‘We believe in the strong fundamentals in Vietnam – young population, high urbanization rate and a growing middle class,’ said Lim. ‘As the country prospers, buyers will become more discerning in the choice of properties and reputation of the developers. Developers who are able to deliver on time and with quality will continue to do well.’ He added that a turnaround may be seen in the second half of 2012.
Lim also praised the Vietnamese government’s positive measures to address the economic challenges. ‘We are tracking the consumer price index and we’ve found that it has improved month-on-month. It will take some time but things are moving in the right direction.’
However, he admitted that Vietnam didn’t do as well as other countries, like Singapore and China, but quickly added that each country is in a different stage of development. ‘There were times in 2007 when Vietnam did very well in its property market compared to other countries.’
Lim asserted that the property market’s recovery will be in tandem with the recovery of the country’s macroeconomic fundamentals. ‘When the inflation rate is more manageable and interest rates are reduced, people will start to invest more in properties. Then you will begin to see the turnaround.’
As an example of the company’s long-term plans, Lim cited the Saigon Centre project, which is a mixed-use development comprised of retail, office and service apartments scheduled for completion in 2015. ‘We believe foreign investors will continue to come to the country and will require offices and service apartments. The retail market is also doing well.’
Another flagship project is a 1,800-unit social housing project in District 2 under a public-private initiative with the Ho Chi Minh City government, in return for land for the company’s developments. ‘The second phase of the project has just been handed over to the residents this week. Then we will complete the final phase some time at the end of this year or in the first half of next year.’
‘It’s a win-win [solution] for all. For us, we get the land. The city has a social housing project and the residents can move to better homes. We would definitely look at more projects like this and look forward to opportunities to [working] with the city. It’s something worth pursuing and exploring. We are open to doing this in other cities and provinces as well.’