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Phuket Property: Asking for a second opinion

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PHUKET: Many times prospective buyers of property in Thailand search online for legal information in regards to their purchase. They soon discover that online legal advice varies depending on the law office, lawyer or advisor providing the information.

In some cases advice is given which recommends that to secure an investment in property a Thai company should be incorporated to hold legal title, or that the investor should secure a 30-year registered leasehold (50 years for commercial property with possible extension). Other times, an advisor recommends that a superficies or usufruct be registered against the land title in favor of the investor, or to simply secure a registered lifetime right to possess and reside on the land. Some suggest that prospective purchasers gift the purchase money to be used for the investment to their Thai wife or Thai partner – who, as Thais, may lawfully hold title to land in their own names. Still others suggest only purchasing condominium units, which may be lawfully owned and registered into the name of foreign nationals.

From the above, you can see that there are many ways to secure an investment in property in Thailand. Depending on the specific needs and circumstances of the individual buyer, one method or another may be the most suitable for any individual case. To be sure, there are differences of opinion as to which methods may best serve a specific buyer, and it is in the best interest of every prospective purchaser of land or property in Thailand to receive, prior to their purchase, proper legal advice fully informing them of the advantages and disadvantages of each of the possible methods and vehicles of property ownership.

Factors to consider include whether the purchased property can be passed on through a last will, whether the property rights can be sold or transferred to third parties and under what circumstances may their property rights be renewed or extended. The experience of the particular law office, lawyer or advisor selected by the buyer will play a crucial role in the quality of their advice. Always select attorneys who have experience defending contracts in courts of law and who are up to date with the ever-changing property laws and regulations of the land office. Law offices/attorneys who are personally familiar with the land office and its policies and regulations should be consulted, as the interpretation of the laws and regulations by such a land official is valuable – any contracts for property purchase must be registered against a the land title which has to be accepted by the land officer in charge.

We wholeheartedly agree with other advisors that proper legal advice should be sought before entering into any agreements, including reservation agreements, and before any monies are paid. Further, while it is always important to discuss your individual situation and needs with a skilled and qualified lawyer/advisor, it is also desirable to get a second opinion as the advice you may initially receive may vary depending on the experience and knowledge of your advisor and the particular purchase structure you first chose. A law office or advisor who can also offer tax advice on the tax liabilities of owning/renting out property or upon its later sale is an advantage to have. If your attorney is not a tax specialist, you may wish to seek additional and independent advice from a tax advisor for added protection.

On Phuket, the prospective buyer has a great choice of international law offices, Thai law offices, Thai lawyers with proper command of the English and other languages, and advisory offices who can offer sound advice in many different languages. The Phuket Gazette Guide is a good source for legal services as it provides listings to many law offices/lawyers in Phuket.

This article is written by International Law Office Patong Beach Co., Ltd., since 1995 a Phuket based law firm. In case of enquiries, please contact Friedrich ‘Sam’ Fauma, Senior Partner and Consultant, by email: sam@ilo-phuket.com or phone +66-(0) 76-222 191-5.

— International Law Office Patong

 

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