Improving Your Home: An Interior Design Case Study

By: Aleksandr Smechov

Homeowners usually think of their dwelling as a place to relax and unwind after a hard day out, spend a bit of quality family time, and have the occasional meal. But have you ever thought a home can be an extension of one’s personality, a space to feel refreshed after a long day, something that inspires you instead of acting like a permanent hotel?

Interior design’s focus is to enhance an indoor space to make it not only more pleasing on the eyes, but bring its inhabitants together and seamlessly connect separate spaces. Below we take an interior design project in Binh Duong New City, where an existing apartment layout goes through several modifications to maximise both space and function.

1. Existing condition: The existing condition of the space was a three bedroom apartment for a young family. There were long, narrow corridors, too many solid walls that made the public area smaller and tighter for anyone passing through. There were no true spaces for working, reading or entertainment.

2. Solution: As the inhabitants were a young family with a small child (and possibly another coming), changes were made in the layout in order to create a functional space that could fulfill the needs of a small group of closely knit people. For this an “open” concept was used.

2.1 Functional change of space: The project began with the demolition of one bedroom and the creation of a multi-purpose space – this new working/reading room can be used as a guest bedroom when needed.

2.2 Working room: The working room is an open space, connected with other sections of the apartment: the kitchen, the dining area, bedrooms and the living rooms. Privacy for the working room can still be kept using a partition and bookshelf.

2.3 Open kitchen: An open kitchen also helps make the space look bigger, as it connects with other sections of the apartment.

 

2.4 Overview: This “open concept” does not only create a connection between spaces but also connects family member together – while mom is cooking, she can talk or look after her kids, and also speak with her husband in the working room at the same time. All spaces are connected together without boundary, and this creates a roomier feel in the apartment.

3. The value created: A simple change in layout can create a big difference for your apartment, yourself and for others who are engaging in this space.

The above project was completed by OP3 Interior Design & Construction. The firm’s belief is that a home should tell a story about the owner, while at once refreshing those who live there, connecting family together with a seamless space that take into account the natural elements of the earth. You may learn more about their home enhancing projects at op3vietnam.com. For further consultation, you may contact OP3 Vietnam at marketing@op3vietnam.com.


How to Buy a House or Land in Vietnam?

By: City Pass Guide

Foreigners who are living in Vietnam may purchase houses for the expressed purpose of dwelling in it. By Vietnamese law, land is a national good, so you can only own the structure built on a property, not the land that it is on. You can enjoy a “land use right” for up to 50 years. This duration can be renewed. Also note that if you’re married to a Vietnamese citizen or a Việt kiều, you will have the same ownership rights as Vietnamese citizens.

Seek professional advice to ensure that all steps are properly taken to ensure a troublefree property transfer.

Alternatively, according to Vietnam’s Housing Law, every foreigner who has a Vietnamese visa stamp on their passport can buy a property in Vietnam. However, if you enjoy diplomatic or consular immunities and privileges, this does not apply.

Besides individuals, foreign companies, branches, representative offices of foreign companies, foreign investment funds and branches of foreign banks that are operating in Vietnam are also entitled to purchase property of residential projects.


A serviced apartment in Diamond Island Luxury Residences

What are the limits of foreigners’ rights on residential property in Vietnam?

The law states that foreign individuals and entities may only buy, receive or inherit apartments and houses in commercial projects and not in areas that limit or ban foreigners.

Although the limit of one property per foreigner has been repelled, the new Housing Law sets a limit on the proportion of foreigners who may live in a determined area: the total number of units owned by all foreign buyers must not exceed 30% of the units in one apartment building, or 250 landed property units in one ward.

The duration of the tenure is supposed to be equal to the land use right owned by the developer, most likely 50 years, with an option to extend the land use right at the end of it. The exact conditions for the extension are still unclear and will be detailed in further regulations.


Crescent Residences in D7, HCMC

An expatriate may lease his/her property for any purpose that is not banned by law, but he/she must inform the provincial house management agency before leasing the property. In this case, he/she is subject to Vietnam’s property taxes. If you are an overseas Vietnamese or if you are married to a Vietnamese citizen, you are entitled to a freehold tenure on the property.

If you bought it, you could of course decide to live in the house but also lease it or pass it through inheritance to someone else without any difficulties. To lease it, you will need an administrative authorisation from the Housing Department of the People’s Committee where your property is located.

