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It was just after Songkran a few years ago that I started my search for a new condo in Pattaya. This was the start of the rainy season and in the weeks after Songkran Pattaya became a bit quieter. A good time for condo hunting I thought.

As I ventured around Pattaya on my small motorbike, I noticed a new View Talay branded condo was going up. I parked my motorcycle at the sales office entrance and was greeted by the staff inside. I was shown the layout of the rooms and the build schedule, and although only the first few floors were built it was apparent there was plenty of activity going on and the building was rising quickly. They said that they would erect a new floor approx. every other week.

The price was around 1.6 million baht. They wanted 10,000 for immediate booking as a booking fee, and 50,000 for a contract fee that would be required after one week to give time for the contract to be drawn up. Both those amounts were by no means extras on top of the price of the condo, but included in it. I could pay the 10,000 right there and then and secure my very own unit, and come back at the same time next week and sign the contract. It sounded like quite an exciting way to proceed with such a small amount of money up front. 

After the contract signing there were to be monthly payments paid to the developer whilst the build cycle was in progress. They provided a plan that required 15 months of payments at a rate of around 30,000 baht per month, with the total remaining balance of about 1.1 million baht required at the end of that period. 

On top of the condo price were some small fees for transfer and taxes, but it was quite a small amount, not much over 30,000 baht.

On the shady side

The unit in question was a shell unit and would require flooring, a kitchen and furniture. The bathroom was already fitted, but I had to calculate the total amount required to put in the other fittings and furnishings and make the place habitable. Facilities on site included a swimming pool and shop and restaurant units that were expected to be open and serving the residents by the time the building became occupied.

I looked at the various locations of the units inside the building on their floor plan, discussed where the sun would be in the morning and afternoon as I didn't want to have the sun pouring in all day through the windows, and then chose a unit on a high floor with a sea view and on the shady side of the building.

After an hour or so of pondering and asking questions of the staff, I paid the 10,000 baht on the spot for the booking fee. I provided my passport for the contract details. I figured if all went wrong I had only spent a very small amount of money.

I left the office in the early evening and went out and celebrated my purchase.

Next morning, the first thing I did was to go to a local branch of TMB bank and open up a savings account. This is a fairly simple procedure. They can do it on the spot as long as you have a passport. After the process, which took about 20 minutes, I came out with a passbook and ATM card, an account number, and SWIFT code for the account so I could transfer money into my new account from my home country. 

It may be a little more difficult to open an account now with some banks requiring work permits and other documentation such as a longer term visa, however at last check TMB and Kasikorn banks both are able to open savings accounts on the spot for foreign nationals as long as they present their passport. There is a fee for the book and ATM card of around 500 baht. You need to also credit the account with at least 500 baht to start.

Funds transfer

Next I called my UK bank from Thailand and asked them to arrange transfer of foreign currency for me to my new Thai bank account. They asked if I needed to send Thai baht or British Pounds. I was quick to say pounds because this meant the receiving bank in Thailand will change the pounds to Thai baht at a very good rate, whereas if I had asked the UK bank to send Thai baht they would have exchanged at it their end in the UK and given me a very bad rate indeed. I transferred the equivalent amount of pounds that would give me 150,000 in Thai baht to cover the contract fee and the deposit as well as the first few months of payments.

The money came within two working days. I updated my passbook and asked the bank to keep a record of the transaction as it would be required to show evidence of the money for the condo coming in from overseas, and this was part of it.

The following week I went back to the condo sales office and the contract had already been prepared with my name and passport details already filled in. I ensured the unit would be transferred in a foreign name once completed and this was written into the contract. I paid the 50,000 baht and signed the contract. It was in English and so there was no need for a translator. I didn't take a lawyer with me as I had already checked out the development company and found them to have a good reputation. I walked out with the contract and then planned the next period of payments.

I periodically transferred money from the UK to my Thai account over the course of the next 15 months and paid the money to the developer on time each month.

Whilst paying the relatively low amount of the 30,000 baht for the 15 months I also used that time to save up the final amount of 1.1 million baht. This required me to save another 55,000 baht per month on top of the payments. At the end of the 15 months I had saved up the final lump sum.

By this time the building was finished and the finishing touches were being put onto the landscaped gardens and swimming pool. I was able to go into the building and inspect the finished unit, which was perfect. I went back to the office and paid the remaining money. I also went to the bank to get a Tor Tor 3 document which was a piece of paper to say that the money in the sum of the total 1.6 million baht had come from outside of Thailand.

The developer handled all of the land office procedures, and when I came back the following day I had the ownership papers for the condo and the keys in my hand.