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Vietnam: Foreigners Permitted to Own Homes for 99 Years

(Aug. 30, 2017) Under a draft law now being considered in Vietnam, foreigners would be allowed to own houses for as long as 99 years. In addition, anyone would be able to mortgage assets associated with land-use rights at foreign credit institutions.  The proposed legislation was discussed on August 2 by the Standing Committee of the National Assembly.  (M. Ha, Vietnam: Foreigners to Be Allowed to Own Houses in VN for up to 99 Years, VIETNAMNET BRIDGE (Aug. 21, 2017), Open Source Enterprise online subscription database, No. SER2017082133375998.)

According to Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, the changes are needed to create a legal framework that attracts investment in special zones. Nguyen Manh Ha, the chair of the Vietnam Real Estate Brokerage Association, noted that the 99-year term of ownership is not really a new rule; foreigners can now own houses for 50 years, with a right of renewal of no more than 50 years, under an October 2015 decree.  (Id.; Decree of Government No. 99/2015/ND-CP Dated October 20, 2015, on Guidelines for the Law on Housing, HETHONGPHAPLUATVIETNAM.NET.) The new law will permit ownership by foreigners for the full 99 years, without the need to request an extension.  (Ha, supra.)

While the current rules in theory allow foreign ownership for a set period, for the most part banks have not been willing to assist expatriates with procedural aspects of buying property in Vietnam. One report suggests a need for better cooperation between the government and lending institutions to facilitate purchases.  (Id.)  Because under its provisions foreigners will be able to buy and transfer houses, the new legislation is expected to stimulate both the real estate market and investment in Vietnam.  (Id.)