Can foreigners buy property in Thailand?

Can foreigners legally own property in Thailand?

To keep it simple, “Yes, it’s possible”!

People often worry that Thai Property Laws are complicated and confusing.
Rest-assured, buying property in Thailand is straightforward and the laws are easy to follow and understand.

Investors and homebuyers can follow these 3 simple rules:

1. Foreigners cannot own land.

However, they can own and control:

2. Building and structures located on a plot of land.
3. Condominium Freehold Titles simply called “condos”.

Therefore, the easiest way for a foreign buyer to own property and have their name registered on the title deed (Also known in Thai as “Chanote”) is to buy a condo.

Example of a Condo Title Deed (Chanote)

Why does Thailand impose these foreign property ownership regulations?

While these regulations, may appear stringent and inflexible, these rules are in place to protect Thailand’s economic and social development. The Kingdom’s real estate, even in the capital Bangkok, is relatively affordable and a potential influx of overseas investors could have an unintended inflationary effect on property prices.

To avoid a situation, like in London, Hong Kong or New York where property prices have skyrocketed because of international buyers, Thailand enforces these laws to maintain balance and minimize disruption. Ensuring that Thais are not displaced and “priced out” of their housing needs!

Let’s explore the 3 easiest ways for an overseas buyer to own Thai property:

1. Buying a Condo

As mentioned above, buying a condo is the most simple and hassle-free way for foreigners to own property in Thailand. Non-Thai owners of condos are registered on the chanote, and they benefit from a special type of freehold title known as a Condominium Freehold.

A Condominium Freehold Title, explained in simple terms is as follows:

It is the division of a residential building into individual condominium units; with each unit benefiting from a proportional co-ownership of the common areas and co-owner association (I.e. Building Amenities, Land and Juristic Management Office.)

To comply with the Condominium Act B.E 1979 and its amendments, condos need to ensure the following:

Only up to 49% of the condo’s registrable area can be sold to foreign buyers (Also known as the “Foreign Quota”), the remaining 51% must be owned by Thai nationals or Thai entities.

If the Foreign Quota of a condo is sold out, foreign buyers can only acquire units in the building on a leasehold basis.

So how about buying villas, houses, townhouses or land?

As explained above, foreigners cannot legally own land under their name in Thailand.

Good news, Thailand’s legal framework does offer some alternative ownership or control options to foreign buyers!

While direct ownership and registration on the “Chanote” is not possible, there are alternative holding structures that allow non-Thais to enjoy or “indirectly” control the use of land.

Here are some ownership options for landed property (I.e. Villas, Townhouses and Single Detached Houses…) and land:

2. Buying Leasehold Property

One option is simply to acquire land on a leasehold basis; in Thailand the maximum lease on land is 30-years, with the possibility to have a contractual agreement for two subsequent renewals (Total of 90-years lease).

While a leasehold may not offer ownership, it does offer the leaseholder exclusive rights to the use of that property. Leasehold rights are registered on the chanote and can be a simple way to enjoy a property without the hassle of additional and ongoing paperwork.

Retirees looking for a holiday home, may find this solution attractive!

3. Buying Property through a Thai Company

Some buyers may prefer a holding structure, with more ownership rights than a leasehold title.

In this case, it is possible to set-up a Thai company for property acquisitions, this method sits in the “grey-area” of the Thai legal system. The Thai government and the Land Offices overseeing property transfers across the country, do not encourage this practice.

For a company to be classified as a “Thai Entity”, at least 51% of the shareholding needs to be held by Thai Nationals. The main concern of the authorities is the unauthorized use of “Nominee Thai Shareholders”, that are essentially “fake investors” used to facilitate property acquisitions.

However, provided foreign buyers comply with the law (Using “real” shareholders/ Thai partners), this option offers a good degree of indirect ownership and control.

This ownership structure is commonly used by investors to purchase landed property such as villas with their spouse or foreign developers looking to acquire developable land plots!

Should foreigners buy condos or landed property?

The answer to this question, ultimately comes down to the buyer’s personal lifestyle preferences or investment objectives!

Landed property oftentimes offers amazing value on a price per square meter basis; there is also the extra advantage of greater control over the land and the building. Comparatively condos due to their communal nature, can severely restrict refurbishments, renovations, general privacy and control.

On the other hand, condos offer the most straightforward and liquid property type, offering foreign buyers a hassle-free acquisition with a simple “exit strategy”. Due to the essential support services offered by condo building management (I.e. Security, key holding services and maintenance), they tend to be attractive turnkey rental investments. The ease and flexibility offered by condos make it an appealing choice for many overseas buyers!

