Thailand has recently witnessed a surge of interest in
property buyers from around the world. One of the first questions on
everyone’s lips when they enter the Kingdom is: “How can I own the
property I want to buy?”
There are a number of answers to this question, which
revolve around the Thai law that foreigners may own up to 49 percent of a
condominium property. Hence if a property developer has built an apartment
block of 100 units, he can sell 49 percent of the condominium space (units)
to foreigners. In this case each expat who buys one of the 49 units will
wholly own the flat in his or her own name.
Buying a house standing on a piece of (Thai)land is a
different story. In the past, many people opted for the easy route of buying
the house in the name of a Thai friend. Effectively, you are giving them the
money to buy a house and hope they do not lock you out after the first
argument. History tells us that this method does not always have a happy
Land for building comes with a title deed, or
“chanod” in Thailand. It is possible to have your Thai partner’s name
on this document as owner, with your name also registered as mortgagor, as
you lent the money in the form of a mortgage. This means that the house
cannot be sold without your consent.
You can also use a Thai Nominee to purchase a property
and have a 30-year lease with 30-year renewal options from the nominee.
Another method is Usufruct Interest (sidhi-kep-kin) that
gives you temporary ownership rights to things on the Thai land. In
practice, a Usufruct is limited to a 30-year maximum period; like leases,
the agreement can be successively renewed. In contrast to a lease, a
Usufruct interest can be sold or transferred, although it expires upon the
death of the holder of the Usufruct and therefore cannot be inherited.
Finally there is the Limited Liability Company, which is
most popular as the Articles of the Association can be varied to allow
greater protection for foreign minority shareholders. The recommended
foreigner ownership share in this case is 39 percent, but with changes to
the Articles of Association, the foreigner can be the only active director
of the company.
All these choices can be discussed with an experienced
Real Estate agent and a satisfactory outcome is normal these days.