Thailand Real Estate Market: What You Should Know

*Updated 30 March 2020

Thailand has always been one of the most popular spots for holidaymakers and investors alike. Bangkok, in particular, is a favourite spot as it is a vibrant metropolis with an amazing history, incredible food paradise and fantastic local scene. More than just a place to visit for a holiday, Bangkok is also an exciting and riveting place to live.

Thailand’s booming tourism sector has the country on the map for investors and accounts for 12% of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP), according to a report in Bangkok Post in January 2020. Foreign tourist arrivals hit a record 39.8 million in 2019 — equivalent to more than half of Thailand's population — after a rise of 7% to 38.2 million in 2018, Tourism and SportsMinistry data showed. Tourist revenue rose by 3% to 1.93 trillion baht in 2019.

A market that Singaporeans are fairly familiar with, Bangkok ranks highly as one of the preferred cities for Singaporeans looking to purchase real estate overseas. Many trusted local property developers, including City Development Holdings (CDL), CapitaLand and Frasers Property have ventured into Thai property markets. One of Thailand's largest developers, Sansiri PLC, listed on the Thailand Stock Exchange has offices in Singapore to cater to the demand for Thailand properties from Singaporeans.

Restrictions on overseas investors

While foreigners are not allowed to own land in Thailand, one may do so through registering a company in Thailand with at least 51% Thai ownership. Alternatively, one can choose to own landed properties with 30-year renewable leases. Buyers can renew such leases for further 30-year periods at the Department of Lands for up to 90years. Such lease renewals cannot be registered, and the lessee cannot sell, transfer or sub-lease the property.

Due to the legal restrictions, most overseas buyers choose to purchase a freehold condominium, where foreigners can own up to 49% of the total units. Buyers can assign a Power of Attorney to transfer the ownership of the property, which will be carried out at the Department of Lands.


Foreigners buying a property in Thailand will have to pay a reservation fee of approximately 10% of the purchase price as a deposit before the purchase contract is signed.  

The next phase includes a 30% down payment to the developer to secure the booking. The ownership will be transferred when the balance of 70% is paid in full upon the completion of the project. The payment scheme can differ from one developer to another.

Generally, foreign buyers would raise financing at home and then transfer it to a Thai bank account to facilitate payment upon the receipt of remittance advice. A Foreign Exchange Transaction (FET) form will then be issued by the Thai bank as proof of the transfer of ownership at the Department of Lands.

New guidelines and restrictions for property loans were introduced by Thailand’s central bank on 1 April 2019.  Second-home buyers will be restricted to a maximum loan of 80% of the property value if the first mortgage is less than 3 years old or if the property is priced at THB 10 million (US$324,000) or higher. Third and subsequent home buyers will be restricted to a loan not exceeding 70% of the property value.

Other costs include a one-time sinking fund and transfer fees of 2% of the registered value during the purchase of the property.

There is a tax of 3% to 8% on the property, depending on various factors such as the duration of ownership. If the property is registered in the “tabien baan” (a government-issued booklet listing all the people registered at a particular address in Thailand) for at least one year or the owner holds the property for more than five years, this tax is exempted.

While there is no capital gains tax in Thailand, the income from the sale of the property will be taxable if the property is sold within five years from the date of purchase. This ranges between 1% and 3% of the sale price, depending on the number of years of ownership. Stamp duty and withholding taxes apply during the sale of the property.

Choosing the right property

Demand for residential properties rises in Thailand. Nationwide, land and building transactions rose by 3.8% y-o-y to THB 266.15 billion (US$8.62billion) in the first quarter of 2019, following a 7.7% growth in 2018, according to the Bank of Thailand.

Residential prices for Bangkok properties are largely stable with some slowing observed in recent quarters amid current economic conditions and stricter mortgage-lending rules.  

Apart from the price, factors that overseas buyers consider before making a purchase include whether the area has important, prominent landmarks and its connectivity via the mass transit system and whether it is benefiting from a direct connection to tourist areas and business districts. The Bangkok metropolitan area, in particular, is a popular investment location, especially when the Bangkok City Plan comes into effect in 2020.

If you are on a lookout to invest in Thailand property, choose locations with advanced infrastructures. Apart from Bangkok, other high-demand areas for foreign investors to consider investing in include the beach resort areas like Phuket and Pattaya, as well as Chiang Mai, the country’s second-largest city.

Managing the portfolio

As with any overseas investments, foreign investors would have limited knowledge of the local rental market or the channels to get their properties rented out versus the local developers.  

In Thailand, property investments are increasingly being sold with the option of engaging a professional property management company with keen insights in the market, as well as the experience in managing such properties. This minimises the amount of knowledge, time and effort needed by investors to start earning a return on their investment, attracting investors who are seeking passive rental income.

All in, as an overseas property investor, there is a need to properly assess the market and investment viability before investing in a foreign market.

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