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Top Five things to consider when buying condos in Thailand

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Top Five things to consider when buying condos in Thailand | The Thaiger

Straight-talking about buying condominiums in Thailand from Desmond Hughes from Hughes Krupica

One of the most commonly read or spoken summary of foreign ownership of property in Thailand is along the lines of

“Foreigners can buy a foreign freehold condominium in their name”.

At this sentence, many foreign investors switch off, and assume that the rest of the detail provided by the author may be legal mumbo jumbo or a thinly veiled attempt to win their business.

In fact, there is quite a lot you should know about Thai condominiums, before you start property hunting. As my clients don’t generally spend their time reading legal journals and legislation unless they have to, I have set out a mixture of legal and practical matters below without much distinction:

Only 49% of the Registrable Area of a condominium can be sold to foreigners

In Bangkok, this is not likely to have any impact on you. Most of the buyers and owners of condominiums in Bangkok are Thai nationals. Even in condominiums popular with foreigners, it is an uncommon phenomena that foreigners would ever outnumber Thais as owners in a building. You might ask why the rule even exists, but there is a fear and protectionism in many Asian countries, not just Thailand, to try and keep foreigners ‘controlled’ through numbers and perecentages.

In other places – Phuket; Pattaya; Koh Samui; Chiang Mai and Hua Hin particularly you should apply caution to ensuring that the correct ‘quota’ of foreign units is available to be sold to you on a freehold basis.

Banks often advertise they will give finance, even potentially to foreigners, but in the end – don’t

I speak from personal experience and from that of my clients. For my first condo investment in Bangkok, I had to take out a loan with HSBC which was then taken over by a Thai bank. My loan had to be in foreign currency, because in order to buy a foreign freehold condominium – you have to send foreign currency into Thailand from overseas to generate ‘foreign exchange transaction forms’ to register the title to a foreigner at the land office.

This means a lot of hoops for a bank to jump through simply to provide a mortgage. Foreigners are also viewed as flight risks by Thai banks and they do not wish to spend their time chasing foreign assets. This all means that a very high percentage of the foreign buyer market is cash based, which is good for the stability of that part of the condo market.

If you are tempted to try and take out finance applications to banks, be aware that the banks are looking for you to have some business in Thailand; perhaps to be married to a Thai national who preferable from the bank’s perspective will have some degree of wealth for self-support; and that you have other assets in Thailand with a history of using and paying off credit such as credit cards.

There is an oversupply of condominiums in Bangkok at the moment and rental yields are traditionally low in terms of % compared to more expensive Asian neighbors – Hong Kong and Singapore, and further afield.

A condo in a prime rentable area at a high investment price can remain rentable due to its extremely useful location and amenities. If such condo has a 24 hour supermarket in the basement of the retail area and dozens of restaurants, as a condo building I am thinking of does have such amenities, then it will remain rentable for some time if the property is maintained.

However, another condo at the end of the same ‘Soi’ and post building and delivery could remain unrented after many months and even if the rent is cut to 50% of the market price. Don’t just take my word for the state of the market for condo rentals in Bangkok, ask the agents.

In addition to this, the authorities are taking a closer eye at tax declarations and ‘cracking down’ on undeclared taxes – not just personal income tax, but the ‘business tax’ of 12.5% for renting units out. This all adds to the costs of investing and renting in a condo, and you must calculate this into your budget and forecasts to avoid living in fantasy land about dream returns.

If you want to search through Thailand’s largest selection of properties, or even rentals, click HERE.

You won’t have any say in how the condominium is managed

Unless you buy up over half of the voting rights attached to units in the entire building, you will be a minority voice on issues like the raising of the common area fees; use of the ‘sinking fund’ – the fund to make capital repairs, changes to the rules and regulations and general maintenance decisions, even of some significance.

