Thai Real Estate Investment Soared On Back Of Property Fund Activity

KTAM Aims to Become Thailand’s Leading Property Fund,Increasing Assets Under Management to 11.3 Billion

The Bangkok Post reported on Thursday, 22 February that real estate investment in Thailand soared by 81.8 percent to $2 billion (1.3 billion)in 2012, nearly double the $1.1 billion (720 million) in 2011, as property funds markedly increased their investment activity.

According to property consultant DTZ, Thailand’s real estate market was boosted by the listing of major property funds and a high number of acquisitions, particularly in the office and hotel sectors. Some $1.1 billion (720 million), or 55 percent of total real estate investment, came from transactions by real estate funds or public funds for public offerings (PFPOs).

Investment activity received a major boost from the listing of Tesco Lotus Retail Growth Freehold and Leasehold (TLGF) in the beginning of January 2012, which proved to bethe largest property fund listing for the year. The $594-million (389 million) fund purchased 17 Tesco Lotus shopping malls in prime locations across Thailand in a deal which by itself exceeded half of the real estate investments in the country in 2011.

Other notable property fund investments in 2012 included the purchase during the first quarter of three serviced apartment complexesand residences for $106 million (69 million) by the listed Land and Houses Freehold and Leasehold Property Fund (LHPF). Additionally, the Quality Houses Hotel and Residence Freehold and Leasehold Property Fund (QHHR) bought three Centre Point serviced apartments in the third quarter, for some $107 million (70 million).

KTAM Eyes Real Estate Market

Krung Thai Asset Management (KTAM) has the ambition to lead the market in property funds and,more specifically, to increase its assets under management by 20 percent in 2013 to 516 billion baht (11.3 billion), said chief executive officer Somchai Boonnamsiri, citing the positive overall investment climate.

The Bangkok Post reports that Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi plans to raise funds through the funds managed by KTAM, with the subsequent capital increase being dedicated to turning KTAM into the global leader of this type of fund.

KTAM is considering entering new markets including Mexico, Brazil and some European countries. Annualised return for short-term investments in these regions is forecast at 3.5 percent or about one percent higher than returns in the Thai domestic market.

The Thai fund intends to boost the capital of property funds under the direction Sirivadhanabhakdi’s TCC group to as high as 50 billion baht (1.1 billion) this year. The fund also plans to launch ETFs on the Stock Exchange of Thailand in sectors such as food, energy, ICT and the commercial sector.

2013 will be the last year in which Thailand’s Securities and Exchange Commission will allow investments in what has been known as property type 1, with introduction a new type of property fund, the internationally recognised real estate investment trust, set to replace the old structure.

Condominium Ownership Document And Address Registration Tabien Baan

Foreigners buying a condominium in Thailand will receive 2 official government issued documents related to the condominium.

1 the condominium ownership title deed
2 the condominium house registration book

Each condominium unit has a unit title deed issued by the Provincial Land Department or its branch office and a Tabien Baan or House Registration Book issued by the local municipality.

The condominium unit title deed is the official ownership document and its use id proof of ownership. The apartment’s house book primary use is registration of the unit and it’s address and verification and registration of a Thai person’s address living in the condominium.

The normal house book issued for each address in Thailand is the blue version of the Tabien Baan. Foreigners owning a property are usually not registered in the blue book as owner or resident. Opposite Thai nationals foreigners often have an empty blue house book.

There is a separate version of the Tabien Baan for foreigners, the ‘yellow book’. It is possible for foreigners to exchange the blue book for a yellow book if the foreigner meets the requirements for the application. The required documents for a yellow book vary per location but usually require a non-immigrant visa and an ownership document such as the condominium unit title deed, but could also include a work permit or marriage certificate.

A yellow book is unusual in Thailand and it is not necessary for foreigners to exchange the blue book for a yellow book. The majority of foreigners have the blue book together with the ownership unit title deed.

Even though the foreigner is not registered in the house book foreigners usually proof their address through the Tabien Baan and the condominium title deed, or obtain a separate ‘letter of residence’ from the local immigration.

Overall compared to the ownership title deed the house book is not an important document and there is no need for foreigners to exchange a blue for a yellow book.

Buying Off Plan Real Estate In Thailand Condominium Acquisition And Escrow

Off plan condominium purchase in Thailand means buying a condo in a planning stage or a condominium not yet fully constructed. The standard payment schedule found in an off-the-plan sale and purchase agreement of a condominium in Thailand is:

1. a reservation agreement with a reservation fee of 100,000 baht (approx 3300 USD)
2. a deposit of 10 to 20% of the purchase price on the execution of the condominium sale and purchase agreement
3. periodical installments during the construction of the condominium with a final installment of 1/12th to 1/20th of the purchase price upon transfer of ownership of the condominium.

Who to pay to?

Paying in escrow for a condo in Thailand means that payments are made to an Escrow Act licensed third party financial institution or bank that will hold the deposited monies till the conditions of the condominium sale and purchase agreement have been met, depending on the contract. The use of escrow services in Thailand for property purchases is not common!!

Generally developers in Thailand DO NOT offer escrow payment arrangements. Property developers in Thailand are under the Escrow Act or new Condominium Act and Condo Act regulations NOT required to offer escrow agreements to consumers. Property developers in Thailand are free to require deposits and installments in agreements without offering any protection for the purchaser payments. There is no legal protection structure in place for realty buyers. This part simply depends on the agreed and accepted contract terms and conditions between the seller and purchaser. If the buyer pays directly into the developer’s account this is an accepted risk he as the purchaser takes.

In 99% of the property development projects in Thailand the purchaser makes the payments directly to the developers bank account. Obviously payment made directly to the developer, as opposed to payments made in escrow, carries some serious financial risks for buyers in case of default by the developer. They risk loosing all. In addition, pre-paying the development, the buyer looses all leverage in case of delay or poor workmanship. At the time of completion the buyer has paid up to 95% of the purchase price and the developer is in a much stronger position and can simply refuse transfer of ownership to the buyer.

The developers company

The standard payment schedule by which the purchase price is paid directly to the developers bank account during the construction or even before the start of a condominium project carries risks of losing your payments in case of default or bankruptcy of the developer.

An important part of this arrangement is the developers company. Is it a large SET listed (Thailand stock exchange) real estate developer or a limited liability company with a low share capital and a poor track record? Limited liability for the developer means limited liability and in case of default there is for the buyers little chance of getting any of the payments back.

The Condominium Act supposed to protect the interests of the buyers of condos in Thailand but does not require the establishment of escrow arrangements in an off-plan condominium development.

Paying directly to the developer in Thailand is taking a risk.