What to Think About When Buying a Condo in Bangkok
Thailand, the land of smiles, is one of the most sought-after places for both tourism and living. The incredible islands, beaches and the scenic mountains lure people to spend the rest of their life here. More and more expats are coming here for permanent settlement and they are attracted by the good food, friendly people and exciting nightlife. It’s not a surprise that according to HSBC survey for 2013, Thailand is the most preferred country for living among the expats.
Many come here to spend their golden years in happiness and peace. Companies send their employees for work or training purposes and rent apartments or condos depending on what their budget is. Thailand is thus an exciting place that attracts people all year through. Now if you are a person who has been coming to Thailand on and off either for pleasure or for business, then you can think of buying a condo and settling down.
The cost of living in Thailand is considerably lower than in Western countries. For example, you can get a bowl of rice noodles for as low as 80 cents in Bangkok. The apartments are also cheaper, compared to the other cities in South-East Asia like Singapore, Hong Kong or Jakarta. However the increasing amount of tourists every year (Bangkok was the top tourist destination in the World for 2013 with almost 16 million visitors), leads to huge demands for rentals, which in turn contribute to higher monthly rents. In those lines the real estate market in Bangkok has the perfect conditions for a profitable investment in rental properties.
Why the Condos are so popular in Bangkok
The popularity of condos became more pronounced during the 2006-2009 period. True, there was a slump in real estate in 2008, but things started picking up soon after that. Plenty of new units were built, especially in the Sukhumvit and Rama III areas. Bangkok and the industrialized areas of Pattaya-Chonburi-Metropolitan are extremely popular for condos. Properties can be bought at a cheaper rate if you are looking in Ratchada, On Nut and Thonburi area. These properties are located within 200 meters of BTS and MRT station.
In a typical Thai condo, you would see a very large building with all the modern facilities needed for comfortable living. It could be a single huge unit or there could be other units attached to it. Condos have all the facilities needed for comfortable living. They have Jacuzzis, saunas, car parking, tennis courts, swimming pools, golf courts, gym and squash rooms. Stays at the condos have another advantage. The utility bills are considerably cheaper.
Investing in Bangkok condominium would turn out to be an interesting investment for expats. The law mandates that you can buy one or more than one condo in Bangkok and anywhere in the country. However, according to the 1979 Thailand Condominium Act, you must know that foreigners cannot have more than 49% share of any single condo building. The rest, 51% should be either empty or owned by local Thais.
A short guide to buying a condo in Thailand
A condominium is a form of ownership based on the same principles such as strata title, or as it is called in the UK: common hold. A condominium is a development that has been registered under the condominium Act.B.E 1979 (amendments 2008). The condominium act states that there is individual ownership of units and joint ownership of the common areas.
Any foreigner can buy and own properties in Thailand such condominium or building however he can not have a land on his name. There are no restrictions on nationality and no visa-class requirements. However, to quality for condo ownership, you must prove yourself to be eligible under section 19 of Condonium Act.
You must have a bank account in Thailand because you need to transfer funds from your country to your account in Thailand. If you are a resident of Thailand, then things would be much simpler.
You need to get a Foreign Exchange Transaction Form (FEFT) or a Confirmation Letter of International Funds Transfer to buy condo in Thailand. You need to present this document to the Department of Lands to get the process done. This same document is mandatory to prevent financial problems and tax issues later on. You need to show Thor Tor 3 when you are purchasing condominiums. This bank document is solid evidence that you have brought foreign currency to buy the condo.
What to Think about when Buying a Condo
There are plenty of condos for sale in Bangkok’s real estate market. With an abundance of options to match each buyer’s taste and needs, there’s no doubt that Bangkok condo buyers can spot the perfect unit for them. However, what should one bear in mind when buying a Bangkok condo for sale?
1. Bangkok Condo Building Location
As the cliché goes, “Location, location, location”. A critical factor in your condo search is the area where the condo building is situated. No matter how well you appreciate the view of the country’s skyline but you’re not satisfied with the accessibility that the condo’s location offers, then it won’t be a good buy in the end. Imagine the long commute to and from work and your children’s school plus the long-term costs that you would incur in terms of fuel, transport fare and the like.
The location’s desirability is also affected by the security in the area. Of course, everyone values the peace of mind that a safe area brings to you and your family. This also includes having neighbors that you can trust.
There are a high number of Bangkok condos for sale that is suitable for professionals and families who desire a good location. Examples of these include high-end condo units in Sukhumvit, Silom, Sathorn and Thonglor to name a few.
2. Bangkok Condo Unit Location
How satisfied are you with the condo location in the building? Is it distant enough from the building’s common areas that create noise? Can you hear elevator noise when you’re inside an adjacent unit? Is the floor where the unit is situated close enough to hear the traffic noise in the high way?
Be prepared to consider these issues unless you prefer to be located near an area where noise is pleasant to your ears.
