HCMC not to be rushed into dividing up large apartments to revive property market

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Ho Chi Minh City is giving priority to rural areas over urban as it seeks to revive the property market by dividing up large apartments into smaller ones and switching from commercial to social housing.

At a recent meeting held by the HCMC Real Estate Association, most firms complained that authorities are slow in giving them permission to switch to social and affordable housing.

The city has allowed only nine projects to make the switch since the beginning of the year when the government announced a set of measures to revive the national market and liquidate the massive inventories.

Property developers have been panned for focusing on luxury housing whose prices are out of low-income earners' reach though they are the main source of demand.

The city has allowed a few developers to reduce large-sized houses into smaller ones of at least 45 square meters, the minimum size stipulated by the Housing Law.

But projects in urban districts may have to wait longer than those in rural ones since the Department of Construction needs to take carefully examine them to make sure the proposed adjustments dovetail with zoning plans.

Authorities have set similar requirements for making the switch from commercial to social housing.

Thai Van Re, director of the Department of Planning and Investment, said the city's property market remains "frozen."

He estimated that 4,437 units, or less than a third of the inventory as of last year, have been sold in 2013.

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