You’ve tasted “life” in Thailand. You’ve basked on the beach, enjoyed fine dining at a rooftop restaurant, stared at a limitless mountain vista, and wondered, “Could I enjoy this lifestyle for years? Could I make this my reality? Could I… buy… a house or condominium in Thailand?”
Yes. You can.
There is something magical about the Kingdom of Thailand. People visit for a week and stay for a lifetime. It is intoxicating and always draws you back.
In 2020, Covid-19 changed how we travel. It’s difficult to just “get away” for a week anymore. Travelling requires some dedication and “long stay” vacations are becoming the norm. If you need more time, owning your own piece of Thailand makes sense.
Whether you seek stunning white beaches and islands; a bustling, metropolitan life in the capital; or an escape into the mountains to be one with nature. Thailand is here for you.
Returning year after year, many people ask these questions. Maybe you’ve asked this.
It is possible to create this reality. And we will show you how.
How does the property market look in 2022?
Although development markets slowed over the period of ‘20-21, there is renewed life in the dawn of 2022 for those looking to invest in property and lifestyle.
Though there are only a few new development projects starting construction right now, there are several projects that completed in the last 3 years available for a first-time purchase.
Thailand is a buyer’s market as companies look for foreign investment.
This is your market.
Thailand caters to many tastes. We will dive deep into other popular regions (Phuket, Pattaya, Bangkok) in later articles, but for now, will focus on two things:
- Purchasing a condominium (the simplest way to own property in Thailand).
- Purchasing in the beautiful northern region of Chiang Mai.
Why Are People Drawn To Chiang Mai?
Thailand’s rich history and culture are steeped in influences from neighboring countries.
Chiang Mai and its surrounding regions have blended Thai, Chinese, Burmese, and Laotian influences to create the ‘Flavour of the North’.
Encased by mountains, Chiang Mai was once the seat of power for La Na. Built around a central square known as Old Town, you can walk around its moated exterior and see preserved remnants of the old fortifications.
It offers a laid-back lifestyle and the sense of being one with nature. You can travel short distances to visit elephant sanctuaries, national parks, adventure sports, and heritage-rich buildings.
Markets and restaurants provide delicious cuisine with flavors you will find nowhere else and if you are a coffee connoisseur, most of the coffee is sourced from local mountain plantations.
So what property is available for you to buy?
Popular Types of Property to Purchase
Condominium – A condominium is defined as a building featuring privately owned property and common property. The owners of condominiums own the land through a Juristic person of condominium. (The Condominium Act – The Commonly Owned Housing Act of 2522).
In layman’s terms, a “condo” is a living space that is part of a larger complex. The owner holds legal title over the private residence and a joint interest in common areas of the property.
For foreigners wanting to set down roots in Thailand, a condominium is the easiest form of property to own.
The crucial question to ask yourself if you are entering the condo market is, “Do I buy existing, new, or off-the-plan?”
We will get into that.
House and Land – It is possible to own a house in Thailand, but the process is more involved. Under Thai law, a foreigner cannot own land. Any structure built is considered part of that land.
Don’t let this deter you. There are several ways you can build your home and own it. The three most common are:
- to lease the land for a period of up to 30 years as a person, Superficies, or Usufruct.
- to be married to a Thai National who can own the land.
- to form a Thai Limited company.
In each of these cases, you will not own the land that you build on, but you will own your house.
We will focus on this in another article, but if you are looking to have more space for the kids and pets, or want to build a home in a quieter area, it is possible, and the right legal help will make it simple.
Villa – Villas are classified as a house, so will fall under the same ownership and purchase laws.
The defining factor of a villa is its offer of ‘exclusivity’. It is often part of a gated community and has shared facilities with other owners (pools, restaurants, gyms, etc). A villa gives you the 24-7 feel of resort living.
As a buyer, you will enjoy these facilities and be part of a community.
There are a few more details to be aware of in the buying process and contract, like common area obligations and community rules. But again, the right legal advice will streamline this process, protect you, and help avoid any potential financial risks.
Why Buy a “Condo” (in Chiang Mai)?
Under Thai Law, a foreigner can purchase a condominium in their own name, a Thai Limited company, or Juristic entity. This allows you to hold a freehold/strata title over your property.
