In response to Hua Hin's growing property market, a special centre will be set this October to provide foreigners with one-stop service and educate them about property, says Sanit Boonkorsakul, the deputy governor of Prachuap Khiri Khan. He said the centre would link visitors to main government services responsible for property transactions and related issues. They are the provincial land office, commercial office, business office, labour, social welfare, local police and immigration police. The private sector would also support translation and guide services.
The centre would be located in the former Hua Hin district office near the Thesaban junction and open on government workdays from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.
Mr Sanit said there were 17 new firms registered in Prachuap Khiri Khan in June, reflecting the boom in the province's property sector. Of this figure, 14 are property firms and three are hotels. About 14 firms in Hua Hin are joint investments between foreigners and Thai partners.
He estimated that investments of five billion baht had flowed into the Hua Hin property sector during the past three years.
The province's growing property market is attributed in part to the slowdown in the Andaman provinces after the 2004 tsunami, and the violence in the Deep South, which prompted people to look elsewhere for second residences.
Mr Sanit said that 70-80% of property buyers are foreigners and Thai tourists while the rest are locals and others from the Deep South.
''The province has gained interest among businesspeople and investors from both Thailand and overseas. The centre would help them run businesses legally and also prevent the development of a mafia in Hua Hin,'' says Mr Sanit.
According to Police Major General Noi Wannapaibool, the police chief of Prachuap Khiri Khan, there have been many disputes between property buyers and developers.
Most involved parties from the same nations.
''Property buyers did not know they were being cheated until they paid all expenses and found they did not receive that property because it could not be transferred,'' he said, adding that property developers and owners should be transparent in doing business.
Meanwhile, buyers should check whether the developers legally own the rights over the land plots and hold permits for housing development.
''If the case is in court, it will take up to three years. It's a waste of time,'' said Pol Maj Gen Noi.