Buying real estate in Myanmar as a foreigner?

We've created a guide to help you avoid pitfalls, save time, and make the best long-term investment possible.

Buying property in Myanmar as a foreigner: a full guide

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Everything you need to know is included in our Myanmar Property Pack

Myanmar is an attractive destination for foreign investors looking to purchase real estate. Its picturesque landscapes, vibrant culture, and friendly locals make it a desirable option.

However, buying property in a foreign country can be complicated, especially when there are laws and regulations to consider.

No need to worry! This guide is here to make it easy for foreign buyers to understand the property market in Myanmar. We'll cover everything you need to know in a straightforward and simple way.

Also, for a more in-depth analysis, you can check our property pack for Myanmar.

Can you purchase and own a property in Myanmar as a foreigner?

Foreigners looking to invest in real estate in Myanmar navigate a unique set of rules and regulations that differ significantly from those for local citizens.

Understanding these nuances is crucial for any foreign investor considering purchasing property in Myanmar.

Firstly, it's important to note that foreigners cannot directly own land in Myanmar. This restriction is rooted in the Myanmar Transfer of Immovable Property Restriction Law of 1987, which strictly limits land ownership to Myanmar citizens.

However, there are ways for foreigners to indirectly invest in real estate, primarily through leasehold arrangements. These leases can be long-term, often up to 50 years, and can be extended. This approach is commonly used for commercial properties and developments.

The rights of foreigners in real estate are more limited compared to locals. While locals can own land outright, foreigners are typically restricted to leaseholds, condominiums, or apartments.

In recent years, the Condominium Law of 2016 allowed foreigners to legally own up to 40% of the total floor area of a condominium building. This was a significant step in opening up the real estate market to foreign investment.

There aren't specific rules that vary according to the country you're from. The regulations apply uniformly to all foreigners, regardless of their country of origin.

However, the diplomatic relations between Myanmar and your home country might influence the ease of conducting business and obtaining necessary permits.

Residency in Myanmar isn't a prerequisite for buying property, but it does make the process easier. Being a resident can facilitate interactions with local authorities and understanding of the market.

Regarding visas and permits, while there's no specific visa category for real estate investment, having a business visa or a long-term residency permit can be beneficial.

It demonstrates a level of commitment to the country that can be favorable in the eyes of the authorities.

Investing in Myanmar real estate often requires dealing with governmental institutions for permits and authorizations. This can include the Ministry of Construction or local municipal offices, depending on the location and type of property. Navigating these bureaucracies can be complex.

As for the minimum investment, there isn't a set amount, but the market itself might dictate practical minimums based on property values and types.

In addition to the cost of the property, consider additional expenses like legal fees, taxes, and possible renovation costs.

Lastly, it's crucial to be aware of the political and economic climate in Myanmar. The country has undergone significant political changes in recent years, which can impact the stability of the real estate market.

Can you become a resident in Myanmar by purchasing and owning a property?

Myanmar does not offer a residency-by-investment program specifically tied to real estate purchases.

This means that simply buying property in Myanmar will not directly lead to residency status, unlike some other countries where such programs are common.

However, there are other pathways to residency in Myanmar, primarily through business and employment-related avenues.

If you're looking to establish residency in Myanmar, investing in a business or obtaining employment in the country are more viable options. These paths usually involve obtaining a work permit or a business visa, which can potentially lead to long-term residency if you maintain your business or employment status.

The process of obtaining residency through business or employment involves several steps, starting with securing a business visa or a work permit.

This usually requires sponsorship from a Myanmar-based company or proof of business activities in the country.

Once you have a valid visa or permit and have maintained your status for a certain period, you may apply for a long-term stay permit or residency. The specific requirements and duration of these permits can vary, and the process can be complex and time-consuming.

Regarding the minimum investment for a business visa, Myanmar does not have a fixed amount. The investment should be substantial enough to establish a legitimate business.

It's important to note that the requirements and procedures can change, and they also depend on the nature of your business or employment.

As for the number of people who have used this pathway, detailed statistics are not readily available, but it's a less common route compared to more established expatriate destinations.

Regarding the length of residency, it's important to clarify that this type of residency is typically not permanent. It needs to be renewed periodically, and its continuation often depends on maintaining your business or employment status in Myanmar.

