To buy property in Thailand, you need a passport. If the property is registered to a legal entity, additional documents are required including a copy of the certificate of incorporation, memorandum of association, certificate of registration, list of shareholders and power of attorney (upon request).

How it works in Thailand

1. Find a property. Foreign citizens can buy freehold apartments and register land to individuals but can only buy houses and villas on leasehold (30 years). The right to buy up to 1 rai (1,600 sq m) of land is granted for investments of no less than THB 40 million ($1.12M) into a project approved by local authorities.

There are also limits on buying residential property in apartment buildings. During the construction of a residential unit in Thailand, the developer breaks the flats down into those that foreign nationals can register to individuals (not more than 49% of the surface area) and those registered to legal entities (51%). Therefore, foreign individuals are authorised to buy no more than 49% of all apartments in the building.

2. Reserve the property and pay the deposit. Having chosen a property, you must sign a reservation agreement proving that the property has been booked. After that, you must pay a deposit worth 10% of the property price. Should the transaction be revoked due to an issue with the buyer, the deposit will not be refunded. However, if it is an issue with the seller, they will pay the buyer back double the value of the deposit.

3. Do the due diligence. The property market in Thailand is not well regulated so foreign citizens should definitely use a lawyer that is familiar with local legislation. Before signing the sales contract, the lawyer will check if all the documents are in order.

4. Prove the funds are available. If the funds come from abroad, the buyer needs a special ТТ3 bank statement, the Thor Tor 3 Exchange Control Form, verifying that the money was actually transferred onto the buyer's account in Thailand.

5. Sign the sales contract. Upon paying the deposit, the lawyers draw up the sales contract and the buyer pays the remaining amount.

6. Register the transaction. Once the payment is made, the transaction is registered with the Land Department of Thailand. The new owner receives a document in Thai, verifying the right of property. There are several documents of this kind in Thailand:

  • Chanott ti din verifies the absolute ownership of land. Most land plots in Thailand are registered differently, in Phuket, for instance, as little as 10% of the properties are registered with Chanott ti din.
  • Nor Sor Sam (Nor Sor Sam Kor) gives the right to sell or rent a property. If the property was registered with the Nor Sor Sam title deed, this means that due diligence was not performed as thoroughly as if the property had been registered with Chanott ti din. For example, this document does not necessarily contain exact information on the boundaries of the land plot.
  • Sor Kor Nung, Tor Bor Tor Hoc and Tor Bor Tor Ha do not give the owner the right to sell the land plot or build anything on them.
  • Sor Bor Kor does not give the owner the right to sell, convey or rent out a land plot.

In residential property in apartment buildings usually come with Chanott ti din title deeds. The whole process of buying property in Thailand takes 10–30 days if you buy property independently and 3–5 business days if you work with a real estate agency.

Taxes and fees

In Thailand, property buyers share the registration fee with the seller.

Real estate purchase and sale taxes in Thailand, %

Tax Sale
of freehold land
Transfer
of leasehold land
Sale
of building
Liability
to tax
Transfer tax 2 2 Seller/Buyer
Lease registration tax 1 Lessor/Lessee
Business tax 0–3.3 0–3.3 Seller
Stamp Duty 0–0.5 0.1 0–0.5 Seller
Withholding tax 1 or 0–35 - 1 or 0–35 Seller

Most taxes are paid by the seller. When selling freehold property, stamp duty is 0.5% of the assessed value or sale price, depending on which is higher. When buying leasehold land, stamp duty is 0.1%.

If you sell a freehold property within five years of buying it, you will be subject to a business tax of 3.3% of the assessed value or sale price, depending on which is higher.

The seller also pays a real estate sale tax worth 1% of the total assessed value or sale price, depending on which is higher (if the seller is a legal entity) or a withholding tax calculated at a progressive rate up to 35% (if the seller is an individual).

The real estate agent's commission (3–5%) is usually paid by the seller.