Legal bottlenecks for foreign homebuyers: 49 percent title restrictions
Unlike real estate investment in other parts of Southeast Asia, overseas people buying a home in Thailand face title restrictions. You can buy many apartments in a building, but you can't buy title to a building.
According to the Thai Condominium Act, foreigners may purchase a condominium in Thailand, provided that the total area of the condominium purchased by all foreigners does not exceed 49 percent of the total area of the condominium. Foreign nationals can own up to 49% of an apartment. Expatriates are required to provide proof of transferring the purchase funds from overseas to a domestic bank in Thailand and a certificate from the bank. Thus, foreign citizens wishing to acquire homeownership need to "co-invest" with Thai citizens.
However, due to the risks associated with this form of "partnership", the use of partnerships with Thai citizens to purchase homes is currently not common. More expats who go to Thailand to invest are opting to rent long-term equity and obtain the right to use their homes.
According to Thai government regulations, expatriates can rent Thai properties for 30 years. After the time limit, it is possible to go to the Thai land administration for a 30-year extension of the use period. During this period, the right to use the house is transferable.
In addition, expatriates can register a company in Thailand and achieve ownership of Thai property by registering the property in the company's name. However, registering a company in Thailand is also subject to the same 49% percent limit. According to Thailand's Land Law, Thai shareholdings in companies established by foreigners in Thailand are at least 51 percent, i.e. foreign nationals may not hold more than 49 percent.