For real estate buyers especially those of us who buy for investment, we hope and pray that prices continue to increase after we commit to an apartment purchase. The last thing we want is for prices to fall. Thus, this article will answer the biggest concern buyers have when making a decision to buy a District 9 new launch apartment in the immediate future.
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▸ 1. How did District 9 apartment market develop?
The first high-rise apartment in District 9 Ho Chi Minh City was likely E-Home 1 – East Saigon completed in in 3Q2009. Following this and up to 3Q2021 all the apartment projects in District 9 were in the affordable and mid-end product segments. Definitively, 4Q2020 saw the first premium segment apartment project in District 9 launched, that of Masteri Centre Point. Prior to the first high-rise apartment, District 9 real estate market was dominated by land-lots and landed housing.
Early-stage housing development in District 9
The years from 2006 to 2009 marked the emergence of premium apartments in Ho Chi Minh City. With Binh Thanh District, District 7 and District 2 at the forefront of the apartment market transformation. Due to these districts’ proximity to HCMC’s central business district and choice of residence for expatriates and affluent locals, developers undoubtedly chose to build premium grade apartments there. District 9 was not a priority for developers due to the abundance of available project land banks on the peripheries of HCMC’s CBD.
The first apartment buildings in District 9 were located next to sprawling planned residential areas that were zoned as landed residential projects. Or as a small component of these planned residential areas. These residential areas are assigned to a developer that designed the project master plan and put in place the basic infrastructures such as roads. Housing products sold by the developers at that time were land-lots. Below are some prominent examples of the older apartment projects in HCMC District 9.
- Him Lam Phu An is adjacent to Bac Rach Chiec Residential Area in Phuoc Long A.
- 9View Apartment is part of Phuoc Long Spring Town project while Citrine Apartment is next to it in Phuoc Long B Ward.
- Flora Anh Dao and Flora Fuji is right next to Nam Long Residential Area in Phuoc Long B Ward.
- The Art is a part of Gia Hoa Residential Area in Phuoc Long B Ward.
- EhomeS Phu Huu and Flora Kikyo were parts of the Nam Phan Residential Area in Phu Huu Ward.
- HausNeo and Sky 9 were components of the Khang An Residential Area in Phu Huu Ward.
- Jamila is adjacent to Bach Khoa Residential Area in Phu Huu Ward.
- HausBelo is part of The Sun City Minh Son project and The Eastern is next to it in Phu Huu Ward.
Given 2021 apartment prices in District 9 HCMC, affordable and mid-end apartments indicated an average price of USD 990 to USD 1400 per square meter (psm). Following that the average price of mid-end apartments ranged from USD 1400 to USD 2600 psm. The above-mentioned apartment projects are good examples of these pricing brackets.
Transition of apartment housing in District 9 from mid to high-end
As the real estate market in District 9 progresses up to 4Q2020. And with the launch of Masteri Centre Point, the apartment market has transformed.
Masteri Centre point occupies a prime location within Vinhomes Central Park township. It is the first project in District 9 to develop premium apartments in the locality priced upwards of USD 2800 psm on average at the start. More importantly, with each subsequent Masteri Centre Point sales phase, it pushes the price ceiling up for District 9 apartments. Equally significant is that the achieved pricing of premium apartments have pulled up the upper limit of mid-end apartment prices. When The Rainbow – Vinhomes Central Park was launched as a mid-end product in 2Q2019, it was priced at USD 1250 psm on average. Subsequently from 3Q2020, The Origami – Vinhomes Central Park also a mid-end product was launched at USD 2250 psm on average. With subsequent releases hitting USD 2600psm.
▸ 2. What caused District 9 new launch apartment prices to increase rapidly?
The emergence of the premium apartment segment in District 9 was a key milestone in the sharp increase in new launch apartment prices there. However, in order to understand the underlying reasons why this significant event took place, we have to look at the bigger picture. Price changes within a locality are often a result of not only its internal factors but also factors outside of the locality.
Rapidly increasing real estate prices in District 2 has shifted the focus to District 9
First off, near the end of 2021, the secondary prices of completed premium apartments in neighbouring District 2 are ranged from USD 2600 to USD 4300 psm on average. While new launch premium apartments are selling in excess of USD 4300 psm. As for the resale prices of luxury apartments in District 2, they are registering an average price of USD 5150 to USD 7000 psm. With some projects even reaching the apartment price ceiling in District 2 HCMC of USD 8600 psm.
