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  1. #1
    Member สมาชิก Essex boys's Avatar
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    Default Buying a condo/ studio, what are the pitfalls

    Hi all, I'm looking at retiring to Thailand in approx 4years, the plan is to build a house on the gf land, I have been looking a thing condos, and the prices seem affordable, can I as a foreigner own a condo? And what are the pitfalls/ things to watch out for
    many thanks
    essex boys

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    Rent first - see if you like living in Thailand.
    aka Spud / aka MF

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    Forum Dinosaur ไดโนเสาร์ Flip's Avatar
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    There are others who have actually bought condos who can advise you better but having looked at it before I bought my house, I'll tell you what I learned. When I say 'bought my house' - of course my name is not on the deeds but I've tied it up tighter than a tight thing (as Mr Blackadder would say) so I'm quite happy about my 'ownership' - however, I'm not married and there are no females involved .

    I'm a little confused as you seem to be saying you're planning to build a house on your gf's land but you are looking at condos. I'm guessing that what you actually mean is the you are looking at buying a condo as an alternative to building a house? I'll carry on but could you clarify that please?

    Buying a condo can give you a layer of protection as providing the building has a foreign ownership quota and the one you want is part of that quota, you can legally own it. On such buildings the foreign ownership quota is 49% - i.e. if there are 100 condos in the development 49 can be owned buy a foreigner but the remaining 51 must be owned by Thai citizens or Thai companies. There are also certain regulations you must adhere to when you buy it - like the method used for transferring the funds to buy it.

    In my opinion, the biggest thing you have to be mindful of is the quality and standards of the management company. You will pay a service fee each month that goes towards the maintenance of the building and pays for services like security guards and swimming pools etc. The more facilities, the higher the cost. Unfortunately there are some developers who fail to maintain their buildings very well and before long, even a 5 to 10 year old building can start to look very drab - remember, that's your investment and poor maintenance will affect you resale value should you come to sell it later. The developer should provide a plan that states how the fees will be spent - how often the building will be repainted etc. Choose a condo that's run by a reputable developer and visit other developments they run to see how they perform.

    Another thing to watch is the price the management company charge for water and electricty. In most developments you don't pay your utility bills to the electric and water companies - you pay the management company. It is normal for the management company to add a bit on to those bills but watch it, some of them should wear masks and carry guns. Electricity prices in Thailand are cuurently around 3.5 baht per unit but I've heard of some developers charging as much as 12 baht - a massive difference.

    A condo will in most cases, limit your choice of locations to the main tourist areas - e.g. Bangkok & Pattaya but there are some in other areas.

    If you decide to build a house on your girlfriend's land and want to protect your investment from any possible future relationship problems I would recommend that you marry her first and don't spend a penny until you do. If the land you are going to build on is in fact, owned by the family, get the area you are going to build on transferred to your wife (then) after you are married but before you spend a penny.

    Then, document any expenditure you make, pay for things using a banking method (card or tranfer) and keep receipts. There are ways in which you can protect your investment - its simply not true that you lose everything if you break up but a lot depends on how the land office in the area you build in interpret the law.

    Its complicated but I'll try to give you a condensed explanation of why you should marry and do all the land transfers, payments etc. after you are married.

    Relationships can go wrong (boy do I know it ) - we don't think about it so much here because by and large, any investments you make during a marriage are protected by the law.

    In Thailand the law is different. If you are not married you have a big problem and it is very difficult for you to get any of your investment back should things go wrong. In the event of a divorce in Thailand any assets that are obtained after marriage are classed as being in joint ownership and although you can't own land, you could force your wife to either sell the house or pay you the equivalent. It get's a lot more complicated if the land is not in her sole ownership.

    Any assets you hold before the marriage do not count as assets of the marriage and are therefore protected but.......during the marriage registration you should be asked if you want to list the assets you already own in the marriage contract. You'd need to ask a solicitor on this but as far as I know, that only refers to assets held in Thailand - you may for example, own a car there by then. Its much better to list your assets at that point (if you have any) - that saves any arguing later.

    So basically, anything you obtain after marriage belongs to you both and anything either of you owned before the marriage is your own.

