Saturday, February 10, 2007

Thai Crackdown on Foreign Home Ownership Reverberating World-Wide

Thai Anxiety

Will new restrictions on foreign ownership in Thailand lead to panic in the property market, asks Michael Sheridan

British villa owners in Thailand face uncertainty over the legal status of their properties, and might even lose control over their homes following a controversial change in company law by the country’s military appointed government.

With its low property prices and reputation for “sun, smiles and entertainment”, Thailand has been one of the most popular of the “emerging” markets. But it has not been all smooth going for the thousands of Britons who have already taken the plunge. In recent months, the Thai property market has been unsettled by a string of negative news including the imposition of capital controls, restrictions on tourist visas, a military coup, turbulence on the stock and currency markets, a wave of terrorism in southern Thailand and nine bomb blasts in Bangkok, the capital, on New Year’s Eve, that injured British visitors.

The latest blow was an announcement by the Thai government that it is to restrict foreign ownership of the companies that have been used by many British and other nonThais to buy holiday homes. Foreigners are banned from owning land in Thailand.

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