The Center for Economic Situation Administration (CESA) announced a proposal that would see foreigners purchasing a condominium unit priced at THB8 million and above be eligible to receive a Smart Visa. Thansettakij reported that a second proposal laying out improvements to the Thailand Elite visa program linked to real estate investment was also put forth.
No decision is imminent on either proposal with several more departments needing to approve them before they go into effect. That being said, The Office of the National Economic and Social Development Council, which reports directly to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s office, is expected to move quickly on this.
For property investors, transparency regarding the visa application process will be extremely important. The current Thailand condominium investment visa states that anyone who purchases THB10 million in new condominium units can receive a visa that can be renewed annually.
However, the process has been plagued with issues since being launched in 2014 due to a lack of information. Property buyers aren’t sure where and how to apply for this visa and immigration offices haven’t been briefed on the requirements. Additionally, very little has been done in the way of promoting the program with many property buyers seemingly unaware that this option exists.
Read more: Does Thailand really need a ‘Golden Visa’?
How will the new condo investment visa be any different?
Apart from lowering the threshold from THB10 million to THB8 million, it remains to be seen just how the proposed Thailand condominium investment visa will be any different from what’s already on the books. If anything, it may actually be slightly less appealing than what is currently available.
That is because the THB10 million investment visa isn’t limited to simply condominiums. There are three asset classes overseas investors can place money into. These three investments are:
- Condo units in a new-build development
- Thai government or Thai state-enterprise bonds
- A deposit into a Thai bank account
With Thailand eager to bring in overseas investment quickly, there really isn’t a need to launch another new visa program with a solid, albeit relatively unknown, one on the books. It would be more prudent for the Thailand Board of Investment to take ownership of the current visa program which has already been approved by the government.
From there, they could streamline how it works, make the application process transparent and roll it out. Should the goal be to stimulate real estate investment exclusively, the BOI can adjust the thresholds accordingly.
Regardless of if Thailand launches a new condo investment visa or simply improves the existing one, it is important the country gets this right. There is significant demand from overseas buyers who want a property in Thailand attached to a visa at the moment. A condo investment visa could significantly benefit the country at a time of need and help Thailand take its first steps towards an economic recovery.