A Foreigner’s Guide to Buying and Investing in Bangkok Condos

Foreigner-Guide-Buying-Condo

Bangkok is rapidly transforming and its urban landscape is constantly being reshaped. This vibrant regeneration and the relentless pace of its development, is creating massive opportunities for property investors.

However due to Bangkok’s language barrier and unique property standards, foreign investors are often uncertain where to start their search and what to expect. In many cases, the overload of conflicting information provided by online resources, property agents, developers and other investors can create even more confusion!

This guide will aim to simplify the process of buying Condos, providing a straightforward and easy to follow roadmap!

In this guide we will explore, the following topics:

Section 1: Can Foreigners Own Property in Thailand?
Section 2: Market Research and Resources
Section 3: Property Search Factors to Consider
Section 4: The Buying Process
Section 5: Condo Financing and Mortgages
Section 6: Pre-Launch and Off-Plan Condo Projects

Section 1: Can Foreigners Own Property in Thailand?

Bangkok-Commute

Thai Property Law is actually very straightforward when it comes to foreign property ownership. To keep things simple, Foreigners are allowed to own:

– “Freehold Condominiums” simply known as “Condos”
– Building and/or structures (Distinct from the land they sits on)

It is important to note, Foreigners cannot directly own “Land” in Thailand.

“Condominium Freehold” is a special Legal Title and is the most straightforward form of property ownership for foreign nationals. Condo Laws and Regulations are contained within the Condominium Act B.E 1979 and its subsequent amendments. Explained simply, Condominium Freeholds are:

A division of a building into individual condominium units; whereby each condo benefits from proportional co-ownership of common areas (I.e. Condo Facilities, Pool, Gym, Car Park, etc.) and interest in the co-owner association/ juristic person office.

According to the Condominium Act:

Foreigners are legally able to purchase up to 49% of the registrable area of a Condominium Project (Foreign Quota). The remaining 51% can only be owned by Thai nationals or Thai entities.

Therefore foreigners looking for a straightforward and hassle free property in Bangkok, is advised to consider buying a condo.

For additional info about foreign property ownership laws and regulations in Thailand read: Can Foreigners Buy Property in Thailand?

Section 2: Market Research and Resources

Bangkok has a multitude of neighborhoods and literally hundreds of potential Condo Projects. Therefore it is important to do careful due diligence into local market conditions and general rental demand for an area.

The old mantra “Location, Location, Location”, is an important rule that plays a huge role in finding a lucrative condo investment. Some general market trends, to kick-start your search:

– Bangkok’s Rental Market is primarily expat-led and this market tends to cluster within the Central Business District or within peripheral areas with convenient travel times to central Bangkok.

– Expat rental demand tends to cluster around the following popular neighborhoods:

Sukhumvit (BTS Nana- On Nut)
Silom-Sathorn (BTS Saladaeng/MRT Silom- BTS Sapan Thaksin)
Wireless-Ploenchit (BTS Ploenchit, BTS Chidlom, BTS Ratchadamri)

– Bangkok’s Rental Yields tend to range between 4-6% with most condos offering returns of 4.5-5.5%.

For a guide to Bangkok’s Central Business District read: Where is Bangkok’s Central Business District?

Unfortunately most reports and market data tends to be available only in Thai. However a few good English resources to get an overview of general market conditions and trends include:

– Property Consultancy Reports

A few Property Consultancies publish quarterly or annual market trend reports that can provide insights into Bangkok’s dynamic property industry. This includes CBRE Thailand and Knight Frank Thailand.

– Newspapers and News Outlets

The Bangkok Post and The Nation newspaper are two national newspapers with active Property Editorials. 

– Exhibition and Events

Another way to get a feel for general market is to attend Property Exhibitions by Developers that are popular with local buyers. The biggest event for Bangkok is the “House and Condo Show” that takes places twice a year and showcases the projects of some of the capital’s top developers.

