Overseas buyers pin hopes on ease of restrictions

08:00 | 03/05/2021
Luxury and high-end residences up and down Vietnam have attracted much interest from foreigners since 2015 when the government permitted non-nationals to own property in the country. Damian Sung (damian@asiabankersclub.com), sales director at Asia Bankers Club, discussed with VIR’s Bich Ngoc the recent sentiment regarding such ownership and the prospects involved.

What is your assessment of this segment to Hong Kong-based buyers as well as from other markets in general?

overseas buyers pin hopes on ease of restrictions
Damian Sung (damian@asiabankersclub.com), sales director at Asia Bankers Club

Asia Bankers Club is based in Hong Kong but our client base is not limited to just there. Because we also help our investors diversify not just in Vietnam but to the UK, Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, and more, we have clients from all over the world. Our colleagues can speak Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, and Korean, so we serve a lot of clients in the Asia region. For Hong Kong buyers, the sentiment of real estate is deeply rooted in the culture.

I would say that for Asian investors, the vast majority see real estate as the fundamental base of protecting their assets. Vietnam is one of the fastest-growing countries in this regard; it has handled the COVID-19 pandemic very well and GDP is one of the strongest in the world. Many of our investors see Vietnam like how they saw South Korea or China 20-30 years back. The stock market in Vietnam is not as active so where are the high-net-worth Vietnamese investing their money? The answer is real estate.

The world is seriously impacted by COVID-19, so why does Asia Bankers Club remain confident in introducing Vietnamese projects in Hong Kong right now?

The interest in Vietnamese real estate remains very strong. The rental market is not doing as well as it did pre-pandemic, but astute investors will invest where there is opportunity. The timing is very important and I believe invest now when you can before others, because once the border opens who knows what will happen with the real estate market. The rental will go back up, and the secondary market will boom with limited luxurious projects in Ho Chi Minh City.

How can overseas buyers finish a deal when restrictions remain and a vaccine passport system is not applied yet?

This is a big hurdle for us to overcome as we did not have a plan for COVID-19. However, we have managed to get everything sorted out with the developers, helping our clients safely hand over units and even help them open Vietnamese bank accounts from overseas.

We have been working very closely with HSBC, Standard Chartered, and UOB in Vietnam to assist our investors to help open bank accounts from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, and South Korea. This is the kind of service we provide and one of the biggest reasons why we are still doing well even during the pandemic and why we are asked to service high-net-worth investors worldwide.

When the border was open, it was easy to just hop on a plane and go over to Vietnam for the weekend but no-one is willing to do the 2-3 week quarantine for just a few days of visits. Hopefully a vaccine passport can help ease the quarantine period soon.

overseas buyers pin hopes on ease of restrictions
Asia Bankers Club helps investors diversify not just to Vietnam but to the UK, Thailand, Japan, and more besides

What kinds of projects are most on the radar of foreign buyers?

Different projects attract different buyers. When we launched Grand Marina in Ho Chi Minh City a few weeks back, the quality of investors is from the top 1 per cent of the upper echelon of Hong Kong society.

When we sold out the foreign quotas for The Minato Residences in the northern port city of Haiphong, the target investors were those from banking, finance, and business looking to diversify into the Vietnamese market with good rental yield and high potential of capital gain.

We have done very well in the luxurious segments, such as when we launched The Marq by Hong Kong Land, The River by City Garden and Swire Properties, and last but not least, Grand Marina. We did very well despite the price tag reaching the highest ever launched in Vietnam.

There are only a handful of projects in Ho Chi Minh City that foreign investors are looking at. We also have a big pool of investors looking at Hanoi because of the lack of supply for entry-level investors in Ho Chi Minh City. We are scheduled to launch one of the best projects in Hanoi, Central Residences by Gamuda Land this May 22 and 23 in Hong Kong for our privileged clients.  Located in Yen So Lake with future Line 3 and Line 8 MRT exchange, Central Residences is located in the heart of the mass township by Gamuda Land.

By Bich Ngoc

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