New housing law will treat overseas Vietnamese like local buyers

By Dinh Quan, Thanh Nien News

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Prospective homebuyers check a property project in Vietnam. Photo: Dinh Son Prospective homebuyers check a property project in Vietnam. Photo: Dinh Son

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Overseas Vietnamese will be able to buy houses in Vietnam without any restriction from July 1. 
The amended Housing Law, which takes effect next Wednesday, gives overseas Vietnamese, or Viet kieu, similar rights to locals. 
Foreigners in Vietnam can also buy houses in "certain urban areas." Housing developers are asking the government to specify these areas. 
The house purchase right, however, is not available for those coming as diplomats.
Foreigners and foreign organizations which invest in housing projects in Vietnam can also buy houses in the country, so as foreign-invested companies, banks or funds operating here, the law said.
Until now, Viet kieu and foreigners could only buy one apartment in Vietnam each.
The conditions were strict, favoring only those married to Vietnamese nationals, holding managerial positions, or having contributed to the country. 
These criteria have enabled only around 130 foreigners, out of around 80,000, to buy an apartment in Vietnam. 
Vietnam's property bubble burst several years ago and the new law with more opportunities for overseas buyers is a big effort to help the market bounce back.
But the new law still limits foreigners from owning more than 30 percent of a single apartment building, or more than 350 houses and apartments in a ward, a subdistrict-level administrative area that can contain thousands of properties. 
Le Hoang Chau, chairman of Ho Chi Minh Real Estate Association, said the limit should be more flexible because foreigners tend to live in only a few enclaves in the three districts 1, 2 and 7. 
“There are a very large number of foreigners living in those areas,” Chau said. 
Chau said the limit will be a trouble for areas with high foreigners concentration such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, Hai Phong, Vung Tau, and Khanh Hoa, which includes the popular resort town of Nha Trang.
He said the government should allow provincial authorities to decide the limits on their own. 

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