More info about Bangkok property trends: Fresh Market Trends
More info about Bangkok condo investment tips and guides: Fresh Investment Tips

Section 3: Property Search Factors to Consider

Bangkok-BTS-Condo-Buying

Starting a property search in Bangkok can be incredibly overwhelming, especially with the multitude of condo projects offered. In Bangkok, 3 Fundamental Factors tend to determine the attractiveness and potential success of a property:

1. Location

In Bangkok where traffic congestion is a daily struggle, residents rely heavily on the Mass Transit Lines (BTS/MRT). Location is everything and any potential investor looking for a viable buy-to-let investment usually needs to consider Projects within close proximity to a BTS or MRT Station.

Secondly, it is important to do careful research into the dynamics and demographics of the local neighborhood. As certain areas are more popular than others and by understanding local residents it is possible to establish the right rental rates and sales price-levels to consider.

2. Condo Project and Property Specifications

Linked to the “location factor”, it is important to quickly establish the price-to-size (Sqm.) ratio. By calculating the price per square meter of a specific property it is possible to do an evaluation of that price compared to other units in the project; possibly even comparing the price per square meter of a specific property to other condos in neighboring projects.

It is also important to consider the Condos general layout, size, floor and orientation. Finally Condos in Bangkok now offer a range of facilities and residents have come to expect high-quality common areas. Therefore be sure to evaluate the facilities such as the lobby, pool, gym, etc.

3. Developer and Building Management

In Bangkok, the local market is increasingly brand driven and the projects of certain developers are highly sought after. While not imperative, it is always a good idea to consider Projects from well-known developers as they tend to benefit from more market recognition and are usually more popular.

Secondly, Projects from established developers usually benefit from well-planned building management operations. Some of the capital’s top developers have even setup facilities management subsidiaries to run and manage their developments. Building management and maintenance is a key factor in ensuring that the condo holds its value.

Read more about Bangkok’s Top Residential Developers: The Top 10 Largest Property Developers in Thailand

Section 4: The Buying Process

In this section, the buying process for foreigners from “offer to transfer” will be simplified and explained in easy-to-follow steps:

Step 1: Offer and Negotiations

Once you have found the right property, the negotiations can start. When making an offer it is always important to carefully mention and agree upon:

– Desired Sales Price
– Sales Taxes and Transfer Fees Share*
– Is the property sold fully-furnished, partially-furnished or non-furnished
– Approx. transfer date

*In Bangkok, the general standard is the Seller is responsible for all the Sales Taxes however Transfer Fees are generally shared equally 50/50 between both parties. This may not be the case for all transactions/ sellers and it is important to check rather than assume.

Step 2: Preliminary Checks, Offer Letter and Deposit Payment

Preliminary Checks

At this stage, it is worth appointing a Lawyer especially before committing to any deposit or written agreement. Before proceeding to a more advanced stage of the process, a copy of the following documents should be requested:

– Chanote (Title Deed)
– Landlord ID or Passport
– Tabien Baan (House Registration Book)
– Property Agency Agreement (Showing that the Agent was instructed to act on behalf of the landlord)

With these documents, it will be possible to quickly establish whether the Seller and Agent have the authority to sell the property.

Offer Letter

Once everything has been checked to avoid potential disagreements at a later stage in the process, it is important to obtain a written “offer letter or letter of understanding” (Signed by all parties Seller, Buyer and Agent as witness). This letter will outline agreed details of the purchase notably:

– Seller confirms he is the owner and has full authorization to sell the Condo
– Agreed Sales Price
– Deposit Amount
– Sales Taxes and Transfer Fees Share
– In case of unsuccessful transfer details of penalties for Seller and/or Buyer
– Is the property sold with furnishings or non-furnished
– Mutually Agreed Transfer Date

Payment of Sales Deposit

Once an offer letter/letter of agreement is signed and confirmed by all parties (With copies of ID Certified), it is safe to pay a Deposit to reserve the Condo. There is no standard Deposit Amount; in Bangkok deposit amounts range from 3-5% of Sales Price. The Deposit Amount can usually be negotiated with the Seller on a case-by-case basis.