Benefits of owning a condominium over other property types:
- Foreign buyers can own the condominium in their own name;
- The condominium is issued with a title deed similar to a strata title;
- Owners may use the title deed as collateral in Thailand;
- Maintenance fees are lower compared to other countries;
- Can be a lot more affordable than houses with land;
- Easier to rent out because of its general size and location;
- Condo resale is faster and more straightforward compared to a land and house.
Important points to note:
- 49% of total condominium (including common areas) space is allocated for foreign ownership. It is a common misconception that it is 49% of units. This is not so.
As part of a legal service’s due diligence. They will check and confirm that your potential purchase meets this requirement. Knowing this early can save you time and money.
- Once you purchase a condominium, you become part of the governing body, allowed a vote at general meetings for management of the building.
If you are using the condo as a holiday home, a Juristic Manager, or Building Committee (voted in by stakeholders) can handle this responsibility.
- Every condominium requires payment of a CAM (Common Area Management) fee and “Sinking Fund” fee. CAM funds are used for maintenance and repair of common areas, payment of salary for juristic managers and staff, and ongoing fees required by Thai offices. The Sinking Fund is used for major repairs and emergency circumstances.
The CAM fee is determined by the m2 (sqm) of ownership and is paid monthly. It can change as voted by stakeholders at each General Meeting to meet current needs.
Example: CAM Fee 50 baht per sqm, per month, condo unit size 100 sqm, total yearly fee = 50 baht X 100 sqm = 5,000 baht per month X 12 months = 60,000 baht per year.
A property solicitor will confirm these fees are reasonable when they review your purchase contract.
- If you use your condominium for anything other than personal use, you are responsible for any income or property tax.
Under Thai law, an individual cannot earn income in the country under 2 types of visas. These types of visas are the retirement visa and non-marriage visa. This includes rental income. However, with other types of visa, you can generate income freely.
Chiang Mai is a diverse city that feels like a big old-school town.
Whether you seek an existing condo with an established management team and history, a new condo where you walk through the door as the first owner, or are willing to wait for the development of a new complex (off-plan purchase); you will find a condominium to suit your lifestyle, location choice, and budget.
We will look at different buying choices and locations further down.
The Buying and Legal Process
It doesn’t matter if you are a seasoned property investor or a first-time buyer, it pays to remember that this is not your home country.
Though many of the laws and processes are the same, you are setting down roots in a country with an unfamiliar language and culture. Don’t worry, there are professionals who can help.
Do your homework.
It pays to do research. Do you know the style of condo you want to buy? Do you have an area and budget in mind?
Your first place to hunt is the internet. With the click of a button, you can see what is on offer and get a feel for “your” condo.
Listed here are some popular real estate sites:
Siam Real Estate – Siam Real Estate has all the latest offerings.
FazWaz – FazWaz is a great resource for new and existing developments.
Once you have done this, it is time to enlist the help of a law firm in Chiang Mai.
Your Real Estate Agent
Reputation and “keeping face” are important in Thai culture. A trusted agent is your language and cultural liaison who is worth their weight in silver.
A knowledgeable agent will know both existing property opportunities and upcoming developments. They will have a diverse network across the city.
A reputable agent is working in the best interest of both you and the seller.
An efficient agent will save you time and money.
Once you have an idea of your soon-to-be Chiang Mai condo, your agent will get to work. They can look at what you have found, and with the right questions, eliminate properties or offer unlisted alternatives.
Your agent can negotiate viewings, and provide a history of buildings, developers, managers, and areas. They will translate with sellers to help negotiate prices and conditions of purchase.
Remember that a Real Estate Agent is not a Law Professional. They will help to find the perfect place for you, but you should never sign the dotted line until you seek advice from,
Your Property Lawyer (Conveyancer)
If you weigh your agent in silver, then your solicitor is worth gold. A trusted law firm will save you time, prevent frustration, and help you avoid potential financial loss or litigation.
These are the experts. A reputable firm will remain impartial through the law while protecting your interests.
What Does Your Solicitor Do?
During the buying process, they will:
- Investigate under due diligence. This involves researching the background and history of sellers, development companies, buildings, and potential legal complications with any of the above.
- Conduct Title Searches to confirm legitimacy. This includes confirming title details match registered Land Office records; that the seller legally owns the property and is entitled to sell; and that there are no existing mortgages, liens, debts, or legal proceedings held against the property.
- Review contracts (Purchase & Sales Agreement) to ensure all details are correct and fair for the seller and the buyer.
