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Senator Somchai Swangkarn Raises Alarms Over Foreign Ownership Increase in Thai Condominiums

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Visitors examine building plans and models at a house and condominium fair in Bangkok in March. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)

A caretaker senator has recently voiced concerns over the government’s controversial plan to increase foreign ownership of condominium units from the current 49% to a whopping 75%. This proposal, according to caretaker senator Somchai Swangkarn, could spell not just economic ramifications but also political turmoil that might threaten the prime minister’s position.

On a Facebook post shared on Tuesday, Somchai Swangkarn emphasized that the policy of extending the foreign leasehold duration from 50 years to an incredible 99 years, alongside the increase in condominium ownership, smacks of a conflict of interest. He implies that these changes might overwhelmingly benefit property businesses with ties to cabinet ministers, including the Prime Minister himself, Srettha Thavisin.

Not sparing any words, Somchai highlighted that the prominent property developer, Sansiri, has ownership links to Prime Minister Srettha’s family. This connection, he argued, could lead to accusations of constitutional violations and contravene the Organic Act on Anti-Corruption if the cabinet pushes these decisions through.

In response to these allegations, Interior Minister Anutin Charnvirakul mentioned that the cabinet has already instructed a comprehensive study on this policy. Interestingly, this issue did not make it onto this week’s cabinet meeting agenda. According to Anutin, the Land Department is currently weighing the pros and cons of this pivotal policy shift.

Interior Minister Anutin defended the government’s stance, stating that the nation’s economy is in dire need of stimulation. He assured that the proposed changes were not crafted to favor capitalists but to kickstart economic growth while safeguarding the rights of Thai citizens.

Adding to the debate, Sopon Pornchokchai, the president of the Agency for Real Estate Affairs, drew attention to regional practices. He noted that property lease periods for foreigners are capped at 50 years in Cambodia, China, Myanmar, and Vietnam, 30 years in Indonesia, and 60 years in Singapore. Similarly, foreign condominium ownership is restricted to 30% in Vietnam, 49% in Indonesia, and 50% in Malaysia.

Sopon voiced his apprehension that the government’s proposed policy might lead to an uptick in transnational crime, money laundering, economic manipulation, and even pose a threat to national security. He suggested that for any policy change to be effective and unbiased, the government should set a minimum condominium purchase price for foreigners at 10 million baht. This would ensure that lower and middle-income Thai citizens can still access affordable housing.

To curb property speculation, Sopon also proposed a three-year restriction on selling purchased condominiums by foreign buyers. By implementing such measures, he believed, the market could maintain its equilibrium and protect domestic buyers.

Meanwhile, local property industry executives are enthusiastic about the potential policy modification, as there’s a growing demand from foreign buyers. However, the sector is wary due to high levels of household debt and stricter lending conditions affecting the purchasing power of local buyers. Consequently, developers are proceeding with caution, balancing the interests of both local and foreign markets.


  1. Pat Ratchada June 25, 2024

    This policy is an absolute minefield! How can we allow 75% ownership to foreigners? Our housing market will collapse, and regular Thais will be priced out. It’s appalling!

    • Sammy B. June 25, 2024

      I don’t think it’s that simple. Bringing in foreign investment can boost our economy. We’re in dire need of economic stimulation, remember?

      • Pat Ratchada June 25, 2024

        Sure, but at what cost? If foreigners own most of our condos, what’s left for us? Our own people will become second-class citizens in our own country!

      • Ming W. June 25, 2024

        Pat, tell me where this has actually happened before. Foreign investments typically create jobs and improve infrastructure. It’s not black and white.

  2. Sandy June 25, 2024

    I agree with Somchai Swangkarn. This policy looks like it will benefit corrupt politicians more than everyday Thais. What a mess.

    • Kavi June 25, 2024

      You do know this isn’t the first time the government is being accused of corruption, right? I’m more worried about this policy being an economic disaster.

    • Sandy June 25, 2024

      Corruption or not, the outcome will still be the same. The elites get richer while the rest of us struggle. Perhaps economic disaster is the whole plan.

  3. Jasmine T. June 25, 2024

    This is just another way to make the rich even richer. They don’t care about the future of our local housing market. They only see dollar signs.

    • Ben June 25, 2024

      But isn’t that how capitalism works? Sad but true. Trying to fight against it is like throwing rocks at the ocean.

  4. Aun Supachai June 25, 2024

    What about the Laos, Cambodian and Vietnamese markets mentioned? We should be learning from our neighbors, not disregarding these important comparisons.

    • Phoncharee June 25, 2024

      Definitely. Their property rules are tighter for a reason. Why take unnecessary risks?

      • Aun Supachai June 25, 2024

        Exactly! We need to proceed with caution, not jump into policies that could backfire.

  5. John S. June 25, 2024

    If only the government was as worried about household debt as they are about foreign investment. It’s a joke at this point.

    • Luke June 25, 2024

      Well, increasing foreign ownership might help lower household debt if more money comes into the economy, right?

    • John S. June 25, 2024

      Maybe, but that’s a big ‘if.’ Foreigners owning our condos doesn’t necessarily mean that money will trickle down to regular folks.

  6. Jen June 25, 2024

    Why aren’t we focusing on local solutions? We’ve got enough problems at home without inviting more.

  7. Mike Davis June 25, 2024

    We need to address the root issues like housing affordability for Thais before even considering such drastic changes.

  8. Kittisak June 25, 2024

    Anutin’s assurances sound hollow. If the goal really is economic stimulation, there are better ways to achieve it without risking our national security.

  9. Violette June 25, 2024

    Not to mention potential money laundering and economic manipulation. Have we learned nothing from other countries facing these issues?

    • Rak J. June 25, 2024

      True, the possibility of increased crime is a real concern. I can’t believe they’re ignoring it.

  10. Hank June 25, 2024

    Foreign investment is like a double-edged sword. It can bring benefits, but what about the long-term consequences?

    • Arisa June 25, 2024

      Exactly, and I don’t trust the government to manage those risks effectively.

  11. Thongsai June 25, 2024

    A minimum purchase price for foreigners is a good idea. It protects local buyers and keeps the market fair.

  12. Timmy June 25, 2024

    Not sure if that goes far enough. Foreign investors have deep pockets and can easily meet those requirements.

  13. Nida June 25, 2024

    The policy could kickstart the economy, but only if executed with stringent safeguards in place.

  14. Jack June 25, 2024

    I think increasing the leasehold duration to 99 years sounds crazy. Why not 70 years like some other countries? That seems more balanced.

    • Min June 25, 2024

      Totally! 99 years is basically forever. It’s giving away our future!

  15. Aran June 25, 2024

    What about the lack of local demand due to household debt? This policy might just create a bubble.

    • Ploy June 25, 2024

      True, local purchasing power is weakening. We should strengthen that before opening the market further.

  16. Rose June 25, 2024

    Sansiri stands to gain massively from this. The conflict of interest is blatant. Why isn’t there more oversight?

    • Tina June 25, 2024

      Because the very people who should be overseeing it are the ones benefiting. It’s a catch-22.

  17. Navin June 25, 2024

    Reactionary thinking isn’t the way forward. If done right, this policy could actually bring long-term benefits.

    • Rose Lee June 25, 2024

      And if done wrong, we’ll all end up paying for it. The stakes are too high.

  18. Chai June 25, 2024

    We need a balanced approach. Perhaps testing the policy in specific areas first would be a wiser strategy.

  19. Katie June 25, 2024

    Policy testing is a good idea. It can provide real data to fine-tune the proposal before a full rollout.

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