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Vietnam

Foreigners Accept Red Tape To Buy Property In Vietnam

Vietnam has come a long way since the real estate bubble burst a few years back.
Buyers are scooping up properties since a new law opened the market to foreigners.

Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City
Lien Hoang

HO CHI MINH CITYVietnam is hoping to see a lot more people like Haig Conolly. The Australian and his wife became the first foreigners to buy real estate in Vietnam under a new property law that took effect over the summer. Policymakers pushed the law as a way to attract foreigners and increase demand in the property market.

"We were enormously assisted everywhere we went," Conolly says. "The quality of the product is increasingly of international standard."

But that doesn't mean that transactions are simple. It's been several months since foreigners could officially take advantage of the law, but as Conolly describes it buyers are still confused about the details of contracts, whether titles will really get transferred to them, and the willingness among banks to approve mortgages.

"I think the challenges and frustrations are part and parcel of life in emerging markets, so you tend not to see them as challenges and frustrations, you just go with the flow," he says. "This is a fundamental part of the whole thing. If challenges and frustrations concern you, then to an extent you're in the wrong place. That's just a reality."

Many foreigners are taking Conolly's approach — working through the difficulty of investing in Vietnam because they think it'll pay off eventually.

One of the biggest difficulties foreigners complain about is that Vietnam doesn't have guidelines for how to navigate the new property law.

Chau Ta, legal counsel at SC Capital, which invests in real estate, says that creates confusion when buyers submit paperwork to local governments. "There are laws out there that allow foreign ownership, but implementing decrees aren't out yet," she explains.

David Lim, a property attorney with ZICOlaw, believes these difficulties ultimately will be sorted out, because foreigners have long been interested in Vietnam's real estate market. "I think there's a lot of pent-up demand." he says. "You know that foreigners were only allowed to buy starting July 1, 2015. And also at the same time, I think we're just coming out of the financial crisis. So I think with the loosening of the law and the opening of the market, you'll start to see more transactions."

Foreigners are buying property for personal use, but also as large-scale investments. That's because Vietnam looks like a relatively stable place to invest compared with Thailand and Myanmar, which are undergoing political changes, and the currency volatility in Malaysia and Indonesia.

"It may be political, it may be economic, but there are things that are happening in the region right now that are destabilizing and perhaps creating some headwinds for a few of our ASEAN neighbors," Lim says.

To really take advantage of this foreign interest, Vietnam should simplify the transaction process, says Tran Nguyen, CEO of Jen Capital investors. "My suggestion would be to have a one-stop shop for all the foreigners who want to buy a unit in Vietnam," he says. "With a clear roadmap of what they've got to do, so they know even before they buy that they need to have certain documents.

If Vietnam could make buying easier, he says, it could be a very "exciting" place to invest.

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Geopolitics

New Probe Finds Pro-Bolsonaro Fake News Dominated Social Media Through Campaign

Ahead of Brazil's national elections Sunday, the most interacted-with posts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Telegram and WhatsApp contradict trustworthy information about the public’s voting intentions.

Jair Bolsonaro bogus claims perform well online

Cris Faga/ZUMA
Laura Scofield and Matheus Santino

SÂO PAULO — If you only got your news from social media, you might be mistaken for thinking that Jair Bolsonaro is leading the polls for Brazil’s upcoming presidential elections, which will take place this Sunday. Such a view flies in the face of what most of the polling institutes registered with the Superior Electoral Court indicate.

An exclusive investigation by the Brazilian investigative journalism agency Agência Pública has revealed how the most interacted-with and shared posts in Brazil on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Telegram and WhatsApp share data and polls that suggest victory is certain for the incumbent Bolsonaro, as well as propagating conspiracy theories based on false allegations that research institutes carrying out polling have been bribed by Bolsonaro’s main rival, former president Luís Inácio Lula da Silva, or by his party, the Workers’ Party.

Agência Pública’s reporters analyzed the most-shared posts containing the phrase “pesquisa eleitoral” [electoral polls] in the period between the official start of the campaigning period, on August 16, to September 6. The analysis revealed that the most interacted-with and shared posts on social media spread false information or predicted victory for Jair Bolsonaro.

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