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Koh Samui – The New Phuket

Koh Samui is situated about 20 miles from mainland Thailand, part of the southern Surat Thani Province, known for its rubber trees and coconut plantations.

Serviced by Samui International Airport on the north-eastern side of Koh Samui, and with Nathon Pier the main ferry port, this idyllic island resort is around 475 miles south of Bangkok.

Once a secluded fishing community, Koh Samui has developed in recent years into a popular tourist retreat that is soon expected to rival other long-established Thai tourist destinations.

Regarded as a low-key alternative to tourist spots like Thailand’s largest island of Phuket, tourists are drawn to Koh Samui for the 88 square miles of diverse geography, from its white-sand beaches to its coconut groves and mountainous rain forests.

Prices for single-family detached houses (excluding land), condos and townhouses in Thailand have grown steadily since the 2008 global financial crisis, according to recent housing data from the Bank of Thailand.

While the luxury end of the property market, featuring detached homes in well maintained estates, is increasing in value, luxury properties can still be found for around $450,000 at the moment, though the prices increase the closer you get to the water.

The lower end of the market is also booming and attracting younger and more budget-conscious buyers from Thailand and further afield.

The surge in interest from overseas property investors has led to many new developments in recent years, with up to 15 new projects coming to market this year alone.

Foreign investors in Koh Samui typically come from Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, the United States, Britain, France, and increasingly from China.

Many foreign buyers are looking for luxury homes in a tropical setting for retirement or to use for vacation, with rental income potential.

Koh Samui is also packed with amenities such as five-star hotels, restaurants and beach clubs, spas, and everything else needed for that ultimate relaxation, ensuring that well positioned properties can benefit from strong rental demand.

Foreign investors are not allowed to own land in Thailand but can own the buildings on the land. Therefore, the common arrangement is to buy a house with a 30-year land lease. Although it is possible for foreigners to own land through a private company, the process can be very complicated with lots of restrictions.

Condominiums can be owned by foreign investors, providing total foreign ownership in a condo building does not exceed 49 per cent.

Overseas property investors purchasing in Thailand are strongly advised to engage a local lawyer to guide them through the process and to handle the necessary due diligence.

With the lure of Thailand becoming stronger, overseas property investors may want to consider the paradise location of Koh Samui.

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