Step 3: Extra Due Diligence and Signing the Sales and Purchase Agreement

Due Diligence

Once the Deposit is paid, the Property is officially taken-off the market and there is less pressure on the Seller and Buyer. Therefore this gives breathing space to the Buyer to conduct more extensive Legal Due Diligence.

Legal checks include:

– Compare Copy of Chanote (Title Deed) with original held at the Land office.
– Ensure there is no mortgage or charge on the Unit.
– Recheck all details of property provided (I.e. Size, Chanote Number, and Registered Owner)

Once all the legal due diligence process is completed, signing of the Sales and Purchase Agreement can take place.

Step 4: Property Transfer Preparations (Document Preparation and Buyer Foreign Money Transfer)

At this stage, the Lawyer and/or Property Agent will calculate the exact Government Taxes and Transfer Fees that will be due upon transfer. Also if the property was purchased using a Mortgage the exact split between the Bank/Financial Institution and the Seller will be calculated; if the property was acquired via a mortgage a Bank Officer will need to be present on the day of transfer to write-off the loan.

Buyer Document Preparation

The Buyer will need to prepare a few documents for the day of transfer:

– Original Passport
– Copy of Marriage Certificate (If Married)
– Spouse Consent Form (If Married)
– Again if married, Spouse will need to be present on transfer day (If this is not possible, a Power of Attorney will have to be prepared)
– Name of buyer’s mother and father (For Land Department records)
– Cashier Cheques and Cash (For Property, Bank/Financial Institution if applicable, and Government Taxes/Fees if applicable)
– Foreign Exchange Transaction Form (FET)

Buyer Foreign Money Transfer (Obtaining FET)

Money-Exchange-Bangkok

This is an important part of the purchase process for foreigners as it is an important step in complying with the Condominium Laws. In order to be permitted to buy a condominium in Thailand, the foreign buyer will need to prove that the whole amount of the purchase price declared at the Land Department was transferred in a Foreign Currency (From Overseas) into a local Thai Bank Account.

Therefore to comply with this regulation, a foreign buyer will need to ensure that:

– The name of remitter account must be the same as the name of buyer.

– Full address of remitter and buyer must be filled-in on Transfer Form details.

– Purchase funds must be transferred in foreign currency and converted to Thai Baht by beneficiary Thai Bank.

– State the purpose of transfer on transfer slip (I.e. Purchasing Condo Unit X in Building X)

*Please note, the amount of funds transferred needs to exceed the purchase price of the Condo Unit (Including applicable taxes)

If all the stipulations above are carefully followed, the buyer will be able to obtain an FET from their beneficiary bank.

Seller Document Preparation

The Seller will also need to prepare documents and items for transfer:

– Original Thai ID Card or Passport
– Copy of Marriage Certificate (If Married)
– Spouse Consent Form (If Married)
– Again if married, Spouse will need to be present on transfer day (If this is not possible, a Power of Attorney will have to be prepared)
– Original Chanote (Title Deed)
– Original Tabien Baan (House Registration Book)
– Foreign Quota Certificate
– Quit Claim Deed (Certificate of no debt issued by Condo Juristic Office)
– Electricity Meter Deposit Receipt and Up-to-date Utility Bills
– Warranty Cards of Electrical Appliances (If any)
– Original Developer Welcome Pack (If any)
– Keys, Key Cards, Access Cards, Parking Stickers, etc.
– Cashier Cheque and Cash (For the payment of Government Sales Taxes and Transfer Fees)

Step 5: Land Department Transfer and Post Formalities

Land Department Transfer

Each Condominium Project is within the catchment area of a specific Land Department Branch. The Property Agent or Lawyer can reconfirm the exact Land Department for transfer of the Unit.

