Plans to allow foreign land ownership in Thailand were pulled by the government after it received significant pushback from several prominent groups. The Cabinet recently approved a scheme that allowed expats to own up to one rai of land for residential purposes but that will no longer be happening.

Thai PBS reported that the Thai Real Estate Association (TREA) along with the Thai Condominium Association, the Housing Business Association, the Thai Chamber of Commerce and 14 other associations met to discuss alternatives to granting foreign land ownership in Thailand.

Unfortunately, the only idea currently being mooted by those groups appears to be extremely weak and unlikely to provide any benefits to Thailand. TREA President Khun Meesak Choonharatchote told Thai PBS that a plan to allow overseas buyers to acquire houses, but not the land they are on, in Thailand could be presented to the government as an alternative.

Exactly how that would differ from current leasehold regulations was not mentioned nor was any indication provided on who would regulate the land foreign-owned houses would sit on.

Others within the real estate industry called on the government to redraft regulations on foreign land ownership in Thailand. This group believes clearer guidelines and a higher investment minimum would help ease the concerns that sunk the initial proposal. 

Where can foreigners own freehold land in Asia?

There are actually several countries in Asia that already sanction freehold landownership to foreigners. Japan, South Korea and Malaysia currently permit this with each country having its own set of regulations. It should be noted that none of these are particularly prohibitive.

If anything, the THB40 million investment required under plans to allow foreign land ownership in Thailand would be far less palatable than any restriction on the books in Japan, South Korea and Malaysia.