Decoding Thailand Real Estate Market

5th Oct 2018     89     0
Decoding Thailand Real Estate Market

Blessed with a location that is right in the pulse of Southeast Asia, Thailand is definitely one of the most popular tourist destinations on planet earth currently. Its popularity can partly be attributed to the fact that it has been an erstwhile trade zone and a business center for hundreds of years for many traders from across the globe.

Its unique geographic location made it a safe cocoon for power hungry colonial rulers of the past who used it strategically to control their conquered territories. However Thailand itself was never colonized and remained safe from the harsh results of being a slave country.

Well, once geography blesses you, you stay blessed. All the advantages that Thailand enjoyed over the past many years still hold true and in fact have manifested in various contemporary ways in the modern era. Being strategically placed in Southeast Asia and being in close proximity to growing economies like Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar has made Thailand an extremely important hub for trade, tourism and for real estate.

Thailand enjoys a healthy population of almost 70 million people and its proximity to the countries mentioned above also gives it the benefit of having a staggering number of cheap labour at its beck and call. Add to this the readymade base of more than 180 million consumers for its goods & services and you are staring at an economic powerhouse.


Some Thai facts:

Scan any decent super market or store in South East Asia and you are likely to come across a "Made in Thailand product" - right from electronics, mobiles, computers to FMCG goods.

Ironically, since Thailand is doing so well, its own local markets are plush with Japanese & American goods apart from Thai products of course. The reason is simple - Thailand is doing well and the local markets are a reflection of the same.

The Thailand economy is largely self-driven, robust and has its roots firmly in place.

Strong global brands such as Red Bull have its origin in Thailand.

Thailand is one of the globe's major manufacturers of hard drives and memory.

Bangkok in Thailand is arguably the most visited the tourist city in the whole world.

Thailand also happens to be one of the planet's largest exporters of automobiles, electronics, and hardware.

A robust services & start up culture is ensuring that the Thailand economy has multiple strong bases apart from manufacturing and exports.

The past 3 decades have witnessed a very smooth growth for Thailand and it is definitely a country to look out for in the overall Asian growth story.


Thailand real estate - a growing entity:

The prosperity and growth that the Thai economy has managed to carve out for itself has definitely extended to one of the most important sectors for any country - real estate. The affluent Thailand population and the most active middle class segment is a highly active force in the Thailand growth story. There has therefore been a huge spurt in real estate and property development in Thailand with a myriad range of properties - from condos, villas, luxury projects, modern apartments and all kinds of real estate being built for the burgeoning local as well as international demands.

When you more than 20 million tourists visiting you every year and the numbers only increasing, it is but obvious you're your real estate landscape has to change and grow for the better.

Foreign investors in search of good real estate investment prospects have a natural attraction towards Thailand's real estate market. A global city like Bangkok is a beehive of opportunities for any businessman worth his salt. Also investing in Thai real estate has obvious benefits both in terms of capital growth as well a very constant and attractive rental income.

End use buyers, home renters, hard core real estate investors, foreign real estate developers, local property developers and all other possible stake holders form an integral part of the booming Thailand real estate scenario.

Buyers and renters from all over the world have become part of the housing sector whether they're working as an expatriate or are someone from the long list of foreigners who are enjoying a peaceful life here post their retirements.


Investor Friendly Thailand:

It is no secret that Tourism is the biggest business in Thailand. No surprises for guessing that Thailand is very tourist-friendly and doesn't leave a stone unturned in assuring that every tourist is well taken care of in their land. Foreign investments are welcome and are easy to make. It is possible to open a bank account in Thailand, even for foreign nationals, in around 30 minutes. It is therefore no wonder that Thailand ranks 46th in terms of ease of doing business in a list of almost 190 countries and is ranked 3rd place after third place after Singapore and Malaysia in the Southeast Asia region.

The very nature of Thailand and the Thai people in general is that of a winner. This region and the people here never give in to tough times or adversities and are reputed to be extremely resilient & courageous. They have therefore been able to build a country that is growing tremendously well across almost all sectors.

The immediate and even the far future of Thailand looks promising in terms of economic growth as well as overall wellbeing.


Can Foreigners Invest in Thailand Real Estate?

There are some restrictions when it comes to owning and running a business in Thailand. Foreign nationals are allowed to own up to only 49% of a company (except if one happens to be an American citizen)

Due to a specific treaty called as Thailand-US Amity Treaty, an American national is allowed to own 100% of a firm in Thailand This process nonetheless is filled with bureaucratic challenges and does need to have requisite permissions from various government owned authorities.


