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Posts Tagged ‘Thai Condo’

2nd October 2009

In Thailand, a major concern for expatriates, tourists, and permanent residents is banking. Many people need to set up Thai bank accounts in order to transact personal business in the Kingdom or for international financial purposes. Unfortunately, like many things in Thailand, setting up a Thai bank account can be somewhat difficult, especially for a new arrival trying to establish themselves. In Thailand, each financial institution has its own unique set of rules and regulations imposed upon those who wish to set up an account. Compounding this byzantine situation is the fact that rules and requirements depend upon the type of account one wishes to set up. Business accounts, Foreign Currency accounts, personal savings accounts, and checking accounts all have differing documentation requirements.

For those entering the Kingdom on a Thai visa exemption, opening a bank account in Thailand may prove difficult as many banks are now requiring that an applicant have at least a long term non-immigrant Thailand visa. Some banks take their due diligence efforts one step further and require that a prospective account holder provide a Thai work permit. The practice of requiring a Thai work permit seems to have become a common requirement for nearly all Thai banks in recent months.

There are others who wish to set up Thai corporate bank accounts in the Kingdom, these people are often either the Managing Director of a Thai company or they are thinking of setting up a Thai company. In either case, a great deal of documentation must be submitted in order to obtain a Thai bank account for a Thai corporation. Even where a corporate account can be established, a personal savings account may be necessary if one wishes to have a debit card. As a general rule in Thailand, banks will not issue debit cards for corporate checking accounts. Credit Cards are also notoriously difficult to obtain for corporations as well as individuals who are not Thai Citizens. It is possible to obtain a Thai Credit card, but in many cases the requirements are extremely stringent.

An issue ancillary to Thai banking is Thai mortgages. Obtaining a Thai mortgage can be very difficult for a foreigner. For those wishing to buy a Thai condo it must be remembered that funds for purchase must be brought into the Kingdom from abroad. How this requirement interacts with issues surrounding the Thai mortgage likely is dependent upon the unique facts of the situation.

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27th August 2009

In recent news the Thailand property market has been placed under increased scrutiny for fear that foreigners are using Thai companies as a way of owning land and thereby circumventing the de facto prohibition placed upon non-Thai citizens seeking to buy Thai real estate. In some cases, the Thai government authorities are forcing companies which are not in compliance to sell their Thai property.

In a recent edition of the Bangkok Post, the aforementioned phenomenon was reported on at length:

“If the investigation [by the land department] reveals that the firm holding the land have an illegal shareholding structure, the Lands Department will ask it to transfer the plots within 180 to 365 days.Recently, the Lands Department found a company in Phuket whose foreign ownership exceeded the legal limit. The firm had formerly registered with a legal ownership – with foreigners holding a 49% stake and Thais the balance. However, it later increased its capital, with foreign nationals taking up all new shares, making it ineligible to own land. After the department learned about this case, it took action to have the firm transfer the land it owned.”

The situation described above is the classic case of a scenario in which those operating the Thai company opted for the expedient route without making certain that the legalities were respected. There are ways in which Thai companies can own land, but they must be carefully structured in order to comport to the laws of the Kingdom of Thailand. That being said, one should not try to set up any type of corporate device purely for the purpose of getting around the laws of the Kingdom of Thailand.

It remains to be seen whether this increased scrutiny will continue, but those wishing to acquire property in Thailand ought to be aware that there are other perfectly legal methods of acquiring interest in Thai real estate. Long term Thailand leases can be a benefit to those wishing to acquire a leasehold. For those who insist upon obtaining a freehold title to a piece of Thai property, foreigners are entitled to take freehold title to a Thai condo. However, there have been regulations passed recently which place more restrictive legal definitions upon what is considered a “condo.”

There is also a very specialized property instrument known as a usufruct, which allows the usufructuary to hold a lifetime usage right in the structures located upon a designated piece of property. Some people opt to split the title to a house from the title to the land. This can be very difficult, but has been done when executed by professionals.

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7th August 2009

In recent weeks there appears to be an upward trend in the Thai property market. Looking at the situation strictly from the standpoint of a foreign attorney, more people seem to be looking into purchasing Thai property. That being said, what type of Thai property is seemingly in demand?

There seems to be renewed interest amongst foreign nationals in obtaining a Thai Condo. These Condos often have the benefit of conferring foreign freehold ownership to the foreign national in the Thai Title Deed. Further, by obtaining a foreign freehold Title deed, the foreigner would likely be able to obtain a Yellow Tabien Baan, which is a house registration specifically designated to non-Thai nationals. Although somewhat difficult to obtain, there are many benefits associated with a Tabien Baan. Another benefit to the owner of a Thai condo: easier obtainment of a Thai O visa.

Aside from the legal benefits of purchasing Thai real estate, it would also appear as though the property market has stabilized and demand is on the rise. Many people take the view that the Thai property market has “bottomed out,” although we cannot make speculations as to the accuracy of this claim, the plausible argument could be made that the seemingly continuous descent of the property market is at an end.

What does this mean for the potential buyer? For starters, it means that one should carefully weigh all options before making a decision to buy property. Further, a prospective buyer should conduct due diligence in order to ensure that the property in question is valuable and the seller does in fact have the right to the property he wishes to sell.

