Thailand property is a sound investment as it was estimated that real estate in Thailand appreciates at the rate of 10-15% annually. It has been advantageous for property owners in Thailand because the real estate business is booming. Real estate property value appreciates throughout the year. Expat retirees and businessmen are interested in how to acquire property in Thailand for investment and residential. In accordance with Thailand’s Civil and Commercial Code, only Thai citizens can own land in the country. The opportunity for the expats to purchase a Thailand property remains a question. Thai laws make sure that only their people can own land in the kingdom. If you are a foreigner and is thinking of a property purchase in Thailand, it would be best to consult Thai lawyers to assist you in owning a Thailand property legally.
Generally speaking, land ownership is a right that is exclusive to Thais. An expat is allowed to buy a structure in Thailand such as the building but he cannot own the land. Apartments and condominiums are allowed to be owned by an expat but there is a limit- only up to 49% of the total units therein. There is only one exception to this rule: A foreigner can buy and own a limited area of land if he invests 40 million THB for 5 consecutive years, but the land itself must be used solely for residential purposes.
So it is established that direct purchase of land is not possible for a foreigner. There are 3 alternative methods though for a foreigner to acquire a real estate property in Thailand:
Perhaps, an expat’s easiest way to own a real estate property in Thailand would be by purchasing a condo unit. An expat is allowed to own a condo and is allowed to register this property under his own name, thereby claiming full ownership over it. Under the Condominium Act of Thailand, once a foreigner buys a condominium unit, it makes him/her a co-owner (or shareholder) of the land.
The second way is applicable only for expats who have a Thai spouse. Foreigners married to a Thai can purchase land but they have to register it under their spouse’s name. The foreign spouse needs to sign a document that states the land was bought with funds own by the Thai spouse, and he waiving his right of ownership over the land. To protect the foreigner’s rights on the land, a usufruct agreement can be executed. A usufruct agreement is a legal contract stating that in the event of a divorce, the foreigner can still reside in the land for 30 years and beyond.
Foreigners cannot buy lands under their own names, however, they can purchase it under their Thai registered company. This is the third way on how an expat can acquire a real estate property in Thailand. In this manner, the foreigner needs to set up first a Thai Limited Company, and the majority of the company shares must be Thai-owned. The foreigner owner will have control of the company and freehold ownership over the land.
See also Buying Property and Real Estate in Thailand.