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Foreigners in no rush to buy property

Five days after the capital city agreed to grant certificates of land-use rights and house ownership to overseas Vietnamese and foreign home buyers, there have been no signs that anyone is interested.

To boost the real estate-market, the Ha Noi People's Committee recently released Decision No13 that allows overseas Vietnamese and foreigners to possess house ownership certificates (red book).

According to CB Richard Ellis Vietnam, up to the end of the first quarter, Ha Noi still had an unsold stockpile of about 21,600 apartments, mostly middle and high-end apartments, an increase of 21 per cent over the same term last year.

A most revealing statistic provided by the General Department of Land Management, at present only 427 overseas Vietnamese and foreigners own their houses in Viet Nam.

And, of the 80,000 foreigners living and working in Viet Nam, only 64 own their own house.

The decision to relax land-use rights rules went into effect on Saturday, but Nguyen Tho Tuyen, sales manager of for the CEN Real Estate Group in Ha Noi said so far there had been no response.

The representative of another property agency said he had one or two transactions with overseas people in recent years, but no one had rushed forward this time.

However, he thought the decision was a step in the right direction for foreigners who had largely been excluded from the domestic property market.

Vu Cuong Quyet, CEO of Northern Green Land Real Estate and Service Joint Stock Company, said Decision 13 was good, adding that foreigners, like locals, were probably waiting for the weak sales market to go even lower.

Quyet said it should take three to six months for the policy to start working. While complicated laws delayed any purchase, he said the Government should simplify the lists of conditions needed for people able to buy houses in Viet Nam. He said this would enhance the liquidity of the market.

One Danish national told Vietnam News Agency that she wanted to buy a house to live in for the long term instead of paying monthly rent of US$2,000. However, she admitted she had given up because procedures were so complicated.

According to Deputy Minister of Construction Nguyen Tran Nam, few foreigners had bought houses in the past five years.

Nam said he would review legislation to enable the housing market to grow stronger by providing more favourable buying conditions.

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