Only 15 Expats Own Homes In Saigon
According to the municipal Department of Construction, only 15 foreigners and Viet Kieu (overseas Vietnamese) have been granted certificates of home ownership in Ho Chi Minh City as of May 15, two years since the government eased regulations on property ownership for foreigners.
Earlier this year, the municipal land registration office in HCMC stopped issuing ownership certificates to foreigners who bought homes after December 10, 2015.
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This restriction is due to authorities’ need to determine “areas reserved for the protection of national defense and security”.
According to a decree on Vietnam's housing laws that took effect on December 10, 2015, foreigners can own up to 30 percent of apartments in a project and are barred from buying property built in areas reserved for the protection of national defense and security. Whether or not a piece of land is so reserved is determined by the Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of Public Security.
Hoang Manh Thang, a notary officer, told Tuoi Tre most of the foreigners who came to notary offices to purchase homes had the intention of settling down in Vietnam, rather than buying houses for trading.
However, after the foreigners were told by notary officers to wait for authorities to determine areas reserved for the protection of national defense and security, they reportedly changed their mind, afraid of not being granted the ownership certificates, he said.
The Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of Public Security have already issued the category of housing projects available to foreign buyers.
In turn, the department of construction in each individual area is supposed to publicly announce a detailed list of housing projects available to foreign buyers.
However, as the lists of areas within HCMC have not been published yet, the land registration office cannot decide whether certain housing projects are available for foreigners.
The lack of clear guidelines on the restricted areas has slowed the process foreign ownership process in the city, according to the HCMC People’s Committee.
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The committee has urged the construction department and relevant offices to quickly issue the list on the department’s website.
According to VnExpress, Vietnam opened up its housing market to outsiders in July 2015, allowing foreign investment funds, foreigners with valid visas and international firms operating in Vietnam and overseas to buy unlimited residential properties with a 50-year lease.
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There are around 82,000 foreigners working and living in Vietnam today.
Industry insiders believe that easing ownership restrictions has created more interest in the local housing market, but many people complain that regulations and paperwork are still very complicated for foreign buyers, as reported by VnExpress.
On August 2, the Ministry of Planning and Investment presented a draft law to the government cabinet, suggesting the leasehold duration for foreigners in special economic zones should be nearly doubled from the current 50 years.
If passed, the new law will give foreigners a 99-year lease for properties in special economic zones.
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