Investors need to consider carefully before buying old apartments: experts

Investors need to consider carefully before buying old apartments: experts
Experts have recommended investors consider carefully before buying old apartments to ensure investment efficiency.
investors need to consider carefully before buying old apartments experts
Hanoi has more than 1,500 old apartment buildings. – Photo

One of the main issues is that the time it takes to rebuild an apartment building is variable, and consequently has a large impact on payback.

After more than 10 years of implementing a plan to rebuild old apartment buildings in Hanoi, only 20 have been renovated, accounting for just 1 per cent of the total in the capital. The city needed a lot of time to fulfill the plan, according to Hanoi’s Department of Construction.

Experts said there were also problems with reaching compensation agreements with residents of old apartment buildings, causing delays.

Dao Ngoc Nghiem, vice chairman of the Viet Nam Urban Planning and Development Association and former director of Hanoi’s Department of Planning and Architecture, said it was difficult to ensure the interests of all parties including residents and enterprises.

In addition, there were still many problems related to the implementation of those projects, according to Nguyen Van Dinh, deputy chairman of the Viet Nam Association of Real Estate Brokers.

Hanoi’ Department of Construction reported the city had more than 1,500 old apartment buildings, most of which were 40-50 years old located in central business districts such as Kim Lien, Trung Tu, Phuong Mai, Thanh Cong and Giang Vo.

The buildings had infrastructure and services in place, but had degraded over the years.

In response, the State has issued a policy to rebuild those buildings to improve living conditions for residents.

According to the Viet Nam Association of Real Estate Brokers, a number of investors are buying old apartments and waiting for opportunities to rebuild them to sell or lease for higher prices.

This has led to old apartment buildings becoming a hot segment in the domestic property market.

A 50-sq.m apartment on Hang Voi Street is on offer for VND70 million per sq.m, while a 40-sq.m old apartment in Giang Vo is going for 57.5 million per sq.m.

Prices fluctuate between VND40 million and VND60 million per sq.m for old apartment buildings in Dong Da District, such as Trung Tu and Phuong Mai.

This meant the price is the same as a new mid-end apartment in inner-city areas such as Tay Ho, Hoang Mai and Ha Dong, or luxury apartments on the outskirts of Hanoi, the association said.

A property broker said the higher prices of old apartments was due to their locations near schools, hospitals, markets and shopping centres.

The price of an old apartment on Hang Bong Street in the Old Quarter even stands at VND120 million per sq.m, more expensive than luxury apartments in other areas.

Source: VNA

May 30, 2020 / by / in
Positive signals for resurgent Vietnamese real estate
With early success in virus containment and the economy reopening up, the Vietnamese real estate sector has a solid starting point for resuming post-pandemic. Savills Vietnam managing director Neil MacGregor delves more into the situation with VIR’s Quynh Chau.
1943p18 positive signals for resurgent vietnamese real estate
Savills Vietnam managing director Neil MacGregor

The pandemic could still bring positive prospects. Is it a strong time for investors to jump in the Vietnam real estate market through mergers and acquisitions (M&A)?

The fundamentals of the Vietnam real estate market remain strong and many international investors still have considerable “dry powder” ready to invest when liquidity returns. However, risk appetite will change and so must pricing expectations to accommodate this. There have been a limited number of M&A transactions driven by foreign capital in recent years; however for local developers seeking an injection of capital, opportunities abound. Savills are actively working with multiple local real estate groups to restructure their portfolios, strengthening their access to capital and assisting with refinancing. Once sellers adjust their pricing expectations to reasonably reflect the broader impacts of the crisis, capital from foreign investors will quickly follow.

How do you expect the recovery process of the real estate market in the coming time to pan out for the country?

The real estate market is set for a challenging period, which has the potential to reverberate throughout the economy. However, whilst the recovery will vary significantly across different sectors and sub-markets, the government has done a good job to position the economy for a quick rebound that should encourage a return to positive activity in the real estate market.

During 2019 the real estate market had already ground to a halt as developers worked to obtain approvals and the market suffered from a lack of new supply. The authorities have an opportunity to give the economy a strong boost from a revitalised real estate market, released from the shackles of slow approvals and allowed to become a powerhouse for the Vietnamese economy to grow.

With government support, the real estate market has a good chance of a strong recovery in the second half of 2020.

The negative impact was not felt in all segments. Which areas are in trouble and which others can capitalise more efficiently?

It is certainly true that retail and hospitality have been hit particularly hard. Whilst retailers may now be able to work towards a recovery in sales, bricks and mortar retail developers face the longstanding threat of the shift towards e-commerce, which has accelerated further over the last few months.

