Nestled in the great Andaman Sea, Phuket is the largest island off Thailand. The island offers a great variety of activities such as swimming, beach-bumming, diving, and fishing, and affords a whole new experience in terms of landscape, climate, food, culture, philosophy and outlook in life. After a Phuket-immersion, it seems that the most natural thing to do is to look for land for sale in Phuket, acquire it and live the rest of your life in the island paradise.
In the last two decades, there has been an influx of foreigners hoping to invest in real property not only in Phuket, but across Thailand. Nationals from Hong Kong, Singapore, China, and Japan are hooked-in by job opportunities, highly affordable real estate properties and unhurried lifestyle in Phuket. There is also an increasing number of Americans and Europeans moving to Phuket to either retire or work in an exotic location.
However, buying a land or any real estate property in Phuket and the rest of Thailand is not that easy for foreign nationals as there are certain applicable rules and regulations to take into consideration. As a general rule, a foreigner is not allowed to buy land in his own name. Nevertheless, there are alternatives.
Buying land through a Thai Company: A foreigner should consult with a local lawyer in the process of buying any property in Thailand. A foreigner is not entitled to buy land under his name but under Thai law, he may buy and own land under the name of his Thai-registered company. The law stipulates that the Thai-registered company must be at least 51% Thai-owned. So the land deed will still be registered under the name of the Thai company, and not under the foreign businessman.
Buying land through the Board of Investment: Thailand does not use the western metric system in measuring land. Rai is the standard unit of measurement for land in Thailand, wherein 1Rai is equivalent to 1,600 square meters. Thai law permits a foreigner who has invested at least 1 million Baht in Thailand to buy 20 Rai (32,000 square meters) of land. The clause is that the foreign owner can only use the purchased land for residential purposes, and not for business or commercial purposes. Approval of the Thailand Board of Investment is required.
Buying land through leasehold agreements: Thai law allows a foreigner to lease land from a Thai owner. This option is quite simple and straightforward and is the best option for foreigners wanting to build their own property. It is a better option than buying a land through a limited company where there are several stockholders who may have different interest than the foreign co-owner. Under this clause, a foreigner can lease the land for a maximum of 30 years, with the possibility of renewing the lease. Under this clause, it is allowable for the foreigner to transfer the leasehold interest, or sell the lease.
Buying land through a Thai spouse: A foreigner who is legally married to a Thai national is entitled to buy property in Thailand. However, ownership of the land must be registered in the name of the Thai spouse. A stipulation of this clause is that the foreigner must sign a declaration indicating that the money used to buy the land belongs to Thai spouse prior to the marriage. In the event of a divorce, proving that the land is marital property may prove difficult.
A foreigner planning on buying land in Phuket should understand the various types of title deeds in Thailand to better determine the rights of the owner over the piece of land he is interested in.