Vietnam is facing a housing catastrophe. A disastrous slump has overtaken its housing market. The government is embarrassed, the banks are bankrupt, and the economy is in a mess. Just consider the sheer scale of it all - during the year to end-Q1 2012:
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The communist government of Vietnam is considering legalizing same-sex marriage. If it does so, it will become the first Asian nation to pass the measure.
- The average selling price of luxury apartments has plunged 40%
- Mid-end apartments' average selling prices fell 30%
- The average selling price of low-end apartments dropped 27%, according to Colliers International.
This follows almost three years of house price falls in Vietnam.
Apartment prices in all segments in Vietnam continued the rush to find the bottom during the first quarter of 2012, with demand low, and economic growth weakening. Average house prices dropped 6% during the first quarter. In Indochina Plaza Hanoi or Star City, prices fell by an average of 11% q-o-q.
Colliers' estimates, though made in the absence of official house price statistics, are supported by Savills Vietnam, which estimates that in the first quarter of 2012 prices of mid-segment apartments plunged 9% q-o-q. Other property experts like CB Richard Ellis Vietnam and DTZ Research confirm that property prices are in freefall in Vietnam, especially in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
In Q1 2012, the average asking price of apartments was VND26 million (US$1,230) per square metre, according to Colliers International. On the other hand, the average selling prices ranged from VND14.6 million (US$690) to VND42.4 million (US$2,000) per sq. m.
According to DTZ Research:
- Asking prices for affordable condominiums ranged from VND10.6 million (US$500) to VND20 million (US$950) per sq. m. in Q2 2012
- For middle segment condominiums asking prices ranged from VND20 million (US$950) to VND35.9 million (US$1,700) per sq. m.
- For high-end condominiums, asking prices were above VND35.9 million (US$1,700) per sq. m.
Recent statistics show a staggering number of unsold housing units in Vietnam's two biggest cities. In Hanoi, the number of unsold apartments is about 40,000 units, and it has reached 20,000 units in Ho Chi Minh City.
During the year ending in Q1 2012, the supply of apartments increased by 37% to 119,000 units, according to Colliers International. New apartment supply increased by 32% y-o-y, while the supply of existing apartments rose by 44% y-o-y in Q1 2012.
Vietnam has a substantial number of bad loans. One out of every ten loans in the banking system has stopped paying, according to the central bank. Fitch Ratings believe the percentage of bad loans might be much higher. The total value of outstanding real estate loans in Vietnam is VND180 trillion (US$8.5 billion), though down from peak levels of VND280 trillion (US$13.2 billion).
Many residential projects have stalled in mid-construction (an example being the Saigon Residence, a high-end residential building in Ho Chi Minh's centre). Many property developers have delayed launching projects.
In an effort to bolster demand:
- A VND5 trillion credit package was given to homebuyers by the Vietnam Bank for Industry and Trade (Vietinbank).
- An exemption of about 10% of the value added tax (VAT) for home buyers is being proposed by the Housing and Real Estate Market Department.
- The local government in Ho Chi Minh City has proposed opening the property market to overseas Vietnamese.
- The State Bank of Vietnam (SBV), the country's central bank, slashed the refinance rate was lowered from 11% to 10% in July 1, 2012, the fifth consecutive monthly fall this year, as inflation cools. The discount rate was also lowered from 9% to 8% and the overnight inter-bank rate from 12% to 11%.
House price falls are expected to continue in coming quarters, according to Colliers International.
"The condominium market outlook remains bleak for the rest of the year, as purchasers continue to wait for both finance rates and prices to fall further," says KP Singh, General Director of DTZ Vietnam.
The Vietnamese economy grew by 4.38% in the first half of 2012, its most sluggish rate for three years. Real GDP growth is expected to slow to 5.1% in 2012, from 5.9% in the previous year, according to the IMF.
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