Hospitality has a long road ahead, with the prospect of tourists returning on normalised international flight schedules still many months away.

However, there are some bright spots with the rapidly-growing domestic market set to play a much more important role over the next 18-24 months. Destinations that had struggled to gain momentum pre-crisis, such as Mui Ne, Ho Tram, and Dalat have found a place in the so-called new normal, with the growing middle class flocking to these destinations once social distancing was relaxed.

In office markets in Vietnam, especially Ho Chi Minh City, things have been tight for some time with limited new supply. So, whilst we may see more movement from occupiers looking to save costs, the overall impact on office rents over the medium to long term will be limited.

For Vietnam, although a slowdown in global consumer spending may have a short term impact on manufacturing orders, industrial and logistics real estate is set to remain in strong demand.

How are developers preparing for resuming the market as things try to get back to normalcy?

The key challenge for the residential market is the aforementioned slow approvals, and this will remain the key focus for many developers to be able to recommence their projects. The demand for more affordable products remains strong and this will be the bright spot for the market over the coming 18-24 months.

The higher end of the market will face some headwinds, as buy-to-let investors reassess achievable total returns and foreign buyers are unable to visit.

Savills is actively working with a number of developers to help overseas buyers overcome the challenges of buying remotely and government support in this area would certainly assist.

A good starting point would be for the government to encourage local authorities to start issuing pink books to foreign buyers, which has been incredibly slow and has impacted the reputation of Vietnam as a secure investment environment for foreign investors, despite the clarity offered by the changes in the law back in 2015.

By Quynh Chau

May 28, 2020 / by / in
New trends influencing Vietnamese real estate market
The real estate market in Vietnam would see many new trends, especially after the outbreak of COVID-19 across the world and its impacts on the Vietnamese economy and society. CBRE Vietnam’s senior director Dung Duong offers her take on these trends.
new trends influencing vietnamese real estate market
Dung Duong, senior director of CBRE Vietnam.

What trends do you foresee for the real estate market in Vietnam?

Under our research, we expect a set of key trends which will characterise the Vietnamese property market in the coming time. These are the omni-channel, flexible working space, properties with sustainability and wellness features, and the importance of property management.

Can you outline the importance of the new trend in the retail segment?

In the retail segment, consumption will slow but omni-channel retailers display a resilience to COVID-19 which has had the strongest impact on the retail sector. Omni-channel is very familiar in other countries, combining online and in-store types, a mixture of electronic and traditional commerce.

Vietnam has been approaching online consumption, but this trend has not reached adequate levels. This is because the mindset of Vietnamese consumers and a predominant mistrust of the quality and actual specifications of the goods they see online. Many Vietnamese consumers want to see and try the products on before taking them home.

Based on this demand, some retailers are expanding multi-functional services such as The Gioi Di Dong (Mobile World), Dien May Xanh, and Nguyen Kim which permit consumers to order online then come to the store to check out the goods. They also offer delivery.

However, these services require improvements in terms of card payment, logistics, and supply chain management. Vietnam is doing quite well in sectors where preservation is not heavily necessary such as electronics, fashion, and home appliances, however, the country is painfully short on preservation and storage systems for groceries and foodstuff, especially the cold storage system.

Sales will be hit in the short term, with food and beverage, and entertainment the most vulnerable. Retailers are generally in a wait-and-see mode, which has led to a significant fall in site visits and enquiries. This will increase challenges around pre-leasing for new malls. Some retailers are asking landlords to cut rents by up to 50 per cent or even waive rents for the duration of the outbreak.

While retail is set to experience severe short-term headwinds, CBRE believes the sector remains an attractive long-term investment opportunity. The ongoing transformation of shopping centres into experience centres will require strong operational expertise. This will create more opportunities for investors possessing solid retail experience as competition for retail asset will be less intense.

How about the office for lease segment?

We believe the outbreak will create further opportunities for office occupiers to test the feasibility of flexible working or agile working in many markets.

In recent weeks, the government and private sector in Singapore, Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, Mainland China, Japan, and Korea have ordered or encouraged employees to work from home in order to limit social contact to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Some companies – particularly those whose staff require only a computer and internet connection to perform their duties – have found this experiment to be relatively successful. While concerns remain over productivity and collaboration among employees working from home, CBRE believes this large scale trial may encourage companies to be more willing to accelerate the adoption of flexible and home working policies in the future.

What other new trends will appear in the future?

The demand for buildings with sustainability and wellness features will be stronger as occupiers strengthen their commitment to employee health and wellness. Properties with such features, particularly those related to indoor air quality, ventilation systems, water drainage systems, and other indoor environmental features to improve employee comfort, will attract stronger demand in the long term.

