Buying property in Thailand as a foreigner (2022)

Zorica Lončar

Thailand is well known as a holiday paradise, with its golden beaches, fabulous weather and breathtaking scenery. But it’s also a haven for expats, drawn there by cheap property prices, low cost of living, friendly people and of course, incredible food.

But there are some hurdles a foreign buyer must navigate when buying property in Thailand. In this guide, we’ll run through everything you need to know, from property prices to legal requirements.

So if you’re dreaming of living, retiring or investing in Thailand, read on.

What’s the property market like in Thailand?

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a major impact on Thailand’s economy, especially in relation to tourism. This has also affected the housing market, with house prices either static or falling. Demand for properties has also fallen, along with construction activity¹.

One housing type that remains relatively unaffected is condominiums², which continue to attract local and foreign buyers - and with no sign of oversupply.

Looking ahead, the housing market in Thailand is predicted to recover², although it depends on the country’s economic growth and whether further Covid outbreaks emerge.

Can foreigners buy property in Thailand?³

Foreigners aren’t permitted to buy land in Thailand, but you can buy apartments and condominiums as a non-citizen.

However, foreigners can’t make up more than 40% of the apartment block or condo’s total unit owners. Interestingly, you can buy the whole building as a foreigner, but not the land on which it is built.

You may also be able to purchase a Thai villa or larger property (but not the land) by entering into a leasehold agreement.

Another option to explore if you want to buy land or a house in Thailand is setting up your own private limited company. As long as it has mixed Thai and foreign ownership, and foreign ownership is 49% or less, the company can be used to legally buy land or property in Thailand. You’ll almost definitely need a lawyer if you want to go down this route.

Is it safe to buy property in Thailand?

It’s understandable to be a little nervous when buying property in another country, where the laws and processes are different to what you’re used to. There’s also the fact that Thailand’s housing market isn’t as regulated as some other countries.

But provided you do your research and take sensible steps to protect yourself, you should find buying property in Thailand perfectly safe.

One of the most important things you should do is hire a reputable and independent real estate lawyer³. The realty industry in the country is unregulated, so an experienced lawyer will be essential for navigating the complicated buying process. This includes handling all paperwork, due diligence checks and legal requirements.

What’s the approximate cost of property in Thailand?

So, how much will a property in Thailand cost you to buy? To help you plan your budget, let’s take a look at average prices per square metre for apartments (as this is the housing type foreigners can freely purchase) in major cities and towns across the country.

LocationPrice per sq.m - apartment in city centrePrice per sq.m - apartment outside city centre
Chiang Mai⁴£1,549£956
Koh Samui⁵£793£453

Best places to buy property in Thailand

Thailand has a wealth of sun-drenched coastal resorts and pretty countryside spots. Here are some of the best places to buy property in Thailand:

  • Bangkok - it’s easy to see why such large numbers of foreigners have been buying property in Bangkok over the years, a vibrant capital city and the commercial centre of Thailand. The cosmopolitan city boasts excellent healthcare, culture, food and history and is extremely well-connected. It also has a wide choice of both luxury condos and affordable apartments available.
  • Phuket- a tourist hotspot full of stunning beachside resorts, Phuket is a great spot for a holiday home or a property investment. If you’re thinking of buying property in Phuket, check out some of the most popular areas for foreign buyers - including Kata and Karon, Mueang, Patong, Bang Tao and Surin.
  • Koh Samui - the island of Koh Samui is one of the most beautiful and luxurious in Thailand, but property here is surprisingly inexpensive. There’s also the option of living in or visiting the smaller nearby island of Koh Phangan, large parts of which enjoy protected national park status.
  • Chiang Mai- a modern, sprawling city dotted with UNESCO World Heritage sites, Chiang Mai in mountainous northern Thailand is attracting a growing expat population. It’s popular with tourists too, and is more affordable compared to other large cities like Bangkok.
  • Pattaya - one of the largest beach resorts in Asia, Pattaya is starting to attract more families as well as young people attracted to its lively nightlife scene.

How can I find a property in Thailand?

Property agencies and agents

If you’re not living in Thailand, it could be useful to use a local estate agent to help you hunt down that dream property to buy. After all, they’ll have knowledge of the local market and can offer advice on the buying process.

However, you should proceed with caution when using a Thai estate agent. In Thailand, anyone can become an estate agent⁶ - there’s no regulation or a requirement for training, licensing or certification. This means the quality of services provided can vary.

So, it could be an idea to choose an agent based on a personal recommendation if possible. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions, and do as much research as you can into the agency and their background.

