Buying a Condo in Bangkok: Foreign Quota, Chanote, Freehold and Leasehold
If you want to own a condo in Bangkok, it is relatively easy to do so.
Firstly, find a good real estate agent (realtor) and work with him or her to look for a few options which might suit your requirements. Or, if you want to buy a new condo, and you find a block you like, it may be possible to speak directly with the developer.
Let’s assume for now that you are going to buy a second-hand condo in Bangkok. What are some of the key things to know and look out for?
- Thai law permits a foreigner to own 100% of the condo he/she purchases. That is, you can own your condo outright and in perpetuity. Often this is called a “freehold interest”.
Unless, of course, you are only buying a condo which is offering a 30-year leasehold interest. Buying a 30-year lease is not usual but also not uncommon. Some land, especially around Ratchadamri Road in central Bangkok, for example, is still owned by the Crown and only leasehold condos are for sale.
- Even though you can own a freehold interest in a condo in Bangkok, only 49% of the total saleable floor area of a condo building can be owned by foreigners. For example, in a building with 10,000m2 of saleable space, only 4,900m2 of floor space can be owned by foreigners. This is called the “foreign quota”.
Sometimes the more popular condo blocks have “full” foreign quotas (ie 49% of the saleable floor space is already owned by foreigners). In such case, either you will need to buy a condo unit from a foreign seller or wait until there is availability in the quota some other way. This can happen when a Thai person buys a condo from a foreigner and the % of foreign ownership in the building therefore reduces.
Having said this, in most condo blocks, this issue should not arise. However, you will need a letter/notice from the legal entity which owns the common areas of the building (called the “Juristic person”) to confirm the percentage of the foreign quota. This document has to be shown to the Land Office when the title to the condo units is being transferred.
- Once you have found a condo you like, get a copy of the title deed, usually called the “chanote”. The current registered owner’s name will be shown on the back. You will need a Thai friend (or your legal adviser) to look at the title deed and check the floor area (shown on the front) and that the address is correct. You also need to check that there is no registered encumbrance such as mortgage or lien shown on the back of the title deed.
Many foreigners choose not to engage a legal adviser when buying a condo in Bangkok as the process is quite straightforward. However, it is prudent to do so.