How to Buy a House or a Condo in Thailand

Buying property in Thailand is a good investment, especially considering the value you get as compared to other Asian cities such as Singapore and Hong Kong, however, it is not simple for foreigners to own land in Thailand.

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Buying a Condo or a house in Thailand

Foreigners can own condos in Thailand however, it must be in their own name. However, you can't simply purchase it outright. 

According to Thai law, foreigners are only allowed to own up to 49% of the total area of a condominium, the remaining 49% can only be acquired under a leasehold ownership. 

This means that you can only purchase 49%, and the remaining will be pleased to you for a maximum term of 30 years and is renewable. This way you will still get the right of use and possession of the condo. 

Usually, when you buy a condo in Thailand, the developer will usually offer 30 years leaseholds three times, which gives you 90 years of ownership. You also have to make sure that you use foreign currency to purchase the condo. Foreigners are NOT allowed to purchase any land or property in Thailand and therefore, not allowed to buy a house outright however, there are multiple ways to bypass this problem.

Build a house on leased land

One way for foreigners to own a house in Thailand is to build one. Since foreigners are not allowed to own land in Thailand, it is possible to lease the land for a maximum term of 30 years, which is renewable, and apply for a construction permit to build a house on the leased land. 

Legally, a building in Thailand may be considered as a separate part from the land when a tenant of the land is the one building it under a leasing agreement which means that you can own any building/house on your rented land in Thailand. 

Buy property through a Thai company

Some foreign property buyers want more ownership than a leasehold title allows. Luckily, a solution is to set up a Thai company which can be used to buy property. In order to set up a Thai company, 51% of the shares has to be owned by a Thai person. 

A commonly used loophole to this is to use “Nominee Thai shareholders” which are basically fake investors that are usually used just to sign the papers, and have nothing to do with the running of the company. 

This method is technically illegal in Thailand, but is commonly used. You should take caution if you want to do this as there are many cases where the Nominee Thai shareholders betray you and end up getting ownership and control putting your money down into the drain as there will be nothing you can do about it.

If you have real Thai partners or investors then they can own 51% of the company, this way it will be fully legal and gives you indirect ownership and control of the property. Your investment will also be much more safe as you have real partners who jointly invested with you as compared to using nominee shareholders.

If you have a Thai spouse, this will be even easier as she can simply own 51% of the shares of the company providing you with control of the property as well as an opportunity to purchase property in Thailand.

What is the blue and yellow book?

In Thailand, we have house registration booklets called “Tabien Baan '' in Thai, which are officially issued by the local municipality. Every resident of a particular house or apartment will have their names registered in the booklet belonging to that house.

Please note that the house registration booklet IS NOT a proof of ownership of a property, it is just a document that proves a person’s place of legal residence in a particular property. All residential properties such as houses and apartments have their own residential booklets in which the residents are registered into.

This booklet is required for many things from the transfer of ownership of cars and properties, to applying for electricity or telephone lines as well as opening a bank account.

There are two types of house registration booklets, the blue and the yellow one:

The blue booklet is issued for Thai nationals, whereas the yellow booklet is for foreigners. They both work exactly the same way and can be used for the same purposes.

Usually, a foreigner will not be registered into a blue booklet unless they have permanent residency in Thailand. Foreigners with long stay or temporary visas will only be registered into the yellow book, so you must exchange the blue book for a yellow one at the municipality office

If you are a foreigner, and you own an  apartment or some other property in Thailand, you will usually have an empty blue book and will not even be required to exchange it for a yellow book. This way, in case you have Thai residents as well for eg. your spouse, they can be registered onto the blue book. 

How to get a yellow house booklet?

Usually the developer of the property will apply for the yellow book, however the rules can be different depending on the municipality, or even between district offices. I know, right? Surprise surprise. 

So make sure to check your local municipality or district offices to find out what documents are required. Usually, you will have to submit the following documents:

  • Passport with entry permit and visa
  • Work permit if you have one
  • Marriage certificate if you have a Thai spouse as well as their ID card
  • Lease agreement with your landlord’s ID and the Blue Booklet (if renting the property)
  • The existing blue booklet (if exchanging your registration)

If you are simply visiting Thailand for the short term, there is no legal value of the blue and yellow books for you.

If you are married to a Thai citizen, living in Thailand, you SHOULD have your name on the house book of the marital home. 

Can property investors get a visa?

Yes, there is a Thai property investment visa available for foreign investors which offers lifetime validity so that they can travel to Thailand whenever they want or also live here permanently.

In order to get the investor visa, you either have to buy real estate, deposit money into a fixed Thai bank account or purchase government bonds. You can also do a combination of them as long as it meets the financial requirements of 10 Million baht. For eg. you can deposit 5 million and buy property for another 5 million.

Many foreigners choose to buy condos in Thailand in order to get the investor visa, however you MUST purchase the condo unit directly from a developer, and not as a second-hand from other people. 

The money used to purchase the property can only come from a foreign bank account with the foreigner’s name to the developers Thai bank account, the source of the money can’t be from Thailand itself or through any intermediaries between you and the property developer Another thing to not is that the money must be converted into Thai baht in Thailand, so it must be sent in foreign currency into the developers bank account.

Documents required:

  • Foreign exchange transaction from (FET) from the seller’s bank as a proof that you have transferred at least 10 million baht worth of money. The developer should easily get this form for you.
  • Get the government appraisal at the City/District’s land office. This should be done in a day as they already have it on record.
  • The property/condo’s residence booklet, title deed, and transfer tax receipt
  • Passport pictures and copies of your passport

Conditions to keep the visa

Initially, you will receive a 90-day visa to fly into Thailand and get the application process started. Two weeks from the visa’s expiration date, you have to take the same set of documents mentioned earlier to the immigration office to extend that visa for another year. 

Because the investor visa provides permanent residency, you can extend the visa for a year indefinitely as long as you maintain 10 million baht worth of investments in Thailand.

Of course, nothing is ever simple and easy in Thailand, as you would be required to show up at the immigration office every year at the same, within 2 weeks of the visa’s expiry, to extend it. Failure to do so will result in your visa being expired. This is really difficult if you travel a lot, so we do not recommend this if you don't intend to live in Thailand.

There are many ways for foreigners to buy property in Thailand but make sure to be careful and cautious, especially when deciding to use “illegal” methods such as nominee shareholding. We would advise you not to do that. For those of you who want to buy a property in Thailand to live and can meet the financial requirements of the investor visa, you should definitely consider applying for one as Thailand is a beautiful place.