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Buy property under the name of a Vietnamese citizen?

I've heard that many people circumvent the Vietnamese restrictions on foreign ownership (technically a lease) of land and/or a house by putting the property ownership in the name of a Vietnamese citizen. On the face of it it seems like a very risky practice, but I'm wondering just how risky is it (to the foreigner, and also to the Vietnamese citizen)? What is the worst that could happen? Property seized by the government? Fines? Or is this one of these practices that are "overlooked" by the local authorities (Danang in this case) in the name of increasing foreign investment?

Hi Rock,
We too are thinking about buying a house...
We are informed that a document must be drawn up by a Lawyer stating that we have loaned the funds to buy the property and in the event of there death, the property reverts to us.
Also we keep the Pink/Red book so the property cannot be sold without our agreement.
Please comment if you don't agree with this plan...

My ex-gf did property resumptions for a large bank.The amount of fake red and pink books was horrifying, just because you have the red and pink book doesn't give you a 100% safeguard. Trusting the person whose name it's in is your biggest problem to overcome.

A friend of mine in Nha Trang had a house with both his and his wife's name on the deeds. She sold the property without him having to sign a document.

In a number of limited circumstances, foreigners may buy and sell property in their own name. One of the knowledgable Vietnamese who posts on this forum may be able to give you the details.

May I suggest as a very good rule of thumb. When living in Vietnam if it needs a key and you can't put it in your name don't buy it.
Rick

Thanks for that information. I was told by a Vietnamese citizen that it's not really possible to use a lawyer since the act of buying property under someone else's name is technically illegal. Or while it might be possible to use a lawyer, it could be risky since the lawyer might threaten to turn the person in to the authorities. Have you heard anything similar to this? But the idea of holding the title book is great. I did see one reply below however that cited the case of property successfully sold without showing the title book. I wonder how common that is?

Do you really want to buy property here, and if so, do you have someone you can trust?

Thanks, and I was considering it, but now I'm starting to get cold feet after hearing the tales of what can go wrong. It does seem one of the biggest issues--as you mention--is if one can find someone they really trust. And of course that's sometime difficult to know with absolute certainty.

I read something earlier on the Internations website about this but it seems like the author of the post has changed it and made it about something else now; essentially you need to have a contract drawn up detailing everything. It was something along the lines of making sure there is an agreement that they give it you back, and that they allow you to live in the property during the duration of the agreement.

There's lawyers that specialise in this, I'd recommend speaking to one of them.

Thank you, and would you by chance have any idea about how to go about finding such a lawyer? And as mentioned before, do you think there is a risk of the lawyer attempting to bribe or coerce a person given that that person is in essence doing something not officially sanctioned? The contract you mention does sound like a good idea. However, since the contract delineates a procedure outside the law, can it be enforced then through any juridicial process under Vietnamese law?

OK....so you've come to Vietnam.

It's international credit rating is woeful, about as low as you can get.
It's close the bottom of the pile in the Global Corruption Index
"Ditto" for the Ease of doing Business Index.
Most countries where people eat with a knife & fork , ie G20 countries won't let them near their borders
Their neighbouring countries despise them.
Hardly any of them would have a clue what the words TRUST  & INTEGRITY mean
There is NO Rule of Law.

Yogi could go on,but you get the drift.

However,,the cheap beer & pussy seems to counteract all of the above .

So...give it a shot.     Go out there, select a Vietnamese at random & buy the little bugger a
HOUSE.

You have Yogi's blessing.

Hi, please see the below for your reference:

As I see that to avoid the complexity and restrictions applied to the foreigner in owning the house in Vietnam, it is quite popular that the foreigner accepts the risk to put the house ownership under the name of Vietnamese friend.

Accordingly, in order to secure right of the foreigner with the house ownership registered under the name of your Vietnamese friend, there are some binding documents to be signed before executing this transaction:

1. The Loan Agreement, under which you lend your Vietnamese friend a loan only used to purchase the house. The loan plus interest will be repaid when (i) you ask the owner to sell the house; or (ii) the owner sells the house for any reason.

Moreover, instead of signing loan agreement, a donation agreement may be considered, under which, the trustee will donate the house to the foreigner. However, the foreigner cannot receive the house so the house will be sold for money enjoyed by the foreigner.

2. The long term lease agreement, under which you can live in this house for a long time.

3. Commitment on private asset of the trustee to separate from other assets if he/she is married.

I do hope that the above is informative and useful. Should you have any relevant question, please reach me.

Lawyer Cong
a partner of DIMAC Law Firm

Lawyer Cong, Thank you, and this information is very useful. I will try to contact you.

