Archive for May, 2010

Sun 2 May 2010. Kasikorn Bank, The Mall, Bang Kapi, Bangkok.

If You Want A Very Scary And Dangerous Time – And Risk All Your Savings – Do What I Did And Pay Cash For Your Retirement Land In Thailand

(As an aside, Bang Kapi is a massive overcrowded and gridlocked district of Bangkok, not far from the new Suvarnabhumi Airport and is not an area to visit unless uou have good reason to… not evan a restaurant in sight and you try getting a beer there…!)

This post follows on from the other post “Transferring Funds (Money) to Thailand” where I started to explain the visit to the Bank and transferring money to Thailand.

We (me and my wife) discussed the means to pay for the land we were about to pay for in Pak Chong, Thailand.

Firstly I didn’t fancy the prospect of carrying around and handing over huge amounts of cash. To my mind, there was a very real risk of somehow it wouldn’t be there when we needed it. (i.e. stolen) Also I didn’t like the idea of handing over large sums of cash in the Land Office.

My preference was to get a cashier’s check made out to the vendor’s name which we could simply hand over on completion of the sale. But there were a couple of problems with this:-

1. We didn’t know EXACTLY what name the land vendor might want on the Cashier’s Cheque until we had met here. So we couldn’t get the Cashier’s cheque straight away.

2. I asked if we could get the Cashier’s Cheque from the Bank in Pak Chong after we had met the vendor at the Land Office. The bank lady said yes, that could be done, but we would have then to pay a tax. If the cashier’s check was issued from this branch of the bank (Bang Kapi) then there would be no tax to pay. (I later asked my wife how much the tax would be and she didn’t know. Neither could she explain why we would have to pay tax in Pak Chong but not in Bangkok)

One Million Baht In Cash Is A Lot of Notes!

So my wife decided to draw the cash (one million Baht). I asked her if she knew what 1,000,000 Baht would physically look like – I mean the size of the bundle. I envisaged something the size of a housebrick and not something you want to be walking on the streets of Bangkok (or anywhere else for that matter) with. Of course I got no answer. She filled out the withdrawal form for 1,000,000 Baht and we waited about fifteen minutes while some kind of discussion behind the scenes went on.

The Formalities Of Transferring Funds To Thailand

After a while, a young, bright, bank offical came out and directed us to a table. There were certain formalities to go through before the money could be released. (Although according to my wife’s Pass Book, the money was already in her account!)

There were a couple of Forms to sign by both myself and my wife and I was asked for my passport which I didn’t have on me. My (U.K.) driving license was accepted and duly photocopied. I enquired if it was strictly necessary for me to be present to allow my wife access to her own money and was told that no, it was not necessary for me to be there. However since I was there, they wanted to ID me!

In answer to my question why all this was necessary and why the transfer had been blocked by the bank, they explained that it was a security measure. (Presumably to counter money laundering I imagine). The bank official also explained that the ‘block’ is only placed on transfers over the value of $20,000. Since I had transferred around $30,000 it applied in my case.

The Foreign Exchange Transfer Form

Then the sum of $20,000 triggered off a thought – I remembered reading in Philip Bryce’s excellent book “How To Buy Land And Build A House In Thailand” that if you want to repatriate money you need a Foreign Exchange Transfer Form that you get when you first transfer funds to Thailand. (Applies to amounts over $20,000 only).

So I asked for the Form. Or at least tried to. You have to remember that all these discussions were in the Thai languge – way above my level of knowledge of the language – and my wife being ‘under pressure’ with the task in hand was not in a mind to grace me with a transcript of the conversations.

Anyway the reply was that such a Form was ‘not necessary’ and that ‘you can easily transfer money back to the U.K. if you want to’. Mmmm. Philip Bryce didn’t dream up that piece of advice by himself! Anyway I didn’t get my Form. The Form my wife signed, though, clearly said at the top “Foreign Exchange Transfer Form” in the English language.

I checked the book “How To Buy Land And Build A House In Thailand” later when I wrote this article and note much to my horror that I should have got a copy of the Foreign Exchange Transfer Form because even if I don’t need it to transfer money out of Thailand I may need it to get my retirement visa.

Extract From”How To Buy Land And Build A House In Thailand“:-

“If you are applying for a retirement visa or non immigrant visa in Thailand, you need to show proof that you have brought money to Thailand. So keep a record of the transfer and get a Foreign Exchange Transaction Form (formerly called a Thor Tor 3 form) at the bank in case you decide to transfer the money back out.”

The Physical Bulk Of One Million Baht Is… Big And It Attracts Robbers!

Soon, the formalities were complete and we were told we could go back to the counter and collect the cash, which we did. We watched as wedge after wedge of thousand Baht notes were counted in the counting machine, one hundred per bundle, ten bundles and stuffed into brown paper envelopes with the words Kasikorn Bank plastered all over the outside! Hey guys look I got a million Baht, come and rob me!

