The laws and regulations regarding purchase of land and properties in Thailand can be confusing to a foreign investor. The following are a few ideas to get you started in figuring out how things work over here. Remember that this is only a very broad overview and you should do further research.
Basically the best thing that you can do is get a good lawyer with experience in helping foreign investors purchase property. What may seem a high fee in the short term can save you a fortune and a lot of trouble later on. We recommend that you consult a legal firm in Bangkok or Pattaya: there are many in Pattaya who specialise in foreign real estate deals. Since they have a lot of experience they are probably a good choice. Alternatively if you are dealing with a good real estate agency they should be able to recommend good legal representation to you.
Foreign Ownership of Condominiums
Foreign nationals can purchase and own apartments entirely in their own name as long as Thai nationals own 51% of the remaining floor space by area in the rest of the condominium.
Foreign Ownership of Thai Land
In the case of land, however, they need to establish a Thai company that will purchase and possess the land. By law they must remain a minority shareholder in this company but in reality they can exercise sole control over the company through a variety of directorship appointment clauses and different types of shares and voting rights.
The individual investor can then lease the land and buildings from the controlling company as a further level of protection. Consult your lawyer for details.
A common alternative to this approach that is very common in house and condo sales is to purchase a rolling 30 year lease on a property which can be renewed three times giving the buyer a total ninety years of tenure.
Types of Land Title
The best and most secure of Thai land title deeds. The boundary markers of this land are measured by GPS and it provides a certificate of ownership of the land.
Nor Sor Sam Gor
The boundaries of land with this title deed are still fairly clear, being defined with reference to aerial surveys.
Nor Sor Sam: The land boundaries for Nor Sor Sam are defined relative to those of neighbouring plots and errors are common. But it is still an assured title of land possession.
Por Bor Tor/Sor Kor
These are effectively squatters land titles. Whilst a lot of land with these title deeds on Koh Chang has in fact been developed the development is all, strictly speaking, illegal.
NB – Occasionally it is possible to apply to have one of these less secure forms of land title upgraded to Chanote. In practice this can take years and may never happen. If someone tells you that ‘their’ land will be upgraded then wait until it has been and you have seen all the paperwork before going any further. It is not uncommon for the ownership of land with Por Bor Tor or Sor Kor title to be disputed. It is probably best to only consider land with Chanote, Nor Sor Sam Gor or, at a pinch, Nor Sor Sam land title.
Thai Land Measures
In Thailand Land is measured in Rai, Ngan and Wah which correspond to the following land measures:
1 Rai = 1,600 sq.m
1 Ngan = 400 sq.m
1 Wah = 4 sq.m
1 Acre = 2.53 Rai
1 Hectare = 6.25 Rai