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Strategy seeks to address housing issues   2011-03-11 - SGT

The Ministry of Construction has presented a draft strategy for national housing development from now to 2020 and a vision toward 2030 that will serve as an orientation for housing development in the future when in place.

Supporters of the draft strategy have pointed out hindrances to housing development, and the need to develop enough housing for the people living in rural and urban areas. Apart from setting a housing development target, the ministry is considering initiatives attractive enough to encourage the private sector to join projects to build homes for rent in years to come, instead of focusing on commercial apartments only.

“There is a huge demand for apartments for rent in society. The Government should adopt a mechanism or a policy to woo property developers to construct condos for rent,” Le Hoang Chau, chairman of the HCMC Real Estate Association (HoREA), said at a seminar on the Strategy for National Housing Development Toward 2020 and a Vision to 2030 organized by HoREA in HCMC late last week.

Chau said the apartment leasing segment, once developed, would offer more options for people in need of a place to live, especially low-income earners who cannot afford to buy an apartment using their savings.

Developing apartments for lease, Chau said, is popular in other countries, but in Vietnam there are few real estate companies paying attention to this segment which may contribute to partly meet accommodation demand of many people.

Nguyen Manh Ha, head of the Department of Housing and Property Market Management of the construction ministry, shared the HoREA chairman’s views, saying the Government has not had a specific policy to develop housing for rent for years. There are a limited number of buildings leasing serviced apartments to expatriates working and living in major cities like Hanoi and HCMC.

The construction ministry’s housing development strategy sets a target of increasing the percentage of apartments for lease in urban areas until 2020 up to 25%, with HCMC having 25%-30% of the total gross floor area of housing development. To this end, there will have a specific policy to support property developers.

Increasing housing standard target

The draft national housing development strategy sets a target of raising the minimum housing area per capita to 25 square meters by 2020 and 30 square meters by 2030.

Ha said increasing the standard housing area per capita, plus fast urbanization in the country with 752 urban areas, will trigger a huge housing demand in years to come.

The ministry estimates those urban areas will need over 10 million apartments, or 905 million square meters of flood space, by 2015 and another 13.5 million units by 2020, or nearly 1.3 billion square meters of floor space.

Looking back at the housing development program, the ministry acknowledges there have remained a lot of problems. They include high prices, and slow development of low-cost housing as a result of lack of Government incentives. Besides, the country has not established funds such as real estate investment trust, housing development fund or property investment fund to support market development.

Le Chi Hieu, chief executive officer of Thu Duc Housing Development Corporation, or Thuduc House, said a strategy itself was not enough.

“An institution should be established, such as a housing development ministry or a committee powerful enough to monitor the implementation of the strategy,” Hieu said.

Nguyen Van Duc, deputy director of Dat Lanh Real Estate Company, seconded his colleague’s ideas, saying housing development was the Government’s responsibility, so it was a must to set up a committee under the Government to help develop land lots around the country and hand them over to private firms for housing development.

“The Government should do first, and property developers will follow, not the opposite,” Duc said.

Nguyen Tran Nam, vice construction minister, emphasized the important of the strategy, saying laying out a national housing development strategy was necessary because the absence of a national housing plan has rendered housing development lackluster.

Nam said the Government has established a central steering committee for housing development policy under Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai.

The committee has representatives from relevant ministries such as Finance, Natural Resources and Environment, and Construction.

Nam revealed the construction ministry might be renamed and that the new name would contain the term ‘housing’.

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