Vietnam to ease conditions for foreigners to buy houses

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Vietnam will soon ease its laws on selling houses to foreigners

The revised versions of Vietnam's housing law and real estate business law will soon allow any foreigner to buy houses in the country.

Late last year, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung gave the Ministry of Construction permission to introduce the revised regulation, in which the housing law will allow any foreigner entering Vietnam to buy a limited number of commercial houses and an unlimited number of residential homes.

The revised real estate business law allows foreigners and overseas organizations to rent, buy and own offices to work and to lease.

They are also allowed to buy and hire houses and apartments in Vietnam following the country's regulations on housing, news website thoibaokinhtesaigon reported.

Currently, buying a house in Vietnam is difficult for foreigners.

The government in 2008 issued a resolution to let foreigners own houses in Vietnam.

Yet due to tightly constrained conditions, during the last five years only around 120 foreigners have bought houses in Vietnam, and even when they have owned a house, they were not allowed to lease it out or use it for any other purpose than residence.

Statistics from the Ho Chi Minh City Construction Department showed that during that period it only granted 66 certificates for 66 foreign organizations and individuals to buy houses in Vietnam.

Some mixed opinions have arisen around the revised laws. Most worry whether the law will be opened for all foreigners or for only those who live and work in Vietnam.

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According to the HCMC Real Estate Association (HoREA), around 80,000 Korean, 10,000 Japanese and 6,000 Filipinos, the three biggest foreign communities in the city, are now living in HCMC.

But last year, the city Department of Labors, War Invalids and Social Affairs only issued and extended working certificates for around 5,000 foreigners in the city.

HoREA said that if the law is opened for only foreigners working in Vietnam then it would not be able to solve the problem of apartment inventory in the country and so it should be applied also for those who are not living and working in Vietnam.

Stephen Wyatt, CEO Jones Lang LaSalle Vietnam, a real estate firm, said among his firm's customers, many foreign companies are interested in Vietnam's property market but so far they have not found suitable opportunities to invest.

Would-be investors say Vietnam's market is hard understand while many enterprises who are facing difficulties do not want to sell their projects and the laws for foreign investors are not clear.

This year, if the law on real estate is made easier and clearer, foreigners may invest in more projects here, said Wyatt.

The latest statistics from a local market research company showed that HCMC now has around 17,200 apartments for sale.

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