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Foreigners Owning Property in Thailand Sparks Controversy




The Thai government is seeking to attract talented foreigners by offering property ownership for relocating, however, this has spurred controversy. Property analysts believe regulations related to zoning and volume limitation should be applied to keep condominiums affordable.

The Chairman of the committee for real estate development at the Thai Chamber of Commerce, Issara Boonyoung told the Bangkok Post that many people are concerned about the cabinet’s recent scheme. The government plans to promote wealthy foreigners with the opportunity to buy land in Thailand.

He said a foreign property ownership quota of higher than 49% is not new for Thailand. It was applied back in 1999 after the financial crisis. The government tried to revive the Thai economy In the same fashion.

“However, only a condominium few projects could secure foreign ownership of more than 49 percent. Above all, because foreigners were not confident in the Thai economy.

Now condominium projects are attractive among foreigners looking to buy a vacation or retirement condo, Mr. Issara said.

Property projects limited

Many Condominium projects in Pattaya, Phuket and Chiang Mai had eager foreign buyers, however, they were unable to sell more units because they hit the foreign buyers quota, he said.

To increase sales of foreign buyers and avoid upsetting local residents, the central government should use regulations like zoning, said Mr. Issara.

For example, a foreign ownership quota of more than 49% for a condominium project should not be situated in and or near an agricultural zone. Above all to prevent indirect landholding.

These higher quotas should be for provincial and city municipal areas, he said.

Furthermore, condominium projects with foreign ownership quotas of more than 49% should be sized no larger than five rai, he said.

Meanwhile, Suthikorn Kingkaew, director of research at Future Innovative Thailand Institute, believes the central government should control the number of units being acquired by foreigners. A rule allowing one unit per passport.

Mr. Suthikorn” Foreigners should only be allowed to buy new units, not secondhand units. Above all, because new development can boost economic growth. He said attracting talented and wealthy foreign buyers via government policy may help stimulate the economy, but legal issues and issuing new regulations will take time.

Foreign homeownership

In the north and northeast of Thailand, property developers feel left out of the central government’s scheme to attract wealthy foreign buyers as condominium projects aren’t as common as housing projects.

Kaekwun “Kay” Kanjanapungka of Kay Estate in Chiang Rai Province believes the government needs to offer foreign buyers the opportunity to own a house. I’m sure the government could figure out a scheme where a foreign buyer can own a home instead of a condo.

Many foreign owners are selling their condo units to buy homes in housing projects in Chiang Rai. Expat buyers are relocating to Chiang Rai with their Thai wives due to lower costs and greener spaces, Kay says.

Kay also said many foreign buyers raise concerns over having to buy a home through a Thai company. Allowing foreigners to own a small amount of land for a home would definitely help spur the economy in the north.

Maybe housing projects could also be subject to the 49% ownership rule, she said.

The right to own property (Land) in Thailand has always been a subject of concern for foreign expats. Many find the central government rule to limit foreign ownership only to condominiums extremely unfair.

Many expats say Thai people buy land in our countries but yet we cannot buy land in Thailand. Instead, we’re forced to create a Thai company to skirt the land ownership rules. Many expats find this process too cumbersome and walk away from buying a home.

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