As such, it is no surprise that for a premium apartment of similar quality and standard, it costs about USD 2600 psm in District 9. This is compared with the median price of USD 3450 in District 2, a higher buy-in cost of easily 33%. As high-end real estate prices continue to rise in District 2 and to meet the demand for premium apartments, developers have to look for alternative land banks outside of District 2 to develop premium apartments at lower cost.
Abundance of land banks in District 9 fuel residential real estate
Secondly, the residential real estate market in HCMC has been on the rise since 2013 when the previous boom-bust real estate cycle bottom-out after 2012. This has made land acquisition costs more expensive for developers. Especially so in districts that have a head start in real estate development. In addition, other factors such as a nationwide inspection on inappropriate land transactions have limited the availability of project land banks in District 7, District 2 and the inner-city districts. As such, real estate developers of high-end apartments are forced to look at alternative localities further away from HCMC’s inner-city.
Due to the fact that District 9 has a low urban density and availability of large land banks, developers have identified a suitable situation whereby they are available to develop and launch large scale housing projects with the necessary supporting amenities integrated within the project. This creates an environment where developers can take the initiative to create a living environment that has the required quality to support high-end living. In so doing, developers will be able to create housing demand to support premium apartments and the associated higher prices.
Formation of Thu Duc City drives up housing demand
Thirdly, the municipal authorities of HCMC have announced the formation of the new administrative region of Thu Duc City with effect on 1 January 2021 with the mergers of District 2, District 9 and Thu Duc District. Conceptualised to be self-sustaining, Thu Duc City is forecasted to contribute one-third of HCMC’s economy and 7% of Vietnam’s total gross domestic product. This has created hype in real estate within Thu Duc City. Of which District 9 is at the forefront of Thu Duc City’s master plan of creating innovation hotspots to boost economic activities.
District 9 will be the location for the Automated Manufacturing Hub and Eco-tech Hub. Not to mention, the Edu-tech Hub, Future Hub, Sports and Wellness Hub all are located at the borders of District 9. This have elevated the geographic position of District 9 to prominence. Thus, we can understand why real estate developers are keen to capitalise on the value of housing there. Economic progress drives employment opportunities that in turn drives demand for housing.
▸ 3. Will District 9 real estate market achieve the same price increase as District 2?
Due to the resemblance of characteristics of District 2 and District 9 housing market development. As well the geographic similarities both districts share, a good consideration of the potential of investing in apartments in District 9 will be to gauge how close the price movement of apartments there follows the price trends in District 2. In the distant past, District 2 was once one of the poorest neighbourhoods of HCMC due to the lack of access being separated from the inner-city by the Saigon River. Fast forward till date, it is now a prioritised area for real estate investments.
Both District 2 and District 9 are the urban districts with the lowest population density in HCMC. As of September 2021, District 2 has 2958 persons per square-kilometer and District 9 has 2561 persons per square-kilometer. Moreover, both District 2 and District 9 have the largest urban district sizes of 49.75 and 114 square-kilometers respectively. Interestingly, demand for residential real estate in District 2 is the highest, indicated by rising housing prices and with some of the most expensive apartments in HCMC. Sharing a long border to District 2 lies District 9 to its East. Sharing many similarities, let us take a look at the factors affecting price of apartments in District 2 and see if District 9 has the necessary conditions to follow in tandem.
Transport infrastructure improvements have led to higher apartment prices
It is noticeable that key transport infrastructure works and upgrades have contributed to the increase in real estate prices in District 2. As the facilitate connectivity with the population-dense inner city across the Saigon River. A case in point is that after the Saigon Bridge was widened in 2Q2000 from 19.63 to 24 meters, the first clusters of affordable and mid-end apartments was launched and completed in Thao Dien and An Phu Wards that were to the left and right of Hanoi Highway connecting to Saigon Bridge. When Thu Thiem Tunnel was put into operation in 4Q2011 and Saigon Bridge 2 in 4Q2013, they coincided with the start of the latest upward trend of real estate prices in District 2 and the emergence of premium and luxury apartments in District 2.
