Vietnamese lawmakers approved a measure that will remove barriers on foreign property ownership. The move aims to raise investment by both businesses and individuals, while bolstering the country’s real estate market which has underperformed since 2011.
Foreigners with a valid visa, companies with operations in Vietnam, and foreign investment funds will be able to own houses, apartments, and other types of real estate outright. Previously, foreigners could only lease property on a long-term basis of up to 50 years.
However, the law still prohibits foreign ownership of more than 30% of floor space in a condominium, and no more than 250 houses in a single neighborhood, or ward, can be bought by non-Vietnamese nationals.
All land in Vietnam technically belongs to the state and while structures can be fully owned by a business or an individual, the land it sits on must still be leased from the government.
Analysts say that investors from China, Singapore and Japan are most likely to take advantage of the new law due to property bubble concerns and falling rental yields in their home countries. REITs (real estate investment trusts), and operators of retail space and office buildings are also likely to benefit.
Participants in the Vietnamese market welcome the new change. Le Hoang Chau, chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City Real Estate Association, expects the amendment to raise the demand for real estate while helping developers reduce their inventory and giving banks a chance clean up their bad debt.
“However, we don’t expect a huge boost for sales as Vietnam isn’t yet an attractive destination for foreign home buyers,” added Chau.
The change is also likely to help Vietnam become more competitive in time for the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC 2015), according to Andrew Batt, International Group Editor of Property Guru. The community will come into effect in December of next year with a goal of transforming all of Southeast Asia into a single economic union.