Unlike contracts in Western culture, which are dry, detailed, and list numbers, many contractual agreements in Thailand focus on the relationship between buyer and seller. Think of it as the “Gentleman’s Agreement” or “Handshake deal”.
Unfortunately, this means they may omit several important conditions or clauses. Your solicitor will translate and advise important conditions you should include to protect yourself.
- Reconcile transfer and payment of funds.
In any property transaction, the most important aspect is money. We will dissect this further, but your conveyancer will confirm what monies are due (including registration, default clauses, and fees); which party pays the money and fees; and how funds are to be paid (payment schedules).
Your solicitor will make sure that all payments and time-frames are fair for both parties and scrutinize any hidden or ongoing costs with you.
- Attend settlement and registration of title at the Land Office.
Your solicitor will give and receive all relevant documents at the time of settlement. They can then act as your liaison with the Thailand Land Office to register and file all documents, and pay the fees and taxes as per your contract.
- Help protect your assets.
A trusted Legal firm can help you look to the future.
What happens in the worst-case scenario of your passing?
We often create a will in our home country to ensure our estate in the event of death. Thailand does not recognize foreign wills, and they can be contested in Court.
Your legal firm can help draft a Will that is recognized in Thailand. Though it is not part of the buying process, it is an important aspect that is often overlooked when we think of protecting assets and providing for our spouses or dependents.
Where does the money go?
Your agent has found you the perfect condo and helped you negotiate a purchase price.
Your solicitor has conducted due diligence and found the property acceptable. What happens now?
First, be aware that as a foreign investor, you must present evidence that your purchase funds originate from outside Thailand.
All funds must be in foreign currency and show a clear paper trail of where the funds come from (withdrawal from the originating bank), the purpose of the funds (purchase of condominium), and proof of currency conversion in the recipient Thai Bank account (Foreign Exchange Form).
Your contract will list the amounts and time frames for all payments. This will include the deposit, the balance of purchase, applicable Government fees & taxes, as well as who is responsible for any payments.
A deposit is paid at the time of finalizing the contract. It is generally 10-15% of the purchase price but can be as high as 25%.
The balance of the purchase price is paid at the time of settlement unless otherwise specified in the payment schedule.
When purchasing off-plan in new developments, the payment schedule may differ with several payments made at certain stages of construction.
Government fees are paid at the time of registration with the Land Office. The fees depend on property value.
There are 3 types of value given to a property when calculating Government fees and taxes:
- Registered Value (Purchase price registered with the Land Office).
- Assessed Value (property value assessed by the Land Office).
- Market Value (often determined by real estate and current market trends).
Transfer fee: 2% of the registered value of the property
Stamp Duty: 0.5% of registered value. Only payable if exempt from business tax.
Withholding tax: 1% of the appraised value or registered sale value of the property (whichever is higher and if the seller is a company). If the seller is an individual, withholding tax is calculated at a progressive rate based on the appraisal value of the property.
Business tax*: 3.3% of the appraised value or registered sale value of the property (whichever is higher). This applies to both individuals and companies.
*This tax is payable if the property has been owned for less than 5 years as is often the case in new developments.
Where to Buy (in Chiang Mai)?
There are several new and recently finished developments in and around Chiang Mai. Listed below are some of the best areas to buy and what you will find in your neighborhood.
Nimmanhaemin is known for a buzzing nightlife and social atmosphere centered on its namesake, Nimmanhaemin Road.
Casual northern Thai eateries mingle with trendy cafes, bars, and live-music lounges. You can find boutique shopping in modern Think Park mall, One Nimman, and Maya Lifestyle Shopping Centre.
As you drive up the mountain to see Doi Suthep/Pui National Park and Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, you will pass Chiang Mai University (CMU), a bustling student market, and Chiang Mai Zoo.
Nimmanhaemin and Chang Phueak are the most popular development areas, with modern complexes offering state-of-the-art amenities.
Completed: November 2020.
Developer: Ornsirin Group
Price range: 2,200,000 – 5,100,000
This minimal art déco-style condominium complex is distinguished as beautiful and timeless.
The project brings classic charm to blend with art and comes with modern functional facilities to meet the lifestyle of urban residents. Its facilities include a swimming pool, gym, lush green garden, and a 24-hour CCTV security system.
