Last year, most apartments in Vietnam were bought by owner-residents, but this year, it seems that many more buyers are interested in leasing them.

A survey of 5,000 customers by a property trading floor in Hanoi over the past three years shows that long-term investment in high-end apartments for leasing in the centre of the city has increased from 11 percent in 2012 to 15 percent in 2014.

About 20 to 25 percent of customers buy an apartment with the intention of leasing, said the property trader.

Investors, who buy apartments from high-end projects in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City such as at Indochina Plaza Hanoi, Dolphin Plaza and Starcity Le Van Luong, can earn a rental yield of about six to seven percent a year.

The investment is considered more profitable than putting money in banks.

Tran Binh, an investor in Royal City in Hanoi, said that his 100sq.m apartment could bring him about 1,000 USD to 1,200 USD per month.

The income from a rental house is not high but it is stable, he added. Investors also expect that housing prices will increase as the property market is warming up.

Buyers are often encouraged with the offer of rental services by developers. For example, development companies in the Watermark project introduced a programme of supporting buyers to find customers and committed to a rental yield of seven percent per year.

According to the property-service provider CBRE Group, the number of customers asking for apartments to lease has increased. The rental prices now range from 2,000 USD to 4,000 USD, nearly double that for the same period last year.

However, the supply of high-end apartments in central districts in Hanoi is expected to narrow following Decision 996/QD-TTg signed by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung to end construction of commercial housing projects in the area.

The decision is a part of a programme on housing development in Hanoi for 2012-2020 and towards 2030. Priority will be given to construction of urban areas and residential areas on the city's outskirts. The decision also puts a temporary end to new commercial housing projects in the city's four downtown districts - Dong Da, Hoan Kiem, Ba Dinh, Hai Ba Trung and part of southern Tay Ho district.

Experts said although leasing apartments was an attractive investment, customers, mainly foreigners, mostly showed interest in apartments in the centre of the city with good security.-VNA