Real estate firms struggle to recover from coronavirus slump

By Trung Tin   June 19, 2020 | 08:17 am GMT+7
Real estate firms struggle to recover from coronavirus slump
Apartment buildings and houses in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.

Property companies are struggling to get back on track after their revenues plummeted and many had to lay off most of their staff.

A deputy director of a developer of apartment complexes near Ho Chi Minh City, who asked for anonymity, said his company "nearly died" in the second quarter after the pandemic froze all activities.

"We had cut our workforce from 2,000 last year to 500 now, meaning 75 percent of sales agents are gone."

The company earned revenues of VND3 trillion ($128 million) in the first half of last year, but almost nothing this year. It has had to shell out nearly VND300 billion ($13 million) to keep the remaining staff.

Another company, headquartered in District 3, has not launched a single housing project so far this year, something that has not happened in the last five years.

A senior executive said the company had to spend contingency funds to retain staff and cut prices by 20 percent to push sales. "We had to accept reduced profits to survive."

Many realtors have gone through the longest holiday of their career. Vietnam has 1,200 real estate floors, but 80 percent of them remained closed from February to April amid the worsening pandemic.

Data from real estate firms confirm the disruption in the real estate sector. Apartment sales in Ho Chi Minh City in the first quarter fell 50 percent year-on-year to 1,980 units, according to property consultancy Jones Lang LaSalle.

In Hanoi, new apartment launches in the first quarter fell to 4,800 units, the lowest in five years, according to real estate service firm Savills.

Nguyen Loc Hanh, CEO of Asia Gem Real Estate Investment Jsc, said most real estate firms are going through major financial turmoil and this could continue through the second half or even longer.

The pandemic has cut demand, leading to plummeting revenues for real estate firms, which therefore could not pay back bank loans, he added.

 
 
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