For any foreigner looking at investment properties in Thailand, condominiums have the easiest path to ownership. While buying a villa or other landed property can be complicated, foreigners may legally own foreign freehold condominiums.
While the word ‘condo’ sometimes conjures up images of small, cramped dwellings, there are spacious, luxurious condominiums throughout Phuket which dispel this stereotype.
Some resorts even offer stunning designs giving luxury condominiums the feel of a villa – right down to the private swimming pool, sprawling patio, and manicured lawn with landscaped garden. For those who prefer more traditional houses to bungalows, there are also roomy duplex condos.
These condos all hold their own compared with private pool villas and, while a foreigner may be enticed by a villa, the required Thai company ownership structure is not as straightforward as freehold condo ownership.
After doing their research, most foreigners simply prefer the hassle-free option of owning a condominium.
The most popular places to buy in Thailand
Thailand offers something for everyone – from cities to mountains to idyllic tropical islands. Chang Mai is an attractive destination in Thailand’s northern mountains, while Bangkok has moderately priced and luxury condominiums for city lovers. But one of the most popular places in Thailand, and probably the fastest-developing, is Phuket Island.
The ‘Jewel of the Andaman Sea’ has seen massive residential and infrastructure development over the past 20 years, especially on the island’s west coast. There is now a vast array of Phuket condos for sale, attracting buyers from all over the world.
Full foreign freehold ownership
This is probably one of the most important reasons why a foreigner would choose a condominium over a villa. Condos allow foreigners to own freehold Thai property in their own name, in perpetuity, registered at the local Land Department.
This is not the case with landed property (e.g. houses or villas) which require either a leasehold or the formation of a Thai company. The latter is usually frowned upon by the Thai authorities, as companies are not always correctly structured to comply with either the property or incorporation laws of Thailand.
In other words, foreign freehold condos are stress-free, offering buyers peace of mind that they are not flouting any laws.
Own a property in up-market areas
Owning a house or villa in highly desirable areas of the island can be prohibitively expensive. A condo, on the other hand, allows foreigners to own property in the same areas at a much lower cost.
Cheaper to maintain than villas
Whereas the maintenance costs for a villa all fall to a single owner, condominium running costs are shared equally among all owners. The upkeep of an entire resort is paid through a Common Area Maintenance (CAM) Fee. Owners also pay into a Sinking Fund, which is used to cover any major work that becomes necessary in the future.
Any villa owner will tell you the cost to maintain the property can be excessive: regular garden landscaping, pool servicing, and even exterior painting. In time, the villa roof will need repairing, the pool pump will need replacing, and various other niggling costs will compound your maintenance expenses.
These costs also arise with condominiums, but they are shared among all the owners.
Excellent onsite facilities
Onsite amenities often attract foreigners to a condominium. Owners can dive into an amazing swimming pool every morning and catch some sun in the afternoon, before working out in a fully equipped gym.
Most resorts have a kiddie pool, so the whole family can enjoy the water, and there are even condos with their own spa, children’s club and beauty salon.
Many resorts also have immaculate rooftop pools, offering stunning coastal views. These pool decks usually include a bar – the perfect way to relax and watch the sunset.
It’s less hassle with a condo
One great thing about condos: you don’t have to do much. Of course, you must decorate the interior and keep it clean, but everything outside your front door is taken care of for you. In Thailand this is done by the Condominium Juristic Person, whose role is to use the CAM fees to ensure a resort is run efficiently. This includes all security, upkeep, gardening and rubbish removal.
You get a say in how things are run
In addition to the juristic person, most resorts also have an owners’ committee. All freehold owners are eligible to join the committee and everyone has a vote at the AGM (Annual General Meeting).
You can lock up and leave
Condos are perfect for anyone who travels frequently on business, or only uses the home a few months a year. Condo security is usually first rate, with 24-hour guards and key card entry to the reception/lift lobby area. People buy condos as holiday homes because they can lock up and leave without fear of their home being broken into.
Steady investment income
Thai condos are sought after for their attractive rental returns. Although there have been occasional hiccups (9/11, Bird Flu, the Tsunami, Covid, etc.), the tourist sector in Thailand is expanding and offering excellent investment income. Many new condo projects offer investors a rental income stream for a fixed period of time, as well as a voluntary ‘rental pool’ to manage the ongoing income of owners thereafter.
Condos are very affordable
Apart from freehold ownership, the main reason why foreigners buy condos in Thailand is the price. Compared with other countries, condos here offer great value for money, which is why the condo market continues to grow every year. If you compare condo prices in Thailand to other popular vacation destinations, it is not surprising the market is so buoyant.
The real estate sector in the Thailand has been expanding rapidly over the past two decades, and much of this is down to the ease of owning a condo. As foreigners continue to benefit from these foreign ownership laws, we expect to see a continued growth in the condo market in the years ahead.
by Thai Residential Phuket Property Guide
This article is from the Thai Residential Phuket Property Guide. To download the 2019/2020 Guide visit ThaiResidential.com