10 Tips on how to choose the correct agent when buying a property in Thailand

Real Estate Agent Thailand

  1. Seek Legal Advice – It’s recommended that if you are seriously looking to invest in buying property in Thailand you need to firstly seek professional legal advice. This could save you a lot of time and money in the long run and you may even change what type of property you buy when you know all the options. For example, a foreigner can own a condominium or house outright, but not the land it sits on. There are 3 easy ways that you can successfully acquire your dream house and land though, each with their own potential risks. The house and land can be registered in a Thai name, you can purchase a 90 year lease on the land in your own name (renewable every 30 years or transferable to freehold status at a later date), or you can set up a Thai company and the company owns the land. However, as a foreigner you cannot legally have the controlling share of the company. Also an amendment in the land code now allows foreigners to own up to 1 Rai of land for residential purposes, but this requires capital investment in Thailand of no less than 40 Million Baht. A professional agent should really recommend you seek independent legal guidance before purchasing a property in Thailand.
  2. Recommendation – Word of mouth from a satisfied customer is always a good way to start out when looking for an agent. Talk to friends and acquaintances, make a list of all the recommended agents and investigate further.
  3. Internet presence – Check out all prospective Agents online, their company website will reveal much about the success of their business and should include customer feedback. Admittedly, negative feedback isn’t generally found here so the information can be a bit one sided. The real uncensored comments can be found on forums…
  4. Forums – The power of Internet Forums should not be underestimated. Here you will find everything from glowing recommendations to ‘you must not do business with these guys!’ Of course some of the comments from dis-satisfied customers need to be taken with a pinch of salt, but if there is a recurring theme of unhappy customers be warned. (The most popular English language forum for Thailand can be found on www.thaivisa.com/forum/‎).
  5. Property Magazines – All serious Agents involved in buying and selling properties in Thailand will advertise what they are selling and what they are looking for. There are many free publications every month produced in Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket etc. and street maps, newspapers and bespoke glossy property magazines, these can be found at most hotel receptions and super markets.
  6. Shop around – How much should the agent charge you for finding you your dream property? Buyers pay around two per cent transfer fees, one per cent legal fees and 0.5 per cent stamp duty. Buying through a Thai company means you have to pay business tax of 3.3 per cent and if buying land, a local development tax. These are all points to raise with your solicitor/lawyer. It’s important when budgeting for your property purchase that you are aware of any hidden costs and annual charges too.
  7. Property Price comparison – There are many Agents to choose from when buying a property in Thailand, it’s a good idea to compare prices on like for like properties. You will start to create a picture of who is more expensive and also what locations are more expensive too. A property that is for sale with several different Agents may well be advertised at different prices. It stands to reason that the higher the sale figure the more commission the Agent makes. Also, a seller may have had their property advertised for many months with one Agent without success, they then advertise with another at a lower price. (Often without informing the first Agent!).
  8. Customer service – If you haven’t found a specific property you want pick your top 3 to 5 agents, give them a call to arrange a meeting. Check out their office and staff too, is it a happy office, do the workers look pleased to see you. If they have a white board or similar on the wall look how many clients they have, both active and concluded. The Agents focus should be to help find the right property for you, not just to make a quick sale. When they have the details of your requirements they will show you what they have in their property portfolio and will arrange appointments to for you to view those you are interested in or if they haven’t currently got what you’re looking for they will contact you when they do, if they want your business! Alternatively, you might have already found the property you want on a website. (Sellers tend not to offer exclusivity of sale to one Agent in Pattaya as this limits the sale potential. Most Agents will offer a reduced sellers fee if they have exclusivity). One last point worthy of mention is punctuality. Is your Agent on time for your meetings? If you decide to meet the Agent at a property do they turn up on time, or ideally greet you upon arrival? It’s the little things that count in customer service as it helps reassure the buyer that the Agent is working for them and after all, earning their percentage!
  9. Personal appearance and presentation – How is your Agent dressed? What are your first impressions upon meeting the Agent? Literally, would you buy a house from this guy or lady? These are all thoughts that cross our mind whether they are conscious or not. In the UK, for example, a Real Estate Agent tends to wear a well-made and fitted suit with a dressed to impress mode of thinking. (Details such as how the guy wears his tie can make or break high end sales). Thailand is rather hot and humid all year round so most foreign Agents tend to dress smart, but will probably not wear a neck tie and may wear a short sleeve shirt. (It takes a while for a European to get used to wearing long trousers, shoes and socks in such a warm climate!) What Car does your Agent drive? – A professional Agent is likely to offer to drive you when viewing properties. Is the car good quality, clean inside and out? Is it really important? Well, yes it is. The impression you form about your Agent in the first few meetings can make or break a sale.
  10. Experience – How long has your Agent been in business? Many new Agencies appear in Pattaya every year, some with experienced Agents and Staff, some not! Again, a brief investigation on your part will soon reveal who the movers & shakers in town are. Established Agents in Pattaya like to let you know they have been in business for many years, this information usually appears on all of their marketing materials. There are awards for the best Agents and Real Estate companies too, this is also worth making note of as it adds credibility and displays a certain level of competence.

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