Foreigners reported buy houses in Vietnam despite no law instructions

Although the Housing Law permits foreigners to buy houses in Vietnam but there has been no instructions to implement the law. Still some real estate brokerage companies have reported that lot of foreigners have purchased houses and apartments in HCMC. So how have they done that?

Empire City project (Photo: SGGP)

Empire City project (Photo: SGGP)

In Thu Thiem new urban area, some projects have been opened for sale although their foundations have not been built to meet capital mobilization regulations. They comprise Empire City Thu Thiem and Metropole Thu Thiem which are said attractive to foreign house buyers.
Apart from a sample house, the site of Empire City Thu Thiem is still an empty land. However a sale staff of the project told that some buildings of the project have been opened for sale since 2016.
Although there have been no apartment sale contracts, customers have signed deposit contracts to book the location they want in the project. Some of the customers are Hongkongers who have been weighing between sale contracts and 50 years long tenancy contracts.
With the former type of contract, only 30 percent of apartments in a project will be sold to foreigners and granted with pink book which is a house ownership certificate. With the later one, foreigners can buy more than that and resell to Vietnamese who are eligible for getting the certificate, told a sale staff at Empire City Thu Thiem.
Similarly, nearby Metropole Thu Thiem project is a vacant land plot. The project’s marketing and opening for sale has taken place at the investor’s headquarters in Nguyen Dinh Chieu street, District 3.
An investor representative said that the company owns four unconnected land plots with the total area of 7.6 hectares. On December 14, 2018, it offered the first phase with a 450 apartment building for sale. Construction of the building’s foundation is scheduled in the first quarter this year.
Customers have to leave a deposit of VND200 million to book an apartment. A sale man said that in the last opening for sale, foreigners purchased over 50 percent of apartments.
The investor has given priority to foreign customers with purchase lease contracts because of complicated procedures in selling houses to foreigners. Currently, there is no instruction to implement the regulation enabling foreigners to buy houses in Vietnam.
Therefore, the investor has advised foreigners to sign lease purchase contracts without pink books. The time limit of both lease purchase and sale contract to foreigners is 50 years.
Relating to foreigners’ house purchase, CBRE company and HCMC Real Estate Association (Horea) have disagreed with each other’s point of view. A report by CBRE said that up to 31 percent of Chinese customers buy houses in HCMC and 10 percent are Hongkongers.
Afterwards, the association said that such report has caused interference in the market. According to the association’s statistics, nearly 1,000 foreigners bought houses in HCMC in 2016 and the number must have increased for the last two years.
In a dialogue with businesses in August last year, the representative of the HCMC Department of Construction said that the Housing Law and Decree 99 of the Government clearly stipulate ownership certificate granting for foreign house buyers in Vietnam. Still they also stipulate that the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Defense determine projects locating in areas where foreigners are not permitted to buy houses for national security. This conflict has been reported to the Ministry of Construction and the Prime Minister for instruction.
In a recent interview with Sai Gon Giai Phong Newspaper, Mr. Tran Trong Tuan, director of the HCMC Department of Construction said that there has been no produces guiding foreigners’ house purchase in Vietnam.
Those from Europe, North America, Australia and Japan usually chose to rent apartments while those from South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan (China) and China including Hong Kong have been in the tendency of buying houses in Vietnam.
The CBRE report originates from its customers while the company has mainly operated in high and middle class segments so the report does not fully reflect the entire housing market in HCMC.
Regarding the information that some Chinese have never been to Vietnam but they have already bought houses in the country, Horea said that does not abide by the Vietnam law.
Talking about foreigners' house purchase while there has been no specific instructions to implement the Housing Law, Lawyer Ho Ngoc Diep from HCMC Bar Association said that it is highly risky for the buyers because their house purchase is not protected by the law. In case of conflicts, that they usually receive disadvantages.
In addition, it might be investors’ trick announcing that their future apartments have been sold foreign customers to advertise their projects. So Vietnamese customers should consider legal aspects of projects, for instance if the projects are eligible for sale and whether they are guaranteed by banks. They should not decide to buy because the projects have foreign buyers to prevent from spending money and getting worse.

By LUONG THIEN - Translated by Hai Anh

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