mderking mderking posted June 15th, 2012 at 2:58 pm to Help!. Viewed 817 times. Answered 41 times.

Could not find answer to this specific question, so here we go:

Buying a house

Dear All,

I would like to know information about options to buying property in Ha Noi.
I would like to know the differences and possibilities in the following situations:

1) Buying property as a Vietnamese.
- The "normal way", but what about:
- Risks, problems, difficulties?
- Getting a loan from the banks?

2) Buying property as a foreigner
- As far as I know, only appartment can be bought, not ground, house not sure
- What are the differences between buying as a foreigner and buying as a vietnamese person.

3) Buying property as a foreigner married to a Vietnamese
- What are the differences between buying as a unmarried-foreigner and buying as a vietnamese person, OR
- What are the differences between buying as a vietnamese and buying as a married-to-vietnamese.

4) Buying property as a foreign owned company
- Think you can buy/rent for 50 years
- Not sure if type of company makes a difference


Reason I ask is because I am thinking about maybe starting up a company in Vietnam, moving house and know that one day not long from now I will get married with my lovely girlfriend. All the above are therefor options for me to execute, and what I am wondering is what are the different ways of doing it.

By preference is number 4 and number 2, but if those proof impossible, 3 and 1 are options.

Thanks for any input or advice!

Last answered by David V. about 44 months ago.

Answers (jump to newest answer)

Newman wrote on June 15th, 2012 at 5:52 pm
Newman (elite user)

For such large and complex transactions as property purchases in Vietnam, you are probably better off discussing all the options with a suitably qualified and experienced lawyer. Spending a little to get some real, detailed and accurate advice will be a lot more beneficial than trying to glean something useful from the various opinions that you might receive on TNH.

How do you find a good lawyer? Personal reference from trusted friends and colleagues will be the best, but here's a pretty substantial list of legal practices in Hanoi to get you started:

mderking wrote on June 18th, 2012 at 11:04 am


Obviously I will contact one at the moment I am going to proceed in actually buying a property. But it is something that will not take please very soon, might not even be for a few years. So at the moment I have time to spend on getting to know rules and regulations in Vietnam.

I prefer knowing what I do, instead of knowing/paying someone who might know what they are doing.

I know a few people are out that there that actually went to the process and can let me know which things they experiences as difficult, troublesome, or "if I know that before..." stuff. Never underestimate the value of a TNH comment ;-)

Grant wrote on June 18th, 2012 at 11:43 am
Grant (elite user)
Good Answer mderking marked this as a good answer


It really is complicated and being a foreigner more so.

Foreigners can buy an apartment in their name (although there is a limit on how many foreigners can buy in the one apartment building). But that's about it. I don't actually know anyone who has actually done this though. Directors can buy a property too but there are weird rules on selling it. It's as if you don't own it.

Then there's the Red, Pink and Blue property books bestowing various rights of ownership on the holder.

The most complicated thing is that although there are rules and government decrees there are no guidelines for authorities in each of the various communes to follow. So they make it up as they go along. 'Hmmmm....white face. Difficult. No you can't. Go away' Is probably about as far as you would get.

I don't know whether a local can purchase a property in their name and then at a later date you can have your name added to the ownership book.


natinnam wrote on June 18th, 2012 at 11:46 am
natinnam (elite user)

I left $150 grand with me missus and when i got back after my 1st stint in Qatar, i had a place in Ciputra. All in her name, as back then that was the only way, this has changed and the info is on here somewhere, although that TBBLE geezer would find it on a VN Government website, i cannot be arsed looking.

As for loans, i was looking in 2008/9 for a loan to buy a good chunk of land the other side of the river. The local banks wanted to secure a loan against a Red Book, but we own an apartment and this was a little different, also my wife wasn't the money earner, and other things were put in place as blockers, so gave up.

So went international bank route and would secure a loan against my house in the UK, this was going well, but the world went Tits-Up and the loan was pulled. I told this was temporary, but never followed it through again. As with this topsee turvy place i wouldn't sleep easy with everything tied up here.

Personally, at this point in time i wouldn't buy here, i was lucky and didn't look at buying as an investment, more of a place to live, and if it goes south, then the money is not a massive loss in the grand scheme (So far).

Lastly if you haven't got 300-400 Grand, then you'll be slumming it here these days.

