Richard Silverberg introduced the speaker for the seminar on land ownership as well known to the Club having been a long time member and former three-term Chairman of the Club’s Board of Governors and MC for three years Drew Noyes. Drew operates several businesses in Pattaya including a news media group (Pattaya Times) and PAPPA Co., Ltd., which provides legal and visa services.
Consequently, Drew is very knowledgeable about the ins and outs for forming businesses or acquiring property in
Drew started by noting that recent articles in the press about Thai government officials’ remarks about illegal land ownership by foreigners. One article from Phuket included a Land Office official’s comments about it being illegal for the Thai wife of a foreigner to buy property. Another dealt with allegations foreign ownership of Issan farmland. Drew said that these comments might cause some consternation among foreigners about buying land in
Drew’s talk was informative and provided a lot of information of keen interest, and he answered many questions from the audience. So much that we can only summarize his main points here. One area dealt with the formation of companies. For a company to own land, it cannot have more than 49% foreign ownership of its shares. In the past, lawyers set up companies showing 51% of its shares being owned by Thais who really had no investment in the company. This gave rise to the Land Office saying that in such cases, it would investigate where the Thai owner’s money came from. Drew said there were ways to offset such inquiries. Drew then explained a process where the owners form the company with limited investment. The money to buy the land or condo is then provided to the company in the form of a loan from the foreigner. The foreigner then leases the property from the company. Drew emphasized that the money first be wired into the foreigner’s personal bank account. Further, he said the Inbound Wire Transfer Agreement, formerly called a Tor Tor Sam, needs to clearly state that the purpose of the wire transfer, for example to loan ABC Company money to buy property at location description.
In forming companies, whether to buy land or to operate a business, Drew suggested care should be taken to avoid being over taxed. He said most Thai lawyers include from 23 to 26 objectives of the company, which virtually allow the company to do almost anything. This is not a good idea because taxes are levied differently for different types of business activity. Drew suggested the objectives be limited to the actual planned activity of the company. Other activities can be added later if necessary. Drew also cautioned against buying a property by purchasing an already existing company that owns the property. This is because the company owning the property may have undisclosed liabilities, which you as the new owner would be obligated to pay if claims are made later. He said it was better to eliminate this risk by spending the money necessary to form a new company to buy the property outright.
Drew said that in any property transaction, due diligence is necessary. He explained how titles are recorded at the land office and showed everyone what it looked like. He noted that on the back is the list of owners with the last name being the current owner of record. If a mortgage is recorded against the property, it will appear as the last item. When buying property, he said to make sure to look at the original title so you can see both the front and back. He said it was not uncommon for the seller to show a photocopy of only the front side, which upon further investigation may disclose that the seller is not the owner of record or that there is a mortgage against the property. Drew gave everyone some suggestions on how to handle the transaction if there is a mortgage to ensure it is paid, cautioning against giving money to anyone but the mortgage holder or their legal representative.
In conclusion, Drew cited an example of how one could protect oneself if they have property in their Thai wife’s name especially when the “love is gone.” He explained how a foreigner was able to prove to the Thai court that he provided the funds to the wife for acquiring the property and get a court order protecting his interest. Drew offers free consultations. He can be contacted by telephone at 038-301-048 or 084-111-7999 or by email at email@example.com.
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