Just out of curiosity, why the fascination with owning property in VN especially when one cannot legally own it?  Obviously, it's not for finance benefit because in my calculation, the monthly rent for 20 years would be more or less the same as the cost of a decent house, and there's no maintenance or property tax required in renting. 

To me, it would make a lot more sense owning a condo in the States, renting it out while using it as tax write off, than buying something in a country where the law can be changed at will, and the property can be taken from me without notice.

Thank you for all the interesting information...
We are in a situation where buying in Vn may not seem like the brightest idea but we can purchase Aunties house reasonably and when you consider the cost of 2 hotel rooms as there are 3 adults and 1 child or a 2 bedroom apartment from Airbnb, 3 times a year for 5/6 weeks a time, getting more expensive every year...
We have the option of buying the house 🏡 and risk losing it should Auntie drop off the perch, or go down the path of acquiring a birth certificate for my Vn born wife, who was brought to Australia during the conflict and maybe try for a Vn passport which would then make the purchase 'legal'...
It appears that even that avenue has lots of problems?

I'm guessing the only reason anyone would, would be to have somewhere they can call 'home', say someone who is definitely going to live here for the rest of their lives etc.

michaellieptourists :

when you consider the cost of 2 hotel rooms as there are 3 adults and 1 child or a 2 bedroom apartment from Airbnb, 3 times a year for 5/6 weeks a time, getting more expensive every year...
We have the option of buying the house 🏡 and risk losing it should Auntie drop off the perch,

Buying from Auntie is a good idea since it would help you and her both.  But if Auntie were not part of the equation, you still could spend very little in renting enough space for your family.  For about $85/wk, you could get a whole floor of a large house, or an entire small house for yourself.  That's a bit more than $1500 for 18 weeks or 126 days of lodging each year in your case.

Earlier this year, we paid $56/wk for the second floor of a 4-story house in Q Phu Nhuan.  Our living area consisted of a very large bedroom, a sitting room, and a private bathroom.  We paid $4 more to have our clothes wash and iron, and stayed for a month while looking for a long term apartment that suited our needs.

Buying property in Vietnam?

CAVEAT EMPTOR

Foreigners have very few rights in Vietnam!

Wrong..Foreigners cannot own purchase property in VN independently...only apartments.

Yogi..if that's the way feel about VN..then get out...you are despicable.

mafarlau :

Wrong..Foreigners cannot own purchase property in VN independently...only apartments.

I am not wrong and I am broadly aware of the laws regarding the purchase of property by foreigners in Vietnam. My Vietnamese wife is an expert on the matter. 

However, even for Vietnamese people the laws on buying and owning property and land in Vietnam are complex. Many people are not aware, for example, that some types of property are built on land that only gives the purchaser of the property 50 years of tenure. In some cases that can be extended - at some time in the future. And that is only one potential stumbling block.

As I said, and I now repeat it. In the matter of buying property in Vietnam:

CAVEAT EMPTOR

Foreigners have few rights in Vietnam

mafarlau :

Yogi..if that's the way feel about VN..then get out...you are despicable.

Yogi is simply telling the truth.

mafarlau :

Yogi..if that's the way feel about VN..then get out...you are despicable.

Yogi didn't mince words, but what he said is the truth and we all know it.  Why didn't he leave?  One can like a place enough to live there without being blind to its multiple faults.  In my case, I left this country before even though I truly loved it then.  Decades later, I'm back even though I like it less than half as much.  If I could, I would overhaul the entire country from top to bottom, not just the government, but also the mentality of the citizens.

Being a woman, I don't know about the last item on Yogi's list, thus cannot attest to its validity, but I agree with the rest.

Ciambella :
mafarlau :

Yogi..if that's the way feel about VN..then get out...you are despicable.

Yogi didn't mince words, but what he said is the truth and we all know it.  Why didn't he leave?  One can like a place enough to live there without being blind to its multiple faults.  In my case, I left this country before even though I truly loved it then.  Decades later, I'm back even though I like it less than half as much.  If I could, I would overhaul the entire country from top to bottom, not just the government, but also the mentality of the citizens.

Being a woman, I don't know about the last item on Yogi's list, thus cannot attest to its validity, but I agree with the rest.

Thanks for your honesty, Ciambella, it's really refreshing. I love Vietnam very much. It's a stunning country with some great people. Just imagine what it could be like if you did give it a bloody good cleanup!!

The reason I live here is because of my wife. She is Vietnamese. She is the best thing that ever happened to me. Maybe we will live in another country in the future, who knows. But she has family here, an elderly mum, a brother and a sister and a host of aunts and uncles. He cultural ties are very strong indeed - and yet she is an incisive business woman.

