Both overseas Vietnamese and foreigners are now allowed to buy into condominium developments and own an apartment in Hanoi or Vietnam once they meet certain conditions. The law states that foreign organisations and individuals are allowed to buy and own an apartment in a commercial housing development project and that foreign individuals can own an apartment for 50 years and extend ownership once for another 70 years. They must be backed up by documents that prove that they will stay in the country for a year or that they already have stayed for a year. Each foreigner can own only one apartment at a time although foreign organisations can own an apartment for as long as the period specified in their investment license.
Those eligible for the programme include individuals who invest directly in Vietnam real estate or who are hired for management positions by local or foreign-invested companies. Foreigners who receive certificates of merit or medals from the president or government for their contribution to the country qualify as do those who work in socio-economic fields, hold a bachelors degree or higher and who possess special knowledge and skills that Vietnam needs.
Foreigners married to Vietnamese residents can get involved as can foreign-invested enterprises operating in Vietnam that need to buy houses for employees.
The move, it is hoped, will come as a timely shot in the arm for the industry. According to experts a number of foreign companies are readying themselves for an increase in Hanoi condo demand. Korean developers are said to be becoming the key players with a number of Japanese investors also examining prospects. Vietnam has already attracted more than $15 billion in foreign investment; a figure over double the amount the country lured between January and May of last year. It indicates that the legal change mooted is being looked at as a potential boon for the condo market in the city and beyond.
One high-profile project is the 36-storey HABICO Tower, now under construction in Hanois Tu Liem District. The US$220 million project covers an area of 4,490sqm and is to be managed by the Korean Group Dongriwon Development Inc. The 180m-high tower was designed as a luxury complex for trade and services, offices, hotels and serviced apartments in Hanoi. The will provide over 500 apartments as well as ample office space. A key draw for the project is its foreigner-friendly location; Tu Liem District is a popular area, and the western gateway of Hanoi.