Stylish Chiang Mai – Suthep
Completed: Dec 2014
Developer: Siam Real Estate
Price range: 3,000,000 – 10,800,000
Superior living amid Lanna culture. Elegant architectural blends with modernity. The interior design is based on the maximum use of the living area.
The project is decorated with high-quality furniture sets so residents feel at ease and offer an extensive range of facilities to fulfill the residents’ best moments, including the large outdoor swimming pool, gym, communal garden area, excellent security system, etc.
Palm Springs Nimman – Suthep
Completed: Feb 2018
Developer: Palm Springs Place Co., Ltd.
Price range: 3,000,000 – 4,500,000
A stylish condominium project in a prime location of Suthep allows you to spend your happy lifestyle moments with easy access to many destinations.
Surrounded by modern amenities, well-known shopping malls, educational institutions, hospitals, and lifestyle centers.
“Palm Springs Nimman” provides relaxing opportunities and a high level of privacy. Complete facilities include a saltwater pool, lush garden, gym, and 24-hour CCTV security.
Tha Thasala/Fa Ham
East is the gateway to the beautiful mountain regions of Mae Kham Pong, the umbrella market of Bo Sang and Doi Saket. It is an older area that offers a lot of culture with museums and local food.
It is also the current highlight area for new development projects behind the Central Festival Shopping center. There are two complexes being built with off-plan purchase opportunities.
The Spring Loft – Fa Ham (Under construction)
Completed: Completion Oct. 2022
Developer: NTS Property Co., Ltd
Price range: 2,500,000 – 6,000,000
A classic/modern colonial-style project. Lush, open-air gardens welcome residents throughout the year.
With different room layouts and size, the architect offers a variety of room design functions that residents can change in their style. The kitchen is an open design equipped with modern kitchen appliances.
Classic and airy. There are large windows for morning sunlight and beautiful garden views. In addition, the common areas include an outdoor pool, gym, jogging track, co-working space and 24-hour CCTV security.
The One Chiang Mai – San Sai Noi (Under construction)
Completed: Completion Dec. 2022
Developer: Maya Chiangmai Co., Ltd
Price range: 2,500,000 – 5,000,000
“The One Chiang Mai” is a condo project in San Sai Noi, and is scheduled for completion in Dec 2022. It has 760 units across 8 floors and is developed by Maya Chiangmai Co., Ltd.
Combining all living functions in one place, “The One Chiang Mai” is ready to provide full service with modern style and enhance your quality of life forever.
Decorated in a modern style and located in the tranquil suburbs surrounded by lush green nature to provide an atmosphere of tranquility, safety, and privacy.
The project comes with superior facilities, including a swimming pool, outdoor patio, car space, gym, playground, and 24-hour security.
Rooms are equipped with furniture*. They are decorated and provide a warm scent throughout the stay.
“The One Chiang Mai” nestles close to important places such as the Central Festival, Bangkok Hospital Chiang Mai, and Chiang Mai Airport, and is only 7 kilometers from Old Town.
* This is important when looking at buying off-plan. Not all developments are sold furnished. Many developments will offer a furnishing package and this could add up to 100,000 to your purchase price. It is prudent to discuss with your agent when negotiating and your solicitor when reviewing contracts.
The Nine Condominium – Tha Thasala
Completed: Dec. 2019
Developer: The Nine (Thailand) Co., Ltd
Price range: 3,700,000 – 8,800,000
A luxury residence positioned in a prosperous location and surrounded by many famous landmarks, such as Makro (Chiangmai), Warorot Market, Promenada Chiang Mai, MT Intermed Hospital, and various convenience stores and restaurants. The project is a short drive to Chiang Mai International Airport.
“The Nine Condominium” is equipped with facilities such as a swimming pool, a fitness center, parking, and 24-hour security system providing the best comfort.
Wat Ket/Chang Khlan
Green Tree Condo – Wat Ket (Under construction)
Completed: Completion Dec. 2022
Developer: Navasahatsawat Company
Price range: 1,700,000 – 4,500,000
A comfortable living environment to feel like home. Designed as the perfect living space to maximize every square inch of your room.
High ceilings, built-in furniture, and a complete set of electrical appliances emphasize a design to make your life easier. Home Automation allows you to control everything with a smartphone application.
It also includes a relaxation corner, lobby, infinity view swimming pool, fitness center, and gardens. All ready for you to relax with beautiful 360-degree views.
