Vietnam is a market to keep a close eye on thanks to its untapped potential and very affordable prices. However, it is a market where you are currently looking at future rather than immediate potential and there is some risk involved. At the moment there are legal restrictions that prevent foreigners from owning their own property, so they must instead lease it. Further, at the end of a 50 year term it must be sold, unless the term is extended. There is talk of lifting these restrictions, and indeed there have been recent improvements in Vietnamese property law so if you are prepared to take the risk, the opportunities here could be massive.
- The real estate market is still in its early stages of development, offering numerous opportunities for investors. There is a huge potential for growth, and a property boom could well be on the cards.
- The government has made significant changes to the property investment laws, and offered certain ownership concessions to Vietnamese citizens living abroad. This could well suggest that the government is moving to relax property investment laws.
- Since the laws were enacted in 2006, foreign commitment into Vietnamese property has increased, indicating a confidence in the future market. Foreign investment in the Vietnamese property market is expected to reach US$9 billion in 2010 according to real estate and marketing research company VietRees.
- Vietnam's GDP growth has been rapid, out-stripping most of its south-east Asian neighbours. Over the past five years, the country's GDP growth rate averaged 7.4% per annum, second only to China. This rising GDP will help to aid an expansion in the real estate market, as FDI and Vietnamese purchasing power rises.
- Recent membership of the World Trade Organisation should help Vietnam sustain and even improve its high level of growth.
- Real estate growth will also be effected by rising FDI. In 2006 FDI inflows into Vietnam reached a record US$10.2 bn.
- Rising remittances from overseas Vietnamese, which reached USD 4 billion in 2005, have driven up demand for better-quality housing.
- With economic expansion, there is a rapidly growing urban population, fuelling the demand for property in the city. The total amount of people living in Vietnam's urban areas is projected to reach 30.4 million by 2010.
- A growing Vietnamese middle class, for whom it is increasingly fashionable to live in an apartment, will continue to stimulate demand. From 1980-2006 real GDP per capita rose by more than 250%. This rising middle class, along with tourists and expatriates provides excellent rental opportunities for investors.
- Rising tourist numbers have also increased the demand for accommodation. International arrivals to Vietnam in the 1st half of 2007 were an estimated 2.11 million, an increase of 14.7% on the same period a year previously. The World Travel and Tourism Council predict that Vietnam will be among the top ten tourist destinations in the world in the next ten years.
- There has been a huge effort to upgrade tourist infrastructure, which will enhance future investment in real estate. Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has approved a list of 31 key infrastructure projects that will be developed between now and 2020, including a north-south expressway and the Hanoi-HCM City express railway.
- There is already evidence that we can expect a housing boom in Vietnam. In 1995 there were less than 200 residential units catering to the luxury and expatriate market, by 2005 there were almost 150,000.
- The Supreme Council of French Notary has agreed to assist the Vietnamese government in modernising and improving the Vietnamese registration and regulation process.
Foreign investors are allowed to rent out their leased properties. The biggest cities and other attractive tourist destinations offer the best opportunities for rentals. Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi are the country's two main metropolitan centres for investment. Given their population profile, extent of FDI and their ideal location they offer excellent opportunities for renting to expatriates, executives or locals. In central areas of HCMC it is not uncommon to see rental yields of 10-14%. The average rent in HCMC is around US$15.32 per square metre, while Hanoi's rents are a bit lower, at up to US$12 per square metre. There should be a growing rental market as numbers of expatriates, tourists and middle class Vietnamese grow.
The property market in Vietnam has generally low entry prices, with good potential for capital growth. In several areas of Ho Chi Minh City prices have doubled within the first three months of 2007 and on the outskirts of the city prices are around US$600 per square metre.
However, in certain areas of the major cities like HCMC and Hanoi, prices have already risen dramatically and some sources have deemed them unsustainable. Buyers should investigate the local situation when considering property here. Prices of luxury apartments are particularly high and rising. High end apartments can go for as much as US$1,000- $2,300 per square metre in central districts such as Phu My Hung in HCMC.
In areas outside the main cities, prices are cheaper. In Colliers' Aquaba Luxury resort in Phan Thiet (Binh Thuan province) the purchase price of a two bedroom apartment is approximately $107,333.