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Buying Property

Vietnam - Buying Property


Vietnam has recently enjoyed strong economic growth. In addition, significant changes have been made to laws regulating property purchases by migrants in the country. These two factors mean that many expats have taken the step of buying their own home in Vietnam.

No one other than the government can own land in Vietnam. This is a blanket rule that applies to everyone in the country regardless of nationality or residence. However, land can be leased for 50 years, with options to extend this further. Properties that sit on leased land can then be bought and sold as leasehold properties.

In July 2015, significant changes were made to the laws regulating who could obtain leasehold real estate in Vietnam, removing the outright ban on foreign investment. Now, any expat who is legally living in the country or who has a tourist visa allowing a three-month stay is allowed to make a property purchase, although this is subject to a number of specific conditions.

Firstly, only a 50-year leasehold can be purchased by expats in these situations. There are options for this to be extended at a later date, and it is possible that further changes to the property market may have happened by then.

Secondly, only 250 homes in any local government administrative ward can be bought by migrants. This is unlikely to matter in rural locations, but Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi are popular destinations for expats to live and work in, so at some point the allocation limit will be reached.

Finally, only 30 percent of any apartment block can be owned by expats.

Therefore, before you begin your search for the ideal home in Vietnam, you need to start by finding out if the allocation limit for your preferred destination has already been reached. There is no point looking at properties if your purchase will later be blocked by law.

On a positive note, housing laws in Vietnam provide good levels of protection to the owners of leaseholders. Once your investment has been correctly registered by your notary, you have the same legal rights as owners with Vietnamese nationality.

Vietnam experienced a sharp increase in expensive homes which ended with the global financial crisis in 2008. For several years, unfinished resorts in particular were visible symbols of the collapsed property market and absence of investors.

Since late 2014, the market has started to rise again. Most of this increase is due to rising wages and continued urbanisation, as people move from rural areas into cities and large towns. Urbanisation is expected to continue for several decades, putting pressure on city accommodation to meet demand. This would be likely to significantly increase purchase and rental prices in the long term. Added to this, the total population in Vietnam is expected to increase by approximately 25 million people over the next 25 years or so.

In Ho Chi Minh City (HCMH), each district has a distinctive character. Districts One and Three, on the west side of the river, are the business core of the city. Skyscrapers and luxury hotels sit alongside expensive apartment blocks in District One, while a little further out, the apartment blocks of District Three are conveniently placed for trendy socialising spots. District Two is popular with expat families, given its proximity to international schools, retail provision and upmarket restaurants. It sits across the river from the business centre; the connecting bridge gets very congested at busy times of the day.

Hanoi is a political centre rather than a business city. As such, it doesn’t boast the skyscraper developments seen in HMHC, and the expat community is smaller. However, there are a number of international schools located there, and it boasts a wealth of cultural and social amenities. Tay Ho is the most upscale area, whilst Hai Ba Trung will be more affordable for many expat families.

Da Nang is Vietnam’s third largest city, and is a popular destination for those seeking city living that is also by the sea.

The Unesco world heritage site of Ha Long Bay joins other coastal regions such as Nha Trang, Mui Ne and Phu Quoc island for popular property investment opportunities. Many of these areas are aimed at rental for the tourist market, and second homes for city dwellers.

If you are buying a new property from a developer, you need to exercise caution. As in many other countries, if the funds run out, the developer will cease work, and many factors may delay completion.

When local Vietnamese families are looking for a property to buy, they will ask around their friends, families and other contacts. With the arrival of expat investors, real estate agents are getting established in the country. Very few international investors speak Vietnamese, meaning that real estate agents usually speak fluent English. The estate agent will charge you a percentage of the purchase price for their services, which should be agreed and set out in writing before you visit any properties.

Real estate agents in Vietnam set up their own websites, giving you contact details and the details of properties on their books. These websites will be as good as those available in the US and Europe, with searchable databases to identify those properties within your price range. They will also have a wide range of photographs and information to give you a good impression of the property on offer, but visits in person are always recommended before considering an offer.

The purchasing process is bureaucratic, so you will need a competent notary to act for you. Finding a reputable notary within Vietnam who can speak English fluently will help the process run more smoothly.

Regardless of whether you are buying a new property or a resale, asking for a full report from a reputable building surveyor is a good investment. They will spot any major structural issues as well as more minor repairs to be undertaken before you hand over the purchase price.

You will have to pay a registration fee of 0.05 percent of the property value, plus VAT of five percent. The land tax due will depend on your property’s size, but will be between 0.03 percent and 0.15 percent of the value.

In the event that you decide to rent out your Vietnamese property, you will be expected to pay 20 percent of the income in taxes.

When the time comes to sell your home, under current rates you will be charged 0.15 percent capital gains tax on any profit you made.

Recent years have seen a big rise in the popularity of golf in Vietnam. This is driven by a combination of rising tourist numbers, an increase in managerial expats and a growing domestic interest in the sport. As a result, new courses are springing up, and bringing with them quality homes aimed at a particular lifestyle. These may be of interest to you if you are an expat looking to buy property in Vietnam.


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