    You can also, legally place a mortgage over the land depending on whether or not the local land office accepts foreign mortgages. So for example, you could open a bank account in your wifes name and then, lets say the build costs are going to be 2 million baht, transfer that amount (preferably as and when needed) in to it. You then grant your wife a mortgage of 2 million baht which is registered at the land office with you as beneficiary. She cannot then, sell the land without repaying the mortgage or if you should you subsequently break up, you can call the mortgage in. In the break up situation though, you would only get 50%. With a good solicitor you can actually take the mortgage out prior to marriage and potentially get it all back but the solicitor must know his onions on that one and not many Thai solicitors are fully aware of this.

    Sorry to bang on about protecting your assets - its something you don't have to think of too much in the UK because the law protects you. It can protect you in Thailand too if you do things properly.

    If you decide to take the easier route and buy a condo, buy it before you get married and it will always be yours.

    Please don't think "it won't happen to me" - it could. Also, you would not believe how many Thai wives use the house their husband paid for as collateral for a loan without their husband knowing. They do it with cars too!!!

    Finally, despite the cost, whichever route you take - use a solicitor! And yes, that is the condensed version .
    Last edited by Flip; 4th Apr 2018 at 23:19.

  4. #4

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    Also consider noise, what the restrictions are (pets etc) and how often the fee generally increases.


    Have you considered a container home? You own it 100% and can always move it to a different location.


    Personally I think Manfarang's idea is the most sensible.
    Last edited by marshall; 4th Apr 2018 at 23:45.
    The clock on the wall reads a quarter past midnight

  5. #5
    Forum Dinosaur ไดโนเสาร์ caller's Avatar
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    I agree about renting first and somewhere near where the gf's house is, assuming it's not in a village?

    If you build on land owned by the girlfriend / family and it is in a village and something does happen to the relationship, I think life could be very awkward for you.

    As for buying a house on a development, find one where the developer has an agreement that when all sold, the running of the development is handed over to the residents. That's the case where I am (I didn't buy new) and water and electricity are changed at cost although there is still a maintenance fee of 2260 baht per month for the upkeep of the pool, club house, small gym, lighting, rubbish collection (by the tessabhan) gardening, security, improvements and so on. There is an elected committee to run the place plus a site manager and an accountant to do the daily chores and it is very well run and maintained. It helps preserve the value of the property as well.
    'Tis me

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    Premium Member sisaket's Avatar
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    I bought my place 8 years ago (but signed up earlier), have to make sure the Condo complex complies with foreign ownership, and generally foreign ownership are in the metropolitan areas IE mine is in BMA, as mentioned above if your married to a Thai citizen you do have certain protections under Thai law, you can in fact have a will (both husband and wife) drawn up at government offices if you own a Condo, this will be written by them IE to protect you if something unfortunate was to happen to your spouse this indicates you paid for the Condo (if you did) and the money to fund the Condo came from abroad (outside TH), the title must be registered at a land office and this can be in your own name, I already had a (yellow) house book im not sure how that fits in with buying a Condo, if it indeed does or does not, however I changed my address from Si Sa Ket to Bangkok after the getting the documents from the land office. I pay for water per month, I paid 90 baht for last months bill on Monday at the Condos office, electricity you can pay be direct debit they send a bill before it s collected to make sure funds will be available, I delegated this mission to Mrs and this week shes just topped up the account with a few thousand baht (good lass)depending on circumstances can be up to 650/700 baht a month if im on my own or both of us runs 800/1000 baht, Yes there are fees to pay as stated above, gyms, pool, building insurance,security, rubbish collection IE our communal floor bin gets emptied 4/5 times per day every day, cleaning the building floors etc, can be paid monthly but I like to pay and finish it each January, their also collecting an extra fee as they want to paint the building IE they have finished two and made a good job had dopes on ropes (were well trained, just some offshore terminology) prepping then painting although let down by management / inspectors with their clipboards examining the work on the edge of the roof where upon falling eight floors on to a car park with no type of PPE would result in severe death. Other considerations would be internet up to last year was a coupon system 300 baht a month for two devises but the system kept failing and were asked to stop their service after too many complaints (I used to go reset the system for the building) so now have to have your own I use 3BB. You cannot use gas here for cooking only electricity and have a parking space for each Condo but with a parking permit free to each Condo , I used my sister in laws pick up, parked it did nt use the permit (doh) and was clamped.As above NOT allowed pets, must be considered if you want animals, finally each Condo has a mail box on the ground floor near the lifts and if items cannot fit inside they leave a receipt for collection at the office. If your serious about buying a Condo do your homework IE check out the construction company, the law, rules regulations etc, ask friends who have been through the process, consult an English speaking lawyer if unsure about any aspect, then re-check, re-check, re-check, we have doubt warning systems in our heads, as with everything a Condo or building a house etc, act upon the doubts and satisfy yourself.
    Which ever way you proceed I wish you the best of luck, for me personally im glad and very humbled to be able to spend so much time in TH and Asia, there is not a day that goes by I dont thank my lucky stars.
    bangkok mags

