Vietnam yet to streamline foreigners’ property ownership process

By Dat Nguyen   September 5, 2018 | 06:11 pm PT
Vietnam yet to streamline foreigners’ property ownership process
Foreigners' access to title documents remain obstructed by legal challenges. Photo by Reuters
Although Vietnam allows expats to own houses in the country, many of them are finding it challenging to obtain title documents.

Huynh Truc Mai’s Finnish husband was happy when he bought an apartment in District 2, HCMC, two years ago, and was eager to have their names appear as joint owners. But this was denied because he was not Vietnamese.

Mai said: “Eventually my husband had to agree I will be the sole owner of the house on paper. He was upset.”

Mai’s husband is among many foreigners who have bought houses in Vietnam but are unable to get a pink book, which is the title deed to apartments and houses.

Since July 2015 Vietnam has allowed foreigners to buy property except land and not more than 30 percent of a residential quarter or apartment project.

According to the HCMC Real Estate Association (HoREA), foreigners have bought 1,000 apartments since then.

But none has received the pink book yet, real estate businesses told a recent conference.

“Authorities do not reject our application, but they say they have not received detailed instructions on issuing ownership documents to foreigners,” local newspaper Nguoi Lao Dong quoted an executive from giant developer Novaland as saying.

So many foreigners need a Vietnamese to be the nominal owner on their behalf, he added.

National security

Experts said foreigners can own property in Vietnam but the government has yet to provide a clear solution to resolve the paperwork issue.

One of the reasons for this delay is that foreigners can only own properties in locations that do not have a bearing on national security, Tran Trong Tuan, director of the HCMC Department of Construction, told the media.

These areas should be designated by the Ministries of Public Security and Defence, but they haven’t given a specific list yet, he said.

“HCMC has already reported this challenge to the Ministry of Construction and the Prime Minister and is waiting for further instructions.”

Le Hoang Chau, chairman of HoREA, said the Ministry of Construction should announce in which areas foreigners can own property.

The construction ministry should do this when real estate firms apply for the license, he said.

Official data shows there are now 83,500 foreigners working in Vietnam.

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