Finally, obtaining citizenship in Myanmar is a separate and more complex process. Residency, even long-term, does not automatically lead to citizenship.

The path to citizenship in Myanmar is known to be particularly challenging, with stringent requirements, including lengthy residency periods and fluency in the Burmese language, among other criteria.

Thinking of buying real estate in Myanmar?

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buying property foreigner Myanmar

Market metrics

You can find fresh and updated data in our pack of documents related to the real estate market in Myanmar.

If we check the the GDP per capita indicator, it seems that Burmese people have become -9.5%poorer throughout the past 5 years.

When the population becomes poorer, their interest in real estate also diminishes, and that can make prices decrease down the road.

Looking at the data reported by Numbeo, we can see that rental properties in Myanmar offer gross rental yields between 13.3% and 16.0%.

With such high rental yields, foreign investors can enjoy significant returns on their investment, making it an attractive avenue for wealth creation.

To know more, you can also read our dedicated article: is it a good time to buy a property in Myanmar?

Daily life of an expat

Life as an expat in Myanmar can be both rewarding and challenging.

On the one hand, Myanmar is a beautiful country with a rich culture and friendly people. On the other hand, it can be difficult to adjust to the local customs and language, and the infrastructure is still underdeveloped in many areas.

Expats in Myanmar will find that the cost of living is relatively low, and the country has a lot to offer in terms of natural beauty and cultural attractions. The expat community is growing, and there are a variety of activities and events to get involved in.

However, expats should be aware that Myanmar is still a developing country, and there can be difficulties with access to healthcare, education, and other services. The legal system is also still in the process of being reformed, and it can be difficult to find reliable legal advice.

Overall, life as an expat in Myanmar can be a rewarding experience, but it is important to be aware of the challenges that may arise.

What are the best places to purchase a property in Myanmar?

This table summarizes some of the best places to buy a property in Myanmar.

City / Region Population Average Price per sqm (MMK) Strengths
Yangon ≈ 7 million 80,000 - 200,000 Commercial hub, cultural landmarks, diverse culinary scene
Mandalay ≈ 1.2 million 50,000 - 120,000 Historical and cultural center, royal palace, religious sites
Bagan ≈ 50,000 40,000 - 100,000 Archaeological zone, ancient temples, hot air balloon rides
Inle Lake ≈ 70,000 60,000 - 140,000 Scenic lake, floating gardens, traditional Intha villages
Ngapali ≈ 10,000 80,000 - 200,000 Tropical beach destination, pristine coastline, luxury resorts
Naypyidaw ≈ 1 million 50,000 - 120,000 Administrative capital, planned city, government institutions
Pyin Oo Lwin ≈ 200,000 40,000 - 100,000 Cooler climate, colonial architecture, botanical gardens

Do you need a lawyer to buy a property in Myanmar?

When purchasing a property in Myanmar, engaging a local lawyer can provide valuable assistance in navigating the legal aspects and ensuring a successful transaction.

One crucial document they can help you with is the Sale and Purchase Agreement, a legally binding contract between the buyer and seller that outlines the terms and conditions of the sale.

The Myanmar lawyer can also assist with conducting a Property Title Search to verify the property's ownership status and identify any potential legal issues or encumbrances.

Additionally, they can guide you through the process of obtaining necessary permits and approvals, such as approval from the local Land Records Department or relevant authorities.

They will ensure that all applicable taxes and fees, such as the Property Transfer Tax and Stamp Duty, are paid correctly and in compliance with Myanmar laws and regulations.

What are the risks when purchasing a property in Myanmar?

We've got an article dedicated to the risks associated with purchasing property in Myanmar.

When buying a property in Myanmar, there are some risks that are not common in other countries.

Most notably, the lack of a formalized legal system and ownership rights makes it difficult to determine who owns a particular property. This can lead to disputes between buyers and sellers, and potential legal complications. Additionally, there is a lack of transparency in the real estate market, making it difficult to accurately assess the value of a property. Lastly, Myanmar is still a developing country, so there may be infrastructure and safety concerns.

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Everything you need to know is included in our Myanmar Property Pack

What are the documents needed for a real estate transaction in Myanmar?