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    Member สมาชิก Essex boys's Avatar
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    Hi gents, thank you all very much for your time and effort in writing your replys it is much appreciated. To reply to flip. Sorry flip, my initial post wasn't very clear, I will be building a house on the gf's land when I retire, I just wanted to look at buying a condo now for me, the reason for this is I'm always wary of sinking a few million baht into a house build only to find that once it's built and paid for, the Thai woman could say 'thanks for building the house now it's goodbye '. My thinking is, if I own a condo at the very least if things go wrong I have a property I own that I can live in, I'm looking at buying in Chang mai. My gf has a very good job in the ministry of education, she has her own house and she has a good salary she earns about 31,000 baht per month and she has 1.3 million baht in savings ( I know this because we have just done her first visit visa application) she has never asked me for money for anything, and she has a good circle of friends, her family, with the exception of her father are leeches,so I don't have a great deal to do with them, I'm polite, but keep them at a distance.. we are planning on marrying next year, maybe the year after, so I wanted to buy a condo before we marry so that it is mine. The way I look at it is if I have a condo, I can rent it to some of my work mates that want a holiday in Thailand and get a bit of revenue off it, when I build the house and I'm happy that I'm safe from being told 'good bye ' I can sell it and maybe get my money back or even make a profit.
    many thanks for your replys gents and it makes interesting reading.
    essex boys

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by caller View Post
    That's the case where I am (I didn't buy new)
    Sounds like a nice set up. If you don't mind me asking, and I think others would be interested, how did you find the house you are in now. Was it advertised, or was it from personal connection? Is the development mainly populated by falangs?
    aka Spud / aka MF

  9. #9
    Forum Dinosaur ไดโนเสาร์ Flip's Avatar
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    On tha face of it, it sounds like you have your head screwed on. Despite all my rattlings about how to protect yourself, there is always that old saying.....never invest more in Thailand than you can afford to lose. If you're happy with your situation then that's fine. Buying a condo first could be a good idea but as MF said you could also rent. Remember, property doesn't sell like it does in the UK - you may not get your investment back and it could take quite a while to sell. Take a look at some of the websites where farangs sell property - bahtsold.com or similar - notice the amount of ads stating urgent sale or where they have made major reductions to the sale price.

    However, I would pay attention to what Caller said - life could become very difficult for you if you build a house on your gf's land and later break up. But more than that, it could be very difficult for you in any case. My ex was paining me to build a house on land owned by her family (I never did and didn't intend to). Thai's are very different to us. If the land also contains houses of other family members, you have to decide whether or not you can cope with family walking in and out whenever they choose - very normal for Thai's but not usual for us. You could also find that things you would normally consider your property become 'communal'.

    Personally, if I was in that situation again, I would want to be a long way from any other family members.

  10. #10
    Forum Dinosaur ไดโนเสาร์ caller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by manfarang View Post
    Sounds like a nice set up. If you don't mind me asking, and I think others would be interested, how did you find the house you are in now. Was it advertised, or was it from personal connection? Is the development mainly populated by falangs?
    A bit of both really. I have known a few folk in Hua Hin for many years. I made appointments through various agencies and with one I knew personally, who first showed me property here in 2007. He knew what I was after, which was to be out of the centre, but near enough to facilities, so I kind of let him choose some places for me, plus ones I had seen advertised on his site, thus we went all the way north to Cha am and south to Pranburi. I am actually in a very peaceful area off of soi112 about 15 minutes drive max SW of Hua Hin town and 10 minutes to the nearest beach, which suits me fine.

    The other agencies in reality had only a few of the properties they were advertising and claimed to be available, I felt conned a little bit.

    So I ended up with a house on the resort I now live where he was the sole agent. There were two, both owned by the same couple who had split up. Which caused a slight delay, as no-one seemed aware that they were joint owners and the then believed sole owner was in Spain! They were going to send all the docs to her there, but she said she would fly to Thailand and did so, but went to Ko Samui!!!! Folk can be strange like that!

    There are a mix of Thais and farangs living here, I guess about 50/50 and that is reflected on the committee and all emails with minutes of meetings, which are in English and Thai.

