11 July 2024

Chinese, Russian and Myanmar nationals are the three top foreign buyers of condominium units in Thailand, acquiring 14,500 units worth about 73 billion baht last year, according to Interior Minister Anutin Charnvirakul.

In 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, the three nationalities bought a combined 13,000 units, worth about 57 billion baht, but the purchases dropped to 8,000 units during the pandemic in 2020 and picked up to 11,500 units in post-COVID 2022.

Anutin noted that the trend shows an increasing foreign demand for condominium units, especially in Phuket, which are fully occupied, prompting some new condo owners to switch to leasehold contracts of up to 30 years.

Wichai Virattakaphan, inspector of the Government Housing Bank, said that property ownership is divided into land ownership and condominium unit ownership.

He said foreigners can own land and a house in Thailand, but only through a legal entity in which they have a maximum 49% holding. Meanwhile, they can own outright up to 49% of the units in a condo development.

He disclosed that the idea to allow foreigners to own more than 49% of the units in a condo project came up during the government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, but it met with stiff resistance and the idea was dropped.

Another idea, to allow foreigners to own 0.16 hectares (one rai) of land, on the condition that they invest over 40 million baht (over a million US dollars) in the country was also dropped, on the grounds that the investment is too small.