Can foreign-invested enterprises purchase residential properties in Vietnam?

Foreign-invested enterprises that operate in Vietnam under the investment law but are not engaged in real estate, can purchase residential houses for their employees. They must possess investment certificates or written certifications of investment activities as appropriate to investment forms specified by the investment law granted by a competent Vietnamese state agency. They can buy properties to house their employees, but are not able to use them for leasing or other purposes.

HCMC properties
Housing in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: GettyImage

What are the steps to purchase a house in Vietnam?

1. 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.

2. Due diligence is the next step.

You will 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.

3. 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?

4. Paying taxes and fees.

Normally, if there is no other agreement between 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.

5. 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.


The Foreign Investor Guide to Real Estate in HCMC

By: Eric Le Dreau

Are you a foreign investor and want to know about real estate laws in HCMC? Confused by the new Property Law? Indochina Legal clears up the confusion:

One of the most notable changes introduced by Vietnam’s new 2014 property law and its regulations is the revision of the right for overseas Vietnamese, foreign individuals and organisations to own residential houses, as follows:

Overseas Vietnamese (or Viet Kieus) can now own residential houses in the same way as Vietnamese citizens without further residency requirements or any limitations on the type or quantity of houses, or the terms of ownership. They must hold a valid passport with an entry verification stamp marked by the Vietnamese Immigration Department (VID) and a document evidencing their Vietnamese origin.

Foreign individuals have the right to own residential houses, subject to certain restrictions as compared to Vietnamese citizens and Viet Kieus. In order to own houses, a foreigner is required to have a valid passport with an entry verification stamp marked by the VID and cannot fall under diplomatic or consulate preferences and immunities. Requirements of residency, investment in Vietnam, work permit, social contribution and/or marriage to a local Vietnamese is not necessary for residential housing ownership. However, as to ownership duration, foreigners married to Vietnamese citizens or to Viet Kieus are entitled to an indefinite term, whereas foreigners who are not can only own residential housing for a period of 50 years. This can be extended for another 50 years, subject to approval by the provincial People’s Committee where the house is located. Unlike other foreigners, those who are married to Vietnamese citizens are also exempt from notifying the housing administration authority at the district level prior to leasing their houses to others. Apart from that, the new legal framework grants foreigners the same rights of Vietnamese in the cases of subleases, mortgages, etc. of residential housing.

real estate in hcmc

Photo by: Manh Hai

Foreign organisations are allowed to own houses provided that (i) ownership term shall not exceed the period stated in their investment certificates issued by Vietnamese competent authorities, including any extensions; (ii) use of the houses is for residential purposes only, for their personnel; and (iii) lease-out of the houses is not permitted.

It is worth noting that foreign organisations and individuals shall not collectively own more than 30% of the total number of apartments in an apartment building or not more than 250 separate houses in an area where population is equivalent to that of a ward. In addition, house ownership beyond real estate projects (e.g. a villa built by individuals) is not allowed. For national defense and public security purposes, foreign individuals and organisations cannot own houses in certain areas. With respect to these limitations, the local Department of Construction will publish on their official website the projects where foreigners cannot own houses, detailed numbers of apartments or separate houses eligible for foreign ownership, and the number of houses where foreign ownership has been recorded. To our understanding, the database is not yet completely developed for all cities and provinces in Vietnam. Meanwhile, payment for purchase or lease of residential houses shall be made via credit institutions operated in Vietnam. So far there has been no specific instruction on foreign exchange control for relevant inbound and outbound foreign funding of residential housing.

Despite certain remaining limitations, the NHL has provided a more open approach to ownership of residential housing for foreigners. The hope is that these changes will ultimately defreeze the real estate market and create a new wave of foreign investment in Vietnam.

Website: www.indochinalegal.com


KAZE on Quality

By: Aleksandr Smechov

Fong-Chan was born in Denmark, a country world famous for its attention to design detail in architecture and furniture design.

Moving to Vietnam 14 years ago was an eye opener for her. She quickly found that the country’s perception of quality design was very much different from her own.

Six years ago she founded KAZE, which means wind in Japanese. The interior design firm’s mission is to push for quality in function, design and purpose, something that has not been paid much attention to in Vietnam. We sat down with Fong-Chan to discuss KAZE’s take on quality.