Mr Mike wrote on June 18th, 2012 at 11:59 am
Mr Mike

I agree with natinnam that renting is a better option, especially as VN has entered a downturn and we do not know of the facts surrounding things here.

mderking wrote on June 18th, 2012 at 12:32 pm


I understand your comments, and I understand all your remarks made or yet to be made. I also do appreciate that. But still, I would request all to stay on topic.

If you feel you cannot give an advice/answer to the question, then please don't post an answer here.

I've seen a other topic on this full of endless discussions about weather to buy or not. I do not need or ask for such advice. My question is purely on what is the best solution of realizing a buy, if and when I have decided to buy property in Ha Noi.

Whether it will make sense to do it, is a seperate question, which I am not asking here.

mderking wrote on June 18th, 2012 at 12:36 pm


Do you have any links/references/law-number or something on this?

As far as I know as a foreigner you are basically "Renting" it for up to 50years.

As for the not being able to really own:
This country is communistic, meaning "The People own all", which translates into the government owns all, hence the impossibility of really owning it. Hence all the books 'n stuff.

My company has 'bought' its land for 48years, with indeed unclarity on how to sell it at that time (which means sell it long time before that).

Newman wrote on June 18th, 2012 at 1:17 pm
Newman (elite user)
Good Answer mderking marked this as a good answer

If you follow this link: you will download a pdf document N133 Owning an Apartment in Vietnam as a Foreigner from this law firm that explains some rules about foreign property ownership in Vietnam.

Grant wrote on June 18th, 2012 at 1:51 pm
Grant (elite user)


Here's a couple of good links that explains things quite clearly in regards to business and investment:


Grant wrote on June 18th, 2012 at 1:56 pm
Grant (elite user)
Good Answer mderking marked this as a good answer


One thing I hear of often is drama's with the property book (red, blue, whatever colour). If you haven't seen the book or checked that it is actually in the sellers name and that persons name is the one in the sales away or get burned. That little book is the ownership rights to the property. Whatever else you have on paper in regards to a contract stands little ground against that book.


Newman wrote on June 18th, 2012 at 2:21 pm
Newman (elite user)

Regarding lending, the following banks have some information:

TBBle wrote on June 19th, 2012 at 12:51 am
Good Answer mderking marked this as a good answer

One thing to be aware of is that the foreigners-owning-land-usage-rights scheme of 19/2008/QH12 (from Newman's link to "N133 Owning an Apartment in Vietnam" is that it's a _pilot_ scheme.

The National Assembly is trying to work out how to improve the land-usage scheme at the moment, so within the 50 years maximum of house ownership, there's a risk that the government may decide to just end the pilot scheme, and reclaim your land-use right out from under you.

Of course, that's a risk for anyone here, as has been highlighted recently, and is one of the prompts for the current attempts at land-usage reform anyway.

For the record, the currently-relevant legal documents are 19/2008/QH12, implemented in 51/2009/NĐ-CP (for which MOJ provides an English translation) and 88/2009/NĐ-CP which changes the certificate system around such that instead of having a certificate of house ownership and land use rights, you have a certificate of land use rights, and ownership of attached houses.

88/2009/NĐ-CP repeals articles 8 and 9 of 51/2009/NĐ-CP.

RD1959 wrote on June 19th, 2012 at 2:02 pm
Good Answer mderking marked this as a good answer

The laws are fairly clear:


Newman wrote on June 19th, 2012 at 2:18 pm
Newman (elite user)

The decree indicated by RD1959 says the following, although as TBBle indicates above, these decrees do get updated and supplemented from time-to-time:

Article 18.- Foreigners residing in Vietnam are allowed to own a dwelling house for themselves and their families on a plot of residential land leased from the Vietnamese State during their residence in Vietnam, unless otherwise stipulated by an international treaty which Vietnam has signed or acceded to, or by agreements which Vietnam has reached with the governments of other countries or international organizations.

Article 19.- Foreign residents in Vietnam shall be granted certificates of ownership of dwelling houses if they:

- Buy a dwelling house from a housing company of the Vietnam State;

- Build a dwelling house with permission from the authorized State office; or

- Inherit a dwelling house in accordance with Vietnam's laws.

The purchase of a dwelling house, the leasing of residential land, the building of a dwelling house and the inheritance of a dwelling house must conform to Vietnam's laws.

