Expats in Vietnam unlikely to rush to buy apartments

Published:  27 Oct at 6 PM
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The Vietnamese government is preparing to issue a new law allowing expats to buy apartments but, according to real estate agents, the take-up may well be lower than expected.

The government’s relaxation of the home ownership rule for expats is innovative, and was expected to result in a rush to buy, but property agents in Hoh Chi Minh City believe the resolution will be met with a general lack of enthusiasm. The subject was discussed as part of last Tuesday’s real estate conference, but met with little interest from professionals.

The draft of the new law states expats will need to commit to a long-stay period in order to be allowed home ownership, with the government targeting business owners, skilled workers, scientists and expert working in the country. In addition, foreign companies will be able to buy apartments for their expat staff.

Around 800,000 foreigners are living and working in the country at the present time, with only 20 per cent of the total eligible to buy condos and apartments. Realtors in HCMC doubt whether a high percentage of those able to buy will be motivated to do so, as many employers include rentals in salary packages.

Even so, according to the CEO of one real estate firm, foreigners will be happy to have the chance to become property owners in Vietnam, provided details such as legalities, comfort and the cost of borrowing all stack up. He added increased rents might well persuade expats to buy, but noted borrowing money from a Vietnamese bank might be a problem.

At the present time in Hanoi, around 1,300 rental properties are let to foreigners, with a further 4,000 expat-occupied rental apartments in Hoh Chi Minh City. Most are located in areas close to the business districts, and purchase prices in these areas are likely to be high.
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