And all this in front of a bank heaving with cutomers – packed from wall to wall (even though it was Sunday) – watching the spectacle. Only then did the reality hit my wife and she physically started shaking and nearly started crying. Her face went pale and she nearly burst into tears. “How the hell do we get back home with this lot without being attacked and robbed” she was thinking – me too. If only she had thought about that when I asked her if she knew what a million baht looked like before she handed over the withdrawal form!

“We would lose the money and the land…”

All it needed was one of those people in the bank to make a call on his mobile to his mates to set up a gang of two or three people with knifes to attack us on the way home and that would be that. I simply didn’t have another million Baht to call on. We would lose the money and the land. Simple as that.

After a few minutes I told her that I would stay here with the money and she should go to buy a bag to put it in. Off she went into The Mall to buy the bag and doubts started to creep into my mind as to whether we had made the right decision to withdraw the cash. An idea came to mind. Why not pay all the money back into the bank and get the cashier’s cheque from Pak Chong? Or at the very least enquire from the bank what the cost of the tax would be.

I put this to my wife on her return. “We already got the cash!” She retorted. (That means we can’t change our mind…. even though we could. If you know what I mean)

So it was back to Plan A and we shovelled the bank notes into the shopping bag she had bought and hot-legged it to the taxi rank. We were nervous all the way home and when we got there I had to hide the cash in the house.

Safely Home With The Cash – But What A Nightmare… And It’s Not Over Yet

(As you will read in a later post we did manage to get the money (cash) to the land lady at the Land Office without losing a single Baht, but it was not at all a comfortable experience and one not to repeat – tax or no tax.)

Yes, Today We Took Ownership Of Our Retirement Land In Thailand

I’m writing this a few days after we took possession of the land (on Tuesday May 4th, 2010) upon which we are going to build our retirement house  in Thailand.

Actually on Tuesday 4th May 2010 we went first to see the land and check that the marker posts had been replaced in the correct position and then we went to the Land Office, completed the land transfer transaction, paid the balance of the money for the land and took possession of the land as recorded on the Chanote (Legal Land Title deed). Here is a picture of the actual  Chanote with the name of ownership changed to my wife’s name:-

Image of the Chanote (Land Title Deed) for the Land Have Just Bought

Above, the Front Page of of the Chanote (Land Title Deed) for the Land We Have Just Bought in Thailand.

In this post and a few more plus on the website proper, I am going to share with you all the details about how we found and bought our retirement land in Thailand. First I’d like to tell you where the land we bought is located…

The Location Of The Land Is In Pakchong, Nakhon Ratchasima

Our retirement land is located near to Kirirom Resort just on the outskirts of Pakchong ( Amphur), Nakhon Ratchasima (Korat) province.

Pakchong is a beautiful area 2 hours drive northeast of Bangkok, close to the Khao Yai National Park. The area is hilly – almost mountainous – and much cooler than the blistering heat of Bangkok.

The Process Of Buying The Retirement Land In Thailand

The first step was to go to the land we were buying and check that the marker posts ahd been replaced correctly. The vendor (person selling the land) arrived together with two people with a measuring tape and a plan of the land showing the positions and numbers of the marker posts.

We checked the land and the positions of the marker posts against a copy of the previous Land Title Deed (Chanote) that I already had a copy of.

Having inspected the land to make sure that the marker posts were in the correct position, the next step was to visit the Land Office with the land vendor.

We arrived at the Land Office 1040 and the whole process was completed by 1230, less than two hours. There was much printing and signing of papers and then the land was registered in my wife’s name. We were handed the Chanote (Land Title Deed) in my wifes name showing the transfer from the vendor to my wife’s name.

Only then did we have to hand over the balance of the money for the land purchase. Now I think that shows a great deal of trust on behalf of the land seller.

How We Paid The Balance Of the Money For The Land Purchase In Thailand

On a previous post “Buying Land – The Land Office Procedure”I explained the problems we had when transferring large funds to my wife’s bank account tin Thailand from the U.K.

That was resolved and we opted to take the balance of the money to pay for the land in cash.

It was very scary carrying so much cash around in Thailand. Anyway, before we went into the land Office, we asked the land vendor if she preferred a Cashire’s Cheque (Banker’s Cheque) or cash. She replied that either would do . My wife wanted to pay cash because we would save the fee on the Cashire’s Cheque (which she later told me amounted to 30 Bht (about $1.00). As it transpired, we also saved a lot of time by not having to go to the bank to get the Cashire’s Cheque because the bank was about 1 1/2 hours drive (round trip) from the Land Office.

I was also a bit embarrassed at handing over such vast sums of money in front of everyone in the land Office. but the vendor appeared not to mind and happily set to counting the notes I haneded over. Nine packets with one hunderd X 1,000 BHT notes in each packet!

That’s the financial side of the transaction explained, now what was the legal processs and what documents were needed?