“There is no building that has intelligent design in this city.” Fong-Chan lets me quote her on that. She means that no building here has paid much attention to sustainable practices or invested in consultants with sufficient knowledge of the environment they are building in; everything has been built in a mad rush to cut costs for as fast a return as possible; and developers have chickened out of paying extra as soon as the price tag on sustainable, quality design reared its head.

The Perception of Quality

Real wood, real stone and not “Made in China” - or what the locals jokingly say, “made in District 5”. This is what most Vietnamese - and interestingly enough, many other nationalities ncluding Americans - will answer when asked what a quality home consists of.

You can control the quality of hardwood flooring in a home, but not so much for one thousand apartments. It’s the craftsmanship that matters. It’s one thing to have a piece of wood, another matter entirely to shape this wood into a quality product, such as refined, affordable and sturdy flooring.

“There is no building that has intelligent design in this city.”

Many property developers and investors have yet to realise that there is a process in-between the raw material and the result. You may have a house with stone fixtures and marble columns, but where are you going to sit, sleep, how do you move through the space, how is the space moving you? Fong-Chan has been focusing on these questions ever since finishing her Masters in Architecture.

The Challenge of Quality

Quality, according to Fong-Chan, consists first of great references and understanding the history of “how things originate”. Terms must be defined when talking about quality.

Quality is when we learn from our experience and make an effort to develop a design with all necessary details. We incorporate our understanding of the natural laws of gravity, function, existing permissions, and through that develop a shape, space, chair, house, building or tower that relates itself to the surroundings and its end user, the Human.

At one point during our talk, Fong-Chan pointed behind me at a poster: A Century of Danish Chairs. “That’s quality.” We got up and scanned the 105 chairs in the poster. Fong-Chan would point out a chair and explain why it had been so revolutionary at the time. All these chairs were designed and built for the human body - with special attention to the chair’s proportions. Quality is something made with purpose - function and form combined to give us a human experience. Not just something that looks pretty.

A State of Preservation

Saigon and Hanoi are European cities - and so are unique in Southeast Asia. They have what other cities in the region do not: a city centre. In European tradition, everything is built around the church and from that you would have the important boulevards and roads that connect the urban infrastructure. The city develops through trade and if possible, a trade port is built.

“Saigon and Hanoi have what other cities in the region don’t: a city center.”

Singapore had this, but only a few of the old buildings remain - the vast majority had been demolished in favor of contemporary high-rises and city blocks. This is exactly what is happening in Saigon today, and we are looking on sadly as the city’s heritage is being demolished in front of our eyes in the name of “development”.

A Shift in Idea

A shift in the idea of quality is taking place, from superficial and cost-saving practices, to the world of right proportions, practical function, intelligent design and sustainable material. Let’s hope Ho Chi Minh City learns from its neighbors (and itself) and begins to understand that cutting corners will never work in the long term.


Buying Property in Vietnam

By: City Pass Guide

Vietnam property ownership for expats is a dilemma that has been here as long as the expats themselves. You come to Vietnam, fall in love with the country and settle down. But where will you live? Is it going to be rental property forever? You don’t intend on leaving so why not buy? It may surprise quite a few to realise that it is not as fraught with danger as you may think. It is certainly easier than in Thailand, and there is a lot less chance of you losing your hard earned money.

Vietnam Property Law Changes

The government changed the rules in July 2015, enabling foreigners to buy their dream home here, provided they match a few criteria. Anyone buying property here now has a lease of 50 years, with the ability to sell-on and transfer the lease.

Conic Residental Building in Binh Chanh (Photo by Đức-Huy)

According to the new law, foreigners and foreign entities will only be allowed to buy or take ownership of apartments and houses in commercial projects. They will still not be allowed to buy in areas that limit or ban foreigners. A maximum of 30% of apartments within a given block and 250 houses in a given ward will be available to expats. The 50 year lease will be able to be extended in the future, although details of exactly how this will be done will change over time.

People may think that not being able to buy the land and only the building upon it is unfair, but this is the same for the local population. The government maintains ownership of the land here. Since the announcement, a property market that was already heating up has really opened up and enabled foreigners to join the Vietnam property ladder. The country already had a strong economy and a very strong and vibrant middle class.

