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Vietnam’s Economy Boom Means More Luxury Homebuyers in the U.S.

August 7, 2019

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Luxury MOntecito home for sale, perfect for the new millionaires who are a product of Vietnam's Economy boom

Once known as one of the poorest countries in the world, the boom in Vietnam’s economy is changing that reputation. In the fourth quarter of the last fiscal year alone, the country recorded 7.1% economic growth, making it one of the best performers globally today.

This assurgent trajectory began when Vietnam opened itself up to foreign investment and joined the World Trade Organization. And the latest numbers show that this is just the beginning of the story. The Communist nation’s economy is expected to grow 6.7% this year: the fastest rate in Southeast Asia. This forecast is positive for home sellers in Santa Barbara as more luxury homebuyers travel here to invest in the United States. The state of California is one of the most popular areas on the list of places Vietnamese are moving.

That record financial growth has transformed the skyline in Saigon (a.k.a. Ho Chi Minh City) over the last decade. Today, that skyline is filled with new flashy towers of glass and steel. And now, experts are seeing the country’s economic advancement expand beyond Vietnam’s borders. This is due to the increasing number of individuals who find themselves with the means to invest internationally; including right here in Santa Barbara.

“Across Vietnam, and particularly in Ho Chi Minh City, high-end real estate has spurred a wave of local and overseas interest and investment,” said Dung Duong, senior director, national head of professional services at CBRE Vietnam. 

Vietnam is emerging as a global manufacturing and export powerhouse; making personal wealth in that country explode. In fact, the number of millionaires in Vietnam is expected to grow from 12,327 last year to 15,776 by 2023. That’s a healthy 28% increase. And those millionaires are interested in investing beyond the country’s borders. However, in order to take advantage of this new trend, a real estate professional must be fluent in working with the country’s outward currency restrictions. In Vietnam, that is done a little more quietly than it is in other countries.

 “There are more and more Vietnamese investing in overseas property,” Ms. Duong said. “Ten years ago, only those who had relatives would buy properties overseas, so that they could live close to their parents or siblings. But these days, there is an increasing trend of wealthy parents sending their children to study internationally, and these parents are also investing in overseas property for their kids.” 

Where The Wealthy Vietnamese Buy 

Portrait of a mid-aged Vietnamese couple in their new house

Experts are seeing English-speaking countries such as the U.S., Canada, Australia and the U.K. as the most popular among ultra-high-net-worth Vietnamese. That’s because those countries offer some of the best educational opportunities and investment potential around the world.

“In recent years, we have seen more investment into European countries, where it is easier to gain citizenship, including Cyprus, Malta, Portugal, Hungary and some of the Eastern European countries,” Ms. Duong said. Properties bought in those countries will often become permanent residences for some, if not all, family members. 

The U.S. is particularly popular due to our EB-5 visa program allowing immigrants who invest at least US$500,000, (that figure will rise to US$900,000 after Nov. 21) to become permanent residents. Because the EB-5 program places no restrictions on where investors can buy property, many are drawn to states with an existing Vietnamese community, such as California. New York and Washington, D.C. are also popular.

Read: Cristal Clarke: The Expert in the Montecito Real Estate Market!

Vietnamese make up one of the biggest refugee groups in U.S. history. Of the 1.2 million Vietnamese Americans counted in Census 2000, one in three lives in California. Many of the county’s millionaires who already live here send money back to relatives and keep close tabs on social and political changes in their native country.

"People have built homes in Vietnam," said Hien Duc Do, a sociologist at San Jose State University. "They call them Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo."

As you can see, wealthy Vietnamese who are doing well in Vietnam's economy have a special interest in California’s Central Coast. They know those who purchase a luxury home here are proud to live in a place known as a playground for the rich and famous and, quite simply, paradise. But who isn’t? That’s thanks to our perfect year-round climate, beautiful breathtaking beaches, cultural amenities that can compete with those found in bigger metro areas, the Mediterranean-style architecture and so on.

Read: Santa Barbara: Oasis of Arts and Culture

Whether you already live in the Santa Barbara area or are considering moving here, you already know about its beauty and amenities. I have the experience, knowledge, and contacts to help locals and international buyers alike find their dream home or home away from home. Call me at +1 (805) 886-9378, or email me at You might begin your search by checking out my portfolio of fine homes, like the one pictured at the top of this blog titled A Touch of Tuscany in Montecito.

