Buying houses in Hanoi – house buyers’ guide

Vietnamese laws now do not permit foreign individuals and organisations to buy houses in Hanoi. Under the Vietnamese Business Law and Housing Law, foreign entities can only rent land, build houses to sell or lease the houses. However, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has just instructed the Ministry of Construction to prepare the necessary documents on an experimental project, which would permit foreigners to buy houses and possess land in Vietnam, and to submit them to the National Assembly’s Standing Committee for opinions.
If the project is approved, foreigners will be permitted to buy and possess a house in Vietnam for a maximum possession time of 70 years.

According to the Construction Ministry, the project to permit foreigners to own houses will facilitate living and working conditions for foreigners in Vietnam and in turn lure more foreign investment and development of the property market. The move would aim however, to provide more convenient conditions for foreigners living and working in Vietnam rather than to encourage them to trade houses.

That said, the initiative is still speculative and other officials are indicating that nothing of the sort will take place. Deputy minister of construction Nguyen Tran Nam said that while the drafted plan on selling houses to foreigners would be submitted by the Government to the National Assembly “in the coming time”. He pointed out that “houses such as villas shall not be sold to foreigners, due to issues relating to land ownership.”

As things stand, foreign individuals and organisations have the right to rent houses only after residing in Vietnam over three months, and cannot buy. While it is still possible that the law might be changed so that foreigners can own land on which to own and trade houses at some time over the coming years, it seems somewhat unlikely to come about any time soon given the fact that the government has only just visited the issue of foreign ownership.

It has stated that the law will indeed be relaxed, but that ownership will be limited to condominiums and only under certain conditions. It could still go either way, but at present, there is no solid commitment to open up land or house ownership.