This could potentially hasten the development of more LEED and WELL-certified buildings.

The outbreak will force companies to reassess Business Continuity Planning (BCP), particularly the need to maintain back up locations for critical business functions and essential employees.

Moreover, property management will become more prominent. At the individual tenant level, greater sensitivity towards hygiene will require more frequent and rigorous sanitisation of the office environment, particularly of shared areas such as canteens and bathrooms along with hardware such as phones and keyboards. Hygiene concerns will require office managers to ensure that high standards of cleanliness are maintained while communicating this to employees.

Asset managers – particularly of properties that include shared amenities such as cafés, retail and agile space – will need to augment their existing hygiene policies to reassure tenants and employees.

Apart from that, data centres which are already the subject of strong investor interest amid the growing importance of big data, Industry 4.0, Internet of Things, and the mainstream adoption of cloud-based services are likely to take on a more prominent role should companies decide to allow employees to work from home more regularly. This would drive cloud storage demand and data usage, boosting date centre fundamentals.

By Bich Ngoc

May 27, 2020 / by / in
Service apartment show stable development in the real estate market
With the steady growth of business travel and changing accommodation trends, serviced apartments are becoming an appealing alternative to other forms of property investment.
service apartment show stable development in the real estate market
Service apartment show stable development in the real estate market

This real estate segment targets foreign tenants living and working in Vietnam, including long-term employees and a few short-term tourists. Tenants of high-end serviced apartments often work in foreign-invested companies, embassies, industrial parks, international banks, and technology companies.

According to Savills Vietnam, as of the end of 2019, Ho Chi Minh City has had around 6,000 apartment units with an average net rental of $25 per square metre per month and an occupancy rate at 84 per cent.

Le Thi Quynh Le, associate director for residential sales of Savills Ho Chi Minh City, said that backed by strong foreign direct investment flows, the serviced apartment sector continues to perform well. This resilience will be tested in the face of increased completions of hotels and a wave of new apartment complexes.

In Ho Chi Minh City, latest grade A and B serviced apartment projects can be attributed to Mai House, D1Mension Residences, and Republic Plaza, which in total offer more than 300 new units to the market. Other big brand names in this segment are Ascott, Frasers Hospitality, and Pan Pacific. CapitaLand’s wholly-owned lodging business unit, The Ascott Limited Ascott, has been operating in Vietnam for 25 years.

Starting with its first project Somerset West Lake Hanoi, so far Ascott’s portfolio comprises of over 7,000 lodging units in 28 properties across nine cities and provinces, such as in Hanoi, Haiphong, and Ho Chi Minh City.

According to Lew Yen Ping, regional general manager for Ascott in Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar, the company continues to expand its presence in Vietnam with the openings of PentStudio West Lake Hanoi and Somerset D1Mension Ho Chi Minh City in 2019, as well as Citadines Pearl Hoi An and Citadines Marina Halong City in 2020.

“In addition, Ascott also will open a new brand with the Ascott Serviced Residences in 2021. Meanwhile, our first 5-star Vertu hotel in Cam Ranh under the portfolio of TAUZIA Hotels, which is slated to open in 2022, is Ascott’s first move into the lodging segment beyond its core business of serviced residences,” Lew said.

Elsewhere, Frasers Hospitality, a member of Frasers Property Group, has now a total of more than 670 units with two operating projects of Fraser Suites Hanoi and Capri by Frasers in Ho Chi Minh City. This company is opening its third project named Fraser Residence Hanoi this year.

Many other junior brands include names like Happy Homes, InterContinental Residences Saigon, Homestead Parkview, Merin City Suites, and Vinhomes Central Park Apartments.

The average rent for serviced apartment units now is ranging around $35 and $28 per square metre for grade A and B apartments respectively. By 2022, 1,500 new units will enter in response to the growing demand for long-term stays, which is mostly generated by increasingly favourable visa policies and an influx of foreign investment.

In Hanoi, by the end of 2019, there were approximately 4,600 apartment units with an occupancy rate of 82 per cent. An estimated 2,700 units from 22 projects will enter the Hanoian market this year, including three projects in the west of the city.

Different from Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi’s serviced apartments are facing stiff competition by buy-to-let apartments. Those are located in Tay Ho, Long Bien, Ciputra, and the west of the city.

The South Korean community, leading the group of serviced apartment tenants, has changed its demand from renting serviced apartments at projects to apartments that are bought by the individual investors to rent. Many of them even decided to buy apartments or houses in Vietnam.