The market registered mid-end apartments such as Masteri Thao Dien launched at USD 1450 psm in 4Q2014 and The Ascent launched in 1Q2015 at USD 1600 up from a price cap not exceeding USD 1200 psm in the years prior. Easily a 21 to 33% primary price increase. As well as the emergence of premium apartments such as Gateway Thao Dien launched at USD 2000 psm in 2Q2015 and Estella Heights launched at USD 1950 psm in 1Q2015.
Currently for District 9, the municipal authorities are prioritising the completion of transport infrastructures such as Ring Roads 2 and 3, together with the widening of the Hanoi Highway, and extension of the HCMC-Long Thanh-Dau Giay Expressway. This will undoubtedly ease traffic bottlenecks passing through District 9 and redirect traffic flow with Thu Duc District and District 7. Moreover, within District 9 main roads have been slated for widening and expansion to improve intra-connectivity. Nguyen Duy Trinh Road will be the first followed by other roads including La Xuan Oai, Do Xuan Hop, Le Van Viet and Lo Lu. With Lien Phuong, Hoang Huu Nam and Bung Ong Thoan at a later period.
Additionally, there are new plans for more connecting routes between the planned innovation hotspots as part of Thu Duc City’s master plan, and between District 9 with urban areas within Binh Duong and Dong Nai Provinces like Nhon Trach, Long Thanh and Di An.
In District 9 near the Hanoi Highway, mid-end apartment primary prices have increased from USD 1200 psm in 2Q2017 with Saigon Gateway to USD 1500 in 1Q2018 with Him Lam Phu An. Marking a 25% increase in just over a year. In another example, when HCMC-Long Thanh-Dau Giay Expressway was put into operation on 1Q2015, new launch apartment prices near the junction of the expressway and Ring Road 2 rose from USD 930 psm with Flora Anh Dao in 1Q2015 to USD 1350 in 4Q2018 with Safira. A 45% increase over a period of approximately 3 years.
Therefore, it is a given that housing prices will increase in District 9 as inter-districts and intra-district connectivity is improved for private transport to use. In referencing the impact of transport infrastructure improvements in District 2 on housing, we find that real estate in District 9 has started to experience a similar trend with price breakthrough for mid-end apartments and emergence of premium apartments.
Price of apartments near a metro station increase more than similar properties further away
HCMC’s very first metro line will link its depot in District 9 with the interchange station at Ben Thanh downtown. Metro Line 1 passes from District 9 parallel to the Hanoi Highway, through District 2 before makings its way into the inner-city. The trend of emerging high-rise housing developments along the metro line and its progress from mid to high-end had a reason to it. Metros facilitate rapid transit for commuters with shorter traveling times over longer distances. And this will increase the desirability of locations within walking distances to metro stations.
Looking at apartments in District 2, it is noticeable that Masteri Thao Dien has an average price increase of 14.7% annually from its launched to end 2021. In comparison to The Ascent at 7.3% and Tropic Garden at 6.6% per annum. Masteri Thao Dien is adjacent to An Phu Metro Station (Station 7) within walking distance, while both The Ascent and Tropic Garden are 1.7 and 2.4 kilometers away from the same station respectively by walking. More importantly, Masteri Thao Dien registered a secondary price premium of 20% over The Ascent and 38% over Tropic Garden.
Additionally, the price of Thao Dien Pearl increased 57% from launch till date being next to Thao Dien Metro Station (Station 6). Compared to Hoang Anh River View with price increase of 39% being 1 kilometer away from Station 6 by walking. Current secondary pricing show that Thao Dien Pearl has a 46% premium over Hoang Anh River View.
Yet another example are the prices of luxury apartments in District 2 with The Nassim located 800 meters walk from An Phu Metro Station versus d’Edge Thao Dien 2.2 kilometers walk from the same station. Price trends show that The Nassim registered an average of 12% annual price increase since launch versus 6.5% of d’Edge Thao Dien. The Nassim holds a 14.5% price premium over d’Edge Thao Dien based on end 2021 resale prices, despite being an older project.
District 9 has previously only affordable and mid-end apartments along its section of Metro Line 1. The mid-end apartments there are priced between USD 1300 psm to USD 1740 psm based on end 2021 secondary prices. This is higher than the other similar mid-end apartment projects in District 9 not located near the Metro Line 1 of USD 1200 to USD 1600. Mid-end apartments in District 9 near the Metro Line 1 shows a median price of 8.5% higher than comparable apartments further way.