    There are very strict rules here, no building work at weekends and no disruptive noise on Sunday, party lets are not allowed and in one instance where an absentee L/L was letting his house for 1 or 2 nights at a time, which is illegal, even though no disruption, the resort wrote to him and he was informed that for any future such lets (after they came to light), that security would be instructed to not allow who he has rented to onto the resort. One resident (Russian) was letting his dogs loose who would poop on the grass area around the pool and he ignored warnings about this and we were then all informed that the tourist police had been called to warn him about breaching the by-laws and that sorted that problem! Serious debtors are named and shamed by house number and in one case last year had their electricity and water cut off! There were three in total and there are none now.

    There are a few properties on the same resort for sale or rent, but I have never seen any of them advertised anywhere, I guess they must be, but certainly not on the local Hua Hin fb pages and so on. But they all have adverts on their gates.
    'Tis me

  11. #11

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    It's interesting how a lot of Thai properties are advertised. Quite often by a phone number on card in a window.

    I do like Hua Hin. We always do a few days there on holidays staying at the Centara, undoubtedly the best location in Hua Hin.. But with the kids getting older we would need 2 rooms there now and that gets really expensive.

    “We” do have a house on the outskirts of Bangkok, next to the in-laws, who take care of the house, but it's all about location. When the kids where small they loved it. Out on the street when it got light and only came back when hungry, thirsty, or the ice cream guy came.

    A few days there is OK. But now we all get bored there pretty quickly. There is lots going on but it's all a car journey away. I like being in a central spot and just walking to where I want to go – pool, beach and 7/11.

    I'm considering buying a condo in a tourist type location. Jomtien would be an obvious place as it's easy to get too and lots going on around the area. Will be renting a very nice beach front condo there for a week of our holidays this year. I'll keep an eye open for the local ads! It's nice to have your own place in Los but personally, I'm not ready or able to live there permanently.
    aka Spud / aka MF

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    Forum Dinosaur ไดโนเสาร์ Flip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by caller View Post
    As for buying a house on a development, find one where the developer has an agreement that when all sold, the running of the development is handed over to the residents.
    That sounds much more preferable than the original developer running the show or even a management company. I've seen similar schemes in other countries and there are some in the UK - these usually own the freehold of the land and building shell. Do the residents form a company that owns the land then?

  13. #13
    Member สมาชิก Essex boys's Avatar
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    Once again gents thanks for the input, it makes interesting reading, other people's experiences are very helpful to those of us considering buying a condo, so many thanks for your input. To Flip, the gf owns a house that her father lives in, her mother died 2 years ago, and she doesn't want to move her father out to sell the house ( the house she currently lives in is rented for her by the government because she is an employee, they pay the rent she pays the bills etc, this house is in Nam phong,her house is in Khon kaen) she did suggest that we could knock the house down and rebuild a new house, as it's a sizeable plot of land, I said no way, as her family live next door on either side, and, as you rightly said, the family will just use our new built house as their own.. I would like to think I have my head screwed on, my first marriage broke down, in the 80's and it cost me a fortune, I was a young man, just left from my service in the Royal Navy ( served 1978 to 1984) and my wife and her dad ripped me off financially, so I learned from that expensive lesson. The current gf seems a good un, apart from her savings and good job, she has 8 rai of land that the government want to buy as they are building a railway that will cut through her land, this will include a rail station, and rumour has it that a new hospital will be built as well, they have offered her 2 million baht per rai, she is currently sorting this out with a solicitor but she is holding out for more money......so I think I have a good catch, we both love each other and in four years when I retire we hope to enjoy a nice house and more time with each other. But as I said, the condo is for me to buy now, as a back up plan should things take a nosedive.
    sorry for rambling on, but I'm just trying to put you in the picture regarding my circumstances.
    essexboys

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    For a foreigner a Foreign Freehold Condo is the best option. You can register it in your name, you can sell it on to a foreigner (or Thai), you can will it on.

