The local property industry attracted 880 million USD in foreign direct investment (FDI) in the first 11 months of this year.

The investment was only half the amount for the same period last year, but the number of projects rose, according to the Ministry of Planning and Investment's Foreign Investment Agency (FIA).

The local property industry attracted FDI in 20 new foreign-invested projects and four others where investment was increased. This was 10 projects higher than for the same period last year.

In November, the nation had four new FDI property projects with a total investment of 300 million USD, the largest foreign investment in the sector since early this year.

VinaCapital, a foreign investor in Vietnam, said Government policies have improved the real esate market. These include giving priority to social housing projects, a stable exchange rate for Vietnam and foreign currency - and reducing bank interest rates.

Experts said that the local property market has not recovered, but it has great potential for foreign investors as housing demand is high due to a young population and slower pace of urbanisation.

However, foreign investors usually put their investment into existing projects.

This reduces risk in starting projects, especially the process of getting an investment licence, said Pham Sy Liem, former Deputy Minister of Construction.

Nguyen Ngoc Thanh, Deputy Chairman of the Vietnam Real Estate Association (VNREA) said high stocks of housing provide a great opportunity for foreign investors because local enterprises want to recoup their capital.

Savills Vietnam, a foreign property consulting firm, said foreign investors from Japan, the Republic of Korea and Singapore have asked it to be a bridge to local firms in studying the property market.

The experts said however, there are challenges for foreign investors, including tax, administrative procedures and low market transparency.-VNA