Legislator urges Vietnam to open frozen property market to foreigners

Thanh Nien News

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Economist Tran Du Lich, former director of the Ho Chi Minh City Economics Institute, said many real estate projects have stalled and a lot of foreigners want to step in to complete them.
He urged lawmakers to open the property market to foreign investors as soon as possible, instead of waiting to pass a draft law by the end of the year.
Lich said the National Assembly, Vietnam's legislature, can help even out supply and demand by taking the  exceptional move of issuing a resolution on his proposed amendments, Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reported.
The house is supposed to approve or reject proposals from government units and it is expected to pass the Construction Ministry Housing Law at a session at the end of this year.
Under the proposed amendments to the Housing Law, Viet kieu (overseas Vietnamese) would be permitted to buy houses without restrictions as soon as they arrive in Vietnam; they would also be able to transfer, sell, or rent out their properties.
Foreigners (excluding diplomats and those who work for non-governmental organizations) would also be allowed to buy and own houses and apartments once they get a work permit in Vietnam.
At present, Viet Kieu can only buy one house or apartment in which to reside after they have remained in the country for at least six months.
Foreigners meanwhile can only buy apartments and only if they fulfill certain conditions like having a Vietnamese spouse or significant investments in the country. As of the second quarter of 2013, five years after they were granted the permission, a total of only 126 foreigners had bought apartments.
Lich also asked that local developers be allowed to transfer a project that they cannot afford to properly complete directly to a foreign developer, instead of via the government.
“The protocol now is the government revokes the investment license from the local developer and then issues one for the alternate developer. It’s very time-consuming and unnecessary,” he said.
Vice Minister of Construction Nguyen Tran Nam backed that suggestion, saying he once proposed the procedure be simplified.

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