    Leaseholds are safe, but only for 30 years and almost unsaleable later.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Essex boys View Post
    Once again gents thanks for the input, it makes interesting reading, other people's experiences are very helpful to those of us considering buying a condo, so many thanks for your input. To Flip, the gf owns a house that her father lives in, her mother died 2 years ago, and she doesn't want to move her father out to sell the house ( the house she currently lives in is rented for her by the government because she is an employee, they pay the rent she pays the bills etc, this house is in Nam phong,her house is in Khon kaen) she did suggest that we could knock the house down and rebuild a new house, as it's a sizeable plot of land, I said no way, as her family live next door on either side, and, as you rightly said, the family will just use our new built house as their own.. I would like to think I have my head screwed on, my first marriage broke down, in the 80's and it cost me a fortune, I was a young man, just left from my service in the Royal Navy ( served 1978 to 1984) and my wife and her dad ripped me off financially, so I learned from that expensive lesson. The current gf seems a good un, apart from her savings and good job, she has 8 rai of land that the government want to buy as they are building a railway that will cut through her land, this will include a rail station, and rumour has it that a new hospital will be built as well, they have offered her 2 million baht per rai, she is currently sorting this out with a solicitor but she is holding out for more money......so I think I have a good catch, we both love each other and in four years when I retire we hope to enjoy a nice house and more time with each other. But as I said, the condo is for me to buy now, as a back up plan should things take a nosedive.
    sorry for rambling on, but I'm just trying to put you in the picture regarding my circumstances.
    essexboys
    Stating the obvious but am guessing it may not be mentioned for fear of upsetting someone but ensure anything you do is legally tied up nicely in your favour which you have implied you'll do anyway.
    With a minimum of 16 million baht to her name (less taxes I guess) your GF becomes a quality catch by anyones standards let alone another Thai.
    Protect and then protect again we never know whats around the corner sadly

    I didnt learn the hard way I had the good fortune of someone saying just that 22 years ago

  16. #16
    Furniture เฟอร์นิเจอร์
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    Good replies from everyone. For those considering buying condos in Pattaya beware there are some 49/51 buildings with 60% foreign ownership. I heard of someone paying 30,000 baht to have the condo he bought in the 49%.
    Also I remember someone also saying never be worth more dead than alive in Thailand lol.

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    Forum Dinosaur ไดโนเสาร์ caller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flip View Post
    That sounds much more preferable than the original developer running the show or even a management company. I've seen similar schemes in other countries and there are some in the UK - these usually own the freehold of the land and building shell. Do the residents form a company that owns the land then?
    Ah Flip, I would have to dig out the papers to answer that. We have a company juristic office, juristic accounts and so on. My other half owns the land, so I'm not sure where the developer fits in now? I wondered if he still owns the common areas, as there was talk at a previous meeting about buying a small plot of land from him - the resort 'company' (layman's terms) has significant reserves. The developer is Thai and is currently building his 5th development in the area (I believe). Ours was the first and the only one where once you had bought a plot, you could move the planned site of the house and make alterations at minimal cost as long as they fitted under the planned roof layout, unless you wanted to really splash out, thus it doesn't have such a uniform layout usually seen on developments at this price point.
    'Tis me

  18. #18
    Forum Dinosaur ไดโนเสาร์ Flip's Avatar
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    Well, whatever, it beats the hell out of taking a chance on getting a good management company or a bad one. You're in control, that's got to be a good thing.

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    I would say:

    1. Buy an already built Foreign Freehold Condo
    2. Have a chat to some of the residents and ask what the management of the block is like.
    3. Go and see the Juristic officer and see if they seem reasonable.
    4. Have a look around the building and see how well it is maintained, service records of lifts, fire systems that kind of thing.
    5. If you decide on a Leasehold remember you get 30 years from the start of the lease, it cannot be cancelled and then restated again at 30 years and any renewal clauses are probably unenforceable in Law.

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    Some interesting replies to this thread. My original plan was to rent a condo for a year, then look to buy. I moved to a nice new complex in Jomtien and the first few months were great. Then the apartment next door started to become a problem. It had be bought as an investment and was being let out short term to Russians. It became unbearable, and after only 7 months I decided to lose my deposit and move. I've rented a nice apartment in Pratumnak for the past 2 years for 10.000 baht a month. That experience with the noisy neighbours is one of the reasons I decided I won't buy in Thailand. Also I tried to work out the cost of buy compared to rent. I pay 120.000 a year. Take off the 20.000 yearly common fee. So the apartment to buy was 1.9 million. So it doesn't take a lot to work out that it will be 19 years before I break even. That's not including the interest I get on leaving the money in the bank and obviously there will be repairs and replacements to consider. Plus the big factor, I can move at anytime Remember it's a renters market and if you go for a 12 month contract you can get a really good deal. In 19 years time I'll be pushing 80!!

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