Buying land in Chiang Mai is popular, since it is affordable to owner-occupiers, and many build houses, instead of limiting their options to condos. In the city centre there has recently been a spike in prices of Chiang Mai land around the densely developed night market area and the trendy Nimminhemin Ave. Land in the old town of Chiang Mai also goes at a premium even though many of the narrow lanes are still very much residential.
The Chiang Mai city limits have expanded considerably in recent years. Since tourism took off in the early nineties the prosperity of the city has improved immeasurably, resulting in a burgeoning middle class and the net result is a plethora of new housing projects or gate communities. This has seen many Chiang Mai land owners previous humble rice farmers become infinitely richer by selling out large tracts to developers.
Furthermore, the completion of two more concentric ring roads opened up the outlying districts, and land in San khampeng, Doi Saket, Mae Hia and Hang Dong has increased in price significantly. Even the most remote of the house projects are no more than 20 minutes drive from Chiang Mai city centre. Confirmation that growth is a long-term trend is the development of trendy shopping arcades and new super stores in these areas, bringing a hitherto unseen level of sophistication to these previously regional villages.
Buying land in Chiang Mai is exclusively reserved for Thai citizens or companies (also majority and verifiably Thai owned), but that hasnt prevented a large number of foreigners with Thai spouses from buying. Others have set up companies as a channel for acquiring land but this has come under scrutiny from the authorities determined not to let proxy arrangement subvert the spirit of the law. Unlike Phuket or Samui there are very few examples of company arrangements to by-pass this restriction and make villas in Chiang Mai available for foreign free-hold ownership.
Land in Chiang Mai ranges in price from up-to 30,000 baht per talang wa (4m2) in the city centre to 7,500 at the city limits. In Hang Dong and Doi Saket you can secure land among pretty rice fields for as little as 5,000 baht per wa, while the popular leafy suburbs at the foot of Doi Suithep go for about 15,000 baht per wa. The Chiang Mai Land Registry Office is located at the City Hall in Mae Rim (near the 700 Year Stadium).
Chiang Mais property structure has evolved in a rather chaotic and unplanned fashion and title deeds to land in Chiang Mai arent always up-to-date. This is because much of the Ping river valley was populated with hundreds of small villages separated by rice fields, making town planning more difficult. The result is, even today land near the city may not have Chanote titles (the modern GPS configured papers).
It is common to come across land for sale in Chiang Mai which is unusually cheap because it either has Nor Sor Sam Kor, or Nor Sor Sam papers. Both are older title deeds marked by inaccurate boundaries, and the Nor Sor Sam (without the kor) papers are unconfirmed and require a lengthy process to upgrade. Many have to resort to the trouble-free gratuity method to secure these. Some land further out might even have Nor Sor Nung papers, which means the owner has no confirmed entitlement, but is the primary claimant and can apply for ownership (with plenty of red tape) before transferring ownership.
When buying land in Chiang Mai, it is important to make absolutely sure that the boundaries are properly confirmed, along with rights to access roads. Furthermore some land for sale actually encroaches on national park area (at the foot of Doi Suithep particularly) and might be problematic. We have been informed of some regrettable instances of land fraud or extortion from unscrupulous landlords, neighbours and agent.