Once you have found a property that you like, we recommend you seek legal advice from a reputable law firm prior to making any payment to the Seller, agent or developer. A deposit of less than 50,000 THB is reasonable to secure the property prior to your meeting with your lawyer. It is always worth consulting a knowledgeable lawyer to ensure your best interests are fully protected. Unscrupulous agents and developers are not uncommon in Thailand and are often acting primarily in their own interests.
A due diligence report on the property is highly recommended, especially if the Seller is an individual or when you are purchasing from an off-plan project.
A sale and purchase agreement should be reviewed or drafted by your lawyer to avoid any hidden agenda, expenses or onerous terms.
Once the agreement has been signed by both parties, the Seller will need to obtain the foreign quota certificate and the free debt certificate from the condominium juristic person. The buyer (if a foreign national) will need to transfer the funds from overseas into Thailand for the amount of no less than the purchase price and, prior to transferring the funds into Thailand. As soon as both parties have all relevant documents, it is time to effect the registration at the land office. It will take half a day or one day to complete the registration. The balance/full payment will need to be paid prior this date.
The buyer will then receive the original title deed (proof of ownership), keys etc. and the seller will receive the full payment, all taxes and fees have been paid. The total time frame should be 20 – 60 days from the date of signing the Agreement to complete the entire process.
If you buy an off-plan project the price may be lower than a completed one. But it may be a gamble. Failed developments where the developer becomes insolvent and unable to repay its buyers are certainly not unheard of in Thailand. Proper due diligence should be conducted and an experienced lawyer who knows well the market/potential pitfalls and is able to give you real independent advice that could save you from making a very costly mistake.
Developers registered as a public limited company should be at the top of your list and are usually a safe bet. If you buy a completed project, naturally the price will generally be higher than the off-plan ones. But the property is there. It physically exists. You already know where the unit is located, whether or not it has a good view, the condition of the property overall, and the extent of the facilities of the project.
The 1979 Condominium Act is restrictive of foreign ownership of condominiums in Thailand, but generally allows it for foreigners who permanent residents, or those who have entered the country on an investment promotion visa, or for those who have fulfilled certain requirements related to the transfer or withdrawal of foreign currency. In regards to those foreign currency requirements, the Land Department Regulation Re: Foreign Ownership of Condominium Units of 2004 defines the foreign currency requirements below.
The foreign purchaser must provide evidence of either (1) remitting foreign currency into Thailand, or (2) withdrawing Thai baht from the bank account of a person who is domiciled outside of Thailand, or (3) withdrawing money from a foreign currency account in an amount no less than the purchase price of the condominium unit that is intended to be purchased.
Foreigners who intend to invest in a condominium in Thailand are advised to consult with competent Thai attorney in order to follow the legal rules and regulations.