A Real Estate Agent And A Lawyer On My Side… Possibly A Few Mistakes… And A New Condo!
I found the recent articles concerning real estate agents most interesting and somewhat ruefully amusing. In fact, it reminded me of something that I experienced during 2002.
I first visited Bangkok in June, 2002. At that time, I had just packed in a very decent job (possibly mistake no. 1) in the good, old land of opportunity and was returning to the Celtic tiger economy of Europe (possibly mistake no. 2). I had a ton of money in my arse pocket (in hindsight I probably had more money than sense) and the world was my oyster.
I arrived in Bangkok and experienced the same thrill and excitement that we all have had. I was blown away! You could say that I was totally smitten by Bangkok and all that it had to offer – I returned two further times over a total 5-month period. So what would any single, fast-approaching middle-aged, red-blooded man, in my situation do? Long story short, I decided to purchase a condo (possibly mistake no. 3).
Fast forward a couple of months: It’s early morning and I’m being collected by the realtor who is taking me to the land registry office to sign the forms, hand over the balance of the purchase price in cash to the seller (some payment being made by bank transfer) and get the keys of my new condo. The realtor is a pretty, non-Thai, Asian lady who is married to a Thai. She mentioned three or four times that she is a Christian. I know, I know, she’s Christian but not a Catholic! (possibly m… oh forget that one, let’s not go there).
BTW, did I mention that I had fallen for this beautiful girl who said that she loved me within 3 days of meeting me (possibly mistake no. 4). Well anyway, the realtor arrived at the restaurant where I was just having breakfast with my girlfriend. “We have to go quick, quick” she said, scowling at my girlfriend and making it clear that it would not have been a good idea for my friend to accompany us to the closing. To this day I squirm just a little when I think that I was going to bring my girlfriend to the closing! My girlfriend did not like the realtor from their introduction when she had previously accompanied me for a final viewing of the condo. Both ladies told me that the other one was just trying to screw me! Hmm. In fairness to the girlfriend, she was Thai, spoke Thai and was definitely street smart.
Interestingly, at that final viewing, the seller had advised me that she was going to take the stereo unit, the TV and the safe with her when she moved out. On a previous viewing and before I had agreed the purchase she had stated her intention of taking the stereo unit with her but everything else would remain. I reminded the realtor of this fact. My girlfriend then apparently got in to an argument with them in Thai about this, but truthfully, I did not realise that they were arguing. They did not have raised voices. Anyway, due at least in part to girlfriend's intervention, the seller stated that she would leave the safe and the realtor agreed to buy a new TV for the condo out of her commission. A TV was there when I eventually moved in but truthfully I’m not sure if it was a brand new one!
We arrived at the Land Office and I was introduced to the lawyer who was acting on my behalf. I probably did not impress anybody by being hung-over from the night before (possibly mistake no. 5). Obviously, with all documentation written in Thai it was a bonus to have someone on my side. Besides, I had previously purchased homes in two other continents so this would be a bucket of p… I mean a formality… just a load of John Hancocks.
I was given the forms to sign. I wished that I had a clear head. Upon a quick scan, I noticed that the purchase price stated on the forms was considerably less that the amount that was actually agreed and being paid over. I questioned this and the realtor explained to me that this was the way that it is done in Thailand. She then deferred to the lawyer and he also confirmed this. I took the advice of both my guys (possibly mistake no. 6) and signed over. I really wish that I’d had a clearer head.
I’ve thought about this many times subsequently. I’ve wondered if this was a minor scam where all local parties (both seller and buyer’s advisers) were in cahoots at the expense of the Farang. Would anything come back to haunt me? This came to my mind on my most recent visit to Bangkok when I spoke with the same realtor about the possibility of me, in turn, selling the unit. She was too busy to meet and we spoke by telephone. I said that if I sold it I would like to get my initial investment back as a minimum. She immediately began to dissuade me from selling it. She indicated that I might not get my full purchase price back and among other things I might have to pay tax on the proceeds. I listened to the advice with a clear head. I'll definitely have to investigate further.
Last week’s article on real estate got me thinking. I wonder if I should get the phone number of that lawyer? Nah, even with him on my side it would probably a waste of time.
Stickman 's thoughts:
Probably the bit about the purchase price would make a good question for Sunbelt, but yeah, I believe there is some sort of tax payable on property transactions. Best to talk to a umm, err, lawyer about that!