Real estate ownership in Thailand:

Land ownership and real estate ownership laws in Thailand for foreign national are simple.

Foreign individuals and foreign companies are prohibited from owning any direct interest in land with a few exceptions.


1. Condominium Ownership:

As per real estate laws in Thailand, Foreign nationals and foreign companies are permitted to hold title to condominium units (condos) in buildings that are "eligible".

To be eligible, the few most relevant conditions are;

Generally the practice that is followed after foreign national purchases a condominium is that during the transfer of title of the said unit, the foreign buyer and the seller of the condominium converge together at the Land Office in the district where the condominium is built. The particular land official requests the buyer and the seller to make available a few documents that includes proof of receipt of the purchase amount from the original foreign source given by the purchaser's bank/financial institution. In case the foreign national is unable to produce this proof, the Thai authority will reject the transfer of title.


2. Ratio of Foreign Ownership:

The appointed authority at the land office will request the seller of the condominium unit to avail a letter from the condominium juristic person (the managing body of the condominium building) declaring the ratio of foreign condominium owners to Thai condominium owners in the said building.

The general law in Thailand is that foreign nationals can own not more than 49% of the total units in the building at any given time. If a proposed transfer of a condominium, at any point in time, would result in the said building exceeding 49% foreign ownership norm then that is considered to be a law violation and the concerned authority would immediately decline the said transfer.


Buying and Selling Off Plan:

Like many other places in the world there are real estate marketing tactics that are in practice in Thailand too. Many real estate developers sell their condo units at discounted prices before or during the construction phase of the property. Property investors / buyers get the advantage of great price discounts and the property developer gets sales momentum, credibility and of course finance too.

The general time period that the construction of a condo building consumes is around three to five years. This is from the time the pre-sales begins to actual hand over of the units. This factor has led to the creation of a market that buys units in their off-plan mode and sells those units at the time of or just before the actual physical possession.

The down payment required to book or reserve a specific unit along with signing the relevant contracts is just 10% of the total sale price. There is another 10% payment to be made gradually in the span of a few years. However, the small chunks of instalments are supposed to be paid monthly.

After the construction of the condo is over, one can easily sell and transfer the property legally and officially.

In a typical good real estate cycle in Thailand the property values have appreciated very healthily over a period of years - before the launch till the possession. Many investors have booked units off-plan and sold their contracts just before completion earning a whopping profit of up to 100%. That is quite an invitation for profit seeking real estate investors.


Property Taxes in Thailand:

This is good news for property buyers in Thailand -You do not have to pay annual property taxes on condominiums. However there is a fee / payment to be made to the condominium management body for the maintenance of the building, electricity charges, cleaning and building staff salaries, etc.

The management fee varies according to the size of the building, total number of units, number of occupants and the quality with which it has been built.  Generally the fee is close to 500 baht per square meter per year.

During the sale and transfer of a property, a 2% fee is levied and it is calculated on the property's government appraised value (which has to be lower than the price one paid for it while buying). Generally this "transfer" fee is borne equally by both the transacting parties that is half is paid by the buyer and the other half is paid by the seller.

Another charge that comes into play while the property transaction is being done is the stamp duty charge. It is 0.5% of the sale value and is supposed to be paid while transferring the property. Stamp duty charges are generally borne by the property seller.

There are exceptions and in the case of a property being sold within 5 years of being bought then a "Specific Business Tax" of 3.3% is instead payable. In such a scenario where a "specific business tax" is payable or is paid then the stamp duty charges do not apply on such a transaction.

If you choose to rent out your property in Thailand, rental income taxes are extremely low as there are many deductions. Your exact amount of tax payable will depend on your deductions allowed.

More often than not though, it's not greater than 5% and sometimes far less. If you ask most local landlords, they'll tell you they don't calculate or pay the tax and no one ever bothers them.


Is it safe to buy property in Thailand?

When the laws of the land are fair, strict and transparent it gives a lot of confidence to overseas property investors to move in. Thailand does have very robust property ownership rules and regulations when you compare it with other similar countries in Southeast Asia. These rules are complimented by a computerized title system that is safe & highly secure. Therefore if you are playing by the book and not violating any Government laws, your Thailand real estate investment is pretty safe.

The focus for a prospective real estate investor in Thailand has to be in dealing with the condo developers and the real estate companies.

