Hanoi halts commercial housing, focuses on liquidating inventory

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Hanoi will not approve any new housing development before 2014 as the Vietnamese capital city bids to clear its massive inventory, news website VnExpress has reported.

The city has a reported 5,789 apartments that developers have been unable to sell.

A report late last year by property services firm CBRE had estimated the inventory at 20,500 units and said it would take four or five years to sell them.

Different criteria for what constitutes inventory is the reason for the inconsistency in figures, the Los Angeles-headquartered consultancy said.

Authorities have said they welcome conversion by developers of commercial housing into low-cost housing for which there is greater demand. Three projects have so far got the green light for conversion.

Dang Hung Vo, a senior consultant at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, told the news website that the top priority for the housing market is to clear the massive inventory.

The State Bank of Vietnam plans to inject VND30 trillion (US$1.4 billion) into the banking system for providing low-interest loans to buyers and developers of affordable housing as part of efforts to revive the property sector.

Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are the two hot spots for real estate in Vietnam, with the latter having over 28,000 unsold apartments, according to CBRE.

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