Buying a condo in Thailand as a foreigner

Foreigners who want to make a home in Thailand generally may not be able to buy land, but they can purchase a condo as long as they meet certain criteria. The requirements are not that arduous, although there is some confusion regarding the source of funds. This article will shed some light on the process and requirements for buying a condominium in Thailand.

(Note: this article discusses purchases by private individuals, not juristic persons or corporate entities.)

Three types of foreign individuals can buy condos in Thailand

Under the Condominium Act of 1979 (amended in 2008), there are five categories of “aliens” that can own an apartment in Thailand. The three that reference foreign individuals are:

  1. Aliens permitted to reside in the Kingdom under immigration laws;
  2. Aliens permitted to enter the Kingdom under investment promotion laws; and
  3. Aliens or juristic persons regarded by law as aliens who have brought foreign currency into the Kingdom or withdraws money from a Thai baht account of a person who resides outside the Kingdom or withdraws money from a foreign currency account.

In simple English, you must either have permission to live and work here, such as through permanent residency, a work permit, marriage visa, etc. Or, you intend to bring or have brought foreign currency legally into the country to be used for the purchase of a condo.

This is important because in order to register ownership with the Land Department in your name, you will have to provide proof of your status under a, b, or c.

Take note of condominium foreign ownership quotas

A foreigner can buy into any condominium project , as long as foreign ownership does not exceed 49% of the total space available for sale. The project will have to provide documentation certifying this to be submitted to the Land Department. .

Confusion sometimes occurs when paying for the condo

We typically find that there’s a misunderstanding of the statute when it comes to payment. Many banks and realtors will insist that all foreigners must bring money in from overseas to purchase a condominium unit, even individuals who live and work here and therefore have money in a Thai bank account. There are many tales of expats being made to transfer funds out of Thailand only to have it sent back in again.

The belief is that the Land Department requires a Foreign Exchange Transaction letter from the bank before registering the purchase. THIS IS NOT THE CASE. If the foreigner is a legitimate resident (category a or b above), then they must only provide proof of that status (e.g. visa, work permit) and a letter from their bank verifying the funds in the account. The problem is that the bank may insist on the out-and-back transfer as part of their “internal procedure”. It may be possible to have your attorney speak to the bank to explain the relevant law, but the bank gets to have a say on its own internal policies. You should confirm with all parties involved before making any plans.

GPS Legal can help you buy your Thailand condo

GPS Legal has years of experience assisting in real estate transactions, both commercial and residential, all over Thailand. If you’re condo hunting and think you’ve found the perfect place, but now need help navigating the purchase process, contact us today for your free initial consultation.