Article 20.- The dossier to apply for a certificate of ownership of a dwelling house and the right to use residential land leased includes:

1. An application for the granting of certificate of ownership of dwelling houses and the use of residential land leased;

2. A permit issued by the Vietnamese State allowing the person concerned to reside in Vietnam;

3. A permit for construction of the dwelling house, or a contract on the buying and selling of the dwelling house certified by the Notary Public, or a valid paper on inheritance;

4. A contract on land lease;

5. A copy of the map showing the premises of the dwelling house, scale 1/200.

The dossier is issued in Vietnamese and filed in at the Provincial People's Committee.

Certificates of ownership of dwelling houses and the right to use the residential land leased are issued by the Provincial People's Committees.

Article 21.- Foreign residents owning dwelling houses in Vietnam can use, sell, give or legate their dwelling houses in accordance with Vietnam's laws and must register the ownership of their dwelling houses at the Provincial People's Committee, and pay taxes and fees as stipulated by law.

Article 22.- In case foreign residents cease to reside in Vietnam without performing the stipulations at Article 21 of this Decree, then 90 days after the day they leave Vietnam, the certificate of ownership of their dwelling house shall automatically be invalidated and the house concerned shall come under the management and use of the Vietnamese State in accordance with Vietnam's law.

NickinNam wrote on June 19th, 2012 at 2:41 pm

The "Laws are fairly clear" until you realise that law is from 1994 and there are "amendments" and "repeals". So Government Decree No.60-CP is rather outdated.

More up-to-date is this:

Not a law, but laws and the possible reactions of government officials are mentionned.

It begs the question, that as a foreigner, what are you gonna do about it when they come for your land?

Your "Option 2" is just silly. Don't even try it.

Your real choices are "Option 4" if you are ready to spend lot's of lawyer money, or "Option 1" as in NatinNam's example: Your wife buys the property, your name appears nowhere.

In principle, under the laws of marriage, all property the belongs to a married couple belong to them equally. It is liquidated and split 50/50 in the case of a divorce (in fairyland). In reality, you're screwed.

Even if you chose Option 4 (buying through a company) your wife will be entitled to half your interest in the company in the case of a divorce.

In reality, when it's divorce time, the appropriate highly connected uncle or cousin is called in to have you deported, and your wife's family move into your house no matter what method "you" have used to "buy" (rent for 50 years) it, and you can fight that battle from Bangkok or your hometown.

Unless the government buys it from you for pennies on the dollar because one of the golf buddies wants to build a condo first.

Newman wrote on June 19th, 2012 at 3:01 pm
Newman (elite user)

"Whether it will make sense to do it, is a seperate question, which I am not asking here."

Of course, the only respondent who has actually been involved in the purchase of property here is natinnam. Every other comment, advice or opinion is pure conjecture, speculation, internet research and/or scaremongering.

Don't be put off by those who don't have any real experience.

NickinNam wrote on June 19th, 2012 at 3:04 pm

It's rather telling that there are not a lot of people here with experience buying property, particularly outside of Ciputra.

The risk/reward ratio is skewed to far to the risk side.

NickinNam wrote on June 19th, 2012 at 3:24 pm

The first thing the OP would have to handle in the case of options 2 and 3 would be getting "permanent residency".

There are long threads on that, and I don't know anyone who's gotten it.

Being married to a Vietnamese gives no extra rights. You still have to leave the country, or visit immigration every 90 days. They "may" grant permanent residency, but they don't have to, and I've never seen them do it.

All of the reference to "foreigners" in the above very useful links refer to either "permanent residents" or "investors" (with real companies, investing in factories or offices").

To buy a residence (check all those links above), note the words "permanent resident".

If you just marry a Vietnamese, she will still have to buy the house.

So handle that first.

NickinNam wrote on June 19th, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Permanent Residency Thread:

budtime wrote on June 19th, 2012 at 3:36 pm

Grant hit the nail on the head with this one:

"The most complicated thing is that although there are rules and government decrees there are no guidelines for authorities in each of the various communes to follow. So they make it up as they go along."

