Million dollar apartments selling well, claim developers

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Real estate developers in Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City say luxury penthouses and other apartments priced at millions of dollars are selling well.

Nguyen Kim Son, director of sales and development at BTA Development Investments that invested in the Dao Kim Cuong (Diamond Island) project, said around 25 percent of 700 apartments in the project are priced at more than US$1 million and around 15 of them are between $2-3 million.

Son said all the six $3 million apartments in the project on the banks of the Saigon River in District 2 have been sold, and that in fact there were more than six people wanting to buy them.

Son said his project has sold 40 percent of apartments worth $1-2 million. Seventy percent of those buying the high-priced apartments were Vietnamese or overseas Vietnamese, and the rest were foreigners, he said.

"Many people are rich these days. They are famous people who have a certain social position," Son said, refusing to give further details of his customers for "sensitive" reasons.

The Novaland Real Estate Investment Joint Stock Co. has also claimed that a 400-squaremeter apartment at its Sunrise City project has been sold to popular pop singer Cam Ly at more than $1 million and a penthouse for around $5 million to singer Dam Vinh Hung.

The company advertises its apartments in District 7 as "the best constructions in HCMC."

Luxury input

Four years ago, BTA chose Arata Isozaki, one of the three leading contemporary designers in Japan, and Coteccons Group, a leading constructor in Vietnam, to work on its Diamond Island project.

It also invited Michel Fegembel, land planning consultant for the French government, and Christine Hawley, head of the Construction and Planning Department at London General University to choose the designer from among many in the US, England, Canada, Germany and Japan.

According to the project design, construction will take place on just 14 percent of the 8-hectare project and the remaining area will be left green. Underground roads will be built inside a hill 9 meters high that runs around the island.

Tran Quang Tuan, deputy director of Coteccons, ranked BTA the best investor he's ever worked with as it spent VND4-5 billion ($271,000) planting flowers all over the island during the construction to impress customers when they visited the project.

"[BTA] was willing to invest a lot in order to raise the quality of the project and make it deserve the money people have to pay," Tuan said.

Q&A

Can foreigners/foreign companies lease Diamond Island apartments? If yes, for how long?

Yes, foreigners/foreign companies can lease apartments at Diamond Island up to 50 years.

Can the Lease Agreement be extended upon expiry?

Yes.

During the lease, can foreigners/foreign companies assign their lease?

Yes. The leases are transferable and Assignment Fee is required.

(Source: BTA Development Investments)

The $3-million apartments have a swimming pool in the 800- square-meter area and a hanging garden of 200 square meters. Materials and interior design components for the apartments are imported from top worldwide brands and the residents can choose to own some other luxury facilities such as a spa or cruiser club, according to the Diamond Island plan.

Construction will be completed by the first quarter of 2011, and the whole project, expected to cost US$350 million, will be finished in 2012.

The Diamond Island will be properly connected to District 1 in 2011 after the East-West Highway and Thu Thiem Tunnel are put in use.

However, the director of a real estate company, who wished to remain unnamed, said people should choose carefully between buying such super-apartments, mostly in the outskirts, and a villa in the city's downtown area because both would have the same price but traffic and certain services in the former area might not be as convenient.

He said the $2-3 million that a super-apartment costs can buy around 20 high-end apartments or 45 average ones from other projects in HCMC.

"It costs around VND22-25 million to build and manage each square meter at these super-apartments, so the investors will make a lot of profit when selling them for millions of dollars," he said.

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