The Thai real estate market is booming – the country is one of the top tourist destinations in the world and because many foreigners are looking to buy property there developers are building all the time. Most people who buy property there are looking to retire but there are many who buy simply as an investment. You will find all kinds of property – most common are condos but there are villas, beach front homes, town houses and others as well. Villas in Samui are especially popular – it has lovely beaches and the people there are very friendly. Villas in Pattaya are also in high demand.
As someone who is looking to buy you will find that it is relatively an easy process compared to other top destinations around the globe. That said, there are certain things that you should look out for:
• The Thai property market isn’t regulated by the government. This means that once you conduct a transaction there is no recourse if it goes wrong. In addition to that, real estate agents are not required by law to disclose fees and commissions which often means that they charge more than they should. It is up to you to do your due diligence and make sure that your transaction is sound.
• There are so-called one-stop centres that are created to help foreigners buy villas in Samui and villas in Pattaya. They will do everything from finding real estate to closing the deal. You should avoid these places because in many cases they aren’t just acting on behalf of the buyer; often, they will also be acting for the seller so that they can make twice as much in commissions.
• You need to have a lawyer to represent you. Many foreigners go in and sign contracts with sellers before they have a legal expert look at it. Many of these contracts offer the buyer little or no protection, and since the government doesn’t lay down any regulations there is nothing that the buyer can do. Remember, once you sign a contract in this country you are legally bound so it is best to hire a lawyer to make sure that anything that you sign has you legally protected.
• There are 4 different types of land title deeds and not all of them are good for you. The best is freehold land title also known as Chanote. With the other three, the owner’s rights are fewer and fewer. As a buyer, do not take a Nor Sor Sam Kor, Nor Sor Sam, and Sor Kor Nueng title deed.
• Never ever make a deposit before the relevant documents are signed. In many cases, they lose the money because there is no record showing that they ever paid a deposit. You may be approached by sellers who will pressure you into putting down a deposit so that they can hold a property for you. You are more likely than not to lose money if you do this.
• In many cases buyers will be presented with 2 contracts, one in English and one in Thai; you may be tempted to think that both contain the same information, right? Not always the case. Often, the one in Thai will be different and it has reduced protections for the buyer. The best thing to do is have a Thai lawyer review both documents to make sure that they are the same and that you are protected in both.
• It is very important that you verify the title deed before you pay any money or sign any contracts. There are many title deeds that are fake – foreigners buy only to find out later that the person that they bought from doesn’t own the property. This can often end up in long legal wrangles and since there is no government regulation the fake seller may go scot free. Make sure that your lawyer verifies the deed before you buy and also check whether there are liens or mortgages against the property.
• It is quite risky to buy an incomplete project. Often, developers will try to entice buyers by telling them that if they buy while the project is underway they will pay less. You should be aware that there are many stalled development projects and you may be buying into one of these. You are better off buying a condo or villa that has been completed.
• Find out in advance what the all the fees in the transaction are and who is responsible for paying them – they can often be negotiated downwards.
Now that you know what to look out for when buying property in Thailand you should have a much easier time completing your transaction.