Don’t imagine standing up at an co-owners meeting voicing your opinions and somehow making headway in ‘changing’ the direction of the management of a building. The way in which a building is managed boils down to how the developer has structured ownership, whether the developer retains many units and a large % of the voting rights or not, and whether the developer plans to self-manage or outsource management of the asset to a reputable or not-so-reputable management company.

If you don’t check the management plan then I can reference lots of analogous situations where you would take more care – if you buy a car, you should think if there are any decent repair centres nearby and at a reasonable price – Ferraris in Phuket aren’t currently easy to maintain, I would imagine, as a non-Ferrari owner and observer of the state and condition of the roads in that Province.

You also wouldn’t, I hope, buy a smart phone without knowing you could have the phone service, fixed and various parts replaced on reasonably short notice. As a property is a far higher value of investment, a lot of investigation into the management plan is necessary.

Don’t believe the hype – It’s a sequel

False Media, we don’t need it do we? If you see a glossy marketing brochure and are told that the developer ‘has to deliver on its promises by law’ – be wary. To take one example, I bought a condo under which a ‘private wine cellar area with personal secure wine bottle storage space’ would be provided to every buyer. Amazingly, without any shame at all, the famous developer constructed an unchilled cheap wooden cabinet with glass doors, no locks next to 4 sofa chairs in the open space corridor between a swimming pool and the gym. If you wanted to fry an egg on the ‘wine cabinet’ then that was highly likely to have been possible.

These kind of things are not all ‘horror stories’ – I actually got a decent condo notwithstanding the missing items. However, you will often have to compromise when in more highly regulated and supervised jurisdictions, you would not. Compromise is a very common work in Thai society and it applies to business and consumer purchases too.

Set up your ownership for easy re-sale

If you are buying a condo as a ‘foreigner’ and paying cash, then you can buy your condo through a foreign company, and sell the company later. This is only worth doing if the cost of setting up and maintaining the foreign company is reasonable and the company you set up is ‘saleable’ and attractive to others. You should not carry out this kind of structuring to ‘avoid tax’.

However, you can set up this kind of structure, pay tax on the purchase, and subsequently deal with your company as you see fit, provided a buyer is willing to buy it. If such a company receives rental income, then even if it is foreign it is till liable to taxes as the use of the ‘immoveable property’ for generating revenue isn’t deemed to be ‘outside’ of Thailand, and that applies even if the company tries to contract for and receive the rent outside of Thailand.

Desmond Hughes has operated and owned 2 law firms in Asia in 14 years spanning Thailand; Vietnam; Indonesia with clients in all of Asia and other markets investing inwards into the region with his existing firm Hughes Krupica possessing a large market shares in its fields of expertise.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    foot

    September 29, 2017 at 1:14 pm

    The bottom line is don’t buy a condo. While there are some that have worked out, the huge percentage of buyers lose everything they spent.
    The author also fails to mention how many times the Thai who holds the 51% changes the locks and throws farang out. Usually the wife, girlfriend, or “trusted” Thai associate.

    BTW, all of these warnings also apply to any timeshare, regardless of what country it’s purchased in.

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Bangkok

Professor: Military government too interested in tourism – not people’s welfare

Greeley Pulitzer

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Professor: Military government too interested in tourism – not people’s welfare | The Thaiger

A professor of Rangsit University has criticised the previous military government for focusing too much on tourism and not enough on the welfare of the Thai people. The professor was speaking at Chulalongkorn University at a seminar discussing street stalls and urban development.

She questioned the National Council for Peace and Order’s policy of clearing street vendors in all but a few areas such as Yaowarat and Khao San Road that mainly cater to tourists.

She claimed that the NCPO – in power since the coup of 2014 until this year’s election – was more interested in economic development through tourism than in the welfare of the public.

Having affordable street food options was not just about tourism, she said, it was vital for poor workers who have migrated from the countryside, adding that it was part of an informal rather than a formal economy.

“For years people had earned their living from selling goods and services, including food, on the streets.”

