|Houses in the Trung Hoa-Nhan Chinh area, west of Ha Noi. Laws regulating foreigners' rights to buy houses in Viet Namcould be loosened further in a bid to stimulate the domestic property market. — VNS Photo Truong Vi
HA NOI (VNS)— Regulations on foreigners' rights to buy houses in Viet Nam could be loosened further in a bid to stimulate the domestic property market.
The Ministry of Construction has announced a review of the current regulations, due to take place in the coming months with possibility of the law coming into force by 2015.
The policy allowing foreigners to buy houses was first introduced in 2009 through the National Assembly's Resolution 19.
However, the strict regulations, which limit ownership and property transfer rights, have discouraged foreigners from entering the property market.
The ministry's statistics showed that after four years, only 121 foreigners owned houses in Viet Nam while Viet kieu (overseas Vietnamese) owners numbered just 400.
The modest figures compare unfavourably with the number of foreigners living and working the country, thought to be around 80,000 and with housing requirements estimated to total 1 million square metres.
According to Deputy Minister of Construction Nguyen Tran Nam, the loosening of regulations for foreigners to buy houses would help to prevent the concentration of crowds of people with the same nationality in one place, which was important for social security.
Many countries such as Malaysia and Singapore had policies encouraging foreigners to buy houses in their countries. At the same time, they also had regulations to ensure the purchases were kept under control, he said.
Nam added that the percentage of apartments in a building to be sold to foreigners of the same nationality would be capped.
The ministry will also consider whether foreigners should be allowed to buy low-priced houses, or be restricted to certain properties.
Regarding the policy for Viet kieu to own houses in Viet Nam, Nam said regulations were already favourable.
Currently, Viet kieu with Vietnamese citizenship and those who do not have citizenship but have investments or businesses in the country are allowed to buy houses in Viet Nam.
Only those without Vietnamese citizenship or investments in the country are limited to buying just one unit.
According to Le Hoang Chau, president of the HCM City Real Estate Association, the increase in foreign home-buyers would help clear bulging property inventories, especially in the high-priced brackets.
On May 4, the Ha Noi People's Committee issued Decision 13 which allowed foreigners to be granted home ownership certificates, known as a "red book." A foreigner is currently permitted to own one property only.
According to Nguyen Manh Ha, Director of the Housing and Real Estate Department under the construction ministry, the policy to allow foreigners to buy houses in Viet Nam would be adjusted in the amended Housing Law.
The amended laws on housing and real estate business would be proposed to the National Assembly for ratification in 2014 and expected to come into force in 2015.
Ha said the Housing Law, which took effect in 2005, and the 2006 Law on Real Estate Business revealed limitations within the current situation, partly caused by the supply-demand imbalance and unstable development of the property market
The construction ministry said the amendments would be in line with the nation's housing development strategy approved by the Prime Minister in 2011, while ensuring consistency with other relevant laws and transparency in the real estate market. — VNS