Buy or rent property in Thailand
There are 3 ways in which foreigners can buy real estate property in Thailand:
Buy property in someone else's name
Clearly, if you buy land and register it in your Thai friends's name, then your Thai friend owns the land, not you. If you are married before you buy you become joint-owner via marriage law, but since foreigners cannot own land, you have no claim via land law. A foregner can, however, register a "usufruct" on the land which gives lifetime occupation rights equivalent to leasing.
Buy house and land
Buying a house requires buying land - a foreigner cannot own land, but a Thai company can, and a foreigner can own a Thai company. If the property is already owned by a company, simply buy the company to own the property. If the property is owned by a Thai, have a lawyer incorporate a company for you and register the property in the name of the company.
Buy a condominium
A condominium complex can sell 49% percent of its units to foreigners so this is the most straightforward way of buying Thai real estate. Correct and complete documentation of the foreign currency transfer to a Thai bank when buying (and later reselling) a condo is extremely important, so let that be handled by a competent agent, lawyer or condominium development company. Condo owners pay into a scheme for maintenance and security.
Get a lawyer or real estate agent
Some items on the due-diligence checklist while buying property in Thailand are beyond reasonable reach of foreigners, so it's best to engage a competent lawyer or real estate agent. Identify the owner, is the seller also the owner? If not, what's the arrangement? Is there any lien on the property which must be cleared? Are all parties present and in agreement? With whom, when and where will we execute sale and purchase? Are all documents ready and available? At what point is it safe to pay a deposit?
Rent a house, condo or room
Houses, studio-rooms and condominiums can be rented by the month or year, and land and businesses can be leased. To secure rent or lease for more than 3 years, a contract must be registered with the Land Department. Some rental properties are presented by the agent or property maintenance company that cares for them - these are often higher-quality properties and a contract service is provided. Some properties are rented by their owners and can be found on websites or by the For Rent signs hanging on the front gate. There is a standard printed Thai property rental contract that most renters have copies of, or that can be obtained at office supplies and bookshops - this contract is perfectly adequate in most domestic cases and is accepted by Immigration as proof-of-residence.