The Legal Process Of Transferring Land Ownership In Thailand

Bearing in mind that I can only read a little Thai and then very slowly and that there was no one to explain the land transfer process to me, this can only be a rudimentary explanation for the land purchase process in Thailand. Nevertheless, I am sure that if you have not done this yourself before, you will find some value in my explanation.

Step 1. Check The Land Title Deed (Chanote)

The evndor did not have a copy of the Land Title Deed (Chanote), she said that sha had lost it, so the Land Office produced a duplicate (marked as such) and also produced the original which is always kept in the land Office itself.

The plan of the land and the Land Title Deed number matched the copy of the previous copy I had, and everything appeared OK.

Step 2. Print And Sign The Forms

The lady in the land Office printed of approximately 20 sheets of paper on a dot-matrix printer. Some of these were then stamped with a variety of stamps (ink-pad type) and the vendor and my wife set to signing them where indicated by the Land Office lady.

I had to sign one of them. Unfortunately, in the turmoil of the signing process I forgot to ask what it was and to take a photo copy.

The next (and last) paper I had to sign was a declaration (in Thai and English) that the money paid for the land is for the personal onwership of the land by my wife. In other words I have no claim over the ownereship of the land.

Step 3. Pay The Tax And Transfer Fees

The total I had to pay for land transfer fee, stamp duty (land tax) and other charges  started out at 45,750 Bht (about 914 GBP 0r $1,525 dependent upon exchange rates) but after some negotiation about the taxable value of the land the total payable dropped to 32,000 Bht.

I paid this in cash and when counting it out from a 100,000 wedge of 1,000 notes I did feel a little uncomfortable and nervous.

Finalising The Deal

After all the papers were signed by my with and the vendor, and i had paid the taxes and fees, the pepaers were taken to the ‘manager’ to get the new Chanote signed.

Myself and my wife checked that the new Chanote was properly made out in her name and that the land title Deed number was correct.

After that I handed the balance of the money over and when the counting had finished, we (our party and the vendor’s party said ‘sawatdee’ and went our separate ways.

It was interesting to note that as soon as the Chanote had been signed by the ‘manager’ and it was time for the cash to be handed over that the lady from the Land Office (the person conducting the transfer of name) disappeared. Apparently she has no part in verifying that the money paid was correct and I don’t think that the amount paid appeared on any documents. (Don’t hold me to that though because I didn’t read all of them)

Just Arrived In Thailand To Finalise The Land Purchase

Photo of Alan Arriving in Thailand 1 May 2010

Alan In Bangkok To Buy The Land In Pakchong May 1, 2010

Above, A Photo Of Alan Arriving At Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport (Taken Saturday 1st May 2010)

Saturday 1st May 2010 and here I am in Thailand to see the land transferred into my wife’s name.

And what happened when I arrive?

Problems, Problems, Problems.

Why, oh why is everything so difficult in Thailand? What would take minutes in UK can take hours or days (or may never be achieved) in Thailand.

It seems like The whole system is stacked against you.

And I’m not just talking about the Thai laws – even the phones don’t work. Well, they work, but depending upon where you’re calling that dictates which phone to use!

This became a major issue on day 1 because the money I had sent to my wife by bank transfer last Monday (5 days ago) had not yet arrived in her bank. i had made many previous bank transfers and they normally took only a few 9ie 3) days. So what had happened here?

I only have one week here in Thailand to finalise this land purchase (due to business commitments back in UK) so we can’t afford any delays.

The first thought is to call my bank in UK where they would still be open for an hour due to the time difference.  And that’s when the phone problems began to kick in. There are three phones in this house, one landline and two mobiles. I could call the bank on the land line only but then it ran out of money! yes it’s a pay-as-you-go phone with a SIM card. So off we went to get a new SIM card… not so easy… well the rest of this tale I’ll fill in later because it’s not really telling you what you want to know. And that is…

Exactly How The Land Purchase Process Works

As we go through the actual process of buying our retirement land in Thailand over the next few days. I’ll be photographing and recording every detail and posting it on the website for a permanent record for anyone to follow if they are considering buying land for their retirement to Thailand.

For now, let me go back to how the problem with getting the funds transferred was solved.

Transferring Funds (Money) to Thailand

As I said, on Saturday 1st May and I just arrived in Bangkok – a bit jet-lagged but not tired, it was only an 11 hour flight – and the funds I transferred have not yet arrived into my wife’s bank account. frantically trying to call my bank in the UK failed dismally due to not having a clear phone connection and also the UK bank has a security system where you have to enter a string on numbers about you and your bank account before you are even queued to speak to an advisor. the the queue is 20 minutes long and just as the adviser says hello the phone drops out… then it’s bank closing time in the UK!

Fast forward to Sunday and off we go to my wife’s bank (Kasikorn Bank in Bang Kapi) to check again to see if the money has arrived. She puts her bank book into the machine (Thai banks issue customers with a little book and every transaction is printed by the machine in the book – no paper statements) and well… there were the funds!

But arranging the means to enable those funds to be handed over to the land seller on completion of the purchase of the land was not so simple.

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