Koh Samui Buying Guide

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1. Why choose Koh Samui for you next property purchase

Koh Samui, Thailand’s second largest island, lies in the Gulf of Thailand off the east coast of Surat Thani Province and South of Bangkok. It’s known for its palm-fringed beaches, coconut groves and dense, mountainous rainforest, plus luxury resorts and high-end spas/massage.

1.1.1 What about the weather?
Furthermore, the island has tempered weather, varying between an average of 25-30 degree celsius depending on the month. December to April has great weather, very little rain and lots of sun. From May to September, you will still have the sun but a bit of rain, usually brief showers in the afternoon or night. October and November are the rainiest months and it has the coolest temperatures.

1.1.2 Is Ko Samui Safe?
Very much so, Samui is a very safe destination to visit, but like all places that attracts large crowds, problems can occur if you’re not aware of them beforehand.
These potential scams are easy to spot if you are an experienced traveller or been living there for a while. It is accept a shady deal under the excitement of doing something for the first time.

If you would like to know more about potential scams that you could face on Koh Samui when you first arrive, we have made an article called ”Is Koh Samui Safe?” it has a collection of known problems to avoid in Samui.

1.1.3 Is Koh Samui Expensive?
The short answer is no, Thailand is very budget friendly you will be able to do activities, eat and rent/buy properties at a much lower price point than Western/European countries. We have made an article called ”Is Koh Samui Expensive” to help you get an idea of pricing on the island. We have listed different foods, activities and real estate.

1.2 Is Koh Samui great to retire?
Yes, definitely, a good part of the expats on Koh Samui are retired. The island has all the food, activities and communities that one would expect to fill your days and keep yourself busy. The location that you will choose to live on the island will influence your lifestyle. There are 2 main orientations, either aim the for peace and quiet from the south side or the active and more city-like of the east side of the island. We have made an article ”Retirement Guide on Koh Samui” we have listed the different types of communities, properties and lifestyle that you can expect in different areas of the island.

1.3 Is Koh Samui great for families and couples?
Yes, this island welcome everybody but are you coming to work or are you taking a few sabbatical years?  Even if this island attracts a lot of digital nomads allowing them to work from home and enjoy the Island life, it is possible for an individual to work on the island. there are many possibilities with shops, hotels, tourism related opportunities looking to hire driven and motivated people. It might also be a good time to become a business owner and start your own business. We have more information on these subjects in our guide called ”Working on an Island”.

Steps in owning a property

2. The steps in owning a property in Koh Samui

2.1.1 Building yourself a property
The process of building a property overseas can be difficult but not impossible, you will need to surround yourself with reliable companies before starting the process and handing any money. First you will need to go through an agency to find the piece of land where you would like to build. It is important to take you time and not to start any other process at the same time (designs, plans, quotations). It will require your full attention, pricing and location will be a key component for a future re-sell. Price valuation can be a little tricky, your agent can also help you guarantee that your chosen location that matches your desired lifestyle. You can read our article called ”How to build a villa on Koh Samui” it will give you all the tips & tricks that we have collected over the years.

2.1.2 Buying an existing one
Buying an already built property is the safest way to acquire real estate. The building generally has been through the test of time and it is easy to make a due diligence to check the titles, access and company (if any). We made an article called ”How to buy a property on Koh Samui” it will outline all the important regulation for your future purchase.

2.1.3 Buying off-plan from a developper
Buying from a developper might be very tempting, they usually guarantee high return in investment. To be honest, there is no guarantee at all, I would be highly careful of a developper certifies a return to you. If ever he stops for any reason ”per exemple covid”, you will need to go to court and it will cost you more than just time and money. The first advice that I can give you is to buy a property that is already finished within a development. In the event that you want a specific plot that requires building from the ground up, I would recommend you to leave the money in your lawyer’s account until the property is finished. If your builder doesn’t agree to these terms, find another developper. You can find more information in our article called ”How to buy from a property developer on Koh Samui”.