We started the process for the land/house ownership papers last Sept and still not sure when they'll be issued. Our situation is more complex than the normal procedures that Viet-Kieu or Foreigners would be going through I should add. One thing to keep in mind if you want to understand how hard the process is, less than 150 Viet-Kieu and Foreigners have completed the process and have been awarded the required documents for land usage and housing rights in all of Vietnam. Do it without a lawyer only if your on really good medication.

budtime wrote on June 19th, 2012 at 3:40 pm

Dang I wish there was a edit button. That "through" should be "thru"

natinnam wrote on June 19th, 2012 at 4:13 pm
natinnam (elite user)

It's a merry go round, i had a permanent residency lined up, got the go ahead and was in the last phase. But the permanent residency has restrictions, unlike my 3 year temporary residence where i can come and go as i please, zip restrictions, so halted the perm one.

So that would rule you out of options 2 & 3 maybe, so even having a perm card and property, could still have you getting a stamp every 90 days, or even leaving, strange eh!

Then you or your wife owning it in name doesn't make much difference if it came to a split/divorce. In her name, your entitled to half, i have the proof i paid for all, so with a few legal fees, id get half back. In your name, she entitled to half anyway through marriage, still you'll pick up legal fees sorting that.

So leaves you with option 4, but that's a faff on with other legal hurdles, probably still inclusive of the residency card BS.

Everything slants you towards the VN wife doing it, as it's the most simple and easy way. As i said it doesn't sit easy with the male ego of i paid so my name should be on it, but your screwed either way once married.

n8wcpo wrote on June 19th, 2012 at 8:25 pm

I promised myself I wouldn't get involved in any more real estate questions, but I just can't help it.
#1 You're not Vietnamese, it's not an option. From a western point of view there is no normal way of buying property. The risks are title fraud, theft of large amounts of cash that will change hands, real estate agents that will threaten you, tea money, and in-laws from both parties that suddenly get involved. You want to get a loan from the bank? Try 21%, if you have collateral.
#3 Simplify your life, get married, and just give your wife the money. When you/she buys land sign an affidavit that says you have no monetary interest in the property, this will make it much easier to sell in the future.

You're probably over-thinking this.

Grant wrote on June 19th, 2012 at 8:45 pm
Grant (elite user)


Interesting point but is the affidavit really that necessary/useful? Couldn't that be done at the time of sale without too much bother? Never heard of this before so I'm interested to know why it is useful.


RD1959 wrote on June 20th, 2012 at 8:49 am

The other law that should be read in conjunction with the one posted earlier is this:


The problem in Vietnam is that local authorities do not know what the laws say so make it up based on previous practice or outdated laws.

Many of the current laws have obcviously been derived based upon laws from other countries and in most parts replicate the requirements and responsibilities of the various parties.

The leasing of state land is not that different to buying an apartment say in the UK where the freehold is normally held by another party, you, the purchaser become a leasholder.

I think the relevant laws should be the starting point for any decisions, and that they assist in guiding the relevant authorities etc that may not be aware of the law and the provisions therein. You have to make the law work for you as best possible.

The other useful document that may be relevant to many on here is:

No: 81/2006/QH11 - Law on residence

n8wcpo wrote on June 20th, 2012 at 1:46 pm

You probably have heard of it "GIẤY CAM ĐOAN" (sorry about my Vietnamese spelling) It is done at the time of sale when you're deciding whose name to put in the pink book.

virezo wrote on June 20th, 2012 at 3:10 pm
virezo (elite user)

1) Buying property as a Vietnamese.
- The "normal way", but what about:
- Risks, problems, difficulties?
Risks: Fake red book.
Problems: sellers play around with price, bad neighbours/neighborhood,
Difficulties: money and vary depends on with or without kids
- Getting a loan from the banks?
Oh no. Last resort.

The rest, listen to the "seniors".

Grant wrote on June 20th, 2012 at 3:13 pm
Grant (elite user)


Errr...I have now. My wife owned a block of land before we were married (red book) and bought another block after we were married (also red book). I wasn't involved in the transaction at all. Not that I wanted to be either.

That's why I was interested when you mentioned the affidavit making the sale easier. I suspect that because there is no mention of me in either land title that my presence wouldn't hinder any sale of the property in the future, unless I wanted too I suppose.


budtime wrote on June 20th, 2012 at 3:20 pm

@Grant, wouldn't make any difference, red book for the land, pink paper for the house ain't no anglo name getting entered on either of them.

natinnam wrote on June 20th, 2012 at 3:46 pm
natinnam (elite user)

I am confused with this affidavit bit? Who's it with?

The Land registry office, with your missus? It makes no sense to me.

It's in your missus name, so why the registry office gives a shit as to where the money comes from is puzzling me.

If it's with your missus, then this of no relevance when selling on.