Often when buying Thai Condos, it is wise to wait until a building is actually built before putting any money down as a deposit. Unfortunately, Thailand is rife with stories of unsuspecting buyers who put up a down payment on a property development only to see the developer go bankrupt before the building was completed thereby leaving the prospective buyer with a deposit down on an unconstructed untitled piece of property. in order to avoid situations such as this it may be wise to retain a property lawyer.

Finally, with the Thai property market apparently on the upswing, transaction taxes and fees may be on the rise as well. Since the Thai government imposes land transfer fees based upon the price of the Real Estate rising prices may create an environment of rising fees.

(Nothing Contained herein should be construed as legal advice. No attorney client relationship, express or implied, is created by reading this piece.)

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25th July 2009

Many Expatriates resident in the Kingdom of Thailand eventually come to the point where they wish to purchase property. In many cases, particularly in Bangkok, a Thai Condo will suit their needs perfectly. However, there are many people who do not wish to live in a Thai Condominium. These people often opt to purchase some form of Thai Real Estate.

One of the major problems that comes with purchasing Real Estate in Thailand is the de facto prohibition on foreign ownership of land in Thailand. Some people decide to use a Thai company to own land. This is possible although one needs to carefully construct the corporation so as not to violate the relevant laws regarding Thai “nominee shareholders.” Other less advisable methods are employed by foreigners to enjoy the benefits of property in Thailand. In some cases, a Thai spouse will put her name on the “Chanote” (Title Deed) while the foreign spouse actually pays for the property. This can be very disadvantageous because in transactions such as this the Thai Land Department will often require that the foreign spouse sign an affidavit explaining that the Thai property in question was not purchased with money provided by the foreign spouse and as a result the foreign spouse shall have no claim to the Thai property.

These type of disadvantageous scenarios create a situation where the foreigner’s interests must be protected while also remaining legal pursuant to the provisions of the Thai Civil and Commercial Code. In cases such as this, some foreign nationals opt to record a Thai lease. This instrument would provide property enjoyment rights for a maximum of 30 years. Another method that could be employed by a foreigner is the recording of a Thai Mortgage. This method would have the benefit of securing the foreigner’s monetary interest in the property. However, in many cases, the foreigner simply wants to have his interests in his home protected.  If this is the case then it may be best to bifurcate (split) the Title of the Real Estate.

Under Thailand Property Law there are ways of splitting the Thai Title Deed of a residential property. Basically, the foreign national could be designated as the Title holder of the physical residence (house) while the Title to the land remains in the name of a Thai national. By bifurcating the Title in such a way, the foreigner’s interests are better protected. That being said, it would probably be wise to contact a Thailand property lawyer to assist with creating the proper legal instruments as bifurcating Thai Title can be quite complicated and requires dealing with the Land Department of Thailand.

For more information please see property lawyer thailand or bangkok lawyer

(Please be aware: this piece is not legal advice. No lawyer-client relationship is formed by reading this blog post.)

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23rd July 2009

The government of the Kingdom of Thailand has erected many protectionist economic measures. One of the most prevalent legal restrictions imposed upon foreigners in Thailand is the de facto prohibition on land ownership under Thailand Real Estate Law. There is a common misconception that foreigners are not allowed to own land. Technically, this is not the case. In reality, the law states that a foreigner may purchase Thai Real Estate if he or she obtains approval from the Minister of the Interior of Thailand. As a practical matter, obtaining this approval is extremely difficult, if not impossible. The upshot of these restrictions is a virtual bar on foreign ownership of Thai Real Estate.

In Thailand, a freehold Title deed is known as a “Chanote.” Due to the aforementioned legal restrictions it is a virtual impossibility for a foreign national to obtain a Chanote for Thai property. That being said, some years ago the Thai government carved out a legal niche whereby a foreigner could obtain a Freehold Title to a Condominium in Thailand. This exemption is subject to certain conditions. First, the Condo must meet the definition of “Condominium” under the act which means that the paperwork for the building must be completely in order. Another very important aspect of this legislation is the fact that a foreign quota is imposed upon a condominium complex. The law states that foreign ownership may only account for 49% of a condominium’s total number of units. The other 51% must be set aside for those of Thai nationality.

This foreign quota provision can lead to a problem because Condos that are highly desired or in desirable areas are not available for foreign purchase. Further, it can be a great disadvantage to Condominium developers in Thailand because there is generally an income discrepancy between foreign and Thai property buyers. As a result, legal devices are sometimes utilized to circumvent the foreign freehold quota on a Thai condo.

For many years, the classic method of providing foreign control of Thai real property was through the use of a Thai Company to own land. In the recent past, the Thai parliament passed legislation which outlawed the use of “nominee shareholders” in ostensibly Thai companies to own real estate. This mechanism has been employed by Condominium developers to get around the freehold quota. Basically, the developer sets up a Thai company, sell the condo to the company, and then sells the company, that now owns an otherwise quota restricted condo, to a foreigner. As a result, the foreigner owns a company which owns a condo in freehold that could not be legally purchased outright. As with any corporate structure involving “nominees,” the use of nominees is prohibited, but the definition of “nominee” is left somewhat vague under Thai law. Specialized legal advice should be sought where corporate structures are utilized for property ownership.

For more on Special Exemptions under Thai law for foreigners please see Amity Company Thailand

(This article is not legal advice. For such advice contact a licensed lawyer. No Lawyer-Client relationship is formed by reading this piece.)

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