Thus, it can clearly be seen that there is already a price premium for District 9 apartments near the Metro Line 1 similar to District 2. The next natural progression in housing development for District 9 will sure to be the appearance of high-end apartments along the Metro Line 1 as that has taken place in District 2. The launching of The 9 Stellars at the end of 2021 will be the first premium apartment project within walking distance to a metro station in District 9. This signals a start in transformation of District 9’s housing market and the prospect of price increases.
High-end apartment projects have larger price increases compared to lower segments
As high-end (premium and luxury segment) apartment projects emerge in Thao Dien Ward District 2, they were priced much higher versus the mid-end apartments in the same time period. However, the percentage price increase for these high-end apartments have been more than the lower-range product segments. As District 9 has also started to see premium apartments being launched, it will be interesting to see if it meets the necessary conditions to follow District 2 price trend.
Taking a look at Thao Dien Pearl which is a considered a high-end District 2 apartment, it was earlier established that its price rose by 57%. This was up from its launch price of USD 1580 psm in 2Q2011. Earlier in 2Q2009, Hoang Anh River View a mid-end apartment close to Saigon River with unblocked views was launched at USD 1220 psm. However, despite being cheaper with a good living environment and just 1 kilometer from Thao Dien Pearl, its price increase till date have only been 39%. Buyers would have expected the price of Hoang Anh River View to have appreciated more due to its large price gap with high-end apartments. But instead, Thao Dien Pearl registered a larger price increase.
In the same manner, although The Nassim is a luxury apartment in District 2 launched in 4Q2015 for USD 3000 psm. Its neighbour at 450 meters away Gateway Thao Dien was launched around the same time in 2Q2015 for USD 1990 psm. However, till date The Nassim registered a 72% price increase versus Gateway Thao Dien’s 65% over nearly a same time period. If a property buyer chose to buy The Nassim over Gateway Thao Dien, the buyer would have earned 7% more. Although, most buyers would likely have chosen Gateway Thao Dien for its lower buy-in price.
Taking another example in District 2, Q2 Thao Dien is a premium apartment just right next to Masteri An Phu launched in the same month in 1Q2018. At launch, Q2 Thao Dien a premium project was launched at USD 3260 psm. While Master An Phu was a mid-end project launched at USD 2150 psm. Looking at market prices at the end of 2021 for both projects, Q2 Thao Dien prices increased by 43% while Masteri An Phu only increased by 36%. This further affirms, that buying an apartment in a cheaper new launch project does not necessarily mean better gains. In fact, some more expensive apartments bring better price appreciation.
From this point, District 9 is seeing more premium apartments being built but their neighbours tend to be mid-end or even affordable apartments. For example, Masteri Centre Point a premium project launched at USD 2780 psm yet located opposite The Rainbow Vinhomes Grand Park a mid-end project launched at USD 1260 psm. This was exactly the same situation when luxury apartments were first developed beside mid-end or premium apartments in District 2. Buyers were hesitant to commit due to the large price difference, and often chose the cheaper option. Fast forward, and now it is clear who made the better property purchase.
Shopping centres facilitate strong price growths in nearby housing
One of the main desirability living in District 2 is its urban convenience and accessibility to retail and commerce. As housing develops so too will the amenities catering to residents be created. In all the developed districts, there are usually a few prominent shopping centres.
- SC VivoCity and Crescent Mall in District 7 opened in 3Q2015 and 4Q2011 respectively.
- Vincom Mega Mall Thao Dien and Estella Place in District 2 opened in 4Q2015 and 4Q2018 respectively.
- Vincom Center Landmark 81 and Pearl Plaza in Binh Thanh District opened in 3Q2018 and 4Q2015 respectively.
- Vincom Center Dong Khoi and Saigon Centre in District 1 opened in 2Q2010 and 2Q2016 respectively.
- Hung Vuong Plaza in District 5 opened in 2Q2007.
- Van Hanh Mall in District 10 opened in 1Q2018.
- Giga Mall in Thu Duc District opened in 1Q2019.
- Aeon Mall in Tan Phu District opened in 1Q2014.
- Aeon Mall in Binh Tan District opened in 3Q2016.