When buying a property in Myanmar, the following documents are typically required:

  • A valid Myanmar passport or national identity card
  • Proof of address (utility bill, driver’s license, etc.)
  • Proof of income (pay stubs, bank statements, etc.)
  • Property title deed
  • Property ownership certificate
  • Property tax documents
  • Property survey documents
  • Property appraisal documents
  • Land use documents
  • Construction permit documents
  • Building plan documents
  • Purchase agreement

We review each of these documents and tell you how to use them in our property pack for Myanmar.

How should you approach negotiations with individuals from Myanmar?

Here are some recommendations for negotiating effectively with locals when buying property in Myanmar:

  • Begin meetings with a polite "Mingalabar" (Hello) and perform a slight bow with hands together in a prayer-like gesture, known as "Anjali Mudra." Respond to greetings in a similar manner to show respect.

  • Myanmar society values respect for authority and age. Show deference and use appropriate titles when addressing elders or individuals in positions of authority. Avoid challenging or contradicting them directly.

  • Establishing a personal relationship is important in Myanmar. Engage in friendly conversations, inquire about their well-being, and show genuine interest in their culture, family, and traditions before discussing business matters.

  • Negotiations in Myanmar can be a slow and gradual process. Patience is key, as rushing or applying pressure may hinder progress. Be open to flexible solutions and compromises to maintain a positive negotiation atmosphere.

  • Pay attention to non-verbal cues such as maintaining eye contact and using subtle gestures of respect, such as a slight nod or a gentle smile. Be mindful of personal space and avoid aggressive body language.

  • Familiarize yourself with Myanmar's customs and traditions, particularly Buddhist practices. Show respect for pagodas, monasteries, and religious holidays. Dress modestly, especially in sacred sites.

  • Myanmar culture emphasizes maintaining harmony and avoiding confrontation. Offer constructive feedback or negotiate in a manner that preserves the dignity and face of all parties involved.

  • Consider working with a trusted local consultant or advisor who understands the cultural nuances and can provide valuable insights during the negotiation process in Myanmar.

  • Sharing tea is a common social activity in Myanmar. Accept and participate in tea sessions, as they provide opportunities to build relationships and discuss business matters in a more relaxed environment.

  • Expressing gratitude is highly valued in Myanmar. Show appreciation for their hospitality, culture, and traditions. A simple "Cè-zù tin-ba-deh" (Thank you) goes a long way in building rapport.

Do banks offer loans to foreigners in Myanmar?

In theory, foreigners are generally allowed to obtain property loans in Myanmar, subject to certain conditions and requirements, although it remains relatively rare.

The specific conditions and requirements for a foreigner to obtain a property loan in Myanmar may vary, but typically they need to have a valid visa or residency permit, provide necessary documentation such as proof of income and identity, and work with a recognized financial institution operating in Myanmar.

Foreigners might try their chance for mortgages with banks such as KBZ Bank, Ayeyarwady Bank, and United Amara Bank in Myanmar.

Nevertheless, mortgage rates in Myanmar for a 20-year term range from 10% to 14%, which can make it difficult for borrowers to obtain funds. As a foreigner, it's advisable to consider alternative financing options to mitigate these difficulties.

What are the taxes related to a property transaction in Myanmar?

Here is a breakdown of taxes related to a property transaction in Myanmar.

Tax Description Calculation Who pays
Rental Income Tax Tax on rental income generated from the property 0% to 25% of the gross rental income after deduction of expenses Owner
Stamp Duty A tax on documents executed for the transfer of property. A flat rate of 6% of the property value in Yangon and 4% outside Yangon Buyer
Capital Gains Tax A tax on the profit earned from the sale of property 10% on the net capital gain (the difference between sale and acquisition prices) Seller

What fees are involved in a property transaction in Myanmar?

Below is a simple breakdown of fees for a property transaction in Myanmar.

Fee Description Calculation Who pays
Registration Fee Fee for registering the property transfer Around 0.2% of the total property purchase amount Buyer
Real Estate Agent Fee Fee charged by real estate agents for their services 2% to 4% of the property purchase price Seller

Buying real estate in Myanmar can be risky

An increasing number of foreign investors are showing interest in Myanmar. However, 90% of them will make mistakes. Avoid the pitfalls with our comprehensive guide.

buying property foreigner Myanmar