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Further Reading:

Change of Government - Building Survey

This month I will respond to two questions, the first posed by Mr. Mr. Carlo Cella of Milan, who writes

July saw a change of government in Thailand. How, if at all, will this effect the property market in Phuket?

It’s that time in Wonderland, when everyone at the Mad Hatters tea party has to get up and change places. That’s the way politics often seems in Thailand and it is seemingly, often just as irrelevant. My personal view is that life in this country (particularly in the provinces) carries on near to total disregard for whomever pulls the strings in Bangkok.

The more conventional local view however, is that we are reverting (probably not for all that long) to an era of big money power politics and this is generally perceived as a positive influence on the property market. It’s our turn now, jump on the bandwagon, money will talk, things will get done, stick with us and we will all get rich together In the short term this view will likely prevail and may even kick start a market recovery. Indeed, my sense of things, is that a recovery is already underway.

"Then you keep moving round, I suppose?" asked Alice. "Exactly so", said the Hatter, "as the things get used up". "But what happens when you get to the beginning again?" Alice ventured to ask. "Suppose we change the subject", the March Hare interrupted, yawning. I am getting tired of this".

Mr. John McGregor of Canberra writes:

I have seen a house in which I would very much like to buy, but I am concerned about the both the soundness of the land tittle and the physical structure of the (largely wooden) building itself. How can I get a property search and survey carried out in Phuket.

There are two quite distinct questions here, the first concerns title searches, which in many countries in the west with very old land registry systems and a lot of very old properties, can be quite a cumbersome

But here in Thailand is in fact (in the case of titled land) relatively simple. All claims (mortgages, leases exceeding 3 years duration, sales with right of retention etc.) over a parcel of land have to be registered on the land title deed. Any contractual agreement made by a previous land owner is only enforceable against that owner himself; it is not enforceable against the property unless registered in the title deed. (Thus for example an unregistered lease leaves the lessee with a claim against the lessor, but it does not necessarily leave the lessee with the use of the land). As such a search is as simple as asking the vendor for a copy of the front and rear of his title deed and then having someone who reads Thai (and you trust) visit to the local land office to compare the title to the copy and note any endorsements on the back.

A building survey is however a more complex affair. In most countries in the West, it is easy to get a detailed report from an independent surveyor who is usually governed by his professions standards and fully accountable for the objectivity of his report. Here in Phuket there is no such profession. (or equivalent)

What you can do first, is give the house a good look ever by yourself. Most damage is fairly apparent to a close inspection, even to an amateur. Look for cracks in masonry - a sign of poor foundations; look for stains in paint - a sign of leaks - and look closely at any external woodwork for signs of rotting - tap the timber with your knuckles. If it sounds in any way soft or hollow - it probably is.

If you need further advice you can always approach someone in a related profession (Architect, Property Consultant or Construction Manager) and ask him for an opinion. Your final line of evaluation, if you feel there are problems, is to ask a building contractor for his opinion and an estimate of the necessary repairs. Bear in mind however that if you give him carte blanche to find work that needs doing, he is likely to find a lot mare than is actually necessary. In the end you will need to assess the probity of his views.