By Bich Ngoc

May 26, 2020 / by / in
Real estate firms gear up for the race after pandemic
Property firms are gearing up to tap opportunities from the post-pandemic recovery of the real estate market, which was predicted to soon get back on its feet.
real estate firms gear up for the race after pandemic
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the real estate market was forecast to be short term only. – Photo

The real estate market has been frozen since the beginning of this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Ministry of Construction’s statistics showed that about 80 per cent of real estate sale agents were closed or temporarily halted operations in the first quarter of this year while the others maintained operations at a modest level.

The number of new real estate firms founded in the quarter also dropped by 12 per cent while of those who temporarily halted operation increased by 94 per cent.

Transactions also slumped in the quarter, equivalent to 40 per cent of the same period of 2019. Only 14 per cent of property products available in the market in the quarter were sold, the lowest level in the past four years.

However, industry insiders believed that the impacts would only be short term and the market would be robust in the next two years.

According to Nguyen Quoc Bao, deputy director of real estate firm Danh Khoi Group, the real estate market was undergoing a purification process, pushed by the COVID-19 pandemic, to prepare for a new growth cycle.

This would be a difficult time for companies of weak capacity, but for those with strong financial capacity and professional operation, obstacles like the COVID-19 pandemic would only be short term. The pandemic even created opportunities, he said.

Tran Le Thanh Hien, chairman of Danh Viet Group, said the difficulties of the real estate market were just temporary, adding that in the long term, the market had significant potential for development.

It was time for real estate companies to expand land banks, especially those with strong financial capacity.

According to Pham Lam, chairman of real estate services firm DKRA Vietnam, the market would see increasing competition in the post-pandemic period with the participation of diversified developers, from giants to start-ups, which would create a robust picture in 2020-21.

Nguyen Van Hau, general director of Asian Holding, said that real estate firms must improve resilience and flexibility to cope with market shocks.

Although there were difficulties, the market saw positive signs, Hau said. The State Bank of Viet Nam’s move to cut rates would support the property market, he said.

According to Su Ngoc Khuong, Director of Savills Viet Nam, the COVID-19 pandemic had negative impacts not only on the real estate market but also on more than 50 relevant industries, including construction, building materials, labour and financial markets.

However, the real estate market of Viet Nam still had a number of advantages and was attractive to investors, given the population of nearly 100 million people, 55 per cent aged between 25 and 40 who had high housing demand and strong purchasing power, together with the country’s stable economic growth, improved transport infrastructure and rapid urbanisation.

The Government’s efforts in hastening administrative reforms and speeding up disbursement of public investment were expected to create impetus for economic growth which would benefit the real estate market, Khuong said.

Source: VNA

May 25, 2020 / by / in
Flexible offices rise in the pandemic season
The demand of enhancing collaboration and productivity are encouraging many companies and organisations to approach more progressive fit outs and flexible office spaces in Vietnam, especially as coronavirus spreads worldwide.
flexible offices rise in the pandemic season
Coworking spaces are increasing in popularity thanks to modern facilities and scope for flexibility, Photo Le Toan

The Vietnamese government, among others, is advising people to stay at home. Events have been cancelled, and companies are permitting their staff to work remotely. This is leading to an increasing demand of flexible office spaces where people can still work with enough facilities like they have at the office.

Companies have been familiar with the traditional fit-out style which comprises fixed offices, allocated workstations, and minimal collaborative work zones.

More recently however, the progressive fit-out style has been more known by customers. This model helps to redefine the changing workplace by incorporating more agile or collaborative work zones and possibly no fixed workstations.

Furthermore, the ongoing US-China trade spat and the recent COVID-19 outbreak could further exacerbate the slowdown in global trade and in turn, impact office demand in 2020.

According to Trang Bui, head of markets at JLL Vietnam, fit-out cost is expected to rise.

“The heavy reliance on imported materials in markets such as Ho Chi Minh City will continue to contribute to costs because of import duties – and increase the time it takes to complete a fit-out,” Bui said.

Flexibility, better experience has driven demand for progressive fit-out style in recent years.

Organisations acknowledge that as work becomes more fluid and employees demand flexibility, their offices should provide a better experience for employees, helping them to attract and retain talent.

Bringing the fight

Despite the real estate market is strongly impacted by COVID-19, the epidemic is imposing less impact to coworking and flexible spaces where investors and developers are positive on the development of this segment.

According to Turochas Fuad, managing director of WeWork in Southeast Asia and South Korea, as a global company WeWork is continuing to monitor the novel coronavirus outbreak closely and has implemented precautionary measures across all locations around the world.

“We are adhering to guidance from governments as well as global and local health authorities regarding the proper prevention and management of this issue,” Fuad said.

His priority is to protect the health and safety of our members and employees, while maintaining as close to normal operations as possible.

