Real estate lawyers are not a legal requirement when purchasing or selling a property in Thailand. But if you are foreigner and not an expert on Thai law, obtaining sound legal advice is paramount when considering a property purchase.
This cannot be stressed enough.
In fact, the first step when undertaking any property transaction in Thailand should be to enlist the help of a very good lawyer.
What is meant by “first step”?
Well . . . for anyone contemplating a real estate investment in Thailand, they should seek legal representation before they even start viewing properties.
But what constitutes a “good lawyer”?
Many times it is not only their knowledge of Thai law, but their ability to explain the law in their customers’ own language.
Good lawyers will be fluent in Thai and English, but if another mother tongue is needed, it might only be the biggest firms which have the resources to help. Not surprisingly, these are likely to be the more expensive law firms.
Make Sure Your Lawyer Comes Highly Recommended
Of course you always run the 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.
Most importantly, the advice should be independent and have no ties to the agent or the developer.
The best lawyers are rarely the cheapest, but a property purchase is not the type of transaction to scrimp on.
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.
Avoid Any Conflicts of Interest
You will know that you’ve found a reputable law firm because they will explain everything to you very clearly and not advise you to do anything unethical. They will be acting in your interests at all times, and no one else’s.
As mentioned above, it is important that the law firm you use is not also representing the developer, and that they are not the sole recommendation of your agent.
These are clear conflicts of interest, which may put you at risk.
Experienced Lawyers Will Carry Out Thorough Due Diligence
Due diligence is extremely important when purchasing a property in Phuket. There are many things your lawyer’s due diligence process will cover, including checks on the land itself, the developer and the sales contract.
While a lawyer may not be able to check absolutely 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 on the part of the agent or developer, choosing a lawyer with insufficient experience could have disastrous consequences.
You can read more about due diligence here:
Listen To Your Lawyer
Once you have received advice from your lawyer, by all means listen to them and heed their advice. It’s amazing how many people choose to ignore sound legal advice because it is not what they want to hear.
Maybe they have fallen in love with a property, or simply run out of time on the island and are rushing into a decision. These are common – and massive – mistakes.
Your Lawyer Can Also Help You Save Time
As a professional individual, you don’t have time to waste. Whether you are living here already, or flying into Thailand specifically to look for your perfect property, your limited time on the island will be especially precious.
Without the right lawyer, you could waste time looking at properties which don’t offer the legal ownership guarantees you want.
Sound legal representation will protect your interests, save time, and ultimately save money.
This is an excerpt from the Thai Residential Phuket Property Guide 2019/20. To download your free copy, please click here.
Read more of our articles on the Phuket real estate market: