I am married to a Thai citizen and I wish to purchase a property in Phuket. Do I need to be in Thailand before I can purchase that property?
This is usually what foreigners ask when they want to purchase property in Thailand. The answer to the question might not be favorable to foreigners. First of all, as a non-Thai national, you are not allowed to hold ownership of the land in Thailand. If you really want the property, you can have it by long-term lease. But you need to have a drafted and duly registered mortgage agreement or long-term lease agreement as your protection in acquiring a property in Thailand. At present, Thai law only allows you to lease the land for 30 years for residential purpose. More than that, it is unlikely to be granted an extension beyond 30 years.
However, you can validly hold ownership to condominium units provided that:
- the total foreign ownership of the entire condominium building must not go beyond 49%
- the funds used to purchase the property in Thailand must come from overseas transferred into local Thai Banks
- the land where condominium building lies is freehold
- the building is registered as condominium
You can still purchase the property in Phuket but the land will be named after to your wife and the structure will be named after you. In the case of land purchase, you need to appear at the Land Department office in person. You will be asked to sign a declaration certifying that the funds used for the purchase of the property came from the personal money of your wife before your marriage took place. Without this, the Land Department registrar will not record the transaction.
It is always best to seek for advice on local property lawyers in Phuket before making any transaction. This way you will be guided on how to protect your investment and be given advice on what are the best options for you given your situation.