In Thailand, a foreigner may only own a condominium in his/her own name. If the foreigner wishes to acquire land and build a house, he/she should obtain a long term lease on the land (for a period not exceeding 30 years each term). Read more about "Leases in Thailand".
Foreigners are not allowed to own land in Thailand by law. If interested in buying, a foreign investor has two options: either a 30-year leasehold or purchasing the property through a limited company. Apartments can be purchased by foreigners as long as at least 51% of the building is owned by Thais.
Due to the legal restrictions in the Thai property market, many foreigners look for alternatives to a direct property purchase, some of which are outlined below.
The foreigner should apply for the construction permit to build the house in their own name. This way the foreigner owns the house and has a secured long term lease on the land.
A foreigner can lease land for 30 years in Thailand. However, leasing is rather unusual, in most cases this occurs when a foreign man marries a Thai woman: the Thai woman, as a Thai citizen, purchases the land and stipulates a lease agreement with her foreign husband.
The lease can be written with the option to reassign to another person (if you sell), ability to sublease and with a purchase option (should the law change in the future to allow freehold ownership by the foreigner). Therefore, a lease is the most common legal method for the foreigner to acquire property in Thailand.
No matter who you lease from, make sure that all data on the deed is accurate, and that the land you are leasing has the appropriate title. Usually, the leasing contract states the duration of the lease, the buyer´s right to resell it and the registration fee.
Another alternative, is to set up a Thai Limited Company. If you decide this is the best option for you, be aware that as a foreigner, you cannot hold half or more than half of the company's shares. Therefore the company has to be at least 51% owned by Thai citizen. They can then choose to sign over their company rights to you. Note, that the Thai Immigration office is aware of this kind of procedures and will certainly monitor your business.