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Andre from France e-mailed "I am thinking about leaving home and establishing a coffee shop or , snack place in Patong. A friend of my brother has a bar there (where there are girls, you know what I mean) and says his business is doing well, but I need to be sure that if I make the move, that I can make a good living in Phuket and that if I lease a premises, I won’t find my self thrown out in three years time "?

Well, Andre, life has no guarantees, not even if you live in paradise!!

The bar business (even without the girls) is generally a tough one and we see a lot of turnover and people leaving this business. Sure, you can make money if you get the formula right but competition is tough. Food outlets and restaurants tend to be more profitable and simpler to operate - but again for every restaurant that makes good money there are an equal number that don't make money. It's basically down - good location - good management and differentiation of your product.

Bars are typically only available for short non renewable leases. With restaurants or more substantial (particularly empty) properties longer terms can usually be negotiated and you will typically find that owners will be more reasonable about renewal (provided of course that you can still afford are prepared to pay a fair market rent). Rents in prime locations however are high and with all the investment that will typically be made in converting or renovation a property, before it is fit for business, it can be much wiser to consider outright purchase over rental. That way you never get the problem and uncertainty of lease renewal and if (we hope it won’t) the business should fail, you still have a saleable asset.

Some make it and do well, others fail and leave. If you come in with serious intentions a willingness for hard work, a good business plan and the skills to implement the plan, there is every reason to believe that you can make a success of it. If on the other hand you end up on the wrong side of a bar and get carried away with the freedoms of life in Thailand (a lot of previously stable people end up as wasted drunks - or worse) well… you could be back home in two years.

David Jones, based in Singapore who has recently set-up a company in Thailand and is about to close on a property purchase e-mailed to ask "Can you tell me what final S&P contracts and supporting documentation will be required to conclude the purchase. Can we do this on a Saturday morning."?

No. The Land Office is only open Monday to Friday. It is also closed for over a dozen public holidays each year - so check this against a Thai calendar.

The actual Sale & Purchase agreement is a government form in Thai. It contains nothing more than the names and addresses of the parties the subject property, the date and the price of transfer (declared as paid in full) and will be filled out by the government officials at the time of transfer

When it comes to registration of the sale (in a company name) you will need the companies, memorandum, articles of association, affidavit showing current authorized directors, and the shareholders list - original certified copies not more than 30 days old from the commercial department will be required. (Individual foreign lessors would just need copies of their passports)

The presence of the authorized signatories of the company (together with certified copies of their identity and household registration cards) or a valid power of attorney signed by the directors (with certified signed copies as above) to appoint another person to represent the company at the land office.

A duly signed minutes of a meeting of the Board of Directors showing that the company has resolved to purchase the subject land.

Your lawyers should however be very aware of what’s required and should be in a position to provide all this. In theory the power of attorney can be given to a foreigner, but in practice registration will always run smoother and faster if a Thai is the one present at the land office - and I would highly recommend that you do this.