This in turn provided an affordable option to eat for workers who came to Bangkok on for large investment projects. The issue, she said, was not just about tourism but the wider economy that might benefit.

The professor noted that CNN had once called Bangkok the best place in the world for street food but this had changed with the sanitized food trucks that have appeared since stalls and vendors were banned from most areas.

The Thaiger notes that banning street vendors has divided the capital. Many are happy that the sidewalks are easier to navigate, but others – including tourists – have said that the lifeblood and character of the city has suffered.

SOURCE: Naew Na | ThaiVisa Forum

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Bangkok

Stricter controls and paperwork putting brakes on residential property market

The Thaiger

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Stricter controls and paperwork putting brakes on residential property market | The Thaiger

The honorary president of the Thai Housing Business Association, Atip Bijanonda, is tipping the local residential market may fall by up to 10% this year starved of economic confidence, the global economic slowdown and the loan-to-value limits.

But he also believes the situation is far from the situation leading up to the 1997 economic collapse.

The Greater Bangkok residential market is now valued at 372 billion baht (in 2018). That’s a rise of 29% compared to the year earlier. So the drop this year is off the back of a very successful 2017.

For this year the market has fallen by 5%, according to the Thai Housing Business Association, with the largest declines in Q2, in retaliation to the LTV limits taking on April 1.

Some of Thailand’s major developers are now shelving some projects as the market soaks up a glut of properties constructed over the past two years.

Three property associations – the Housing Business Association, the Thai Condominium Association and the Thai Real Estate Association – are having meetings with the finance minister discussing the current property market.

Topics for discussion are the improvement in property regulation, construction permits, licences and stricter controls over developers and lending. The associations also want to discuss the current delays on Environmental impact assessments (EIAs). They say that since the responsibility for EIAs was handed over to the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration from the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning in 2016, the process is now taking much longer.

Speaking to the Bangkok Post, Kobsak Pootrakool, deputy secretary-general to the PM for political affairs says that stricter lending criteria and the LTV rules are the main factors obstructing mortgage approvals for homebuyers

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Bangkok

A cocktail of beer and insulin blamed for ATM robbery

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A cocktail of beer and insulin blamed for ATM robbery | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Sanook.com

“After the combination of beer and insulin, Prakit grabbed a metal pole and drove his motorbike to the ATMs.”

A diabetic man is blaming his insulin injections after going on an ATM robbery spree. The man had three attempts to break into ATMs in one night, all unsuccessful. The incidents happened in the early hours of October 9. He was was arrested the next day on October 10.

The Sam Dam Police in Bangkok arrested 36 year old Prakit after a short investigation.

He had used a white Yamaha motorbike with no license plates as his “getaway of choice”.

Police received information about a man attempting to break into ATMs in the area. He used a metal pole to try and pry the ATMs open, but turns out it wasn’t quite as easy as he thought. His efforts contributed approximately zero baht.

The first ATM belonged to Kasikorn Bank, the second to Thanachart Bank, and the last ATM also belonged to Kasikorn Bank. The first 2 ATMs were located near the Bangbon Police Station while the last ATM was located around the Samdam Police Station (possible unwise selections of location).

Police reviewed the CCTV footage and tracked Prakit’s route home. They then arrested him and found the motorbike used as the vehicle in the robbery captured by the security footage.

Prakit admitted to attempting to break into the ATMs. He said he’d been drinking 6 to 7 bottles of beer just after having an insulin shot for his diabetes. He told police it made him go crazy “losing all sense of right and wrong”.

His sugar level was over 400 so he needed to take the shot right away when he was drinking. After the cocktail of beer and insulin, Prakit grabbed a metal pole and headed to the ATMs.

He insists that he went crazy and lost all sense of right and wrong saying he wore his pants inside out to commit the crime.

Prakit is currently awaiting prosecution.

SOURCE: Sanook.com | Thai Residents

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