Buying property in Samui, Thailand, when done in a professional and careful manner with due diligence, will be a rewarding and very enjoyable experience. If you decide to cut corners, things could turn out to be not quite as enjoyable. But, follow some simple steps and you will end up with your sun-drenched dream property in the tropical resort beach island of Koh Samui.
Where should I start?
That is simple – at the beginning. Do your research. Then do some more research. Forewarned is forearmed because the more knowledge you gather about your destination, property, laws and customs etc, the safer you will be. You will need to study the laws regarding purchasing property in Thailand. You need to know what you can do and what you cannot do. And, more importantly, what you can legally buy and what you cannot legally buy.
OK, let’s get started. You have decided what house you want to buy and where you want to buy it. You have seen photos of the property on a real estate website. You have decided that you will live in the property part-time and that you want to rent it out for a passive income while it is empty. So, time to email the real estate company. You should ask as many questions as possible about the property in case you decide to travel half way across the world to see it. But, what questions?
For example, is the property on a completed development? If it is not on a completed development what is the probable completion time? How long has the development been under construction? Is it possible it may never be completed and you end up spending your annual holidays on a dirty, smelly, noisy construction site? What kind of construction warranty will be provided – 1 year, 2 years, 5 years? Who will be my neighbours? Could there be a military shooting range nearby? Where is the water sourced? Who manages the communal facilities like security, refuse collection, shuttle services? How is the property currently owned? Is it in a company and if so is that company a legitimate trading company or a ‘shelf company’ set up solely with the purpose of putting the land in the name of the company to overcome Thai law, which is not recommended?
If you decide that buying the property in the name of a ‘shelf company’ is risky and not for you, you must take out a lease on the land, but, is the seller able to give a lease? Does the land have an allocation license enabling the land to be transferred into a Thai name who will then offer the lease? Does the land have a mortgage on it? Is the seller the actual owner of the land or someone simply acting on behalf of someone else? Is there a construction permit for the house on which the land sits? Is there already a mortgage on the land? What costs are involved regarding taxes and transfer fees? Will you put the land in the name of a Thai and take out a usufruct over the land? And so on.
As you can see, outlined above are just a few of the many questions that need to be answered before parting with your hard-earned life savings when buying property in Thailand. The objective here is not to frighten buyers away. But, simply, to make them understand that buying property in another country may be completely different and more complex than it is in their country of origin. Therefore, consulting a reputable, experienced, real estate company with many years’ experience in property in Thailand, could well safeguard your investment; answer the questions above along with many others; and more importantly, give you complete peace of mind. Do it the correct way. Do not cut corners. Then you will only have to do the job once.
So, all I have to do is put all my trust in a real estate agent then I am guaranteed my dream home – correct? No, not correct. Any reputable real estate agent, after they have helped you source a property that fits your budget, style, and specific purpose, should then recommend that you employ an independent lawyer. An independent lawyer will not only check that the contract you are about to sign is a contract that is in your best interests and possibly add or remove clauses, but they will also check the person selling the property is allowed to sell it. They will also check there is no mortgage on the land. And, for example, that the land has a proper title and that there are no roads due to be built in your back yard.
There is one final step to put in place. And, that responsibility is down to you – due diligence. But, what can I do because I do not know much about property in Thailand? Well, for example, you could ask other people what their opinion is of the property, the location, the development and the developer that you are about to buy from. Also, you can look on the Internet and even knock on the neighbours’ doors near the property that you want to buy. Neighbours have a habit of telling the truth. Once all this is completed and you have had the title search completed, sale and purchase agreement signed, payment has been made, you are then ready to register ownership and take possession of your dream home in the sun.
It is not possible to provide an exhaustive list of all the steps and questions that need to be addressed before buying property in an article as brief as this. However, if you follow the guidelines above, you will certainly give yourself the very best chance of buying the best property that will suit you. And, more importantly, you will be investing in a property that you will be more than happy with.