Frequently Asked Questions about Buying a Condo in Chiang Mai
What types of usage are possible in a condo unit if I buy one?
As the owner, the condo unit can of course be occupied as your permanent abode or serve as a second home for just part of the year; then again, if the building’s own bylaws allow, you could always rent out the condo unit either as a long-term investment prospect (with typical net returns in Chiang Mai of around 5 to 9% per annum) or, increasingly popular, as a short-stay holiday let through the likes of Airbnb. What you’re not normally allowed to do, though, is operate any kind of commercial endeavour out of the condo unit!
Are there any official restrictions on buying a condo in Thailand as a foreigner?
As set forth in Thailand’s Condominium Act, more than half the total floor area of all the saleable residential units within a particular condo development must remain under Thai ownership; although only a fraction of Chiang Mai’s condos have now reached their 49% foreign-owned quota, it’s an important part of exercising due diligence before buying a condo here to triple-check that the unit being sold is either part of the existing foreign quota or that there’s foreign quota still available. And secondly, unless the foreign buyer has permanent residence in Thailand, the funds to purchase the condo unit have to be transferred into Thailand as foreign currency (any); at which time, the receiving Thai bank converts the amount to Thai baht then, as confirmation, issues a letter, credit note or Foreign Exchange Transaction form (previously known as a Tor Tor 3) to the buyer. There aren’t, though, any constraints on a foreigner’s nationality when buying a condo in Thailand!
Do I need a certain kind of visa to buy a condo in Thailand?
As long as you hold a valid Thai entry permit (or extension of which), it’s of no relevance what sort in order to buy a condo here!
What personal documents does a foreigner need to buy a condo in Thailand?
Just your current passport, as proof of identity, will suffice!
Is it worth buying a condo off-plan in Chiang Mai?
Arguably the key attractions of buying a condo unit before or during construction is that asking prices and fees are predictably at their most favourable with habitually only a small holding deposit needed and staged repayments thereafter; precisely the reason why speculators risk ‘flipping’ an off-plan condo to try and make a quick profit! Not to mention the added incentive of the developer throwing in freebies (anything from iPads to branded kitchen appliances) and even rental guarantees for early purchasers. At the same time, a few developers will let the buyer redesign the layout of the condo unit and, on a “first come, first served” basis, you’ll have the pick of the best spots in the building and may even be the very first to live there! But the running and upkeep of the condo development remain an unknown quantity and buyers are limited to artist impressions, blueprints and scale models of the condominium development which may well be subject to change…and not always for the better of the buyer! And while it’s easy to be tempted by the look of a modern, western style and perfectly appointed showroom, more than likely what you see won’t be what you’ll get! It’s also not unheard of in Chiang Mai for condo projects to be abandoned before being completed, be delayed in opening or the property type switched (into becoming a hotel, for example) part-way through construction. Besides, an off-plan condo isn’t move-in-ready until the building’s finished and, if the project consists of multiple residential buildings, buying a unit in the first block with the rest of the complex still undergoing construction is sure to spoil your quality of life as the owner-occupier or hurt your odds of letting out the unit.
How much do condos in Chiang Mai cost to buy?
Not only are Chiang Mai’s condos far lighter on the pocket than their opposite number in Bangkok but also offer the broadest spread in pricing. As a guide, the cost to purchase a fully furnished modern studio unit in an already completed condo building starts at an incredibly affordable 450,000 baht rising to just short of a cool 35 million baht for a 2 bedroom, 3 bathroom split-level penthouse! More useful a measure for assessing the value of a condo, though, is Price per Square Metre (PSM) which varies in Chiang Mai from around 10,000 baht to as much as 180,000 baht with, as might be imagined, older buildings and those in more out-of-the-way locations the most economical. And now, any foreigner who transfers monies into Thailand to the tune of 10 or more million baht (for the purpose of buying a condo or government/state enterprise bonds or as a fixed deposit in a Thai bank, or any combination of the three) becomes eligible to apply for a one-year Investment Visa!
How long does the process take to buy a condo in Thailand?
Aside from however long you spend on the hunt for a suitable existing condo unit, we usually suggest allowing up to one week or thereabouts from the time of viewing to collecting the keys. So far, our speediest turnaround at Perfect Homes is a walkthrough of the property with the buyer at 6PM and the condo unit formally registered in their name by 10:30 the following morning!
Will I need to hire a lawyer when buying a condo in Thailand?
Unless you’re already acquainted with the condo buying process in Thailand, have a competent grasp of Thai language, are more than familiar with Thai property laws or simply not concerned about losing what might amount to a fair bit of money if things go horribly wrong at the hands of an unscrupulous seller, we’d urge seeking reputable, specialist and independent legal counsel before parting with a single baht or putting your signature to anything…or else, buyer be very aware! You can choose to enlist the services of a local lawyer to assist with just a specific stage of the buying process (such as reviewing and negotiating the particulars of the sales agreement, conducting background checks on the current owner or attending the transfer of the condo unit into your own name) or, starting from about 15,000 baht, have them consult throughout. On the other hand, if you’d much rather avoid the extra legal expense (and instead spend the money on something nice for your newly acquired pad), 99% of the condo units bought through Perfect Homes are actually signed off without a lawyer ever needing to be present!