Grant wrote on June 20th, 2012 at 3:55 pm
Grant (elite user)


The value of assets purchased after marriage are theoretically equally shared. So if someone wanted to make a problem in regards to sale of property I guess they could as both parties permission could be needed despite both names not appearing in the book.


budtime wrote on June 20th, 2012 at 4:00 pm

I was about to ask the same thing. In the olden days before Viet-Kieu could put houses in their own name, the wise one when putting the cash out had the Vietnamese relative that was regerstering the land/house signs an agreement that both parts understood when the time came and the law would allow it the title/book/paper would be transferred to the Viet-Kieu. There’s a government office that does this and a bunch of other legal paperwork like wills and such not sure what’s it’s called. Why a husband a wife would need for anything like this is confusing. Heck it’s 50/50 if that time comes.

natinnam wrote on June 20th, 2012 at 4:04 pm
natinnam (elite user)

But he's advising one saying he has "No Money Interest" in the property, if that's the case why bother?

And i presumed that they were selling as a married couple, not some waring divorcee types.

I still confused

Grant wrote on June 20th, 2012 at 4:17 pm
Grant (elite user)


Actually if you signed that then you would have no claim to any part of the property value should everything go South. Which makes it seem odd to arrange such a thing.


mderking wrote on June 21st, 2012 at 8:57 am

If I see all the comments above, I am getting the following impression of answers:

1) Don;t buy property, cause you only loose money

2) If you buy, put it in your wifes name

3) If you want to secure any money, make a separate contract with your wife covering "divorce" stuff, although you never know what you can do with something like that, in case you do get deforced.

As for the Loaning money and the 21% interest => Don't forget that when Vietnam has a 15% inflation, a 21% interest on the Vietnam Dong is the same as a 6% interest on a USD loan. Same with the bank. I currently am better of getting 0% on a USD account then getting 9% on a VND account, because at 9%, I still have less USD at the end of the year then I had at the start. So don't compare a "21%" here with the number you are used to back home.
Same goes for the renting of appartment => House owners ask for USA, because getting the same USD every year is like raising the VND rent with 10-15% every year. It's just not visible at the payers end.

anhtuannd wrote on June 21st, 2012 at 4:44 pm

Please check link below, it's from government web portal:

clock iconThen Some Time Passed...
TBBle wrote on December 13th, 2014 at 7:12 am

The Law on Housing (amended) has recently passed through the National Assembly, and takes effect from 1st July 2015.

There's a brief write-up at and the accepted version of the draft itself is at (Draft 6)

The relevant part is Chapter 9, Articles 159 to 162. Generally, spouses of Vietnamese citizens or overseas Vietnamese will have the same housing rights and obligations as Vietnamese citizens, and are excluded from the following restrictions.

The other people allowed to own housing (foreign property investors, foreign organisations, and individuals allowed to enter the country without diplomatic privileges) have various other restrictions such as length of ownership contract (50 years) and how much of a single apartment complex or housing area can be owned (30%). If these restrictions are exceeded by donation or inheritance, then the value of the property is received instead.

Foreign organisations can only purchase housing for employees, not for renting out or using as offices.

Individuals purchasing to rent out must register with the local District that they're going to do this, mainly so they ensure you pay tax on that rental income.

Foreign organisations and individuals must make purchase and lease payments through credit institutions in Viet Nam. (I'm not totally clear on that last one... 162(c). No cash-in-hand purchases? No home loans taken in a foreign country?)

This is of course a huge step forward from "Foreigners with a TRC or PRC may purchase a single apartment to live in only".

The goal is to try and get some cash flowing into the still-dead Viet Nam real estate market, without letting large Chinese investors start buying swathes of the country parcel by parcel.

travworld wrote on December 16th, 2014 at 6:16 am

So if you buy a house can you also get a permanent resident card easily.

clock iconThen Some Time Passed...
David V. wrote on June 21st, 2015 at 8:34 am
David V.

Hi TBBle (or anybody else as knowledgeable),

Apparently foreigners can only buy "commercial houses", and a friend told me that means only houses in big investment projects. Like, most property is still of-bounds. Is that correct?

travworld wrote on June 25th, 2015 at 4:44 pm

I have not seen any posts from @TBBle in a while .

David V. wrote on June 28th, 2015 at 5:41 am
David V.

Then it'll be up to you to answer. ;-)

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