She has told me on many occasions not to trust Vietnamese people unless I know them exceeding well and cites the case of her own uncle who ran off with the family gold many years ago - and he was a policeman!

There are signs of a cleanup in some areas. Apparently the whole board of directors of a national oil company are now in jail. The CEO has just been sentenced to death for corruption. A CEO of a national bank in Vietnam is facing the same fate now for the same reason.

As for Yogi's last comment.... Weeeeell, OK, the beer is cheap, I would'nt consider it good though, even though I quite like Saigon Do. Spirits are another matter (the Vietnamese call everything with alcohol in except bia, "wine"). Yesterday we had a couple of guests for lunch here, one is a (female) divorce court judge, the other a Saigon lawyer. The lawyer brought along half a litre of crab apple whiskey from his home town in the mountains. It was a deep red colour, heart-stoppingly strong and very nice - about 50% abv. We had a very merry lunch.

On the matter of the girls here: I have heard them referred to as being of "weapons grade", meaning: of the highest beauty.

mafarlau :

Wrong..Foreigners cannot own purchase property in VN independently...only apartments.

mafarlau it's a shame that there are still Vietnamese like yourself still thinking like that. True there are restrictions on certain types of land that foreigners can own, such are land zoned as agriculture or certain security areas, which is the same type of rules in most country's. However foreigners are certainly not restricted to only buying apartments in Vietnam. Is it easy? No. Is it time consuming and frustrating? Yes, but it can be done. The Pink book that was issued to us used "United States" on the Quoc Tich line and my wife's US PP number and information in replace of the VN national ID card number and  information. This is for 17W x74L  square meters of land and our 4300 square meter 4 story house that we built on the land. We were issued the land use and housing certificate (Pink Book) a few years ago. Since that time my wife has regained her VN citizenship and the process would have been a bit more easier if she would have had it back then. She didn't, and wasn't even thinking about doing it back then and the book was still issued to her as a foreigner. Unfortunately Yogi hit the nail on the head and is right.  Ciambella gave a really good response to you and I respect her for it as did Eodmatt. Your absolutely wrong mafarlau.
Rick

@Matt: Yes, all wine and spirits are called "ruợu", although the word that follows "rượu" is the more important part of the term.

Wine is called "rượu vang" or "rượu nho" ("rượu vang/nho đỏ" for red wine and "rượu vang/nho trắng" for white wine). 

Spirits are "rượu mạnh". 

Rice wine (moonshine) is "rượu đế".

Other kinds of rice wine are "rượu trắng", "rượu gạo", "ruợu cần", or "rượu nếp". 

Rice wine soaked with herbs (for heath reasons) is "rượu thuốc",  never being imbibed just for the sake of drinking. 

"Rượu cần" ís ruợu nếp made in the mountain areas of Northern VN and only served in festive occasions.

The crab apple whiskey sounds wonderful; I would like to have the chance to try it.  Was it from Da Lat?

Ciambella :

@Matt: Yes, all wine and spirits are called "ruợu", although the word that follows "rượu" is the more important part of the term.

Wine is called "rượu vang" or "rượu nho" ("rượu vang/nho đỏ" for red wine and "rượu vang/nho trắng" for white wine). 

Spirits are "rượu mạnh". 

Rice wine (moonshine) is "rượu đế".

Other kinds of rice wine are "rượu trắng", "rượu gạo", "ruợu cần", or "rượu nếp". 

Rice wine soaked with herbs (for heath reasons) is "rượu thuốc",  never being imbibed just for the sake of drinking. 

"Rượu cần" ís ruợu nếp made in the mountain areas of Northern VN and only served in festive occasions.

The crab apple whiskey sounds wonderful; I would like to have the chance to try it.  Was it from Da Lat?

Thanks Ciambella, outstanding information as always! I'm not sure where Chanh's family makes the hooch. All I know is that it is made from apples that "grow in the mountains". Next time I see him I'll ask and let you know.

mafarlau :

Yogi..if that's the way feel about VN..then get out...you are despicable.

Unfortunately, Yogi speaks the truth. Most immigrants who claim to love Vietnam and Vietnamese culture are largely referring to the cheap tail, lax visa laws, and low cost of living.

As for Yogi's other points... I'll just say it's disappointing to see a country that was recently devastated by a major war continue to stagnate in terms of human and social progress development. You'd think Vietnam would learn to take care of one another after having lost so many Vietnamese lives during the war...

I wonder what kind of Vietnam would exist today had US won the war, occupied Vietnam, and enacted widespread economic, political, and social reforms like they did with Japan. One can dream...

Kupo :
mafarlau :

Yogi..if that's the way feel about VN..then get out...you are despicable.

