Land fever phenomenon needs immediate state control
However, when the land fever in those areas dies, what is left is their huge debts as not many people are interested in purchasing their lots anymore.
Ms. Ut from Thac Mo Ward of Phuoc Long Town in Binh Phuoc Province bitterly recalled that two years ago, a land fever suddenly developed in her neighborhood without any reason. Seeing people around discussing land transfer transactions worth billions of VND and earning large after large sums of money, she became restless and poured all her savings along with a bank loan to purchase three agricultural lots with a surface area of over 3,000m2 at a price of VND3 billion (US$131,000) in Da Kia Commune. Anything may happen, and when Binh Phuoc Province adopted stricter regulations on land lot division for sale, she cannot sell her lots to take back her capital. Now, with three lots at hand, she is struggling to pay huge monthly interest.
Her story is not at all strange in places where land fevers happen. 41-year-old Nguyen Huy Khue from Ho Chi Minh City spent over VND10 billion ($436,800) to buy three lots in Lai Hung Commune with the hope to earn a large profit when catching the news of a possible Lai Hung Airport construction project. This news turned out to be fake, and he is not able to sell his land to anyone, but still has to pay bank loan interest each month, which is an intolerable pressure to his family.
D.V.Q, a land broker in Phan Thiet City shared that even when the land fever disappears, land prices cannot reduce much because investors had to spend a great amount of money to purchase those lots, and now they still want to recover their capital.
Aware of the situation when land brokers purposely push up land prices to create land fevers for more profits, the local authorities in many places have stepped in.
Vice Chairman of Quang Binh Province People’s Committee Doan Ngoc Lam said that he had requested the local police to investigate suspicious individuals and organizations intentionally spreading fake news to cause such a dangerous fever, and handle them accordingly.
Meanwhile, the People’s Committees of all districts, towns, and cities in this province have been asked to post specific land prices for purchase and initial land prices for auction, to limit land fund division in auctions, which might cause temporary scarcity or fever.
Sadly, currently adopted solutions of localities seem not at all effective in controlling the situation.
In 2021, Ba Ria – Vung Tau Province introduced a regulation on conditions to divide or gather land lots depending on the minimum allowed surface area. After some time, in certain districts like Xuyen Moc, Chau Duc, or Phu My Town, land brokers dare to illegally divide lots and post information on social networks to attract potential investors.
Receiving reports from the local, functional agencies closed the roads in these lots and fine land owners VND45 million ($1,965). Further investigations revealed more law breaking activities in neighboring agricultural lots, where state agencies had approved lot division.
Dong Nai Province is planning to also introduce the minimum surface area for land lot division for each land type. In locations not within residential area planning, the People’s Committee of corresponding wards and districts forbid land purchase to eliminate possible land fever. However, when the regulation is not at hand, illegal construction or land division is still happening and has become increasingly complicated.
In related news, land prices in the outskirts of Hanoi have continued to witness a significant rise since the end of last year. Particularly, after the news about preferential mechanisms to accelerate the construction of Ring Road No.4, real estate broker offices appear day by day in the communes of Minh Tri, Minh Phu, Hien Ninh, Thanh Xuan of Soc Son District.
Land prices here have become unstable, doubling those of last year to reach an average of VND12-13 million ($524-568) per square meter. Land merchants have actively invested in land for perennial crops and rice fields at the price of VND1 million ($43.7) a square meter. After developing some roads, they divide their land into small lots to sell at the double price.
Similarly, after the official information on master planning of Bac Giang City until 2045 is published, land prices in the city and its neighboring Yen Dung District have fluctuated upwards by 30-50 percent to reach over VND30 million ($1,310) per square meter. Investors are now buying low-priced agricultural land lots to transform into residential ones for a much higher price.
Bac Ninh City is seeing the same situation after information about the districts of Thuan Thanh, Yen Phong, Que Vo being upgraded to a town so that Bac Ninh City can become a municipality. Land prices here have increased by 50 percent compared to the time before Tet holiday.
Land fever leaving behind challenges for local residents
Land fevers in Vietnam happen because of certain rumors about promising infrastructure projects in local areas. They come and go quickly, yet leaving behind numerous negative impacts on indigenous people.
