Vietnam: The Next Frontier in Asia’s Luxury Real Estate Market

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Activity in the luxury real estate market is surging in Vietnam, mirroring a booming economy that posted a 7.38% year-over-year increase in GDP in the first quarter of 2018—the country’s strongest in a decade. In Hanoi, plots in Starlake City, a multimillion-dollar planned community of luxurious villas and landed homes featuring a lake, international schools and office towers, sold out in a matter of days. In Ho Chi Minh City, luxury real estate developers are upping their game with projects like the Serenity Sky Villas, featuring penthouses asking 60.84 billion Vietnamese dong (US$2.64 million), with private elevators, designer lighting and furnishings—each with its own swimming pool on the balcony. Nearby, the premium tower of the Feliz en Vista residences—a 34-floor mix of garden villas, penthouse duplexes and sky mansions—boasts five-star facilities such as a VIP lounge, cigar bar, saltwater swimming pools, hot spring Jacuzzis, outdoor movie theaters and a treetop adventure walk bridge.
"For the last three or four years, we’ve seen an increase in development activity, with new launches in the premium and luxury end of the market," said Stephen Wyatt, head of Jones Lang LaSalle, or JLL, Vietnam. He points out that a change in foreign ownership legislation in 2015 gave international buyers the ability to acquire a long-term lease and buy property in Vietnam more easily. Now, foreigners are allowed to buy for a renewable term of 50 years, and for reasons other than personal use. In addition, developers can sell up to 30% of units in a condominium building and 10% of landed property in a residential compound to foreigners. Before, the allowance was a single unit. In addition to the major cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, luxury real estate activity is heating up in the coastal cities of Danang and Nha Trang, beach towns like Ho Tram, as well as Phu Quoc island. "It’s an emerging market for luxury real estate, but it has a young, dynamic entrepreneurial population of 95 million whose wealth is growing rapidly," Mr. Wyatt said. In fact, the country’s "middle and affluent class" is expected to double by 2020, according to The Boston Consulting Group, which will create additional demand for resale and leasing.