Unfortunately, Yogi speaks the truth. Most immigrants who claim to love Vietnam and Vietnamese culture are largely referring to the cheap tail, lax visa laws, and low cost of living.

As for Yogi's other points... I'll just say it's disappointing to see a country that was recently devastated by a major war continue to stagnate in terms of human and social progress development. You'd think Vietnam would learn to take care of one another after having lost so many Vietnamese lives during the war...

I wonder what kind of Vietnam would exist today had US won the war, occupied Vietnam, and enacted widespread economic, political, and social reforms like they did with Japan. One can dream...

A bit of a generalisation there, but yeah, prolly.

The thing is though, despite all the corruption and out right f*ckwittery, the Vietnamese can excel at things if they put their minds to it. I would imagine that if things had been as you envisaged they could have been, Vietnam would almost certainly now be a kind of S Korea or a Japan.

I highly would not recommend doing this. Back in 2005, I visited saigon and spoke with a few attorneys and they recommend NOT to purchase a property with a local vietnamese citizen. Its not worth the risk.

My spouse is a Chinese-vietnamese born in Saigon but an American Citizen since the 90's.  She technically can purchase a property but she said, the risk is not worth the investment. Unless, one wish to lose all of the investment. Back then, the pricing was so cheap.

thoughts.

I also know a man in Nha Trang who's wife not only sold their house but borrowed money against their restaurant as well while he was working off-shore.  He came back and was given 30 days to clear from the property, wife took off with a Russian guy and he is stuck with about 3 Billion in loan payments.  Last I talked to him he is selling out and pulling up stakes.  He was able to divorce his wife for abandonment so he is free and clear............I would tread lightly if I were anyone trying to circumvent the law by using a 'vietnamese surregot' to buy land and/or a house, seeing that you can do it now legally now for fifty years.  I am sure as time goes by these laws will change as well allowing us to leave the house to an expat relative, which I think we cannot do at this time under the current law.

Thanks for relating this story. I'm curious, where did you read that a foreigner can now legally "own" (i.e., lease) land and/or a house for 50 years? Is this perhaps ONLY in a large development (typically a condo)?

I've read most of the decree about foreigners being able have the LUR in their names.   There's still a lot of grey areas about it all.     I've heard of two guys  here in Khan Hoa province that are married and the Lawyers told them the property could only have the Vietnamese wife on the pink book.

There's also a clause in the decree that states any foreigner married to a VN can have the LUR in his own name and not be subject to the 50 year lease .  It doesn't say what happens if she gives him the flick in a divorce.  Too many unanswered scenarios.

Banks & lawyers have no idea how loan agreements and mortgages are to be drawn up ,etc etc etc.  Basically the idea was just another way to get foreigners to part with their money on bigger ticket items other than motor scooters , hookers & cheap piss.

Since the new "law" came in there has been several complaints and finger pointing going on about what is actually happening.  From that , the National Assembly issue a media release stating that " all implementation, interpretation & dispute resolution regarding the laws with foreign ownership shall be handled by LOCAL competent authorities ." 

That basically absolves them from any responsibility.  Just let the local hillbillies sort everything out.  So it's right back to where it started.   

As for those guys that think they are entitled to 50% in a divorce settlement,,,good luck.

First of all , 50% of a property that can't be sold for all sorts of reasons is Zero.  A guy here has been waiting 7 years for marital home to sell. It won't happen......wifey has seen to that.

Another guy thought he had all the bases covered until wifey told the police that the husband had been spruiking anti communist propaganda & trying to bring on a revolution.   The poor bastard was frog marched to the nearest airport and thrown out of the country.   

So basically, having your name on something here doesn't make you sleep any better at night.

rock0012987 :

Thanks for relating this story. I'm curious, where did you read that a foreigner can now legally "own" (i.e., lease) land and/or a house for 50 years? Is this perhaps ONLY in a large development (typically a condo)?

Background

Foreigners challenged by apartment ownership in Ho Chi Minh City

​Only 15 foreigners, Viet Kieu own houses in Ho Chi Minh City (as of May 2017)

gobot :
rock0012987 :

Thanks for relating this story. I'm curious, where did you read that a foreigner can now legally "own" (i.e., lease) land and/or a house for 50 years? Is this perhaps ONLY in a large development (typically a condo)?

Background

Foreigners challenged by apartment ownership in Ho Chi Minh City

​Only 15 foreigners, Viet Kieu own houses in Ho Chi Minh City (as of May 2017)

I saw this too... and reading between the lines of government propaganda that is the vietnamese news... only 15 foreigners paid coffee money to get their certificates after being trapped :D

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