Foreigners still hesitant about buying property in Vietnam

A provision contained in the Housing Law two months ago allowed foreigners to buy houses in Vietnam, but most real estate developers still have few foreign clients.

Francis Koh, a Singaporean citizen, said he decided to buy an apartment in Vietnam after hearing about the new Housing Law which took effect on July 1. However, he has delayed the plan after consulting with real estate trading floor.

He had found an apartment in central Vietnam that was cheaper than those in Singapore’s suburbs. Koh said he had been told that foreigners have the right to own houses for 50 years and then have ownership extended by 20 years. 

If foreigners sell houses to Vietnamese, the Vietnamese buyers can own the houses forever. 

Francis said it was unreasonable and unfair to set a 50-year limit for foreign ownership. 

“What will happen if we cannot get the ownership extended by 20 years?” he said. 

He commented that Vietnam should set a “leveling playing field” once it decides to allow foreigners to join the housing market. 

Gerard Gastel, the owner of a French restaurant in Hanoi, plans to buy an apartment in Vietnam after many years of living in a rented house.

However, many issues remain unclear to him. Gastel does not know if he can sell his house in Vietnam to other foreigners if he leaves Vietnam and what benefits the next buyers will have.

Gastel also finds the payment method, bank loans and other procedures to be unclear.

Most real estate developers contacted by reporters said they had been running large sales programs, but few sales to foreigners had been made.

A representative from CenGroup in Hanoi said thousands of successful transactions had been made in the last two months, but none with foreign clients.

Hoang Phuong from Savills Vietnam admitted that Savills was “listening to the news”, and would not provide consultancy services to any foreign client at this time.

According to MONRE, only 200 foreigners out of 80,000 expats who have demand for houses in Vietnam have bought houses over the last six years, since the day Vietnam began allowing selling houses to foreigners in a pilot program.

The chair of the HCM City Real Estate Association, Le Hoang Chau, said that foreigners were not buying houses because of the complicated procedures and unclear regulations.

Under current laws, the first foreign buyer of a house can own the property for 50 years. However, it is unclear how many years the following buyers can own it. Meanwhile, the foreign ownership time limit will also determine the value of the houses. 

Source Vietnamnet