Because I have nearly 40 years of experience in Asia and have lived in
Thailand at various points, have a Thai wife (now a US Citizen) and a
son who is a dual national plus know a large range of real estate
professionals, many people ask me about buying, building and renovating
a house in Thailand.
what you need to know. First, foreigners cannot own land in
unless under some fairly stringent exceptions either tied to the Board
of Investment (BOI) or other limited conditions. Foreigners can
condominiums and tens of thousands do already. If the foreigner
female and fortunate to be married to a Thai male, then the male can
hold the property in his name. If the Thai party, however, is a
then Thai law makes it more difficult if not outright illegal although
again I would note many Thai women do hold title to land and housing
for their spouse and the chance of prosecution is generally minimal.
Best advice is before buying any house, land or condominium in Thailand
is to arrange to speak to an experienced real estate professional and
fully explain your situation and what you want to accomplish. An
experienced real estate professional will give you the information you
need and save your time and effort. Although there are many real
estate companies out there, one that we have utilized and recommend is Muller Real
Estate, which is headed by Ms. Ampai Muller who has had
decades of experience with many of Thailand’s biggest real estate
companies before establishing her small boutique firm.
differs her from many of her competitors is that she lived outside of
Thailand in the US for many years and has traveled extensively.
Because of this and because she is married to an American (Regional
Security Expert John Muller) she has a clearer idea of what most
foreigners are seeking and what they expect. When you couple this
with the decades of experience she gained by working for some of
the largest real estate companies in the region, Ampai has the clear
experience and knowledge to give you the information you have to know
quick and up front. Further, it means she has decades of seeing
market grow and occasionally retreat and that she can advise you fully
on housing prices, prospects for appreciation and for where to go to
get your property, what to pay and then how best to renovate the house
to get the property you desire.
you acquire that condominium or house, then the real fun starts.
Today, there are thankfully many companies to assist you in renovating,
decorating and outfitting your house. Home Pros (Thai equivalents
of Home Depot in the U.S.), Boonthaworn, Department Stores, Index and
furniture stores are scattered throughout the many Bangkok malls and
all can be good resources.
area where there still are challenges is in finding a good general
contractor to handle your renovation whether it is big or small.
Finding a qualified, well organized, honest and dependable general
contractor or a dependable electrician, plumber, carpenter or other
craftsman is not as easy as one might think. The best advice we
give again is to get advice from someone like Ampai Muller or other
reputable real estate professional that has done much renovation work
and already has the contacts to dependable craftsmen and has the status
with them because of long experience to keep them honest and ensure
they meet deadlines. Dealing with contractors and craftsmen in
Thailand in renovating a home is not easy and can be a big
Get advice and listen to what you are being told. The avice may
but the time, headaches and money saved will really make you glad you
got the right help.
A final note, Thailand can be a great place to retire, to start a
business and to base yourself for regional work. Thai real estate
proved itself a good long-term investment and that is not likely to
change. Always though, do your due diligence, seek out
advice and have patience. If you do, you’ll soon be enjoying your
house or condo in this exciting and fascinating country.
W. Runckel, a former senior US diplomat who served in many
counties in Asia, is a graduate of the University of Oregon and Lewis
and Clark Law School. He served as Deputy General Counsel of President
Gerald Ford’s Presidential Clemency Board. Mr. Runckel is the principal
and founder of Runckel & Associates, a Portland, Oregon based
consulting company that assists businesses expand business
opportunities in Asia. (www.business-in-asia.com)
April of 1999, Mr. Runckel was Minister-Counselor of the US
Embassy in Beijing, China. Mr. Runckel lived and worked in Thailand for
over six years. He was the first permanently assigned U.S. diplomat to
return to Vietnam after the Vietnam War. In 1997, he was awarded the
U.S. Department of States highest award for service, the Distinguished
Honor Award, for his contribution to improving U.S.-Vietnam relations.