These new rules also apply to long term Vietnamese who, living abroad, have kept up their Vietnamese citizenship. With 4.2 million Vietnamese living overseas and about 30,000 high earning foreign executives working and living here (CNBC), the potential for local real estate companies is huge.

Big Changes for Ho Chi Minh City

The drive to modernise the city has meant that developments are springing up everywhere. The new prestigious tower being built in District 1 by Vinhomes is seen as a symbol of the future. At 461 metres, the Landmark 81 tower will be the tallest building in Southeast Asia.

Photo by Vinhomes 

Vietnam’s economy has a steady growth rate of over 5-7% per year. Almost 42,000 apartments were launched in 2015 with a record 36,000 of them being sold (Vietnambreakingnews.com). Vietnam does certainly look like a great place in which to invest. In Ho Chi Minh City, The top end properties are priced at $3,000 to $5,000 per square metre. This is way below the $9,375 per square metre you would have to cough up in Bangkok (Financial Times). And yet, rental yields here are 1.5-2.5% higher than those in Bangkok, Hong Kong and even Singapore, according to VinaCapital.


Top 10 Real Estates Websites in HCMC

By: Luke Nguyen

Buying, selling or renting a house in Vietnam, easy though it sounds, can be a challenge for a foreigner. The country’s real estate transactions have been based heavily on the traditional method of having an agent (or “co” - the housing stork) do all the work. People are now becoming more proactive in their choice of creating a home and taking advantage of online information to save costs and time.

Here are our top 10 picks for quality real estate websites in Vietnam. Despite the fact that only a limited number of them have a proper English interface, their information is valuable and can be translated easily using Google Translate.

Check out the 10 sites below:

1. batdongsan.com.vn

When it comes to housing and real estate, Bat Dong San is no doubt the number one portal in Vietnam. With the largest amount of information in its field, continuously updated and presented professionally in both Vietnamese and English, it satisfies a wide range of enquiries from visitors. Besides real estate information, it also provides visitors advice on architecture, construction, interior and exterior decoration, legal issues and feng shui.

2. muabannhadat.vn

With a friendly website layout, Mua Ban Nha Dat is a great source providing online solutions for marketers and real estate brokers. For investors, brokers and individuals who are active in the field, this site is one of their first choices to get quick market updates and details on upcoming real estate projects all over the country with a few quick clicks. The only downside is that they don’t have an English user-friendly interface, but as mentioned earlier, Google Translate can be a good way to explore.

3. zita.vn

Zita is one of the newest additions to the Vietnamese real estate field. With its clean, sleek layout including a city view home page video, Zita sets itself apart from the other competitors. The information on the site is presented beautifully with a neighborhood browsing feature and an interactive map for visitors.

4. dothi.net

Do Thi provides the fastest and most accurate market information in Vietnam. Through the advanced site browser, users can find all about buying, selling, renting across all provinces and cities in the country. News and featured projects sections are updated daily to keep visitors informed on the latest buzz in the field.

5. nhadat24h.net

Nha Dat 24h specialises in online real estate transactions, featured VIP promotions, advertising updates and latest market news.

6. 123nhadat.vn

With over 2 million real estate listings and an average of 5,000 housing posts per day, 123 Nha Dat provides market information, and post-purchase education and lease-free housing. Users can search for land, houses and apartments.

7. cafeland.vn

Cafeland is one of the leading real estate sites in Vietnam. Besides housing information, the website also provides up to date news and market analysis from experts in the field. The site also has a portfolio section which provides key details on real estate with specific and neatly presented information.

8. diaoconline.vn

Dia Oc Online aims to contribute to the sustainable growth of information-sharing and real estate infrastructure in Vietnam. Besides housing listings and information, consultancy on decoration, interior design and feng shui are also provided to users for reference. The featured agents section is also very interesting and informative.

9. dinhgianhadat.vn

This website lives up to its good name by providing qualified property valuation software to assist customers with making buying decisions easier. Besides real estate news and tips, Dinh Gia Nha Dat also features a cheap land and housing section and a promotion and auction space for buyers and investors.

10. kenhbds.vn

Kenh BDS supplies a wealth of resource materials for home buyers and sellers for big cities in Vietnam. The website is presented so that both buyers and sellers can make the most of its user-friendly interface and information.


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