According to the Law on housing 2005, foreign organizations and individuals investing in construction of houses for sale and lease in Vietnam have the right to own the houses in Vietnam. However, according to the provisions of the Law on housing 2014, the house owners expand and include foreigners being investors building the houses under investor projects, foreign organizations operating in Vietnam and foreign individuals being allowed to enter Vietnam under the provisions of the Law on Entry, Exit, Transit and Residence of Foreigners in Vietnam; and are not entitled to diplomatic privileges and immunities.
Under the provisions of the Law on housing 2014, foreign organizations and individuals are allowed to own apartments, individual houses (villas and townhouses) in commercial housing projects. The total number of foreign individuals/organizations owned does not exceed 30% of an apartment building or does not exceed 10% or 250 houses of a housing project. Foreign individuals may own houses for up to 50 years and are allowed to extend for no more than 50 years. Foreign organizations own the houses according to the time limit on the Investment Registration Certificate and the extension period. During the time of owning the houses, foreign individuals are allowed to sublease, but foreign organizations are not allowed to sublease the houses.
For foreign individuals/organizations, when buying the houses in Vietnam, it is necessary to have a well drafted sales contract for purchase and sale of the houses because all rights and obligations related to the purchase, sales and ownership of houses are regulated in the contract. Therefore, the buyer should consider the contract carefully, usually with the help of real estate lawyers whom understand Vietnam laws before signing, in order to protect their legitimate rights and interests.
The foreigner when buying and selling the houses, especially off-plan house, need to also pay attention to the regulations on payment schedule in the contract. According to Article 57 of the Law on housing 2015, the payment in the purchase, sales, lease sales of the off-plan real estate in Vietnam is carried out in installments, and the first time must not exceed 30% of the contract value, the next times must be in accordance with the construction schedule, however, not exceeding 50% of the contract value when not handed over when the buyer is an enterprise with foreign investment, not exceeding 70% the value of contract, if the buyer is the foreigner individual the payment is not exceed 50% the value of the contract before handing over the house to the buyer. Until the buyer is issued with a certificate of land use right, ownership of houses and other assets attached to the land, the buyer shall pay no more than 95% the value of contract.
Foreigners in Vietnam need to be assisted to be familiar with the laws relating to the purchase and sale of real estate in order to protect their legitimate rights and interests when participating in transactions in Vietnam. It is important that the foreigners consider using the services of law firm in Vietnam specializing in real estate to advise and help manage the transaction.