Purchasing real estate in Thailand is not very different to other countries in the world, in that you will normally employ the services of a legal professional to assist you throughout the buying process.
Even if using a lawyer is not a statutory requirement, most people would agree that it is the right course of action, especially if you are buying in a foreign country.
Surprisingly, many people purchasing Phuket real estate decide to forego the use of a lawyer. Perhaps they feel that they are (or a friend is) competent enough to get through everything without expert help. Unsurprisingly, many of these people discover too late the mistakes they have made.
True professionals generally don’t have a lot of free time, and without seeking proper legal counsel you could be wasting a lot of yours. So the first thing you should do when deciding to purchase a property in Phuket is to employ the services of an experienced and reputable lawyer.
Whether you are already a resident in Phuket, or only flying in to view a few properties, finding the right legal firm will crucially ensure you are protected. It will also save you time, and more than likely a lot of money, too.
When we say that your “first course of action” should be finding a lawyer, we mean you should try to enlist the services of a good lawyer even before you begin to view properties.
Apart from their knowledge and understanding of Thai law, a good legal counsel will speak more than one language. Almost all lawyers in Phuket speak English, but if another language is needed, they should also have the resources to accommodate you with this.
It should come as no surprise that multilingual law firms tend to be the most experienced, but they may also be the most expensive. However, spending the extra money to get things right could mean that you save significantly more than you would if you tried to cut corners. Buyers with good lawyers have saved fortunes when advised not to buy unsuitable properties – properties which ultimate ran into problems.
Which brings us to one of the most crucial roles performed by sound legal representatives: due diligence.
A lawyer may not be able to check every minute detail of a given property, but they know how to check what’s important to tip the scales in your favour. Experienced law firms spot anything untoward, and will warn you against potential problems; whereas, inexperienced lawyers could potentially overlook the same danger signs, resulting in disaster for you further down the line.
This is why due diligence is invaluable. A competent lawyer will check the title deed to ensure that the property ownership is valid, and that no loans exists against the property in question (this is especially important if the property is being purchased pre-construction).
Good legal counsel can also provide advice on the reputation, track record and credit worthiness of the developer or management company. Ideally, this will all be done before you put pen to paper.
If buying a condo in Phuket with guaranteed returns, your lawyer will check the sales and purchase agreement to validate the terms and make sure you are aware of any clauses which may impact you if you choose to sell during the guarantee period.
In addition to protecting your interests on any guarantees made, your lawyer will also clarify what type of compensation may be due to you should the terms not be fulfilled as promised.
Buyers of real estate anywhere must accept that there will always be some form of risk involved. And sometimes poor legal advice is one of those risks. That’s why it is essential for you to seek out only the best legal representation, or to use a reputable lawyer recommended by a trusted friend. You should choose a lawyer who is known for their honesty and high levels of integrity. More importantly, you should not uitilze a lawyer who is tied to an agency or a developer.
One final point, once you’ve found the right lawyer: Listen to what they have to say and heed the advice they give you. In so many cases, people fail to listen to their lawyer.
In Thailand, a country where so many newcomers are unfamiliar with the laws pertaining to real estate and have no knowledge of what could go wrong with their purchase, having the best legal advice in your corner is vital. And listening to that advice is essential.
by Thai Residential Phuket Property Guide
This article is from the 2018/2019 Thai Residential Phuket Property Guide. To download the 2019/2020 Guide visit ThaiResidential.com