Property websites in Thailand

There’s no reason you can’t start your property search online, before you’ve even set foot in Thailand. Kick off your property hunt by browsing listings on some of Thailand’s biggest real estate websites, such as⁷:

Buying property in Thailand - pitfalls to avoid

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when buying property in Thailand is not using a specialist real estate lawyer. It isn’t legally required, but it is strongly recommended. Without one, it’s easy to blunder into unnecessary complications and delays, and even accidentally fall foul of the law.

Other things to watch out for include⁸:

  • Due diligence - all financial transactions in Thailand require investigation, to make sure the property purchase is a sound investment. For example, looking into the developer’s history and checking with previous owners that they’re satisfied with the quality of construction. These are all checks that an experienced real estate lawyer should carry out for you.
  • Deposits - unless there is a specific ‘get out’ clause in the deposit agreement, the deposit you provide to reserve the property will be non-refundable if you back out.

How do I choose the right property?

Property types

Among the most popular types of property in Thailand with foreigners are apartments and condos. These are usually found in the heart of major cities and tourist hotspots. But many are also attracted to Thailand’s spacious villas, which make particularly good holiday homes.

The property type you choose all depends on where you’re buying and your budget. And of course, the legal complexities involved in buying property in Thailand as a foreigner.

Condition of the property

While it’s not mandatory to get a building survey done in Thailand, it could be a smart move. An inspection by a qualified surveyor can help you assess the condition of the property before purchasing, and uncover any potentially worrying problems.

You can find a surveyor using the RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) website, as it has listings for Thailand.

What are the steps to buying a property as a foreigner?

Let’s run through the process of buying a home in Thailand³:

  1. Start searching for property online, or using a Thai estate agent
  2. Appoint a real estate attorney
  3. Make an offer and negotiate the price with the seller.
  4. Your lawyer will carry out a full title search and all the necessary due diligence on the property
  5. Once the necessary checks are complete and you’re satisfied with the property, pay the deposit (if required) to reserve the property
  6. Sign the property contract
  7. Exchange contracts and pay the remaining balance
  8. The title deeds will be submitted to the Land Department for registration
  9. Get the keys and move in!

You can expect the process of closing the sale to take between 30-60 days³, although of course it can take longer.

What are the legal requirements for buying a property in Thailand?

Most of the legal conditions for buying property in Thailand are tied up in the restrictions for foreign buyers. It’s important to talk everything through with your lawyer, to make sure you understand the conditions and complexities of the law.

Another legal requirement to know about relates to foreign currency. Any money sent from abroad to pay for a property purchase in Thailand must be converted to Baht and clearly labelled to show what it’s for³.

How do I get a bank loan/mortgage?

It can be extremely difficult for foreigners to get a mortgage from a Thai bank⁹. This is why many expats apply for an international mortgage in their home country.

But it may be possible if you meet one of the following criteria⁹:

  • You’re married to a Thai national (and have full documentation to prove it)
  • You’ve been working in Thailand for at least a year
  • You live in Thailand as a permanent resident.

If you are eligible, you can expect Thai banks to lend you around 40-80% of the property’s asking price. Loan terms are typically around 10 years. You can also expect mortgage rates in Thailand to be higher than you’re used to.

To apply for your mortgage, you’ll need a long list of documents including - your passport, residency/visa documents (if applicable), proof of income, recent payslips, and documents relating to the property purchase.

What kind of taxes and fees will I need to pay?

Many of the costs involved in Thai property purchases are paid by the seller, including stamp duty. However, there are still some fees buyers need to know about, such as⁹:

  • Transfer Fee - 2% of the assessed property value
  • Legal fees - negotiable, but you can expect to pay around £455 (20,000 THB) to £682 (30,000 THB).

Paying for your property from abroad? Save money with a secure Wise transfer

If you live in the UK while starting your property search in Thailand, it’s worth thinking about how you’ll send money abroad when the time comes. There’s a deposit to pay, along with legal fees and the balance of the property price.

Sending money internationally with a bank can often mean a slow, expensive transfer, where you lose cash along the way to poor exchange rates.

Wise offers a better solution. Open a Wise multi-currency account and you can send money from the UK to Thailand for low, transparent fees and the mid-market exchange rate. All things considered, it could be significantly cheaper than your bank.

Sending money overseas with Wise is fast, trackable and fully secure, which all to give you peace of mind when making such a large and important purchase.

Join Wise today

Sources used for this article:

  1. Global Property Guide - property in Thailand
  2. DD Property - Thailand property market outlook
  3. Global Property Guide - foreigners buying property in Thailand
  4. Numbeo - prices by sq.m by city
  5. Numbeo - cost of living comparison between Phuket and Koh Samui
  6. Expat Den - real estate agents in Bangkok
  7. Fresh Bangkok - most popular property portals in Thailand
  8. Siam Legal - pitfalls to avoid in purchasing Thai property
  9. Online Mortgage Advisor - Thailand mortgages

Sources checked on 15-04-2022.

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This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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