Vietnam to promote apartments, restrict villa projects

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Vietnam is planning to require residential developers to earmark at least 80 percent of their project sites for apartments, Minister of Construction Nguyen Tran Nam said.

The requirement must be met before developers are allowed to build villas and townhouses, Nam told a meeting in Hanoi Thursday. The policy aims to increase the country's supply of homes to meet growing demand, he said.

Nam also announced that the government has approved the launch of a national housing fund that employees in the country will contribute to.

The fund works like a usual pension fund, allowing voluntary contributors to withdraw their money with interest of between 3 to 5 percent a year at their retirement. But the main purpose of the fund is to provide home loans to its contributors. Developers of low-cost housing projects are also eligible to borrow from the fund.

According to an estimate from the Ministry of Construction released early this year, there are around nine million employees on official payroll records and a small contribution of 1 percent of their monthly income would amount to a fund large enough to finance more housing projects.

Nam said Thursday that his ministry will also introduce new regulations to facilitate house rentals and to reduce the preference for home ownership.

Vietnam's real estate market is going through a difficult time as both developers and homebuyers are finding it hard to raise funds due to credit restrictions.

Nam said the government has begun to ease credit policies for the sector. Some banks have already resumed lending to affordable housing projects, he said, adding that VietinBank, for instance, just lent VND300 billion to a project developed by Vinaconex.

He said the local real estate market will continue to grow in the medium and long term.

By 2020 the country will need a total housing area of 2.5 billion square meters for a population of around 96 million. That means within this decade it has to add 100 million square meters of housing every year to meet that target, Nam said.

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