Recently, a surreal land rush has taken fever pitch across parts of Ba Ria-Vung Tau province, where groups of middlemen are stopping passing cars driving along Highway 56 to look at, survey and purchase plots of land that are been sold off in close proximity of a so-called upcoming commercial project of the Vingroup. Groups of men involved in the land deals are luring and enticing travelers to invest in plots of land as future investment.
However, according to Saigon Investment reporters who did a firsthand survey of the situation, there actually is no authentic land rush, but a devious plot created by middlemen to swindle land buyers.
Devious land brokers
Recently, news that a subsidiary of the Vingroup is looking to invest in a huge complex for commercial centers and various urban projects across 800 hectares in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province was leaked, which caused land prices in Ngai Giao town and Binh Ba Commune in Chau Duc District in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province to shoot up to astronomical heights.
On 16 February, when Saigon Investment reporters reached Binh Ba Commune, some middlemen grouped in front of a small closed house came towards them to invite them to see plots of land. The land plot they showed was 15.5m in width and 90m in length and it had a built up house covering 300 sq. meters. The middlemen offered to sell this piece of land for VND 460 mn per sq. meter.
One of the middlemen from the group showed a sheet of paper that authenticated ownership of the land plot and if interested he would take the reporters to meet with the owner and complete all formalities of sale of the land almost immediately. He warned that the price of that plot was set to go up the following day.
Another middleman showed a piece of land along Highway 56 in Binh Ba Commune whose price was increasing by the hour because of the news that a huge project was said to be planned near there. He said that before the fever to buy had spread, the land price of a one meter wide and 60-90 meter stretch of land was only VND 300 mn, which now had risen in value to VND 470-500 mn.
For land that had trees planted on it and which was along a dirt road or concrete road, the price went up to VND 100 mn or even VND 150 mn for just a one-meter strip. One middleman mentioned a particular land covering an area of 1.7 ha of garden, adjacent to the upcoming 800 ha project that was on sale for VND 12 bn.
On 17 February, when the reporters returned to the same land site area in Binh Ba Commune, the same familiar faces of land brokers and middlemen were seen standing along either side of the road. None of the cars parked nearby had license plates from Ho Chi Minh City, Dong Nai or Binh Duong Province.
One middlewoman named Vi said that the price of land in Binh Ba had reached a peak, and was now difficult to buy because investors wanted to hold onto that land. She said that the focus of the land rush had shifted to two adjacent Communes of Nghia Thanh and Da Bac. However, according to the reporters, the land rush there was just a ploy created by devious local brokers. The modus operandi was that a middleman made a deposit, settled on a price, and then inflated the price to stir a market momentum.
Big project still on paper
Mr. Ngo Van Luan, Head of the Economic and Infrastructure Division of the People's Committee of Chau Duc District, said that so far the notarization and land registration offices in the district have not registered any official transactions. Usually, transactions are made only on paper and via hand-to-hand purchases, which are not official. Mr. Luan said that investors should consider buying and selling without getting caught up in this unreal land craze, as the reason leading to the land rush in Binh Ba in recent days was because of the expected project which has not yet become an investment venture.
Mr. The Mai, General Director of Vietin Real Company, said that he also went directly to Binh Ba to conduct a field survey. Mr. Mai assessed that the current land rush is due to the manipulation of local middlemen who had inflated the prices to suit themselves. He believes that it is likely that the middlemen collected the land a long time ago and launched a bait for ignorant investors who could be trapped. In his opinion, the brokers were falsely talking about several transactions taking place each day and of prices shooting up, but in actual fact, there were only a few customers who were showing an interest.
According to Mr. Tran Van Dung, General Director of Truong Phat Company, Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province is considered an emerging market and one of the attractive satellite cities in the region. The first motivation of this province was the strong development of infrastructure, with great works being implemented such as the Ho Chi Minh City-Long Thanh-Dau Giay Highway, expanded Highway 51, Ben Luc-Long Thanh Highway, Bien Hoa-Ba Ria Expressway, Cai Mep-Thi Vai Port, and Long Thanh International Airport.
Besides, Ba Ria-Vung Tau offers many advantages for developing industry, a port city and tourism, because of its beautiful coastline stretching across the length of about 300 km. Hence, in recent years, Ba Ria has constantly attracted many big names in the real estate market such as Vingroup, Tuan Chau, Novaland, Hung Thinh, BRG, FLC, and An Gia.
However, the real estate market in Ba Ria-Vung Tau has recently been attracting a lot of attention, intentionally created by investors, speculators and illicit business persons. For instance, under the guise of transport infrastructure and large projects in Phu My town, the Alibaba Company has established dozens of "ghost projects" in the Chau Pha, Song Xoai, Toc Tien and Hac Dich Communes. Most of the land there is agricultural land, forest land, or transportation land, which cannot be changed for usage for other purposes. The investors were trapped into believing otherwise because they lacked information to verify, or maybe because they were only looking at the profit.
Mr. Tran Van Dung thinks that by taking advantage of the land rush, many middlemen tossed the news that agricultural land could be converted into residential land, and sold many agricultural areas at exorbitant prices. He warns that investors must be careful of falling into a trap and consider investing only after verifying with all concerned authorities. He feels local authorities will certainly rectify and take measures to cool down the current land rush and illegal selling of agricultural land in Binh Ba commune.