What’s the charge for buying a condo in Chiang Mai through Perfect Homes?
As the vendor foots all agency fees ahead of our advertising their property to sell, purchasing a condo in Chiang Mai through us won’t cost the buyer anything at all! Plus, by using our service, we’ll be right by your side to help you navigate the intricacies and nuances of the condo buying process from beginning to end!
Will I be given a sales contract, what will it state & in which language will it be written?
If only to safeguard your own interests as the buyer, yes, you definitely ought to receive a sale and purchase agreement when purchasing a condo in Thailand! In fact, the document should specify every last detail of the condo acquisition including the amounts, schedule and methods of payment of the purchase price, taxes, duties and fees, the dispute resolution procedure, any contractual warranties, a full identification of the condo unit, the common property and amenities provided, and an inventory of interior furniture. Needless to say, it’s absolutely critical for the buyer to check the fine print of the sales contract extremely carefully before even thinking about signing because, after which, they’ll be legally bound by its terms and conditions. Our sales contracts at Perfect Homes are supplied and executed in English or Thai/English by default so saving you the hassle and cost of getting it translated from the more customary agreements recorded in Thai script!
What are the payment terms for buying a condo in Thailand?
For new or resale (pre-owned) condos, it’s standard practice for the buyer to hand over a holding deposit (often 10% of the total purchase price) in order to take the unit off the market then settle the remainder of the balance by cashier’s cheque made out to the vendor (whichever of the developer or private seller) at the time of the property being transferred into their own name. In the case of buying a condo off-plan, payment schemes differ according to the developer but commonly an initial reservation fee of 10 to 20% of the total purchase price followed by a number of regular monthly/quarterly installments into the developer’s Thai bank account during the construction phase of the project and, once the condo’s finished being built, a final sum upon registering ownership of the unit in the buyer’s name.
Can a foreigner obtain a mortgage in Thailand to help finance the purchase of a condo?
We wouldn’t hold your breath on that! For all the security of a condo title (unlike that of landed properties like a house), the chances of a non-resident foreigner being approved by a Thai bank for a mortgage are slim to none; those select few non-nationals who are accepted usually have permanent residency status in Thailand, a work permit with a generous and steady salary, at least several years of income tax payments in-country or are fortunate enough to have a well-to-do Thai guarantor with a long history at the respective bank. Worse, no condo developers or private sellers in Chiang Mai offer a rent-to-own option and Bangkok Bank suspended their overseas loans to foreigners at the end of last year. Which leaves Singapore’s United Overseas Bank who provide offshore financing in the form of an International Property Loan for those who don’t qualify for local lending; in fact, would-be borrowers needn’t even leave Chiang Mai to apply as there are a handful of UOB branches in the city!
How is the condo transferred into the buyer’s own name & are there any associated costs?
Changing the ownership of a title deed (chanote) from that of the developer or private seller into the buyer’s name happens same day at the provincial or local branch of the Thai government’s Departments of Lands. Generally, the buyer just has to settle the outstanding balance of the purchase price of the condo along with their share of the fee for transferring the property while the vendor takes care of their portion of the transfer fee in addition to paying withholding tax and, as applicable, either of specific business tax or stamp duty. Whereupon, for their troubles, the buyer will receive a new freehold condominium title deed (referred to as an Or Chor 2) in their own name with a second identical copy retained by the Land Office.
What are my responsibilities & rights as the owner of a condo in Thailand?
As a condo titleholder, you’ll be expected to pay a Common Area Maintenance fee normally yearly and upfront for the care, upkeep and management (by the on-site juristic person) of the condo’s common property and which covers things such as security guard wages, pest control, corridor lighting, power to the lift(s), waste disposal and minor repairs; the precise figure is determined by the developer but in Chiang Mai works out at between 10 and 55 baht per square metre of the condo unit per month with, unsurprisingly, the newer, more feature-rich condo developments charging the most. Distinct from the CAM fee, co-owners at some of the city’s condos will also be asked to contribute a one-off, advance payment to a sinking fund set aside for large scale remediation or upgrades to the building, common areas and any communal facilities; in Chiang Mai, the amount ranges from approximately 300 to 600 baht per square metre of the condo unit with 500 baht currently the norm for newer developments. Otherwise, a condo owner (or, if renting out their unit, the tenant or guest) must observe the building’s own rules and regulations to the letter and which outline, for example, any limitations on keeping a pet in the building as well as the days and times owners are allowed to remodel their unit. Still, by rights, individual owners do at least have a potential say in the running of the condo by having their complaints properly dealt with and by being allowed to vote at the condo’s Annual General Meeting!
Do foreigners who live in their own condo need to report their stay to Thai Immigration?
They certainly do! A legal requirement since 1979 but only rigorously enforced since the last quarter of 2016, each and every non-Thai citizen (whether the owner, a tenant or a short-term guest) living in a condo in Chiang Mai must have their details notified to the appropriate immigration office at Promenada Resort Mall no later than 24 hours of their moving into the condo. And, it being solely their responsibility, should the owner fail to submit the necessary TM.30 form(s) in a timely manner, they’ll be subject to a financial penalty!
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