Thailand has a developed tourism industry and has attracted many foreign companies that outsource assembly operations and that work in other industrial sectors.
Even if we see strong demand among foreigners who wish to buy hotels and resorts, office space and industrial real estate is also on many investors’ radars.
However, there are also many potential pitfalls that foreigners aren’t aware of due to a lack of market-knowledge or that they simply work with the wrong partners.
In this article, I explain how foreigners can buy commercial real estate in Thailand, what the regulations are, what commercial property types are available, and how you can find commercial property for sale.
Commercial Property Ownership Regulations
Foreign individuals have no access to commercial real estate except for strata-titled office units that you can find in a limited number in Bangkok.
Only one new strata-title office building was finished in Thailand since 2008, called “The Trendy”.
So investments in this unit type are rarely heard of and we will therefore not focus on these units in this article.
To invest in commercial real estate in Thailand, your best option is to acquire units or land through a company. This is particularly the case if you’re a consultant or investment firm and act on behalf of a hotel chain, for example.
You have two options here:
- Open a local Thai company (often a limited liability company, LLC)
- Set up a Joint-Venture (JV) with a local Thai company
If you decide to go for the first option, keep in mind that you can only hold up to 49% of the shares, the rest has to be allocated to Thai citizens.
Yet, this issue can be resolved through contractual setups and structures so that you have full control of the company and can own commercial real estate indirectly,
With that said, US-citizens are not subject to this requirement thanks to the ‘Treaty of Amity and Economic Relations between Thailand and the US’, signed and introduced in 1966.
Joint-Ventures Between Thai-Developers and Foreign Developers
Setting up Joint-Ventures (JV) has also become increasingly popular. Since 2013, many Japanese developers have entered the Thai-market to get market access.
This benefits both sides as local developers can get valuable support with design and the implementation of Japanese standards.
Below I have summarized some examples of Japanese companies that have set up JVs with Thai-developers and projects finalized:
- Japanese partner: Mitsui Fudosan
- Projects: Ideo Mobi Asoke, Ideo Mobi Sukhumvit 93 and 66
- Japanese partner: Mitsubishi Estate Group
- Projects: Life One Wireless, Life Asoke-Rama IX
All Inspire Development
- Japanese partner: Hoosiers Holdings
- Projects: The Excel Hideaway Sukhumvit 50
- Japanese partner: Hankyu Realty
- Projects: Niche Mono Sukhumvit Bearing
What commercial property types are available to foreigners?
If you incorporate in Thailand or work with a local partner, you can acquire any kind of commercial real estates such as hotels, resorts, office buildings, retail property, and industrial real estate.
We see a demand for hotels in both Bangkok and resort-destinations like Phuket and Pattaya.
Office-buildings, on the other hand, are primarily located in Bangkok due to its function as the country’s financial hub and economic engine.
The Bangkok property market tends to be more stable compared to resort-destinations as these rely heavily on foreign travelers.
Where can I find commercial properties for sale?
There are plenty of ways to find commercial real estate in Thailand. You can check listing websites like FazWaz or DotProperty, get recommendations word-of-mouth, or hire a consultancy firm, for example.
The key is that you work with a partner that serves your interests and that preferably has multiple options available. That’s often not the case when you approach an agent that has posted a hotel for sale on a listing website, for example.
If you hire a consultant or a partner, they can also manage the searches for you, saving you time and money. They also fill an important function as they explain the current market condition and ownership regulations.
If you still want to check out some listing websites in Thailand, I recommend you to check the following websites:
- Dot Property & Thailand-Property
- DD Property
- CBRE Thailand
- Knight Frank
- Savills Thailand
I hope that you found this article interesting and useful.
If you want some more exhaustive information on how it works when buying commercial real estate in Thailand, I recommend you to read my separate guide.
It goes more in-depth about the property market, real estate prices, and where you should preferably buy commercial real estate.
If you have any questions on hand that you haven’t got answered, feel free to drop a comment below or send us an email and we will try to help.