Your first course of action when undertaking any property transaction in Thailand should be to enlist the help of a very good lawyer.
Professional individuals don’t have time to waste, but without the right lawyer, you could be doing exactly that.
Whether you live here already, or you are flying to Phuket specifically to find your dream property, engaging sound legal advice will protect your interests, save time, and ultimately save money.
What do we mean by “first course of action”? If you’re contemplating a real estate investment in Phuket, you should engage a lawyer before you even start viewing properties.
Apart from their knowledge of Thai law, good lawyers will be fluent in Thai and English, and if another mother tongue is needed, they will have the resources to help.
Not surprisingly, these are likely to be both the more experienced, as well as the more expensive law firms. But the money spent can be returned to you manifold in time saved and hassle avoided. Quite possibly, it could be money you save directly by not buying a wholly unsuitable property.
This brings up one of the most important roles a lawyer can play for you: conducting due diligence.
While a lawyer may not be able to check everything, they can certainly do enough to tilt the scales further in your favour. Just as experienced lawyers will be able to warn you against any shenanigans, choosing a lawyer with insufficient experience could have disastrous consequences.
Due diligence is where the right lawyer is invaluable. They will check the title deed to ensure the ownership is correct, and that there are no liens or loans against he property. (This is critical on properties bought off plan.)
Lawyers will also be able to advise on the credit worthiness of the developer and track record of the management company. And that is all before you sign a single piece paper.
Once you are given a purchase and sales agreement, your lawyer will be able to confirm the terms of your occupancy as well as any consequences should you decide to sell during a period of guaranteed rental returns.
It is also worth asking what happens when the terms or promises made by the developer and/or management company are not met in full. If the conditions are not met, what other forms of compensation exist?
Of course, there is always a risk of receiving poor legal advice, which is why it pays to use a lawyer who comes highly recommend by a friend or acquaintance, and is known for their honesty, integrity and reputation. The advice should be independent, and not have ties to the agent or the developer.
Once you have chosen the right lawyer, by all means listen to them and heed their advice. In a country where most foreign buyers are not familiar with the laws, or the pitfalls encountered by others in the past, the best representation is worth its weight in gold.