“In certain circumstances, including by request of local authorities, we may close buildings or recommend members do not come to work, to protect the safety of our employees, members and the wider community. In Vietnam, all our locations are still open and strictly following precautionary measures,” Fuad told VIR.

Tony Suh Heasung, CEO of Hivelab Vina, the operator of Dream Station, a coworking space from South Korea, said that he has not yet faced difficulties in human or finance resources.

However with the complicated situation currently, Dream Station has prepared many solutions to cope with the epidemic and save labour’s health.

Based on advantages on facilities and services compared with other traditional office space with an attractive promotion programme, Dream Station has aroused interest from many companies that want flexible office spaces. Currently Dream Station has 50 per cent occupancy, and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are dominating the majority of tenants.

The future expanding plan in Hanoi, Heasung said, will not be changed due to COVID-19. However, Hivelab Vina also is preparing for the worst when staff have to work at home.

Meanwhile, Next Story group’s spokesperson, who is operating the Kafnu coworking network in Ho Chi Minh City, told VIR that the company business runs as usual. “We remain vigilant and take guidance from the local health authorities so that we can ensure that our members continue to have a safe and pleasant visit. We remain committed to Vietnam for the long term and believe in its strong fundamentals and resilience to overcome the current situation,” said the source.

Next Story is paying high interest to the safety of its members, guests, and employees.

“We are following the guidelines provided by the local health authorities in establishing precautionary measures in Kafnu Ho Chi Minh City. We have also communicated information on epidemic to our members and guests so that they are aware and will monitor their wellbeing,” said the source.

Employees, members, and guests who are unwell with any symptoms of fever or respiratory issues are asked to seek medical aid, the source added. Next Story Group marks its entry into Vietnam last July, with the opening of Kafnu Ho Chi Minh City.

Meanwhile Tran Xuan Kien, CEO of Cogo, also remains positive on his business results, based on the fact that tenants of coworking spaces mostly are not coming from retail, manufacturing, and trade, the sectors most impacted by COVID-19.

“I have not seen either request to reduce rent from both my landlord and my tenants but if the landlord reduces the rent, we will also reduce for the tenants,” Kien said.

Cogo has occupancy of 70 per cent in its system of five offices in Hanoi and it plans to expand its footprint to Ho Chi Minh City and Danang in the coming time.

High potential

The demand of coworking and flexible offices for lease have been developed in Vietnam, especially suitable for startups and SMEs who want to have affordable price but enough facilities offices.

According to Yann Deschamps, head of Workthere Asia-Pacific, the demand for flexible office space in Vietnam will continue to be driven by freelancers, local and international startups, and small corporates.

International startups, digital nomads, and freelancers seeking affordable workplaces could also consider relocating to Vietnam to grow their businesses.

“This growing demand both from domestic and overseas occupiers called for a more advanced solution than traditional leasing services,” said Deschamps.

Cal Lee, founder and global head of Workthere, also shared that Vietnam has seen phenomenal growth in the flexible workspace sector, with many new venues coming to the market.

“At the same time, demand for flexible workspaces continues to grow as more businesses, including startups, SMEs, and even larger corporate companies see the benefits of flexible workspaces over a more traditional lease,” Lee said.

In reality coworking space brands will continue to expand their network of systems in Vietnam. Of those, the race for rental prices will no longer be a decisive factor, but any coworking provider who have prominent brands and close connection to a specific group of customers will take the leading position.

With the rapid and broad development of competitors in the market, coworking spaces are no longer a model that only attracts startups and technology companies. A number of large scale groups with hundreds of employees are also gradually moving to work in coworking spaces because of the flexibility, creativity, modern facilities, and good service available.

Since the concept was first introduced in Vietnam in 2012, coworking spaces have expanded rapidly across the country. Between 2018 and 2019 Savills reported that the supply of coworking spaces have increased by 64 per cent.

In the same period, 57 per cent of the total scale of office transactions in Vietnam came from the real estate industry, 85 per cent of which was from coworking space. The rise in the number of coworking locations across Vietnam has been driven by the growth of startups and the need for cost-effective spaces. Amid strong expansion by both local and international operators, coworking is primed for further rapid growth in Vietnam in the coming years.

Vietnam is now home for many international coworking space providers such as WeWork, Workthere, Dreamplex, Kafnu, Dream Station, and Toong and many other domestic players such as Cogo, Circo, and other smaller scale coworking spaces such as VSV Corner, Deska, Hanoi Hub, The Vuon, Kocoworking, Up, Y-Nest, and The Hive.

