Thailand's Land Department Property Escrow Process
Back of the revised Escrow Act B.E. 2551 (2008), the Land Department has now set out official guidelines pertaining to the documentation of land under an official notification. Prior to this new development officials were unable to document any ownership change which was covered by an existing escrow agreement. As per the new process any land under an escrow agreement requires that the Land Department must obtain approval prior to transfer of property and furthermore that only Escrow Agents may act. All escrow agents are to be licensed and this is restricted presently to financial institutions.
As commented in a circular issued by the legal firm Mayer Brown "These guidelines further enhance the use of escrow in real estate transactions. To maximize the protection, buyers should ensure that the escrow agent is duly licensed, and the escrow transaction is recorded by the Land Department."
Recently I had the opportunity to discuss the topic of escrow with a number of local legal firms in Phuket and while they applauded the revisions to the law, the complex nature and restriction only for financial institutions only enables significant sized transactions transaction's to utilize escrow. While in most mature property markets there are facilities for even the smallest of purchasers to obtain what is generally regarded as essential due diligence in property transactions. Hopefully going forward there are further revisions aimed at aligning consumer protection in a similar fashion to developed markets.