Those buying a house or villa in Bangkok will find some at an exceptional value, comparative to their home countries, however they will have to look to the outskirts of the city for real value. This can be a problem for those who have to commute to the CBD for work, with traffic making travel times lengthy.
Since houses require land, the ownership by foreigners is a tricky situation. If you do not have a Thai spouse to own the land title deeds, you can perhaps set up a 30 year lease of land from a Thai owner, which some have chosen to do. The option to form a Thai-foreigner owned company, which will own the land is now less popular since the authorities pledged to check the legitimacy of the minimum 51 per cent Thai ownership arrangement. Even this system is under the microscope of the Thai government. In short, buying a house in Bangkok is out of reach to most single foreigners.
If you have a lawful avenue for del facto ownership, you will find there are plenty of options for buying houses, with a general buyers market resulting from an oversupply. The trend among the middle class Thai to move into new housing projects has left many of the older (10 to 20 year age) houses on the market. Unfortunately, many of the owners set unrealistically high price tags on them, seemingly oblivious to the fact the market demand is far below the speculated value they have placed on the house. In Bangkok, many lost significant value after the 97 crash and still hope to eventually recover the original value. Some of these are located in areas close to the mass transit rail systems.
Another downside is that many of the houses on the market may be in nice areas overall, but will have an old ramshackle factory filled with junk situated next door.
There are plenty of agents to help you buy a house in Bangkok, many of them owned and operated by foreigners.
Before you buy a house in Bangkok, its advisable to fully familiarise yourself with the various areas, do some due diligence on the neighbourhood at various times of the day and check for latent defects, as sellers are notorious for keeping quiet on chronic problems.
Furthermore, when you buy a Bangkok house you will, after a few agent trips, discover that many of the older houses were designed with for Thai preferences, which include smaller, darker rooms, no outdoor living areas, outdoor kitchens, too many bathrooms and lack of privacy. The newer houses are more suited to Western tastes.
Perhaps the safest option is to consider the gated communities that are so popular among the Thai. Those at the top end are incredibly luxurious, exceeding the US$1 million mark. There is no shortage of developers lining up to meet the demands of the high number of Bangkok’s affluent high-society types and wealthy executives looking to escape the confines of the city. From Sansiri and Q House to TCC Capital, Bangkok developers continue to launch high-priced luxury houses in gated communities. Inside the gates, homeowners have access to facilities that include fitness centres, tennis courts, gardens and pools.
Popular areas include Rama V Road, Kaset Nawamin, Ram Inthra and the area close to the new Suvarnabhumi International Airport. But to some, communities like this are just too far away from the CBD when Bangkok’s notorious traffic problems are added to the picture. Due to factors like land availability and pricing, however, developing high-end house developments in the centre of Bangkok just isnt feasible in many cases. Within Central Bangkok, there are really only a couple of these types of communities on offer right now, including Baan Sansiri Sukhumvit 67 and The Trees Sathorn, which are pricey.