One of the primary needs for anyone is having a roof above your head. But what if you’re an expat who lives in Saigon? Would this be easy to achieve? Renting is one thing but having a place to call your own is an entirely different thing. And although you aren’t allowed ownership of land, you are allowed to own a house.

1. First you need to sort financing. Bank institutions don’t generally loan to foreigners, unless they are married to a Vietnamese. Financing can be done in VND or gold, but it is not legal to use any other currency for purchasing property in Vietnam.

2. Once you have chosen the property, you will have to sign a reservation agreement. This legally links the buyer and seller and may include paying a deposit to the seller. Examine closely the reservation agreement before paying the deposit. It prescribes that if the buyer changes his mind, he will lose the deposit, and if the seller changes his mind, he will have to pay twice. You’re well advised to notarise this document to protect your interest. It is highly recommended to employ a solicitor for this process, as they can check the documents in Vietnamese and be sure there are no hidden clauses.

3. Next, check the reliability of the seller by examining their ID or registration certificate along with the property’s certificates (for example the ownership certificate). You should also ask for a bank guarantee or insurance to ensure the seller is trustworthy.

4. Once due diligence has been satisfied by both parties, they confirm their engagement and interest by signing the housing contract. An annex related to facilities that go with the apartment is advised. Make sure the agreement is signed by all related parties and if not, then by the representative who is mandated by the related persons. The contract on residential house purchase and sale must be in Vietnamese, so you will need a Vietnamese translator to help examine its content. Although many developers provide a bilingual version of the contract for a better understanding by all parties involved, only the Vietnamese version is valid under Vietnamese regulations. 

To help you with the complications involved with the contract, we list some details to look for before signing:

›› Is it stated that the seller has the ownership certificate of the apartment and does he give a guarantee over this ownership?

›› Is the apartment also a security for a loan?

›› What are the responsibilities of the seller in case of dispute over the apartment ownership due to his fault?

›› Methods used for payment?

›› What are the responsibilities for tax and fees?

›› What is the delivery time?

5. Paying taxes and fees: normally, if there is no other agreement between the parties, the buyer pays the registration fee and the seller pays income tax. The payment shall be made at the tax department of the district where the house is located.

6. The last step is to apply for an ownership certificate. Both parties can agree on how to handle issuance of the new certificate, although it is most likely that a buyer will have to take it up.