Bangkok is among the most visited cities in the world and for good reason – with amazing culture, incredible food, friendly locals, and a low cost of living, it’s no surprise foreigners desire to stay longer. An initial visit can lead to long-term stays, or a life-changing move, eventually calling Bangkok their home.

If you’re among the many foreigners who are thinking about purchasing a Bangkok property but don’t know where to start, this guide can help you get a good grip on what it’s like to buy a condo for sale in Bangkok.

Let’s begin with the most important question, can a foreigner own property in Thailand?

Can a foreign national own Property in Thailand?

Foreign nationals cannot directly own land in Thailand but they are legally allowed to own the following:

  • Freehold condominiums
  • The building or structure of a property, separate from the land they sit on

Based on the Condominium Act B.E. 1979:

  • A “Foreign Quota” is in place on all condominium ownership in a specific property. This quota is at 49% of the condominium project. The remaining 51% must be purchased by Thai nationals or entities.
  • “Condominium Freehold” is a distinct legal title. which is the most direct property ownership for foreigners in Bangkok.

How to Search for Properties

Foreign nationals can work with a local real estate agent to search the market for condo developments that suit their needs and budget. Whether you’re looking for a home in Bangkok or an investment, market research is your first step to making sure you won’t regret your decisions.

The first factor you need to consider when buying a condo in Bangkok is never the price. Your first priority must be the location. With hundreds of condominium projects in Bangkok, both established and still in development, choosing the most ideal condo is like looking for a needle in a haystack. You can search all day long and still won’t find the perfect condo that checks all your needs and preferences. This is why working with a real estate agent can be the smartest thing to do.

However, it must be noted that there is no licensing body for real estate agents in Bangkok. Anybody can call themselves a real estate agent, so watch out for scammers who promise you the world but are only as good as lip service.

Do your research when choosing the real estate agent you want to work with. Ask recommendations from expats who’ve already purchased properties in the city, or search online for agents with great reviews.

To give you a glimpse of the best locations for a home or investment in Bangkok, these are the most highly-priced locations:

  • Silom
  • Sathorn
  • Ploenchit
  • Sukhumvit
  • CBD area

Other factors you need to consider include the developer, building management, as well as the condo project specifications such as parking and communal facilities.

The Buying Process

The buying process can be handled by your real estate agent if you choose to work with one. If you want the full service, they can do all the work for you, such as negotiations, document preparations, registrations, transfers, and other important details. But if you want a more hands-on buying experience, you can also do the work yourself, but can be more challenging due to the language barrier as well as specific Thai laws that you may not be aware of.

Nevertheless, whether you work with an agent or not, it is essential to know what entails during the buying process so you can determine whether an agent is scamming you, and just so you know what needs to be done for a legal and successful purchase.

Let’s begin first with buying a condo in its pre-launch or off-plan phase.

BUYING A PRE-LAUNCH CONDOMINIUM

A pre-launch property can be a great investment opportunity for foreign nationals looking for an income-generating real estate venture. Some of the benefits include:

  • Foreign buyers only need to pay a 30% downpayment of the full price, with the remaining 70% payable upon completion, which is about 1 to 3 years after.
  • Foreign buyers benefit from today’s market price, which will likely appreciate in 1 to 3 years, which is upon completion.
  • Developers usually offer discounts and freebies with the booking, since they rely on reservations to finance the project.
  • Developers have legal teams to guarantee a smooth sale process, so there’s no need to hire a real estate agent or do the work yourself.

If you don’t need to use the property just yet, then an off-plan condo is the most ideal purchase for you.

BUYING A RESALE CONDO UNIT

Buying a resale condo, whether it has been lived in or not, can be more complex. Though the process is straightforward, there are several steps and processes that need to be complied with for a legal and smooth transaction. Here are the steps to buying a condo from its previous owners:

STEP 1: NEGOTIATIONS

While off-plan condo units have a fixed price, you can still negotiate the resale price of a condo unit. You can sit own with the seller, and/or real estate agent to negotiate the selling price, as well as inclusions and other important details.

When you make an offer and negotiate, both parties must agree on 4 things:

  • Agreed sales price
  • Inclusions such as furniture and appliance or the lack thereof
  • Share of sales tax and transfer fees
  • Approximate transfer date

STEP 2: OFFER LETTER AND PRELIMINARY CHECKS OF DOCUMENTS

You can appoint a lawyer who can verify important documents to make the sale. Or, the real estate agent can appoint one for you. You don’t really need one but since you’re dealing with a sales transaction in a foreign land, you might need to make sure that all legal documents are authentic.

These documents include:

  1. Title Deed, otherwise known as Chanote
  2. Official ID or passport of the seller
  3. Property Agency Agreement, if the landlord has given a real estate agent authority to act on his behalf
  4. Property Agency Agreement, if the landlord has given a real estate agent authority to act on his behalf

These documents will guarantee that the seller has the legal right to put the property for sale.

