Being a foreign homebuyer, sooner or later you will need to sell your residential property for whatever reasons; be it that you are relocating to another country, it is time to cash-out on your investment, you are looking to upgrade or downgrade, etc. When it is time, understanding the process will help save you both time and money.
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- ▸ 1. Can a foreigner sell his Vietnam home? Who can it be sold to?
- ▸ 2. Can a residential property be sold without the foreign owner present in Vietnam?
- ▸ 3. What is the process for selling residential property in Ho Chi Minh City as a foreigner?
- ▸ 4. What are the documents needed for a foreigner to sell a home in Ho Chi Minh City?
- ▸ 5. What are the costs a foreigner has to pay when selling a home in Ho Chi Minh City?
- ▸ 6. How to collect payment and move sale proceeds out of Vietnam?
▸ 1. Can a foreigner sell his Vietnam home? Who can it be sold to?
Foreigners who own residential property in Vietnam are allowed to sell their property by law. A foreigner can choose to sell his home to either another eligible foreign buyer or a Vietnamese citizen. In the absence of a Home Ownership Certificate, you are to reassign the Sale and Purchase Agreement you are holding on to the buyer (technically this is called a sub-sale). When you sell with a valid Ownership Certificate (resale), the remaining period of the leasehold tenure from the date recorded in your Ownership Certificate is continued. If the transferee is a Vietnamese citizen, the tenure shall be automatically converted to freehold.
▸ 2. Can a residential property be sold without the foreign owner present in Vietnam?
The process to sell a residential property in Vietnam is the same for foreign buyers who bought under Sale & Purchase Agreement (SPA) or Long-term Lease Contract (LTLC). Both seller and buyer will have to be present in person in Vietnam to execute the necessary sale transfer. However, in the situation that the foreign home seller is not able to come to Vietnam, a notarized “Letter of Authorisation” or “Power of Attorney” is required to authorize another individual to conduct the sale transaction process on behalf of the legal homeowner (seller) in Vietnam.
This Letter of Authorisation (LOA) or Power of Attorney (POA) is essentially the same type of document called differently in various countries. In the seller’s home country, he is required to prepare and sign this LOA in Vietnamese language or dual Vietnamese-English language if it is more comfortable him (Vietnamese law only recognises Vietnamese text). This LOA has to be signed in witness by a registered Notary Public/Commissioner for Oaths, stamped and endorsed by him. Note that a registered Vietnamese translator must also verbally translate the LOA (even if it is prepared in dual language) and sign-off in the presence of the Notary Public/Commission of Oaths.
Next, the LOA needs to be certified by the Vietnam Embassy of the seller’s home country. As a seller, you are advised to find out the necessary procedures required to be taken before the Vietnam Embassy will legalise the LOA. The process will differ for each country, but generally before the Vietnam Embassy certify the document, it must first be legalised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or a competent department that has been tasked with legalising the LOA/official government documents and verifying the Notary Public/Commissioner of Oaths document certificate. Once the Vietnam Embassy in the seller’s home country has certified the LOA, only then will it be fit for use in Vietnam for any legal related procedures.
For foreign sellers, it is important to note that according to prevailing Vietnam laws, if you are legally married, you will have to produce your Marriage Certificate that has to following the same steps for certification by the Vietnam Embassy in your home country. If you are single, a “No Record of Marriage” from the Registry of Marriage in your home country has to be produced in the same manner as a Marriage Certificate. Legally your spouse will also have to be present in Vietnam to sign the contract to sell your property here, and therefore your spouse’s signature is also required together with you on the LOA if he/she is not able to be present.
▸ 3. What is the process for selling residential property in Ho Chi Minh City as a foreigner?
The process of selling a residential property in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) might seem straightforward, but the process is painstaking. Everything has to take place exactly according to the prescribed steps. As with any bureaucratic process in Vietnam, getting clever to cut corners on the process will not get you anywhere. In order to give you an overview to the process of selling a residential property in HCMC as a foreigner, the following step-by-step chart has been prepared to help save you time in execution so that you will have less frustration on the process.
|Step 1: Receiving Goodwill Deposit||Your buyer will place a non-refundable goodwill deposit of between VND 100 million to 500 million (both buyer and seller to agree on amount) and a “Deposit Agreement” will be executed by both. At this point the negotiated terms are irrevocable without a financial penalty.|
|Step 2: Preparation for Actual Transaction||If the residential property has yet to received an Ownership Certificate, seller submits “Letter of Request to Transfer SPA” to the developer and in return receive a “Letter of Confirmation” from the developer verifying that the property:
*Note: Skip to Step 3 for property that has been issued an Ownership Certificate.
|Step 3: Executing the Transfer of Property||Seller and buyer to meet up at a Notary Office to execute the signing of a SPA (resale cases) or Agreement to Transfer SPA (sub-sale cases). Prior to signing the contract, seller will collect the payment of up to an accumulated 95% to 98% of the agreed price from the buyer or your profit on top of whatever amount that you have paid so far to the developer.
The Notary Officer will witness, stamp and endorse on the contract (notarisation). And seller will handover keys and Ownership Certificate (if any) of the property to the buyer.
|Step 4: Payment of Seller’s Personal Income Tax||Seller will proceed to Tax Department in HCMC & submit the
standard “Personal Income Tax (PIT) Declaration Form”. The form can be attained at the Tax Department itself.
Generally, in 7 to 10 days, the seller will receive a formal Tax Notification and will have to return to the Tax Department to pay the PIT.
|Step 5: Completion of Transfer||In the case of a sub-sale, seller returns an original copy of
of the notarised “Agreement to Transfer SPA”, “PIT Declaration Form”, “Receipt of PIT Payment” and the original SPA (Vietnamese and English copies) to developer for the
“Final Confirmation of the Transfer”.