By Bich Ngoc

May 23, 2020 / by / in
Brighter prospects for $6 billion Saigon Peninsula property project

Malaysia Genting Group, one of the leading multinational corporations in leisure and hospitality, can hope to escape its prolonged quagmire with the Saigon Peninsula property project.

Last week, the Ministry of Construction sent a proposal to Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to officially approve the investment plan to set up this project, after investors have completed the necessary procedures.

The Saigon Peninsula project was initiated in 2007 by Van Thinh Phat Holdings Group, a domestic developer which has many large-scale property projects in Ho Chi Minh City, to build large-scale infrastructure system and a modern urban area located in District 7 of Ho Chi Minh City.

brighter prospects for 6 billion saigon peninsula property project
The $6 billion Saigon Peninsula property project was referred to the PM’s approval

In 2011, the investor was granted the land plot for land clearance and compensation. More than 93 per cent of the land was cleared.

In 2016, a consortium named Saigon Peninsula Group was formed between Van Thinh Phat Investment as well as Malaysian partners Genting and Pavilion.

According to the developers’ announcement, the 118ha project will encompass a shopping mall, a five-star hotel, high-end apartment blocks, deluxe resort villas, and upmarket office towers – all planned by Pavilion.

Meanwhile, Van Thinh Phat Holdings Group is in charge of the land development and Genting will construct what will be the largest international cruise ship terminal in Vietnam, capable of harbouring vessels of up to 200,000 gross register tonnage (GRT).

In 2017, Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee assigned the local Department of Planning and Architecture to co-ordinate with local district committees to review all delayed projects.

Saigon Peninsula has been delayed for a long time due to changes in the legal framework. Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee, therefore, had collected opinions from the ministries of Planning and Investment, Finance, Natural Resources and Environment to request the investor to finish all procedures to submit for final approval by the prime minister.

In 2018, the government has assigned related bodies to actively resolve obstacles for this project.

After many years of process, the project site has been left unused except for a fen system around the site.

This is Genting’s second project in Vietnam after its failed attempt to partner with VinaCapital on a $4 billion casino resort in Hoi An six years ago.

The Saigon Peninsula project marks Pavilion’s debut in Vietnam, while domestic partner Van Thinh Phat Holdings Group is already established in the market with many well-known and sizeable real estate developments, including Union Square, the Sherwood Residence, the Windsor Plaza hotel, and Times Square in Ho Chi Minh City.

By Bich Ngoc

May 22, 2020 / by / in
A vaccine for real estate amid challenging times
The Vietnamese real estate market has been feeling the pinch, but it can make a swift recovery when the pandemic is brought under control with support policies from the government and promotional campaigns from developers.
1491p21 a vaccine for real estate amid challenging times
Local real estate developers are longing for the end of the pandemic to sell their newest projects Photo: Le Toan

In the context of the economic challenges caused by COVID-19, real estate market is also struggling. In order to successfully sell products, many developers are applying online purchasing methods and IT applications.

Vinhomes JSC is one of the developers who have launched an online real estate trading floor connecting investors and homebuyers via smartphones. With the motto “Stay home – Buy home”, this online trading floor provides homebuyers with information on property location, planning, and promotions.

CenGroup, meanwhile, is selling its products via livestream and the Cenhomes technology database, where homebuyers receive updates on a project’s progress and all related information without having to visit in person.

Many other developers are actively promoting their projects on social media. Tran Anh Group is using YouTube to sell its products through various promotions. For example, homebuyers can now sign a home-purchase contract having paid 15 per cent of the property’s value. Normally, the required percentage is 30 per cent.

Dai Phuc Land is offering homebuyers to sign a purchasing contract after paying 25 per cent of the total value, down from the previous 30 per cent. Homebuyers are also allowed to pay the remainder over 24 months instead of adhering to the project’s schedule.

Many real estate leaders said that the most important thing for their companies now is how to survive and overcome the pandemic, and then resume operations as fast as possible. To this end, a number of developers have frozen their activities, restructured human resources, and cut unnecessary costs.

In another side of the coin, economist Nguyen Dinh Anh expected that the price of real estate will recover and even increase after the epidemic is controlled. “With a large, growing population and the government’s open policy for foreign buyers, the demand for housing in Vietnam should rise in the future,” Anh said.

Anh added that the pandemic is something of a “natural thermometer” to reward and give opportunities to businesses which are strong enough to survive. “Consumption will mainly focus on projects owned by prestige investors, whose properties will increase in value. When the crisis is over, there is sure to be a limited supply of prestige projects,” Anh said.

Nguyen Huong, CEO of Dai Phuc Land, claimed that the ongoing health emergency will prove to be a short-term problem, whereas the demand for housing will be long lasting. This would explain the market’s recent downturn, but it will soon rally and come back even stronger when the worst is over.

