Many people from outside Thailand become so in love with the country that they can think of nothing other than buying a place in the sun, a bit of real estate property that can act as their get away from the pressures of work, an investment for the future or retirement home. Many expats living in the neighbouring countries of Singapore Malaysia and Hong Kong are drawn to comparatively inexpensive property prices that can be found in Thailand.
Bangkok the hub.
Bangkok Thailand is the main town in tropical Asia. No other town has it's size and complexity, it's variation and business dynamism. It is no surprise that a lot of inward investment aims at getting a bolt hole in 'The Big Mango'. From here, a lot of business gets done, connecting South East Asia with Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. No self respecting businessman will fail to recognise this. There are many high rise luxury smart condo's in Bangkok and in the Pattaya (Bangkok-by-the-sea). These are taken up by all the world as they come to join one of the world most vibrant economies.
If you live in Asia in a town like Bangkok, Hong Kong or Singapore you might want your weekends on the beach. A lot of people think like this and there has been a striking number of upscale property developments catering to space bound town dwellers. What's more appealing than leaving the smog and congestion of the large urban metropolis's and heading for the Thai Islands of Phuket and Samui. A 1-3 hour flight and you've kicked your shoes off and are strolling down a sandy beach with a sunset a head of you, and a cool sea breeze un-knotting the stress lines accumulated during the week.
When you do an analysis of the living expenses in US, Northern Asia, Europe and Thailand there is a striking difference between the countries. Many people from Europe and the Americas choose to relocate to the tropics. Many combine the best of the seasons by living in Thailand during the northern hemisphere winter and then returning to summer in their own country. The perpetual summer feeling is a great pull and many gated communities have large number retirees enjoy a great life style.
A house in the image above might cost you around £70,000/85,000Euro/US$ 110,000. You can see why many people are intrigued by the idea of down sizing their lifestyle and living in the sun for a few years.
What I have outlined below are the broad strokes of buying a property in Thailand. You will need to consult a property lawyer to get the full detail for a purchase.
Buying a property on Thailand.
Everywhere you look Thailand Property is for sale. The Thai economy has gone through as massive improvement of smart and upscale property development. Initially in the 70's, 80's and 90's and the first few years of the 00's it was more difficult to find a well constructed house or villa with an equally good legal structure that gave security to the owner. There are now many property developments that have it all wrapped up. You might pay a price for it but they do exist. And what is more, the property variation has improved so that there are now many more lower budget properties of value.
Legally speaking, a foreigner can own a Thai Property but the land must be in a Thai National's name. This has lead to a dearth of legal companies who specialize in getting non Thai Nationals their dream property, condo or land. The vagaries of the Thai Law mean that there is a very definite way in which you can own your own property and very definate ways in which you cannot. It is important to understand that the law in Thailand assumes that the land is owned by a Thai national.
It is possible to buy land in Thailand but it must be bought in a Thai national's name (or a Thai company's name). There are few restrictions to building in Thailand and so for those who know what they want, for those who have a vision this can be an exciting project to get into. There are many good architects and project managers, Thai and western, who can put the right team together to make a house.
Law and the Land
The land paper is a key aspect of Thai property.
By referring to the address and showing a simplified planned drawing of the footprint of the shape of the land and defining;
Title Deed 78699.
Book No. 787.
Survey No 2586.
each plot of land is logged and is distinct from each other.
Issues of boundaries can happen depending on the age and style of the survey of the land plots. Imagine 200 years ago a piece of Forest is claimed as settlement land and turned over to grazing farmland with a farm property. The boundary markers are in the initial owner's mind and could easily be 'this tree to this tree, straight down to the stream and then nearest line to the road or track'. As a neighbour arrives this is not discussed in detail and a rough zone of influence builds up between the neighbours. After a few years, when asked to define the boundary both neighbours give a different boundary line.
Move on to this 1900-1990; newly settled land and subdivided land was marked by numbered concrete posts which were driven into the land. These points referred to exact points on the land title that could define the land. The only problem was that inaccurate placement of these posts meant that there could still be argument.
The latest survey techniques involve using GPS and having a very exact location for the post. This isn't always plane sailing as the team that puts the posts in the ground might not always get the posts to the correct positions for technical reasons, (granite boulders in the way) or laziness, to clear the undergrowth and jungle.
For these reasons it is important to understand your land titles especially in Thailand's holiday destination's of Phuket and Samui) as you don't want to have a land title that is in dispute with a neigbour.
The different names for the land titles reflect the type and age of the survey that define the land plot and the differing rights of use.
Chanote (Nor Sor 4 Jor)
This is the best title and is deemed full ownership and prevelant throught Bangkok, Pattaya, Hua Hin. This land parcel is GPS surveyed and compared to the fixed national map. This will have exact land size and written on the chanote down to a square wah which is 2 meters x 2 meters. This land can be subdivided, the right of use has been confirmed.
Note this anomaly even with a Chanote title; a land buyer agrees a price with the seller. The land is surveyed again and if the land amount varies to the sale contract, the difference is resolved by the buyer paying more or less from the value agreed.
Nor Sor 3 GorNor Sor 3 Kor
The survey here is done be aeiral photograhy and focuses on the boundariy posts between neighbours. This land can be subdivided, the right of use has been confirmed.
This is similar to the Nor Sor 3 Gor but there are no concrete posts to define the land. This land can be subdivided, the right of use has been confirmed.
There are multiple more land titles defining communes, agriculture, settlement and squatting with poorer rights of use and land will be priced accordingly. As an indicator Chanote land may cost 10-100 times the price of the Por Bor Tor 5.
Por Bor Tor 5
This is an old right that means that Tax has been paid on the property but gives the owner no official rights except...the owner can apply for a Sor Kor 1 which allows the possessor to farm the land.
The key to understand the title issue are rights. Some people have got a good deal by buying land with low value rights and then applying through the Thailand Land Department and the courts to upgrade the land title. This takes some perseverance and time but allows you more security on your land and increases it's value.