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How do I buy land in Thailand? – a ‘foreigner’s’ guide

Dear Koh Phangan Realty, I want to buy some land in amazing Koh Phangan, where do I begin?

How do I buy land in Thailand? Good question, to buy land in Thailand I could say just come and see us here at Koh Phangan Realty and we’ll take care of everything for you! Well, I did just say that, and it would be true too, but I guess you want to know more of the mechanics of the whole process…if not, then just call me on +66 844408815 (I have Line and Whatsapp too) but I digress…onto the juicy bit…

I have heard that as a foreigner I can’t own land in Thailand, is this true?

Well the truth of the matter, and we like to tell the truth here at Koh Phangan Realty, is no…and yes. The law of Thailand prohibits foreign individuals from owning land in the Kingdom of Thailand, the Act which deals with this is the Thai Land Code Act. Actually, it says that foreigners can own land by a treaty, but there has never been such a treaty in place, so in other words no.

Peaceful Ban Kai Koh Phangan seafront rental land

So that’s the no, what about the yes?

Well, I was getting to that. The yes, a foreigner can own land in Thailand is two-pronged. If we are talking legal ownership, as in the eyes of the law, freehold, then there is only one way. If we are being a little more flexible then we can also include rental or leasing of land. Both options can be used to hold land for the foreigner (farang) here in Thailand with a difference in the duration of each system.

The simplest way for a foreigner to ‘own’ land in Thailand

How do I buy land in Thailand?… The simplest way to ‘own’ land in Thailand, or make use of the land anyway, as a foreigner, is via a leasehold or land rental agreement. A leasehold on a plot of land in Thailand is 100% legal. Great, I hear you say, so we can do that, why doesn’t everyone just do that and where has the confusion come from?

Well, there’s a drawback to having a leasehold on your dream plot of land, which you have made your dream property upon. The problem with a Thai leasehold arrangement is that a land lease in Thailand is limited to 30 years in duration. That’s not just for the likes of you or me, that’s for everyone, Thai’s and foreigners alike. It’s the statutory law of the land. So you can see that the lease-hold arrangement is not for everyone. If you are young or are hoping to leave your hard-earned asset to your offspring then it won’t be appealing to go this route. So what else then? I hear you saying.

Ownership of land in Thailand via a Thai registered company

This method of land ownership to buy land in Thailand really does give outright ownership of the land of choice but as an asset of the Thai company that you control. It could be argued that you, the company director at this stage, do not actually own the land, but the company does but that’s just semantics. As the sole, or joint director of the company with the person of your choice, you have complete control of the company and its assets. 

The director may sell the company assets (land, house, car, etc.) as and when they see fit and they may also change the shareholders of the company quickly and easily too. 

It should be noted, however, that the Thai authorities frown upon the set up of a Thai company just to buy land in Thailand and thus a house. What they do not mind is the creation of a company in order to make a business, be it house rental, sales, etc. Business like this is very good from an economic point of view for the host country. FDI, or Foreign Direct Investment, is a goal of many of the economies of the world as it brings wealth into a country and makes the next year’s figures, for whoever is running the country at that time, look very good. 

OK, Got it, All of that sounds great but what does Koh Phangan Realty Co., Ltd. recommend?

How do I buy land in Thailand?
How do I buy land in Thailand? decisions, decisions…

Well, we feel that it really depends on what you are looking to do. As with most choices, there are pros and cons to each choice to buy land in Thailand…

Renting/leasing land in Thailand – benefits

  • Often a lower outlay at the beginning – deals may be negotiated for yearly, bi-yearly, five-yearly payment of rent depending on the parties involved.
  • No need to incorporate your own company to gain the land.
  • Seed money can be used to spend on development/construction rather than land purchase.

Renting/leasing land in Thailand – drawbacks

  • Lower, and a reducing with time, resale value.
  • No land asset to use for collateral if needed.
  • A company is needed to do business in Thailand anyway, and most probably needed to gain a long term (non Immigrant) visa. 
  • After 30 years you will either –
    • relinquish rights to your development on the leased land
    • Have to renegotiate and re-sign contracts, if at all possible. 

Ownership via a Thai company – benefits

  • Freehold (full ownership) of the land.
  • Higher potential resale value due to outright ownership – i.e. endless duration.
  • The company may seek loans etc
  • You will need a Thai company to do any business in Thailand, other than being an employee.
  • Via the Thai company, you may gain a long term business visa.

Ownership via a Thai company – drawbacks

  • A Thai company will need to be incorporated and maintained (costs). 
  • There are yearly operational costs for the company, (but not greatly expensive – e.g. 16,000 baht per year for company accounting returns filing).
  • You will need to have 51% of the shares held by Thais (don’t worry, control of the company rests with the director and not the shareholders). 

So as you can see there is no, ‘one size fits all’ situation to buy land in Thailand, and there are many different ways, and reasons, you can get your dream home or business here in the Land Of Smiles.

If you are still in a conundrum about how do I buy land in Thailand?  What you should do or how you will get that dream plot of land in Ko Pha-ngan, Thailand, then feel free to contact us on :

+66 8444 08815 – (Whatsapp & Line messengers too) – Phanganhomes@gmail.com

www.koh-phangan-realty.com

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