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Selling houses to foreigners proves a challenge for Vietnam’s realty developers

Selling houses to foreigners proves a challenge for Vietnam’s realty developers

Friday, February 03, 2017, 14:20 GMT+7

More than one year after Vietnam eased restrictions on foreign property ownership laws, the lack of crucial guidelines is proving to be a major challenge for developers on the hunt for foreign buyers.

A government decree and new housing laws enacted in July 2015 relaxed requirements for foreigners to own housing in Vietnam, though unclear regulations are still proving a burden to sellers.

Specifically, foreign organizations and individuals have the right to buy condominiums and own or inherit at most 30 percent of the apartments in a condo building.

Regarding individual properties, including villas and semi-detached houses in an area with the number of people equivalent to that in a ward-level administrative unit, foreigners are allowed to buy or own a maximum of 250 houses under 50-year leases.

If a foreigner is married to a native Vietnamese, they are entitled to buy or own a house or condo for much longer than the 50-year limit.

After the 50-year period of house ownership, under the new Housing Law, foreign individuals can carry out procedures to extend the ownership once, but not for more than 50 years.

The old law permitted them to own only one piece of property for a maximum time frame of 50 years.

However, foreigners are only able to buy houses or apartments from projects that are not located in restricted zones for defense reasons, according to the decree, which said such zones were to be determined by the Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of Public Security.

As of 2017, the two ministries have yet to issue any guideline on which areas are off-limits to foreign owners, thus leaving local realty developers with lack of a crucial legal basis to sell houses and apartments to foreigners.

In a recent letter by Da Nang’s Department of Construction addressing the city’s condo developers, which had earlier filed complaints regarding the issue, it said a guideline of restricted zones must be in place before it can issue a list of housing projects open to foreign buyers.

In the meantime, the department suggested its developers submit relevant legal documents to file a formal letter with the city’s administration.

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