Meanwhile, Le Hoang Chau, chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City Real Estate Association, said that COVID-19 is a test for the economy, living environment, and healthcare services. “All of the factors will have a big impact on investment decisions,” he said.

“As more foreigners becoming involved in Vietnam’s property market, more than five million overseas Vietnamese provide remittance of approximately $16-17 billion a year. With this in mind, it is clear that the market remains very attractive,” Chau added.

Don Lam – Co-founder and CEO, VinaCapital

1491p21 a vaccine for real estate amid challenging times

Some real estate development projects in Vietnam are being held up by challenging legacy issues, but we believe that the development of many other projects that are not encumbered by such intractable issues should be allowed to progress right away.

The framework that we propose to unfreeze Vietnam’s real estate development market is akin to the so-called “good bank, bad bank” approach that regulators around the world usually take to bail out their banking systems when there is an non-performing loan crisis.

Before the pandemic outbreak, the pent-up demand of middle-class homebuyers, coupled with the dearth of new projects, led to a situation in which newly-launched units were typically receiving multiple bids on each unit for sale. In our opinion, that is a clear signal that more units need to be developed and launched for sale.

Residential real estate prices in Vietnam’s major cities have only dropped about 5-10 per cent this year, which is considerably less than many cities around the world.

This also reinforces our view that there is significant undersupply of housing for emerging middle-class consumers in Vietnam.

Duong Thuy Dung – Senior director, CBRE Vietnam

1491p21 a vaccine for real estate amid challenging times

The longer it takes for the pandemic to be contained, the more it will impact the demand from end-users, investors, and foreign buyers.

With the temporary suspension of all international flights, many non-nationals will not be able to invest in the Vietnamese property market during this difficult period.

Buy-to-let investors are also being affected by flight and travel restrictions nationwide. End-users will struggle to get financing as interest rates are unstable and banks may apply a stricter credit approval process with proof of income and repayment methods.

Key trends which will characterise the Vietnamese property market in the coming months are omnichannels, flexible working spaces, and properties with the sustainability and wellness features.

The outbreak will force companies to reassess business continuity planning, particularly the need to maintain back up locations for critical business functions and essential employees.

Apart from that, data is likely to take on a more prominent role should companies decide to allow employees to work from home more regularly. This would drive cloud storage demand and data usage, boosting data centre fundamentals.

Stephen Wyatt – Country head, JLL Vietnam

1491p21 a vaccine for real estate amid challenging times

The investment thesis and key fundamentals for Vietnam remain positive although some investors might be hesitant on their investment decisions. Domestic and foreign investors continue to look for opportunities, particularly in the industrial, office, and residential sectors. The country’s rapid response and effective handling of the coronavirus crisis will undoubtedly elevate Vietnam to a new level and we expect to see investment volumes pick up once travel restrictions are lifted.

Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are two key cities which are preferred by international and domestic developers, especially in housing development, based on their high development potential and efficiency compared to those in Thailand and Singapore.

Amid the virus outbreak, a number of projects reported delays in construction and launches. However, this is subject to great uncertainty, depending on how long the current situation will last.

By Ngoc Anh

May 21, 2020 / by / in
Saigon scores high on global property growth index
Saigon scores high on global property growth index

Ho Chi Minh City makes the top in the list of markets with positive performance in the world. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyen Thanh Van

Vietnam’s economic powerhouse will be marching into the next decade with its property market on the rise.


Ho Chi Minh City has been ranked third in a survey of 50 cities worldwide for property rental growth.

The survey, conducted by real estate firm Savills, also ranked Vietnam’s southern metropolis fifth in terms of investment prospects, and second for development prospects.

In its new publication, “Impacts: the future of global real estate”, Savills said cities that are resource rich, young and fast-growing, economic powerhouses, or at low risk from natural disasters, are the ones to watch for over the next decade.

Troy Griffiths, deputy managing director of Savills Vietnam, said: “This is an annual, long-running survey across a multitude of sophisticated property investors that demonstrates the strong sentiment towards Ho Chi Minh City and Vietnam as a highly favorable investment destination.”

“This is underwritten by the first position across all surveyed cities as buy options for office, retail, industrial and residential assets,” he added.

According to another report, “Emerging Trends in Real Estate Asia Pacific 2016”, jointly published by the Urban Land Institute and consulting firm PwC, foreign investors, mainly from Japan, South Korea and Singapore, are interested in the city’s property market on expectations of an annual return of between 20 and 25 percent.