The Astra – Chang Khlan
Completed: Oct. 2017
Developer: Ornsirin Group
Price range: 2,800,000 – 10,000,000 (Penthouse – 18,500,000)
Embodying the concept ‘The Gem of the North’, this luxury condominium in Chiang Mai blends the charm of Lanna with modern contemporary design to reflect simple elegance.
Located south-east of Old Town, leading shopping centers, airport, educational institutes, and hospitals surround it.
Outstanding architecture elevates the living quality to meet all urban lifestyles, offering an infinity pool, spa & sauna, gym, meeting rooms, kiosk library, and 24-hour security.
Residents can enjoy a touch of relaxation as if they are in the resort.
Arise Condo at Mahidol – Pa Daet
Completed: March 2020
Developer: Ornsirin Group
Price range: 2,000,000 – 2,500,000
Luxury living to the south of Old Town in the Mahidol district.
Surrounded by a plethora of tourist sites such as Wiang Kum Kam, the Chiang Mai City Arts & Cultural Centre, and Central Airport shopping center. There are various markets, such as Mueang Chiang Mai Market, Sunday Night Market, and high-class restaurants to provide you with easy access to happy living.
“Arise Condo” offers a full suite of facilities, including pool, gym, clubhouse, parking, and 24-hour CCTV security.
Old Town/Si Phum
Completed: April 2020
Developer: CN Sure Co., Ltd
Price range: 2,300,000 – 5,900,000
A 5-star luxury condo inspired by colonial-style architecture blended with Lanna style. The project has a lovely, modern look and feel, and comes furnished.
In the heart of Chiang Mai, just north of Old Town, a full range of convenient amenities surround it; such as Chang Phuak Gate, Siri-wat Tana Market (Tha-Nin Market), Kad Suan Kaew Shopping Centre, Singapore International School Chiangmai, Chiang Mai Rajabhat University, and Chiangmai Ram Hospital. It nestles among trendy cafes and restaurants.
This location accommodates all lifestyles and offers a lobby, pool, parking, and 24-hour CCTV security. What sets this complex apart is its onsite rooftop restaurant and bar.
Glory Condominiums – Chang Phueak/Santitham
Completed: Dec. 2021
Developer: CN Sure Co., Ltd
Price range: 1,700,000 – 5,400,000
“Less is more. Simple but luxurious.” is the concept of this complex.
Ideal for modern life, decorated with fine furniture and appliances to support all living styles.
Providing full facilities such as a swimming pool, a fitness center, car parking, and a 24-hour security system, Glory Condominium is close to some of the best shopping, food, and nightlife offered in Chiang Mai, while putting you just outside that “tourist” vibe.
Land Department Offices (including address)
Though you will have a reliable conveyance lawyer to help with your purchase and registration, it’s good to know where your local Land Office is. Here is a list of the Chiang Mai offices and their contact details.
Address: ศูนย์ราชการ, Chotana Road, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50300
Hours: Mon-Fri 08:30 – 16:30
Phone: 053 112 983
Address: 276 หมู่ 4 Nong Chom, San Sai District, Chiang Mai 50210
Hours: Mon-Fri 08:30 – 16:30
Address: 164 M. 1, Chiangmai-Sanpasak Rd. No.118 rd., Chengdoi, Doi Saket, Chiang Mai 50220
Hours: Mon-Fri 08:00 – 16:30
Address: 242 Moo 4, Chiang Mai – Lamphun Road, Tambon Nong Phueng, Amphoe Saraphi, Chiang Mai, 50140
Hours: Mon-Fri 08:30 – 16:30
Address: Hot Road, Hang Dong, Hang Dong District, Chiang Mai 50230
Hours: Mon-Fri 08:30 – 16:30
Reputable legal advice is essential if you are thinking of purchasing your dream in Thailand. Versed in Thai law, a qualified property lawyer will advise and support you through the buying process, dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s.
Siam Legal is a registered legal firm with over 16 years of property conveyancing experience. Their team has offices in the key areas of Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pattaya and Phuket, and are well versed in their local areas.
You can contact the Siam Legal (Chiang Mai) office at:
Address: Curve Mall 2nd floor Room C219-C220, 215/2 Chang Klan Road, Mueang, Chiang Mai, 50100
Hours: 09:00 – 18:00