Foreigners and overseas Vietnamese are eligible for housing ownership in Vietnam immediately upon their arrival in the country, if they meet immigration requirements, an official from the Ministry of Construction said on July 17.

Vietnam officially approved foreign ownership of house and apartment starting July 1, but many homebuyers of this kind still have questions regarding the requirements, conditions and procedures on house purchases.

The Ho Chi Minh City Real Estate Association (HoREA) thus held a conference on July 17 to solicit feedback on the new housing rule from foreign individuals and organizations.

Yoshida Akio, head of the Vietnamese representative office of Japan’s Kitakei Co. Ltd., said he and many other Japanese who are working, or going to work, in Vietnam all want to own a house in the country, and even to settle down there.

But they are still in the dark about such issues as what kind of visa they need to have to be eligible for the housing ownership, and whether the allowed stay of the visa matters.

Yoshida said he was wondering if he was still able to buy an apartment if he was to stay in Vietnam for only one day.

Nguyen Trong Ninh, deputy head of the department for housing and realty market management under the construction ministry, said foreigners only need a valid visa for immigration to be allowed to buy houses and apartments in Vietnam.

“For businesses, investment funds or branches of foreign banks, they must be operating in Vietnam and have such required documents as investment license, and legal office and branch establishment licenses,” Ninh said, citing the Law on housing.

In the meantime, foreign individuals only need to have entry visas and a written guarantee that they do not have diplomatic immunity, the official added.

“Even visa with only one day of allowed stay is eligible for house and apartment purchases,” he asserted.

Under the Law on housing, the foreign ownership of house and apartment has a maximum term of 50 years since obtaining the ownership certificate.

When the 50-year term expires, the owner can apply for an extension by the same term.

If an apartment is transferred, the new owner is only allowed to own the property for the remaining term.

Truong Anh Tu, director of sales and marketing with Sacomreal, a realty firm, said the company has received many questions regarding the valid term of ownership from foreign customers.

“If the foreign owner wants to sell his apartment to others, will the new owner be allowed to own it for another 50 years, or the remaining term?” he said.

“How many term expansions can the owners apply for, and are there any fees for that?”

Ninh said the new owner is only allowed to own the property for the remaining term, and an apartment can only have its term expanded for one time.

HoREA chairman Le Hoang Chau said such regulation is not really reasonable.

“The new owner should also be allowed to own the property for another 50 years, and to later extend the ownership term,” he said.



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