The capital's apartment market was the busiest in the real estate sector during the third quarter of this year, but other segments of the city's property market remained sluggish, according to Do Thu Hang, head of Research and Consultancy at Savills Hanoi.

Speaking at a seminar last week, she said that strong construction progress, lower prices and a variety of promotions had lifted the absorption rate in the apartment market to 9 per cent, an increase of 2 percent quarter-on-quarter (QoQ).

Grade C apartments continued to be the key player in the market, with an absorption rate of 15 percent, up 5 percent QoQ.

Five new projects located in Thanh Xuan, Hoang Mai and Cau Giay supplied more than 1,500 units to the market, and the total primary stock was about 10,000 units, down 14 per cent QoQ.

Hang said the majority of buyers were now end-users, who preferred projects in good locations with certain construction standards and a reasonable price range.

"Shell apartments have become popular and even Grade A apartments are now on offer as a means of lowering prices," she said.

While the average primary asking price for Grade C apartments remained unchanged QoQ, it fell by 2 percent to 61 million VND (2,900 USD) per sq.m for Grade A and by 3 percent to 32 million VND (1,520 USD) per sq.m for Grade B.

The average secondary asking price continued to decrease across all districts, declining 5 percent in Ha Dong, and down 3-4 percent in Gia Lam, Hai Ba Trung and Dong Da districts.

CBRE Hanoi executive director Richard Leech said at a quarterly meeting last week that the Hanoi housing market had stabilised in the third quarter, with price drops slowing and buyers seeking actual value for property.

Despite falling prices, performances in retail, offices, hotels, serviced apartments and villas and townhouses continued on a downtrend in the third quarter due to an imbalance between supply and demand, according to Hang.

However, CBRE and Savills officials said that macro-economic improvement related to foreign direct investment, trade balance and legal frameworks were facilitating general real estate recovery.

Savills Hanoi deputy director Tran Nhu Trung said that about 58,200 newly-registered and 11,300 re-opened businesses this year promised significant property demand.

A foreign expert said the ongoing withdrawal of companies that had invested in real estate as a non-core line of business would foster market stability in the coming months.-VNA