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Thailand increasingly popular with overseas investors

Thailand is an exciting location for second home buyers, but what are the options for foreign nationals, writes overseas property expert Simon Conn. 

With its cultural diversity, year round sunshine and beautiful beaches, it is easy to see why Thailand is becoming increasingly popular with overseas investors.  Visitors can enjoy all the benefits of being in an exotic location, but at a fraction of the price compared to Europe and other far flung resorts.

After the release of the film ‘The Beach’ based on Alex Garland’s bestselling novel, for many years Thailand has been seen as a backpacker’s haven and mass tourism has engulfed parts of the country.  However, many areas remain idyllic and the Thai government is working hard to promote sustainable tourism by marketing the lesser known islands to visitors.

The infrastructure of the country is constantly developing and there are now regular ferries and internal flights from the mainland to the islands.  The roads are also improving and highways are being built up the coast to make the neighbouring countries of Cambodia and Vietnam more accessible to tourists.

Hua Hin is Thailand’s oldest beach resort and still remains a popular choice for expats looking to relocate, due to its affordability of beach-front living and the friendliness of the locals.  New residential and retail developments are continuing to be built, along with golf courses, and there is now a sizeable community of expat Brits.  Property prices in Phuket, the country’s largest island, have dramatically increased in recent years with investors drawn to Phuket’s mix of lively resorts and tranquil beaches, but the island still offers good value for money.

Pattaya is one of Asia’s largest beach resorts and Thailand’s second most visited city, meaning it has a lot to offer overseas buyers.  More families are now starting to buy property here so they can benefit from the local culture, such as the historic temples and floating markets.

Foreign nationals cannot purchase landed property in Thailand and most property purchases are carried out on a 30 year renewable leasehold basis.  The leaseholder can then build, or make changes to a property on the land during the time of leases.  However, if you set up a private limited company with mixed Thai and foreign ownership you can buy the freehold title.  This is the most common method that land is purchased in Thailand and a method fully endorsed by the Thai authorities

Due to this mortgages are only currently available on freehold condos with a maximum loan to value of between 60%-70% dependant on the location up to 25 years, or until the age of 65.  There is a minimum loan amount of $65,000 (on a case by case basis) and a maximum of $1 million with interest rates from 6%.

Most developers will arrange the legal title of the property, so that foreigners are able to buy them, but it is worthwhile checking this before purchasing and, as always, seek independent legal advice during the buying process.

This article was first published here

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Details correct when this article was originally posted on April 15, 2014.