The city is an attractive destination to investors mainly due to the government’s efforts to stabilize the local currency, control inflation, ease property lending regulations and improve market access for foreigners.

Global investors prefer entering Vietnam’s real estate market through mergers and acquisitions. Many are eying beach resorts, serviced apartments, residential buildings and hotels, mostly in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang.

By Ngan Anh

May 20, 2020 / by / in
Vietnam emerging as attractive destination for foreign property investors
Vietnam emerging as attractive destination for foreign property investors

Vietnam has emerged as a favored destination for foreign investors looking to the property market.

Property prices in Vietnam are among the best value in Southeast Asia.

Vietnam has emerged as a favored destination among foreign firms looking to invest in property, with prices standing at among the best value in Southeast Asia.

Last year, Japanese investors Nishi Nippon Railroad and Hankyu Realty hooked up with a local property firm to develop a residential project with total investment of $350 million in Ho Chi Minh City. Half of the funding came from the two Japanese firms, while the rest was put up by their local partner.

Japan’s Mitsubishi Corp. has also diversified its portfolio in Vietnam by buying into a property development project in Hanoi, which has total investment of $1.9 billion.

The company signed a partnership deal with Vietnam’s Bitexco Group after acquiring a 45 percent stake in the first phase of the former’s The Manor Central Park project in Hoang Mai District. Bitexco holds the remaining 55 percent.

This foreign interest has been attributed to high property prices in their home markets, which makes them less attractive to investors, while prices in Vietnam are still low but rising rapidly.

Luxury flat prices in cities like Hanoi have been trending upwards since 2015 but have yet to catch up with other vibrant economic hubs in Southeast Asia, South China Morning Post quoted Kingston Lai, founder and chief executive of the Asia Banker’s Club, as saying.

Luxury flat prices in Hanoi were up 50 percent in the 10 year period to 2016, while mid-market flats were up 80 percent during the same period, Lai quoted figures from real estate firm CBRE as saying.

“Today, quality residences in Hanoi’s city center, on average, are sold at only around HK$1,500 ($191.32) per square foot (100 square feet = 9.3 square meters), half of Bangkok’s level,” Lai said.

“Prices of high-quality housing will catch up with neighboring cities amid the gradual completion of infrastructure such as railways and airport expansion, and as more foreign corporations bring investments to the market,” Lai added.

There are many other factors driving foreign investment in Vietnam’s real estate market including its fast-growing economy, rapid urbanization and expanding middle-class, which is growing at the fastest pace in Southeast Asia, according to HSBC.

The bank projects Vietnam’s middle class will jump from 12 million people in 2012 to 33 million by 2020.

A loosening of restrictions in the country’s regulatory environment has also helped boost sales.

Last year, Vietnam eased restrictions on foreign property ownership to improve market liquidity.

The amended law went into effect in July of last year and allowed foreign investment funds, foreigners with valid visas, international firms with operations in Vietnam and overseas Vietnamese to buy residential properties.

The Vietnam Real Estate Association (VNREA) has forecast a promising outlook for the local real estate market as demand from foreign buyers drives market growth.

The number of foreigners living in the country has reached 320,000, according to the property association.

Investors with business interests in Vietnam are the most likely to buy local properties because they are attracted by potential returns of between seven and eight percent here, according to the VNREA.

Bright prospects

Neil MacGregor, managing director of property firm Savills Vietnam, said Savills expects to see a considerable amount of inbound investment into real estate in 2018, with strong interest from Japan, Korea, Singapore and increasingly China.

He said that existing free trade agreements and the ongoing discussions regarding the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), involving China, are all important drivers for continued investment.

“We have seen that trade with countries such as Japan and Korea typically comes together with FDI, importantly fueling investment into infrastructure and real estate,” he added.

Vietnam’s actual foreign direct investment reached an estimated $17 billion in 2017, the highest annual amount ever recorded by the country, according to the Foreign Investment Agency.

South Korea was the country’s biggest investor out of more than 100 countries and territories, with registered capital worth $57.5 billion, followed by Japan and Singapore.

Sharing MacGregor’s opinion, Lai said: “Apple, Samsung and Microsoft have set up major plants near Hanoi, with Samsung contributing 22.7 per cent to the country’s exports in 2016. Their employees are target renters for overseas investors.”

However, it remains challenging for foreign investors to identify quality real estate investments with clear ownership, and transactions involving operating assets will remain scarce, said Neil.

Foreign investors pledged to invest $312.1 million in Vietnam’s real estate sector in the first two months of this year, according to the Foreign Investment Agency.

The sum represented 9.3 percent of pledged foreign direct investment in the country in January and February.

By Ngan Anh.

May 20, 2020 / by / in