Sam Thompson

The quest to find a condo in Bangkok

How easy is it to buy your own place?


(Part 1 of 2)

I've been in Bangkok for a few years now, and can still remember the hell hole I lived in for the first six months. Read: a glorified prison. I have since been living in one of the Lumpini Place properties and honestly quite like it. That said, I now have a fiancé, and have decided it's time to put roots down in the city: it's time to buy a condo. There's something I never thought I'd say...

'Affordable'

Buying property anywhere is a pain, there's no other way to say it. House, condo, townhouse... there are multitudes of choices, even when you've narrowed down what you're looking for, and even more multitudes of sources to find these choices. We decided on a condo simply because it is the most affordable option in our area for having everything we're looking for, and because buying a house we can afford would mean also having to buy a car and commute. No, thank you.

Then you have the language barrier; online, if you can't speak/type in Thai, you've ruled out a lot of websites and listings that don't have English translations as well. Sites like DDProperty.com are pretty good about having at least rough translations, but you then have the problem of alternate spellings, among other issues, that makes the search quite fragmented.

Once you find places you are interested in, you then need to have either good Thai skills (um... about that) or someone willing to do all of the calling, wheeling, and dealing. Luckily, I have a Thai fiancé who is all too happy to do this, and without her I really don't know how I would have dealt with it all.

Financing issues

Aside from that, if you're living on a teacher's salary like I am, you aren't made out of money. Most banks here [understandably] won't deal with foreigners for home financing, and those that may will likely require Thai sponsors or some other "hookup" of some kind. In that case, for the most part, it's either pay cash or have someone Thai that does the financing for you.

In our experience, looking around the Chatuchak area of Bangkok (the northern end of town, near BTS Mo Chit and MRT Phahon Yothin/Ladprao), there are plenty of 1 bedroom condos, and a good many 2 bedroom condos around. There are also a fair number of townhouses, but I'm a stickler for wanting a pool. Usually, you'll only get 1 bathroom floor plans unless you're willing to pay a premium.

As is likely obvious, buying in the newer condo complexes (Life, Lumpini Place, etc.) is far more expensive (and for far less space) than looking in the older establishments. A 30 sqm 1 bedroom condo at my current Lumpini Place is listed for more than the 85 sqm 2 bed/2 bath condo we have decided to buy at an older complex in the same area. The amenities are roughly the same (gym, pool, etc.), although granted, the older complex is just that: older.

It's up to you

It all comes down to what you want out of what you buy. Size, location, amenities, price... all are of varying importance to each person. One of my biggest complaints with the newer complexes, aside from the ever-smaller dimensions, is the build quality I've experienced. I'm tired of hearing every time my neighbors on either side of me plug something in to a power outlet, and I want to be somewhere where I don't have to keep my stereo volume at "inside voice" levels. 

Don't get me wrong, my current digs are great; new, well maintained, convenient, and the list goes on. But it's small, thin walled, and financially, it's simply not a feasible option for me (and I imagine many teachers) in terms of value for money.

So there you have it. Obviously, these are just my experiences having looked around for the past six months or so, and I'm certainly no property expert. That said, where there's a will, there's a way... and if you plan on being a permanent expat in Bangkok, it makes financial sense to go for buying a place; you'll probably pay about the same or less for a mortgage as you do for the same place paying rent.


I hope you enjoyed my blog. If you would like to get in touch or perhaps e-mail me with a question, I would love to hear from you - All the best, Sam Thompson.




Comments

Even though my company sells and rents condos I would never suggest to a farang to buy one in their partners name. ( By the way I am English ). There is no benefit but a lot of risk doing that.

Many farang I have spoken to say 'but my wife / gf must have somewhere should I die etc' But that's crazy, just leave the place to your Thai partner in a will ! Then if you die your partner can do what she or he likes. If you don't die and split up for whatever reason the condo is still yours.

Of course this does not apply to houses as already mentioned above., But again, buying a house because the gf / wife says she needs one in her village for when she is old is ridiculous. Buy a condo in your name and leave it to her in a will. Then if you die she can sell it and build a house with the proceeds.

So in a nutshell, buy a condo in your name as an investment sure. But rent a house wherever in Thailand you want if you really want to live in a house.

By John, On Nut, Bangkok (7th March 2018)

Sam, DO NOT buy a property in your fiancee's name. This is a 'Farang 101' blunder that has been made by many a well-meaning chap only to have it blow up in his face. You can say that it's the same as what you would pay in rent, but what happens down the road if the relationship goes sour? Why not simply buy it in your name?

If the answer is because you don't have enough money to buy a condo outright, then don't buy at all. Putting properties in a thai woman's name is a huge mistake. You see horror stories about this everyday on various forums and even on Youtube. All of these blokes said the same thing when questioned by their friends: "My lady would never do me wrong"...until she did. And when she does, your financial investment turns to dust as you own nothing.

I realize this is a bit of a detraction from the primary topic of the article, I just don't want to see young Sam bite off more than he can chew, and all that. Best of luck.

By Charlie, Chiang Mai (28th October 2015)

Just a few replies:

@T and @Leo, you are both correct. If you're a foreigner and have cash up-front, you can buy-in to a condo property as long as they haven't hit their 49% foreigner max quota. If you want to finance, as a foreigner, I'd definitely say "forget it."

That said, although it may not be the best idea in the world to buy something in someone else's name (my finace in this case), the way I look at it is... well, no matter what happens, it's no sweat off my back as I'd be paying the same in rent anyway. At least this way, "we" have some equity and a decent pad twice the size as what we were renting.

It's all about weighing the pros/cons of your personal situation, for sure.

Stay tuned for part two...

By Sam, Chatuchak, Bangkok (23rd October 2015)

it would be great to be able to pay low deposit to buy a condo at the same rate thai people do.
it would be greater if the banks would see us foreigners as responsible people with a long term rental and savings record individuals and not judge us in general.
conclusion....
I don't need to go by their idiotic rules and conditions applying for a loan placed on me as a foreigner and risk the fact that some irresponsible neighbor moves next door to me (which there are many around) to give me hell of a time... or even to put up with the maintenance of the gym or pool (which I would have to pay monthly) to find out that after a few months doesn't get properly maintained as it should.
rent in thailand is cheap and the good thing about it is if you don't like the place you choose to live.... move!
there you go.... no hassle in buying a condo and feel like a second class or v.i.p. citizen because you get screwed anyway :)

By leo, phuket (19th October 2015)

Just a quick note on this part:

"We decided on a condo simply because it is the most affordable option in our area for having everything we're looking for, and because buying a house we can afford would mean also having to buy a car and commute."

First and foremost the author cannot own a house in Thailand because of the law of the land. The law basically states that foreigners can't own land in Thailand but they can own condos because condos owners are not land owners.

http://www.globalpropertyguide.com/Asia/Thailand/Buying-Guide

I kid you not, Foreigners can only own home or house if they naturalized and become a Thai citizen. It is a long hard process to attain that so most don't even bother with it. The only possible option is to buy the home in the name of his Fiancé which as some may read from other blogs or stories is never a good idea. So this was just an FYI and observation so people don't think that it is easy or even possible to own home in Thailand.

By T, USA (15th October 2015)

If you think your room on Pahonyothin was a "hell Hole" Sam You havent seem many Real hell holes in Bangkok

By Mark, Bangkok (15th October 2015)

Interesting. I am nervous about getting a new condo as the last two places I have rented fell apart. Hiked up condo fees, pool no longer maintained, gym equipment never fixed, broken elevator, tiles popping up in the halls, landscaping looking shabby...etc


By JLR, Thailand (14th October 2015)

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