3. Living Arrangement
Will you be living on your own? Perhaps, a bachelor’s pad will suit your needs.
Do you have children or are you planning to have one in the near future? Obviously, a 2- or 3-bedroom unit is perfect for you.
Are you going to share the unit with friends or co-workers? There are Bangkok condos that can match your needs.
Your living arrangement can definitely influence the Bangkok condo for sale that you wish to purchase.
Does the condo comes with amenities such as free use of the swimming pool, gym, sauna and sports facilities? These are important features of the building that can be very beneficial. Why would you enroll in a fitness gym far from where you live when you have one at the ground floor?
Your Bangkok condo choice will also be influenced if you have special activities that you wish to maintain while you’re living in the unit. For example, if you’re a yoga enthusiast, then you’d certainly prefer a unit where noise is blocked. Are you a pet lover? Then you have to find a condo building where the management allows you to keep a pet.
Consider your interests and how you could maintain them in your new Bangkok condo unit.
5. Apartment Rules
Each Bangkok condo building has administrative managers or a condo board that supervises the implementation of the set rules to better address issues and concerns of condo owners. For example, if smoking is unregulated in the entire complex, will you be able to abide by it especially if you’re a non-smoker? Will you be willing to cooperate with the other condo owners should there be a change in the rules?
You may wish to consult with the management office if you want to know about the rules that they implement. You can also ask other condo owners on how well they abide by the condo board’s governance.
6. Transportation Convenience
An ideal condo for sale is one that is near any of the BTS Sky train’s or MRT stations. That’s because most Bangkok people prefer to take public transport due to the city’s infamous traffic jam. If your Bangkok condo for sale is strategically located where you can avoid the traffic, then there’d be no hassle for you at all.
You can also have convenience in condos near expressways for buses. Though the Sky train is obviously a faster means of transportation, the condo units in buildings near expressways are much cheaper than those in Phahonyothin and Sukhumvit Roads.
Of course, who wouldn’t consider the price of a condo? Choose a condo that’s reasonably priced.
Remember though that the asking price of a condo is based on a number of factors like the location of the building in Bangkok, the floor level (the higher the floor, the more expensive the condo unit is), and other factors such as garage or parking.
Speaking of the floor level, here’s a good tip: buy a unit that’s located on the middle zone or higher zone of the building so that in the near future when an adjacent development is constructed, your view of the Bangkok skyline won’t be occluded.
8. Ownership Laws
When you’re a local, there are hardly any difficulties in your purchase of a Bangkok condo for sale. However, if you’re an expatriate or a foreigner who wants to own a condo unit in Bangkok, be sure to follow the laws in terms of property ownership. The Condominium Act B.E. 2535 (1992) states that in order for a foreigner to qualify for a Bangkok condo purchase, he or she must satisfy any of the following:
- holds a residence permit under the Immigration Law
- is allowed to reside in the country under the Investment Promotion Law
- has BOI privileges in Thailand
- has the capacity to bring in the entire money from a foreign country to purchase a Thailand condominium
- has land rights under the Land Code
Take note that since you’re a foreigner, you must have a bank account in Thailand, an immigration stamp on your passport that will verify that you are in the country during the time of your condo purchase, and you possess the money in foreign currency that you can bring in from outside the country so you can purchase your Bangkok condo.
You can learn more about the Condominium Act through the vast number of resources that you can find online.
9. Future Plans
Are you planning to stay in your condo temporarily or is it for long term? Your future plans must be considered since it may be very costly if you purchase condo unit today but you’ll soon realize that you want to relocate in another city. Also, a small condo may not be a wise investment if you recognize that you need a larger one two to three years from now.
10. An Agent with Local Expertise
Finally, how else can you find a perfect Bangkok condo for sale without the aid of a real estate agent with local expertise of the Bangkok property market?
Why do you need to hire an agent? If you are a little conscious about the budget, you surely would be asking yourself why there is a need to hire a real estate agent. For one, real estate agents know the market more than you do. This applies more if you are a foreign investor.
It is not enough that you are aware of the state of the larger picture. Analysis would surely have it that what is reported in newspapers and in the television news about the country’s property market still is lacking pertinent details. Thus, you need to hire such experts so you will learn more about the market. Agents are also helpful when it comes to decision-making. Because they are paid to assist you, rest assured that real estate agents would strive as hard as they could to ensure that your investment would be highly profitable.
Can you do without Thai real estate agents? Of course you can. You are not forced nor required to hire such professionals. The thing is, you surely would not want to take further risks when making such investments. Such professionals would also be helpful in finding the best deals and locating the most lucrative and attractive assets across the market. Real estate agents commit to find the assets that would match your preferences and needs.
Find and hire the right real estate agency in Bangkok can make your condominium investment more hassle free and less stressful. The price tags for the services need not be high, as there are firms offering lower rates and standard charges on actual and successful transactions, making you save more.