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“We have used Cristal now several times and cannot express how grateful we are for her expertise, dedication, and unwavering support throughout the entire home-buying process. Cristal is knowledgeable, patient and attentive. Her attention to detail is remarkable, and she consistently went above and beyond to provide us with all the information and resources we needed to make informed decisions. Cristal is a skillful negotiator and advocate. She can navigate complex negotiations with professionalism and grace and felt like a true partner to us in the home-buying process. Cristal has a genuine passion for real estate and a deep commitment to her clients' satisfaction. I cannot speak highly enough of Cristal and her exceptional service. She is a true expert in her field and her dedication to excellence, combined with unwavering support is the reason we choose to work with her for all our real estate buying needs.”

- T.C.

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“Living in Europe, we were to say the least, unaccustomed to the nuances of Real Estate acquisition in California and Cristal steered us through the process with absolute professionalism and personal attention to detail at every turn. Her in-depth knowledge of the market place combined with enthusiasm and drive was the only reason we secured the property of our dreams and will be forever grateful. If you are looking for personal discrete and private representation of the highest quality we suggest you look no further than Cristal Clarke.”

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“After considering our many choices, we are grateful it was Cristal Clarke of Sotheby’s International who represented the sale of our Montecito cottage. We are familiar with Cristal’s reputation of hard work and dedication to clients, but it was her attention to detail that made our experience so positive. She offered suggestions for staging the property, worked in harmony with potential buyers and was even able to secure back up offers. The sale of our cottage was completed much sooner than we expected, due in great part to Cristal’s professional skills and support. We highly recommend Cristal as a first choice for anyone needing representation with real estate.”

- Michael & Nancy Lee

“Our experience in working with Cristal Clarke resulted in the successful and discrete acquisition of a property which was not yet on the open market. Her knowledge of the Montecito/Santa Barbara area and vast expertise blended with her passion for real estate and architecture, provided us with the very highest level of professionalism and personalized services. Cristal exhibited a rare combination of excellent communications, attention to detail, creativity and patience.”

- Richard and Catherine Frinier

“Cristal really breaks the mold. She knows every nook and cranny of this real estate market, understands value, and follows up on everything, all the time. She was incredibly patient with our two year quest to find the perfect house. Every house hunting trip from across the country was well planned, and our time was never wasted. On top of her professionalism and expertise, she is delightful to spend time with. We are thrilled with the home we purchased, and grateful to Cristal for so wisely advising us through this process, right through to the close and beyond.”

- Laurie Siegel

“We met Cristal first in the course of renting a winter home (for three years), then buying a house using her as our agent. She was amazingly good at listening to our wants and showing us homes that fit our needs. Her mastery of the paperwork was perfect. Most importantly, there was never a situation where we doubted her straightforwardness or integrity. If we do another real estate transaction in Montecito (which I doubt, we’re happy with what we purchased), without question we’d use Cristal again.”

- Ken Saffir

“Susan and I just want to thank you for your efforts in the sale of our home. You are really quite amazing. Your competence, persistence, optimism and humor made the entire process effortless. Every problem that arose, you somehow fixed; any obstacle, you overcame. We have bought and sold many homes. It has never been such a painless and enjoyable process!”

- Michael & Susan Marquart

“A little something about “our” realtor, Cristal Clarke. My wife and I came to Santa Barbara about fifteen years ago looking for a seasonal home from which to enjoy the weather and amenities of the central coast. Being in the real estate business myself I was familiar with agents and brokers so entered the market with open eyes. We “flipped” a few houses in the early years, dealing with various agents and finally ended up in Montecito. That’s when good fortune put us together with Cristal. To say we were impressed is to put it mildly. Cristal really knows the market. She is familiar with the area, its history and trends. When we have questions about a particular property she either has the answers immediately or gets back to us by phone or email. There is no waiting or wondering with Cristal. She is an agent who is “on top of it.” Her recommendations as to price points, contractors, inspectors and title agents have proven to be exceptional, showing great insight and the highest professional standards. We consider ourselves exceedingly fortunate to say that Cristal Clarke is our realtor and would recommend her services to any serious buyer or seller.”

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