5 Mistakes to Avoid When Purchasing a Property in Thailand
Buying property in Thailand (or anywhere for that matter) can be a minefield, especially if it’s your first time. Most of us do learn from our mistakes, but as these can be costly, let’s avoid making them by learning from other people’s’. I have laid out below the top 5 mistakes people make when buying property to help you avoid those nasty pitfalls.
1. No Title Search
What is a title search?
A comprehensive examination which traces the land back to its first ownership and is recorded at the land department.
What will it tell me?
● If seller has clear and legal title to the land.
● Any mortgages, leases, creditor right of ownership (lien), or other charges on the property.
● Area zoning, environmental and planning codes.
Why is this important?
Clear and Legal Title – You wouldn’t buy a bike or car without the necessary ownership paperwork, so definitely don’t do it with property. Before placing any kind of deposit or signing any agreement verify that the seller has clear and legal title of the land. Take heed from the work of notorious early 20th century con man Victor Lustig, infamously known as ‘the man who sold the Eiffel Tower twice.’ You may well laugh and say that wouldn’t happen to me, but that’s exactly what you’re opening yourself up to if you don’t do a title search.
Mortgages, Liens, Encumbrances – a purchaser’s right to use the land can be affected by these. It is important to note that a contract to lease property or land is not terminated by transfer of ownership.
Zoning, Environmental and Planning Codes – When purchasing land it is extremely important to verify the areas zoning, environmental and planning codes, especially in beach front areas, which often have height restrictions. Worst case scenario you could be left with land for which you have no purpose due to restrictions, but let’s face it even just having to compromise on your dream home design can be devastating and costly.
2. Buying Without a Lawyer
Although it is possible to buy a property in Thailand without the assistance of a lawyer, don’t do it.
Why do I need a lawyer?
- You’re buying in a foreign country with a different language, legal system and culture.
- Thai contracts are very different from Western contracts.
- They can walk you through the process and ensure you understand it fully.
- To safeguard your investment.
- Whatever knowledge and experience you think you have, a legal expert has more.
- A competent person to hold your hand through the legal process means less anxiety and sleepless nights.
What should I think about when hiring a lawyer?
- You need a Thai lawyer, as lawyers from your country of origin will most likely not know the Thai legal system.
- Go with a reputable company and do your due diligence.
- Legal websites are not a replacement for a lawyer.
3. Buying Without an Estate Agent
What are the benefits of using an estate agent?
- They will liaise with the seller to get you a fair price and look out for your best interests throughout.
- They can communicate in Thai.
- In depth knowledge of the geographical area and property market, as well as having experience of real estate transactions in the local area.
- They can sift through properties to find ones that best match your requirements and know the developments to avoid.
- It is in the interest of their reputation to have satisfied clients, so a good estate agent will work hard to do so.
As always do your due diligence and choose a reputable agent with good recommendations such as us at Phuket Condo. Contact us and find out more about how we can help you with your property purchase.
4. Buying In a Mismanaged Project
There has been a huge rise in the number of property developers in certain areas of Thailand recently, which has added to the diverse nature of development companies available.
What can lead to mismanagement of a property?
- Lack of knowledge, expertise and awareness of the local market.
- Taking on developments beyond the companies capabilities, for example manpower issues.
- Insufficient financial backing.
How can this affect me as the buyer?
When investing in property you are looking for a timely return on your investment, as well as a sustainable one. Mismanaged developments can lead to:
- Delays in completion or even non-completion.
- Issues which affect design and the overall aesthetics of the final development.
- Use of inadequate building materials.
- Issues which arise after completion, such as design faults or broken fixtures and fittings.
Which developer should I choose?
Well ultimately that is your decision and guess what I advise, that’s right, you should carry out due diligence on any developer you are interested, by looking at their previous projects and financial standing.
What are the pros and cons of choosing a larger more established development company?
- Many are publicly listed which means that they can turn to investors for capital, have more credibility and their transactions are more transparent.
- They have the knowledge, means and experience to ensure timely completion of developments.
- Less commercial risks.
- Their prices tend to be fixed and nonnegotiable.
- There is generally less flexibility.
- Advice on design changes to the plan are not advised upon by some.
What are the pros and cons of choosing a new, smaller development company?
- More appealing prices.
- More flexibility in catering to individual needs.
- A riskier endeavor.
As I said at the beginning of this segment the choice is ultimately yours and it is what you feel comfortable with which matters. Remember this is an area where the expertise of an estate agent can come in handy, as they will probably have knowledge of developers active in their area.
5. Choosing On The Basis Of Price
We want to know we’re getting a good deal, but when assessing price there are a great many variables.
What can I do to assess whether I am getting value for money?
- Researching properties in the surrounding area can give you a good perspective.
- As with many foreign countries, you can look at tax receipts for a certain area, but as Thailand is still developing in this capacity you will still see big inconsistencies between government measured value and the prices truly paid for property.
- Do a title search.
- Secure the services a reputable lawyer.
- Obtain the services of an estate agent with a good track record.
- Choose the right developer by completing due diligence.
- Research market values.