If you have ever thought of retirement in Thailand then you only need to look at where foreigners own property. Currently according to the Thai Land Department 30% of all land in Hua Hin and Pattaya belong to foreigners either in the name of a nominee or in the name of their Thai wife. The Auditor-General Sriracha Charoenpanit stated that at this rate property in the future will become very expensive for your average Thai citizen.
The Thai government has from time to time made an issue of nominee ownership. For those of you new to Thailand a few years back a Thai woman married to a foreigner could not own land in Thailand. That was changed but the issue from the Thai perspective is national security and not the property itself. Currently foreigners own more than 100 million Rai of land in Thailand. If we look at land measurement in Thailand we note that the ownership is more than 16 million hectares or 400 kilometers X 400 kilometers. This clearly is making the auditor-general uneasy – but something is wrong with the measurements. Lets see where the ownership occurs as nobody has stated as yet if this ‘land ownership’ includes floor space in a condo unit on the 5th floor of a building. That in my view would not be ‘land ownership’ in its true sense. My view is also confirmed by Wason Khongchantr, managing director of Modern Property Consultant who says that the numbers are impossible and views it has being less than 5% of actual land ownership. In my view the academic study done was flawed in that it clearly was not ‘land ownership’ as in actually owning the physical land below your feet.
Note that you can own 1 Rai of land in Thailand in your name IF you bring in at least US$1 million (30.7 million baht) into the country. Now that does not happen everyday in Thailand. The majority of property ownership according to the study in Thailand tends to near the coast with 90% of the land along Ban Phe beach in Rayong province has foreign owners. In Hua Hin and Pattaya, foreigners own about 30% of the land. Again it confirms that this is floor space being viewed as land which goes against what the study was trying to prove that 30% of Thailand is owned by foreigners.
Currently there are more than 20,000 nominee companies holding property for foreigners in Thailand but most of these tend to be for condo units and not land or house ownership. Since you as a foreigner can only own 49% of a building’s condo units certainly many of the other condo units are held by nominee companies. From time to time the government has said that it will investigate nominee companies but this is normally just before an Asian conference in Asia or during elections time.
Investment in Thailand has and always will be a good investment.