One unique aspect of Vietnamese real estate is that property purchases were traditionally made in gold, as was customary for large transactions. Today, however, all real estate transactions, especially with developers, must be conducted with the Vietnamese currency, also known as Dong.

It’s no secret that Vietnam is fast becoming one of the most sought-after countries in the region for property investment. With investors expecting to reap sizeable returns of 6% to 7% for residential properties and 9% to 11% for commercial ones, the only question that remains is: Exactly where in Vietnam should a savvy investor look?

That place is Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC)—Vietnam’s largest urban area, and one of Asia’s fastest-growing cities. With the value of HCMC’s real estate market among the region’s most attractive, it’s easy to see why expats and entrepreneurs, even retirees are drawn to it.

Thu Thiem: HCMC’s New Urban Area (NUA)

Among the many investment opportunities in HCMC, the area touted to be the most exciting is the upcoming Thu Thiem NUA in the city’s District 2.

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Thu Thiem Masterplan

Known as the city’s new Central Business District (CBD), Thu Thiem enjoys nearly 8.5km of frontage along the Saigon River, making it a breathtaking location for waterfront developments. The area is also strategically situated adjacent to District 1, HCMC’s current CBD, across the Saigon River.

In addition, according to the Vietnamese government, the area is meant to serve as a centre of finance, commerce and high-class services, an international strategic area, as well as a centre of culture, leisure, and entertainment.

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Night view of Empire City and Ho Chi Minh City's CBD

It’s no wonder that despite being 657 hectares large, Thu Thiem enjoys incredible transport connectivity to other established urban areas in HCMC, including District 1, Saigon Hi-Tech Park and Rach Chiec Sports Complex, as well as Phu My Hung New Urban Area in District 7.

Since 2005, three major infrastructure linkages have also been completed based on the work of Thu Thiem’s internationally-renowned master planner, Sasaki Associates: Thu Thiem Bridge, Thu Thiem Tunnel and Mai Chi Tho. Vo Van Kiet’s road axis connectivity will be further enhanced upon the completion of current and future transport infrastructure projects that include four key transport routes, namely, Thu Thiem 2, 3, and 4 Bridges, as well as Metro Line Number 2.

Another high-end, mixed-use waterfront enclave being built is Empire City, jointly developed by Keppel Land, two local Vietnamese companies, and a Hong Kong-based real estate private equity fund.

Spanning 14.6 hectares, Empire City will offer premium residential apartments, office and retail properties, as well as an 86-storey integrated mixed-use tower complex, designed to redefine HCMC’s urban skyline.

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Night view of Empire City

Linden Residences & Tilia Residences, the first two phases of Empire City, have been launched with an overwhelming success of almost 90% of combined units successfully sold in July 2017.

Even though the quota for foreign ownership for these two phases has been quickly met due to high demand, there are still ample opportunities for foreign investors and homebuyers: Empire City targets to launch its third phase, Cove Residences, which comprises premium low-rise waterfront apartments in end 2017 or early 2018.

Investing in Vietnam

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Investing in property in Vietnam has never been easier. Under a new housing law introduced in 2015, foreigners who’ve been granted Vietnamese visas or entry permits are allowed to purchase property in the country. They can even buy multiple types of properties, and as many as 30 per cent of the total units in any single condominium complex.

That’s not all. Foreign buyers today can also do more with their investment—including leasing it out, selling it to enjoy capital gain from property price appreciation, or giving it as a gift or bequest.

With such exciting up-and-coming developments, combined with unprecedented openness to foreign investment, Vietnam’s property market could be an untapped resource for astute investors looking to expand their portfolios within the region.

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