2.2 I have found a property, now what?
All of these options (2.1.1 / 2.1.2 / 2.1.3) will require you to use a lawyer to complete a due diligence, more on that later. Even if are buying from a developper or an off-plan property, it doesn’t mean that the titles are correct of that the construction is following the law. Please for the love of Real Estate, do not use the same lawyer as the seller’s side or even a recommendation from him. You must do your own research first to find a lawyer that is trustworthy and unrelated financially with the developper or the other party.

Agencies and property developers will require you to make a deposit to secure the house/land plot, which is normal.
Before giving a deposit, make sure that you are working with a professional, only hand out deposit to agents or developers who have a physical office, we strongly recommend not working with freelancers.
To go forward, they will need you to sign a reservation agreement, read carefully and in doubt, show it to your lawyer. Most importantly, find the line stating that you will be refunded in case the due diligence reveals an issue. It could be road and access issues, un-buildable zone, no access to the electricity, issues with the company holding the land and/or property (if any), etc.

Now that this is clear, let’s go forward with the time frame of a transaction and one of the easiest and safest way to acquire a property.

2.3 How long will the transaction take from start to finish?
Transactions can take between 3 weeks to 3 months to complete depending on the type of transfer that will be done. It will depends if the land and the house is under a company or if it is transferred from an individual to another individual.

2.4 Which structure is the safest and easiest for a foreigner to acquire a property?
The easiest way is through a company that will hold the land and property as an asset. It is very easy to buy and re-sell making the fastest and least expensive of all options. It is sometimes not possible to use this company setup, you can find why in our article called ”Different ways to acquire a property in Thailand”.

Our tips on buying a property

3. Our tips on buying a property on Koh Samui

3.1 Should I be careful who I work with?
We recommend that you work with agencies and developers who have a physical office and are easily reachable. Too many people re-invent themselves as real estate agents on this Island so please double-check everything with your lawyer.

3.2 Find the right connection
Stay away from the people who want to help you for free when you arrive on the Island. You will not find those connections in bars, restaurants and touristic places. You will get a surge of people who want to become your friend once you tell them you are looking to buy a property. Sadly, this is the nature of the islands all around the world. The best way to protect yourself is to make your own research online and go meet professional who have an office on Koh Samui.

3.3 Which lawyer should I choose?
Finding the right lawyer can sometimes be difficult, I would recommend making your own research online, meeting them prior to making any business is a good way to assess their character and avoid unpleasant surprises. Make sure to never use a lawyer that is recommended by the developers or the seller. You can take recommendation from your agency if you have complete trust in them. You should not discard a lawyer simply because he has a low level of English. Finding someone who can help you translate is quite easy.

Conclusion

4. Our thoughts on the market and conclusion

41. How is purchasing Real Estate different in South East Asia and Thailand?
Buying can be easy when you deal with the right people, taking proper precautions by using a reputable agency and lawyer firms will save you time and money. Take your time to do your research, only contact professionals with an office on the Island and let go of any recommendations from a friend of a friend that you met at the bar/restaurant.
Without trying to be too blunt or even scared you, taking the proper precautions when you enter a new market should be your top priority. It doesn’t mean that you should prevent yourself from enjoying this beautiful island, it is in my opinion the best island in Thailand. It has all you could wish for, great schools, restaurants, activities, beaches and nightlife. You should simply take your time to learn about how it work and enjoy the Island rhythm.

4.2 About us and Conclusions
The real estate market is very different from what we were use to. Asia is very different from Canada, our family owned 4 RE/MAX franchise and has been in Real Estate for more than 25 years. We are established on Koh Samui since 2016, we instantly fell in love with its good weather, white sandy beach and tropical life.

We would love to hear about you, if you have any questions regarding the laws & regulations, property/land purchase process, timeframes, building regulations and references or any questions related to the Island we will be happy to help you. You can reach us on our Contact us page for any further inquiries.

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