Notably, District 9 still does not have a major shopping centre built to cater to its residents. Yet it is by far the largest urban district in HCMC compared with all other urban districts. With District 2 in second place at less than half District 9’s size. As such, it is not if but when will the first retail and commercial hubs start to be built in District 9. In fact, with District 9 apartment developments dominating overall supply in HCMC, 1 or 2 major shopping centres will be next in the development pipeline.
With the future appearance of shopping centres further transforming the desirability of District 9 for quality living, we take a look at how shopping centres in District 2 impact positively price growths in nearby apartments. Indeed, projects within walking distance to shopping centres show higher percentage of price increase versus lower priced projects located further from shopping centres.
Taking Estella Place in District 2 as an example. This shopping centre is connected to Estella Heights, a premium apartment development that was launched for USD 1940 psm in 1Q2015. Its apartment price appreciated by 76% till end 2021. Comparing Estella Heights with Gateway Thao Dien, another premium apartment project that was launched around the same time in 2Q2015. Gateway Thao Dien is located across the Hanoi Highway from Estella Place which is accessible by a 1.3 kilometers drive. Gateway Thao Dien was launched at that time for USD 1980 psm. However, its price only appreciated by 65% a significant 11% lesser versus Estella Heights.
In another example, we look at Masteri Thao Dien which is right next to Vincom Mega Mall Thao Dien. Launched at USD 1420 psm in 4Q2014, its price has increased on average a whopping 14.7% a year till end 2021. By comparing with Masteri An Phu, a similar mid-end apartment that is located a further 800 meters walk away from Vincom Mega Mall Thao Dien. Since its launched price of USD 2150 psm, Masteri An Phu price increased by a lesser average of 9% annually.
Therefore, price trends of apartments located near to shopping centres in District 2 show stronger price increases versus apartment located further away. It is likely that housing projects in District 9 that has a sizeable shopping centre, will experience price growths that is experienced in District 2 with the above examples. Even more so since District 9 does not have a major shopping centre as yet.
▸ 4. Can apartment prices in District 9 increase further?
Assuming price increases in similar trajectory to District 2 (Thao Dien / An Phu Wards). Taking an estimate of 8% apartment price increase annually since 2009 from the projects sampled. And with Masteri Centre Point launched at USD 2780 psm in 4Q2020 serving as a premium apartment price benchmark in District 9. Premium apartment prices in District 9 will grow up to USD 3890 psm by the next 5 years. This indicates that new launch apartments in District 9 have to progress to the luxury product segment. This will uplift apartment prices by creating new price ceiling and benchmarks.
With USD 3890 psm what other new launch apartment alternatives property buyers can afford in HCMC in 2026? As of the end of 2021, new launch apartments in HCMC’s central business district is already selling above USD 8000 psm and high-end apartments in District 2 are selling above USD 5000 psm. With Thu Duc District for the first time seeing a premium apartment project priced about USD 4000 psm near to the Metro Line 1. We are sure that in the next 5 years, prices will continue to rise further due to the shortage of new launch apartment supply. The big question is if District 9 has the same potential as District 2 to sustain high-end apartments because it is actually much further away from HCMC’s central business district.
- With the largest land area in a district, abundance of available land comes opportunities that will transform District 9 into a properly planned new urban area.
- Prioritised transport infrastructure upgrades will increase the accessibility of District 9 just as it has benefited District 2. Increasing connectivity with industrial provinces of Binh Duong and Dong Nai, as well as other districts in HCMC.
- Having a mass transit metro that decrease commuting time and costs into HCMC’s central business district.
- The creation of employment opportunities in line with job centres created by Thu Duc City’s economic innovation hubs.
- The development of retail and commercial urban centres catered to the population in District 9.
Municipal authorities of HCMC have already earmarked District 9 to be a forefront of driving HCMC’s economy and are clearly focused in its development roadmap as part of the wider Thu Duc City. Some of the impacts of the above factors have already been seen in increasing apartment prices in District 9 and the emergence of high-end apartments. As the more mature and developed districts continue to register apartment price increases, we will see housing demand shift towards District 9. Due generally to increasingly desirable neighbourhoods and shortened commuting time to key areas within HCMC. And demand for properties for whatever reasons is a main part in sustaining and increasing real estate prices further.