure is conducted at the land office. It is the only government authority that is approved to administer and complete a transfer of ownership of a building. The documents needed to conduct a transfer of ownership, are as follows:

  • Thai home and official documents related to real estate
  • Passports/ ID cards of the owner and buyer
  • Land title deed
  • House book (Tabien Baan)
  • Building permit

The transfer of ownership of a house or villa is recognised as an immovable property that is subjected to income withholding (personal or corporate income) tax, transfer fees, stamp duty, specific business tax calculated over the registered sale value or appraised value. The government’s assessed (appraised) value of a house or villa, used by the land office, depends among others on location, number of floors, floor space and types of materials used.

Although this guide is not a replacement for the actual law, it can help you in preparing to buy a home in Thailand. As always, we recommend confirming this information with a real estate lawyer as regulations are subject to change at any time.

Bottomline, do plenty of homework and consult with a reputable agent and lawyer before purchasing property in Thailand.

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Ann Carter

Ann Carter is an award-winning journalist from the United States with over 12 years experience in print and broadcast news. Her work has been featured in America, China and Thailand as she has worked internationally at major news stations as a writer and producer. Carter graduated from the Walter Williams Missouri School of Journalism in the USA.

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