Foreigners with over-3 month visas can buy houses in VN: Proposal

Under a proposal by the Construction Ministry, all foreigners staying in Vietnam on a visa that is valid for more than three months can buy houses in the country and may hold house ownership for 50 to 70 years.

The proposal was mentioned in a report signed by Deputy Construction Minister Nguyen Tran Nam to Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung about the implementation of Resolution 19/2008 by the National Assembly on pilot permission for foreign organizations and individuals to purchase and own residential houses in Vietnam.

According to the ministry’s statistics, after five years of implementation of the Resolution, only 126 foreign organizations and individuals had bought houses as of the end of the second quarters of 2013. Of these, 80 percent are businesses, and the rest are individuals.

Most of the house purchases were made in southern areas such as Ho Chi Minh City, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Binh Duong and Khanh Hoa.

Of these foreign individuals, most are married to Vietnamese citizens, while 15 percent are foreign individuals making direct investment in Vietnam or have been hired by domestic or foreign-invested enterprises to hold managerial posts. Only 5 percent are working in the social and economic fields.

Meanwhile, according to the Ministry of Construction, many individuals want to own a house in Vietnam, but they are not among the current five groups that are eligible to buy houses in Vietnam.

Therefore, the ministry has proposed that the Government loosen conditions on which foreign organizations and individuals can buy houses in Vietnam.

Accordingly, the ministry proposed that all foreigners staying in Vietnam with visas valid for three months or more be allowed to buy a house, except for those who are working for diplomatic agencies or non-governmental organizations.

Currently, under a regulation of Resolution 19, foreigners wanting to buy a house must be allowed by relevant Vietnam agencies to stay in the country for at least one year and belong to one of the five groups of foreigners who are allowed to buy houses here.

The ministry also proposed that all foreign investment funds, banks, branches or representative offices of foreign enterprises operating in Vietnam be allowed to buy houses.

The Ministry proposes that foreign organizations and foreigners be allowed to buy both flats in apartment building and stand-alone houses. In the case of separate houses, the area of a house will not be allowed to exceed 500 square meters, and the prices of the kinds of houses foreign individuals and organizations can buy will be stipulated by the Government.

Regarding term of ownership, the ministry proposed two options, one of which is 50 years with an extension allowed, and the other 70 years without any extension.

Regarding the number of houses foreigners are allowed to buy, the ministry proposed two optional regulations. One of them will not limit the number of houses that can be bought, while the other will limit this to two at most.
According to the ministry, the loosening of regulations will encourage foreigners to come to Vietnam to do business and help revive the real estate market, which is currently flooded with unsold properties.

It is expected that the amendments to Resolution 19 will be submitted to the National Assembly for approval by the end of this year.

Five types of entities eligible to purchase houses in Vietnam

Under Resolution 19/2008 dated June 3, 2008 by the National Assembly, five types of entities are eligible to purchase and own residential houses or apartments in Vietnam are as follows:

1. A foreign individual who executes direct investment in Vietnam in accordance with the investment laws, or who is employed and appointed to be managing personnel by an enterprise which is currently operating in Vietnam in accordance with the Enterprise Law (including both domestic enterprises and enterprises with foreign owned capital);

2. A foreign individual whose contribution to Vietnam has been commended with a decoration or medal from the President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam; and a foreign individual who has made a special contribution to Vietnam as stipulated in a decision of the Prime Minister of the Government;

3. A foreign individual currently working in the socio-economic sector with a university or higher equivalent qualification and being a person with special technical knowledge and/or technical skills which Vietnam requires;

4. A foreign individual married to a Vietnamese citizen;and

5. An enterprise with foreign-owned capital currently operating in Vietnam which does not conduct real property business and which needs residential housing for the people working at the enterprise.