Once these documents have been verified, you can now produce your official Offer Letter. Your offer letter must include all the details of the agreement, such as agreed sales price, transfer date, and inclusions, and duly signed by both parties involved, which includes the seller, buyer, and real estate agent, who acts as the witness.

STEP 3: PAY INITIAL DEPOSIT

Once the offer letter has been duly signed, it is now time to make the initial deposit. No standard deposit amount for resale properties is set in Bangkok, but a good rule of thumb is to deposit at least 5% of the full price. This deposit can also be negotiated between the parties.

STEP 4: SALES AND PURCHASE AGREEMENT SIGNING

Once the official deposit has been made, the property is then removed from the market. Further legal checks are to be done, such as checking documents to make sure they match original copies held by the Land Office. This ensures the are no more mortgages or balances to the developer, or original owner of the property, on the unit.

Once these legal checks have been done, the signing of the Sales and Purchase Agreement can now be finalized.

STEP 5: PREPARATIONS FOR PROPERTY TRANSFER

At this stage, a lawyer and an agent for the property will compute the government fees and transfer fees to be paid by the buyer and/or seller upon transfer of the property. If the condo unit was obtained through a mortgage, a bank officer must write-off the loan or be physically present on the day of the transfer.

The following documents must also be prepared by the buyer:

Buyer Document Requirements:

  1. Original passport
  2. Copy of Married Certificate [If married]
    • Spousal Consent Form
    • Spouse needs to be physically present on transfer day [Power of Attorney if not possible]
  3. Complete names of buyer’s parents [For Land Dept. records]
  4. Cashier’s Cheques [for the bank, property, or financial institution]
  5. Cash [for payment of Government taxes and fees, if applicable
  6. FET or the Foreign Exchange Transaction Form

Foreign Exchange Transaction Form or FET

In order for you to be allowed to make the purchase, you must acquire an FET or Foreign Exchange Transaction Form. This is included in the Condominium Law, and you won’t be able to make the purchase if you don’t have this.

The FET is given when you provide proof that the entire amount of the sales price of the property was transferred from a foreign bank account into a Thai local bank account.

These are the requirements to acquire the FET:

  • The remitter account must have the same name as the buyer.
  • The full address of the buyer and remitter should be filled out on the Transfer Form details.
  • The purpose of the transfer must be stated, such as “To Buy Condo Unit A in building B.”
  • The number of funds transferred from the foreign bank account to the Thai bank account must be beyond the sales price of the condo unit.

Once these requirements are met, you will be given an FET by the Thai local bank, which the money has been transferred to.

SELLER DOCUMENT REQUIREMENTS

The seller of the property must also provide the following documents:

  1. Thai ID Card or Passport
  2. If Married, Copy of Marriage Certificate
    • Spouse Consent Form
    • Spouse needs to be there on transfer day {POA if not possible]
  3. Original Chanote or Title Deed
  4. Original Tabien Baan or House Registration Book
  5. Foreign Quota Certificate
  6. Document of Quit Claim Deed
  7. Up-to-date utility Bills
  8. Keys, Access Cards, parking stickers, and others needed items.
  9. Cheques and cash for Government sales and transfer fees

Other things needed include electrical appliances warranty forms, if applicable, as well as the developer welcome pack, if available.

Land Development Transfer

Once all the requirements are complied with, both parties can then proceed to the Land Development to finalize the transfer. The following also need to be ensured on the transfer day:

  • Seller prepares both cashier’s cheque and cash for Transfer Fees and Sales Taxes payment.
  • Buyer prepares cashier’s cheques in the exact sales price amount for the seller and bank.

Once all the documents required are checked and the funds have been prepared by the Land Officer, the property owner’s name will be removed from the Title Deed or also known as the Chanote, and replaced with the new buyer’s name.

Post Formalities

The seller will now hand over the Title Deed or Chanote, the Tabien Baan, and all items related to the property, which include the keys, access cards, and other items.

To ensure the smooth transition of utilities from the seller to the buyer, it is a must to talk to the condo’s building management so they are aware of the new owner of the condo unit.

Can Foreigners Apply for Condo Purchase Financing?

This question is quite common for foreigners who want to have another option in terms of paying for the property they wish to purchase. The answer to this question is yes, some banks and financial institutions do offer mortgages to foreign nationals.

However, it can be evasive and the application process can be quite difficult. More requirements are needed for foreign nationals and most institutions only approve those who have strong financial profiles.

That being said, mortgage or financing payment options are only ideal for buyers who wish to purchase a condo as a home in Bangkok, rather than as an investment.

Here are some banks that offer financing to foreigners nationals:

  • MBK Finance
  • UOB
  • Bangkok Bank

Conclusion

Buying a condo property in Bangkok, whether it’s for a second home, your permanent home base, or for investment purposes is really straightforward and simple. Though quite a number of documents are needed and a few requirements must be complied with, this guide gives you an overview of what to expect when you decide to purchase a property in this city.

Though you can’t own land in Bangkok, a condo is your next best bet for owning a property that’s truly yours in the City of Angels.