Even in this aspect, the cream real estate development companies which area round 25 odd in numbers are very professional indeed. They have a very good track record and enjoy the history of successfully delivered real estate projects. It is safer to deal with these companies and in most cases it would be smooth sailing with them.

It becomes a bit more complex and challenging when you are buying real estate through smaller and un-reputed development companies in Thailand. You need to check the past records and be absolutely vigilant while dealing with them. It is advisable in most cases to avail the services of a third-party inspector once a condo unit is completed and is on the verge of getting transferred in your name. In Thailand, it is taken for granted that most dealings in condo units will have some or the other problems while being transferred.

This is where a local Thai inspector can come to your assistance. His participation in terms of checking all necessary permissions, documents and in general conducting all the due diligences with regards to the property can be absolutely critical for an end property buyer. To hire a Thai inspector's services while buying a property is definitely a value for money proposition.

In case the inspector finds any issues or defects, the real estate developer is bound to resolve those at no cost at all. Another important aspect is that professional real estate developers will provide condos with a warranty period of at least 12 to 24 months duration. In fact as a rule they are bound to provide this warranty compulsorily.


Places to Invest in Thailand:

A huge nation like with a population in excess of Seventy Million has many cities, towns and villages. There are multiple locations that one can invest in. However in Thailand, foreigners are allowed to only own condo units and therefore this rule, literally rules out smaller towns and villages for property investors. There are multiple other locations and options still and Bangkok remains on top of the list when it comes to buying real estate or better still luxury real estate in Thailand.

With a population just tipping over the sixteen million mark, with tourists thronging every nook & corner, with a booming economy - Bangkok, the capital of Thailand has amazing real estate investment options.

The other good option has to be Chiang Mai which is Thailand's second biggest city. It is definitely also a very deserving candidate to be on your wish list when it come real estate investment in Thailand.  A lot property investors and foreign buyers are buying condos in resort areas which include the very popular Pattaya and Phuket. These are also very good and lucrative property investment hotbeds in Thailand.


Some of the top real estate developers in Thailand include:

The following represent a few of Thailand's top most real estate and luxury real estate developers.

Pruksa Real Estate, Magnolia Quality Development Corporation (MQDC), Sansiri, Land and Houses, Everland PCL, Ananda Development PCL, Supalai PCL, City Garden Development, Quality Houses Public Limited, Central Pattana (CPN) and many more.

Both ready and new upcoming real estate projects in Thailand including luxury real estate are improving the Thai property landscape further. Some of such projects include:

The Reserve, The Connect (townhouses), Pruksa Ville, Magnolias Ratchadamri Boulevard, Prime Sukhumvit, Magnolias French Country at Khao Yai, Magnolias Southern California at Bangna, Whizdom Essence Sukhumvit, The Line (Phra Kanong), The Base (On nut), Oka HAUS, KHUN, Siri Place Tiwanon,Town Avenue Song-Kwae, Setthasiri San Sai, Burasiri San Phi Suea, Garden Square, Villaggi in Rangsit, Indy, Land Mark in Ramindra, Ladawan, The Bangkok in Thonglor and Sathorn, The Politan Aqua, The Politan Breeze, The Politan Rive, My Villa, My Resort in Bangkok, Hua Hin, My Home Silver Lake, My Resort, IDEO MOBI Series (condos), Venio Series (condos), Elio Series (condos), AIRI Series (houses), Atoll Series (houses), Arden Series (townhouses), IDEO Mobi Asoke, Ashton Chula, Ashton Residence Sukhumvit 41, Supalai Park Ville, Supalai Moda, Supalai Royal River, Supalai Bella, Supalai Veranda, Supalai Loft, City Garden Tower, City Garden Olympus, City Garden Pratumnak, Paradise Ocean View, Q House Avenue, Casa Grand, Casa Presto, Casa Seaside, Casa Legend, Laddarom Bangna and many more.

Thailand is definitely one of the best places in terms of real estate investment, annuity income, capital appreciation and a global destination. Luxury real estate brokers and luxury real estate developers in Thailand are now welcoming some serious investments from China, Europe, USA, Israel, India and many other parts of the world. Many affluent buyers are looking at Thailand as a permanent abode to move in and not only as an investment option. This is the very reason that quality and luxury housing in Thailand is peaking and some of the world's most luxurious properties find a place in the Thai realty landscape. Welcome to Thailand.