In the case of a resale, seller needs to support the buyer with the necessary documents such as “PIT Declaration Form” and “Receipt of PIT Payment” in applying for a change in name on the Ownership Certificate.
▸ 4. What are the documents needed for a foreigner to sell a home in Ho Chi Minh City?
As a foreign home seller, you have to be aware of the following documents that either you or your agent will have to prepare in order to execute the transfer of residential property in HCMC. The following list outs all the documents that you will have to prepare through the whole sale process.
Deposit Agreement: This is a mutual agreement between both you the seller and your buyer which consist of the selling price, payment schedule, deadlines, et cetera. This agreement also dictates the management of the Goodwill Deposit monies. The notarisation of this contract is optional, but some choose to notarise it for a peace of mind.
Marriage Certificate: For sellers who are married, this document is compulsory even if the property is purchased under one name, your spouse must also be present at the notary office to give consent (by signing the transfer contract) to selling the apartment. If your spouse is not able to be present, he/she will need to provide a notarised LOA (or POA) to the husband/wife. For sellers who are single, a “No Record of Marriage” document from the registrar of marriage at your respective home country is needed. Both the Marriage Certificate and No Record of Marriage has to be certified by the Vietnam Embassy of your home country or Foreign Service Center (FSC) under Department of External Relations in Ho Chi Minh City.
Ownership Certificate: For apartments that have been issued with an Ownership Certificate (pink book) by competent authorities in Ho Chi Minh City, you the seller will need to bring the original copy down to the notary office and hand it over to your buyer subsequently.
Original Sale and Purchase Agreement: In the case where the Ownership Certificate for the apartment is yet to be issued. You the seller will need this document that was either signed with the developer (new launch property) or the “Agreement to Transfer SPA” signed at the point when you bought the apartment from another seller.
Letter of Confirmation: You the seller will need to submit a request form to the developer to assign the Sale and Purchase Agreement, and the developer subsequently, issue a Letter of Confirmation undertaking that the apartment has not yet applied for Ownership Certificate, is allowed by law to be transferred and the total payment amount the developer received for the apartment (situation whereby Ownership Certificate is not yet issued).
Sale and Purchase Agreement: The SPA (resale cases) or alternatively Agreement to Transfer SPA (sub-sale cases) is the main transfer contract prepared by and according to the standard terms and format of each Notary Office. Either of these documents will need to be notarised for it the be effective.
▸ 5. What are the costs a foreigner has to pay when selling a home in Ho Chi Minh City?
Costs incurred by foreign sellers when selling a home in Ho Chi Minh City can add up to 7% of the sale price of an apartment. Here is an overview of all the costs foreign sellers should prepare for:
Agent’s Commission: The common market rate on commission to sell your apartment in Ho Chi Minh City is about 2% (excluding VAT). This commission is split between the 2 agents (or more) in the situation of a co-broke case, so you do not need to pay extra if there are multiple agents involved. Another way you might want to negotiate with agents is to state your bottom-line selling price and pay any amount in excess as commission.
Administration Fee: Such fees are levied by certain developers (if a transaction take place before the Ownership Certificate is issued) in order to assist the home seller to prepare a “Letter of Confirmation” to verify that an apartment has not yet applied for Ownership Certificate, is allowed by law to be transferred and the total payment amount the developer received for the apartment. Each developer levies a different amount, but as a guide, it usually is between VND 3 million to 10 million.
Notary Fee: All apartment transactions in Ho CH Minh City needs to be notarized at a notary office by the notary officer. The cost of notarization varies for the different notary office, but it is not a huge difference. The notary fee is calculated based on the selling price of the property and ranges from VND 1 million to VND 10 million.
Personal Income Tax (PIT): The home seller is required by law to pay a tax on the income gained from selling his apartment. The current tax rate is fixed at 2% (of the selling price). Tax laws in Vietnam allow PIT exemption in case the transfer is between immediate family members or if the seller meets other criteria.
If the seller is unable to be present in person to execute the transfer at the notary office, the PIT payable is doubled (4%): The first 2% is incurred by the seller to his LOA Authorizee and the second 2% is incurred between the Authorizee to the buyer.
▸ 6. How to collect payment and move sale proceeds out of Vietnam?
When receiving payment from your buyer, sellers are advised to receive all sale proceeds only by bank transfer from the buyer’s local Vietnam personal bank account to a Vietnam bank account under your own name as well. This is to facilitate outward remittance to your personal bank account overseas, the easiest way to move your sale proceeds out of Vietnam.
Outward remittances are closely monitored in Vietnam and are subject to the regulations of the State Bank of Vietnam and the prevailing laws. For outward remittances from Vietnam, you as the transferor will have to produce necessary documents proving your source of income such as proof of income in Vietnam (the contract for transferring your property with regards to property sale). You will also need to produce proof of fulfilling your tax obligation; income gained from selling transactions are taxable (see above).
Note that for movement of physical currency, if you want to exit Vietnam and carry with you cash equivalent to more than 5,000 US Dollars (or equivalent amount in other foreign currencies) or 15 million Vietnamese Dong, must make a declaration at customs. You should be able to provide Vietnam customs the following documents:
- Confirmation of carrying cash overseas from a credit institution authorised to issue such document. The certification should indicate the amount of cash you are carrying, whether in Vietnamese Dong or another foreign currency; and
- Document showing approval for individuals to carry cash overseas issued by the State Bank of Vietnam.