Once all the paperwork and funds in Step 4 are ready, all parties can set an appointment at the Land Department to complete the transfer. If either the buyer or seller cannot be present on the day of transfer a Power of Attorney needs to be prepared beforehand. Also if the Unit is mortgaged, the representative from the Bank/Financial institution will need to be present on the day to write-off the loans on the Condo.

On the day of transfer it is important to ensure:

– Buyer prepares cashier’s cheques in the exact amount for the Seller and Bank/ Financial Institution (If Applicable). If buyer is also responsible for any Transfer Fees or Sales Taxes, they should prepare a cashier’s cheque below the required amount (Payable to the Thai Ministry of Finance) and prepare extra-cash for the remaining amount. This practice is followed, as the Land Department cannot accept cashier’s cheques above the Transfer Fees or Sales Taxes.

– Seller prepares a combination of cashier’s cheque and cash to pay for Transfer Fees and Sales Taxes.

If all the documents and funds have been correctly prepared the Land Officer will be able to successfully complete the transfer. The Seller’s name will be taken-off the Chanote (Title Deed) and replaced by the new buyer.

Post Formalities

Once the transfer is complete the Seller will hand over his Chanote (Title Deed), Tabien Baan (House Registration Book) and all items relating to the property (Welcome Pack, Keys, Access Cards, etc.)

It is also important to ensure, transfer of utilities documents (Electricity and Water) have been signed and deposit of electricity receipt has been received. This is to ensure a smooth transfer of utilities to the new buyer. Finally it is also important to contact Building Management of the Condo and provide them with details of the new landlord for their records.

Section 5: Condo Financing and Mortgages

This is a hot topic and foreign investors always enquire about the possibility of obtaining financing to purchase Bangkok Condos. The short-answer is yes, certain banks and financial Institutions do provide mortgages to foreign nationals.

Unfortunately, it is important to note that generally speaking these Mortgages can be elusive and application requirements can be stringent. Therefore Thai financial institutions often only approve loans to buyers with strong financial profiles. Secondly the mortgage conditions, such as loan-to-value, repayment term and general interest rates tend to be offered at relatively uncompetitive rates compared to locals.

It is only advised to consider seeking financing, if the purpose of purchasing the property is to acquire a home rather than an on-going buy-to-let investment.

Some Companies that actively offer financing options to foreigners include:

– MBK Finance
– UOB
– Bangkok Bank

Section 6: Pre-Launch and Off-Plan Condo Projects

Bangkok-Off-Plan-Developments

Buying Condos off-plan is another potential investment opportunity that Bangkok is offering. Buying pre-launch or off-plan has numerous advantages notably:

– Foreign Buyers are usually required to make a down payment of only 30% of the Sales Price with the remaining 70% due on completion (Usually in 1-3 Years)

– Developers rely on unit bookings to finance the construction of the project, so several companies offer discounts, freebies (Furniture Packs, Electronic Appliances, etc.) or even rental guarantees to ensure a fast sale.

– Buyers benefit from today’s market price, for a Project that could potentially appreciate in value in 1-3 years’ time when completed. 

In terms of paperwork and transfer once completed, the process is extremely straightforward as developers usually have legal teams to ensure a smooth sales process for foreign buyers.

Read more about Off-Plan Property Investment: First Time Buyer Guide: Bangkok Off-Plan Condos

It is important to note, that installment payments are transferred directly into the developer’s bank account; this ensures that Foreign Exchange Transaction Forms can be produced by the developer on behalf of the buyer. Once 100% of the sales price has been paid to the developer (On completion of the project), the developer will take care of transferring the Condo Unit into the buyer’s name at the Land Department.

 

Fresh Property is a real estate agency focusing it sales and marketing operations on Bangkok’s Central Business District. Interested buyers are welcome to browse our large selection of new off-plan projects and resales properties. Alternatively, feel free to contact us on info@freshbangkok.com.

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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!

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