Buying a condo in Thailand

Buying a condo in Thailand

Buying a condo in Thailand

If you’ve fallen in love with Thailand in spite of its recent spate of bad publicity and are determined to make the move, buying a condo needs careful consideration.

Almost everyone researching Thailand as an expat destination has read online advice claiming foreigners can buy a freehold condominium in their own names, but the process isn’t quite as simple as it seems. Thailand’s lawmakers are in love with legislation which doesn’t translate accurately into the English language as most of them lack fluency, but a mix of practical and legal advice can guide determined would-be expats through the process.

Firstly, only 49 per cent of condos in each building can be sold to foreign buyers, thus ensuring the majority of owners are Thai nationals. This isn’t much of a problem, especially if you’re heading for Bangkok, as it’s uncommon that expats could ever outnumber Thai buyers. However, in the smaller cities of Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Hua Hin and Phuket, it’s best to be cautious and check the current quota of foreign owners in the block you’ve chosen.

Secondly, don’t believe what you hear about Thai banks financing mortgages for expat buyers as, in the main, they don’t, simply because the rules on transferring foreign currency to a Thai bank give too many hoops to jump through to justify giving a mortgage. In addition, for many Thai banks, foreigners are considered as flight risks.

If you’re considering buying a condo as a buy-to-let investment, you should remember that ‘location, location, location’ is even more important in Thailand than in your home country. Requirements include a supermarket in the building’s basement, a huge choice of nearby restaurants and bars and easily accessible transportation.

One potential nightmare is that a condo owner you’ll have no say at all on how the building is managed. Owners are a majority voice on everything from raising fees through use of the capital repairs fund to general maintenance and other crucial decisions. These issues are all down to the developer’s ownership structure which retains a high number of units in order to be able to outvote residents on almost all matters.

The most-repeated warning to anyone who’s considering buying a condo off-plan states, quite simply, don’t go there and don’t do that, however attractive the deal, the condo and the building may seem. Even if it isn’t an outright scam, what you’ll get may not bear much resemblance to what was promised, especially in Thailand’s beachside tourism hubs.

The tourism favourites of Pattaya and Phuket are infamous for property scams of this type, with unfinished blocks telling their own tales of cash lost and dreams shattered. The safest way to get a foothold in your favourite location’s property market is to seek out a reliably recommended real estate agent with a good choice of expat-occupied condos for sale.

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