Pattaya city officials have petitioned central government for a relaxation of the laws on foreign ownership of condominiums. Currently, foreign ownership of Pattaya condos is restricted to just 49% of the total of any individual building. The city wants to raise the limit to 70% as it continues to position itself as a major Asian hub ahead of the foundation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015.

Pattaya is already a truly international city and home to people from all over the world. As a result, many of the Pattaya condo building are already at the limit of 49% foreign ownership. This is particularly the case with some of the higher value buildings.

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City officials fear that the inability of many Pattaya condo blocks to accommodate any further foreign ownership will mean the city will be unable to take advantage of the economic benefits of the planned South East Asian free trade area. The city’s deputy mayor told reporters that ‘Pattaya needs to get ready for the AEC. If we wait until 2015, it may be too late as other countries in Asean are now preparing for the single regional common market’. Pattaya has much to offer as a location for Asian industrial and service businesses but if there is nowhere for management to live, those businesses may look elsewhere in Asia such as Malaysia or Vietnam.

The city intends to propose that the Thai government considers creating a special administrative area allowing up to 70% foreign ownership of Pattaya condos. This would allow developers to sell more units to foreigners and boost real estate investment, resulting in developers being able to build more condo buildings.

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The Pattaya property market has experienced significant growth in the past two years as a result of the city’s growth as both a major business centre and tourist hub. However, the city’s infrastructure has begun to creak under the strain. Currently there are plans on the table for improvements to the transport system – including redeveloping the airport and high speed rail links.

The city is also planning major improvements to public utilities including the water and sewage systems and boosting the electrical grid.

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