*Fresh Property is a full-scope Property Agency specializing in Central Bangkok condos and homes. If you are looking to buy, you are welcome to browse our wide selection of resale condos, new projects or alternatively contact us on info@freshbangkok.com.

19 thoughts on “Can foreigners buy property in Thailand?

  1. I know I can buy an apartment or condo in in my name in Thailand. What about a Townhouse. Can I buy one and have the Deed put in my name

    • Fresh Editorial says:

      Hi Steven,

      Unfortunately not directly under your name.
      As a townhouse would be landed property and foreigners cannot own land directly.
      Hope this helps.

      Thanks

      • Is that, lease hold is possible with tight restrictions like can’t do any sales during the 30 year leasehold like that ? And if the Thai owner die then what will happen next ? Who will become the owner ?

  2. Bob the Builder says:

    I want to get into the building business – get a plot of land, build 5-6 apartment units, and sell them to locals. I will possess the land only temporarily, until I sell off all the apartment units. Is there anyway to make this work? I don’t mind the government holding the land title in the interim, if there is legal framework for that. I trust the govt more than “a Thai wife”.

    • Fresh Editorial says:

      Yes you can buy a house or own landlord, however as a foreign national you cannot be registered on the Chanote (Title Deed).
      Hope this helps.

      Thanks, Fresh Editorial

  3. Hi, due to travel bans, I’m appointing a POA for the ownership transfer of a newly purchased condo. I’m told that I need to provide my parents’ names for the official POA form recognized by the Land Department, is it common?

  4. Hello Author,
    What requirement I should meet dor buying a condo in Thailand?
    Also, how much for the downpayment and can I get the property agency via online?

    Thank you!

  5. Hi,
    I have 13 year old twins with dual nationalities, Thai – UK with Thai Passports and ID Cards. Can land be bought in their name?

  6. Hi I am about to buy a condo in Bangkok, signed the contract last year and made some installments.
    As it is completed now, they informed that due to a recent change in law I have to pay the full amount again directly to their account from my overseas account and will get later reimbursed for my previous payment.
    Is that correct? I bought some apartment in the past and sent the money to my girlfriend account so she could settle stepwise the transfer. As proof of oversea transfer of the fund, the bank statement was sufficient.
    Could you help with this or would you even offer support services on the transfer in dealing with the land office in Bangkok since COVID made traveling difficult at the moment.

    • Fresh Editorial says:

      Hi Roland, that is correct.
      However, if I were you I would still engage a third party condo inspector to check the unit for defects.
      Once that inspection is conducted, you can usually transfer remaining amount to the developer.
      I would say this requires no assistance from our end, as you are dealing with the developer.

      Hope this helps.

      Thanks,
      Fresh Editorial

      Ps: Kindly note, we are not legal advisors.
      If you think there may be legal issues, please consult with a Law Firm.

  7. Hi,

    Im planning to buy a condo with my Thai spouse. However, bank agent informed us that we couldn’t apply for joint-mortgage. The mortgage loan only can be under my Thai spouse name. Any suggestion or idea that you can provide to protect my right since im gonna pay half of the loan payment.

    • Fresh Editorial says:

      Hey Yvonne, this is a delicate matter and we think it is best for you to seek advise from a legal professional.
      Apologies for the inconvenience.

  8. Hi , I am.planning to buy a condo and I understand that being foreigner means owning 49%. Who owns the other 51%? The developer? or this means that I can join names in the title deed and have my Thai wife to own 51% of the property?

    Thanks, I am trying to clear the confusionbin my head.

    • Fresh Editorial says:

      Hi Diego, just to clarify 51% of the Condominium Building needs to be owned by Thai Nationals and Foreigners can only own up to 49% of the Condo Building.

      So you could effectively own a Condo outright provided there is still 49% of Foreign Quota available.

      Hope this makes sense.

      Regards,
      Fresh Property Team

  9. Ken Boehnen says:

    I’m interested in a townhouse in Phuket.
    Do all townhouses include the land, or can they be treated like condos?

    • Fresh Editorial says:

      Hi Ken, unfortunately “Condominium Freehold Units” are a special type of ownership title.
      Therefore, townhouses cannot be treated like condos.

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Fresh Editorial

The Editorial Team is made up of Property Professionals with years of experience in the Bangkok Property Industry. Articles and reports are drafted using first-hand experience and local expertise!

The Team is always excited to hear from our readers via info@freshbangkok.com