During the time of land fever in an area, land use right transactions are conducted more frequently, along with activities of illegal merchants, faking themselves as famous real estate corporations and gathering divided residential lots to sell via exaggerating advertisements.
At the end of last year, the Thua Thien – Hue Province Public Security Department prosecuted and detained Tong Phuoc Hoang Hung, Chairman of the Directors Board of Khai Tin JSC., for fraudulence to appropriate billions of VND. He advertised a fake project called ‘Eco Lake’ in Huong Thuy Town in order to sell 71 land lots with a surface area of over 9,000m2 in 2018.
In 2020, this company was also fined an amount of VND100 million (US$4,370) due to imprecise advertising content for an imaginary real estate project named ‘Van Xuan Compound’. One year after, it continued to receive a fine for wrongly advertising for an invented project named ‘Park Hill Villas’ on Thien An Hill of Huong Thuy Town, which is actually just residential land lots of native people.
The Quang Binh Province Public Security Department has just prosecuted and detained 25-year-old Nguyen Thi Lanh from Quang Ninh Province for appropriating more than VND16 billion ($700,000). Taking advantage of the local land fever, she invited many people to invest in land lots to ear profit. She showed off messages between her and an imaginary state official in the Land Fund Center of Quang Binh Province Department of Planning and Investment related to potentially high profit land projects, plus fake documents from this department to convince her victims.
Doing similar illegal activities was Nguyen Tien Sy, a state official of Quang Binh Province Department of Natural Resources and Environment. Boasting about his ability to handle all matters concerning land use right, he encouraged people to give him fees for these services. He then faked official documents to appropriate over VND4 billion ($174,700) and $17,000 of four people from Dong Hoi City and Bo Trach District and ran away.
Fraudulences related to land use right seem increasing during prolonged land fevers in Lam Dong Province. Chairman of Hiep An Commune People’s Committee informed that at present, many land brokers are posting advertisements on social networks. Most of them are unfortunately imprecise information about current forestry land status of such areas as Huong Ly Hill in K’Ren Hamlet. Purchasing these lots with unofficial contracts, so only when buyers begin constructing residential buildings can they discover the lots are under the management of the forestry office.
Another severe influence of land fevers besides scams is the inability of local farmers to purchase agricultural land for crop cultivation.
Tran Van Toan from Quang Tien Commune of Cu M’gar District in Dak Lak Province shared that it is a mission impossible for farmers like him to buy more land to grow coffee at the moment, even with a savings account for many years. He added that the land lot his neighbor sold last year with the price of VND120 million ($5,240) per 500m2 now comes to VND300 million ($13,100). Each lot of that size earns a profit of only VND7 million ($306) a year, so farmers find it unmanageable to invest money in the land.
Vice Chairman of Cu M’gar District Nguyen Cong Van stated that because of information on local investment projects, land prices in these areas have increased by nearly 3 times. This means a real challenge to native farmers with a real need for cultivation land. Furthermore, this price bubble may threaten investment opportunities as land clearance compensation will be unacceptably high.
Similar cases can be found in the Southeast region of Vietnam. Agricultural land purchases are increasingly conducted in Dong Nai Province, harming the establishment of concentrated specialized cultivation areas, Chairman of Lam San Commune Farmer Association Truong Dinh Ba sadly informed that in 2018, the project ‘Large Field’ in this commune was planned on an 847.5-hectare site for 771 households to grow pepper.
Then came the land fever, making 70 households sell their 100-hectare lots to land merchants, pitifully wasting the land resource since these merchants do nothing to the lots but waiting for a profitable price to sell out.
In Binh Phuoc Province, merchants cunningly divide land into lots of 1,000m2 to bypass the law and sell agricultural land lots at the price of VND1.5-2 billion ($65,500-87,300) per hectare, an increase by 6 times compared to two years ago.
In Binh Duong Province, after the news of establishing Tan Uyen City and Ben Cat City, the land prices in these areas have witnessed a rise of 5-10 percent.
In Xuan Loc District of Dong Nai Province, where Dau Giay – Phan Thiet Expressway will pass by, the land fever has made land price grow by 4-5 times compared to last year, just like the situation of the neighborhoods of renowned infrastructure projects of Long Thanh International Airport, Bien Hoa – Vung Tau Expressway, Phuoc An Port, Cat Lai Bridge.
Source: Sai Gon Giai Phong