Ready to take off

Visiting business professor says Vietnam's real estate market ready for big changes

William Harrison has taught real estate in the Darla Moore School of Business for the past 11 years and believes the time is right for his students to study the market in Vietnam.

The country of 95 million people enjoys one of the fastest-growing gross national products in Southeast Asia thanks in part to economic reforms put in place by the communist government.

Those reforms can be seen in Vincom Center Tower located in the center of Ho Chi Minh City. With its 250 stores such as Hugo Boss and Jimmy Choo, it is the largest shopping mall in the city formerly known as Saigon.

The Vincom Tower literally towers over an apartment building, made famous at a time when Ho Chi Minh City was called Saigon.

On April 30, 1975, helicopters landed on the roof of 18 Gia Long St. as part of the evacuation of U.S. military personnel and their families on the final days of the Vietnam War.

For Harrison, that history is one of the exciting things about potentially bringing real estate students to the country.

“Someone is going to make a lot of money in Vietnam in the next 10 to 15 years,” Harrison says.

By studying an emerging markets — such as post-war Vietnam — Moore School students would gain insight into how the entire real estate industry works.

How is capital attracted to real estate? What is the risk? What is the rate of return? Fundamental questions of real estate and land development which can be answered by watching firsthand how Vietnam transitions from its communist/socialist roots.

Burkhard Schrage, who teaches emerging market strategies at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University Vietnam, believes the country is transforming nicely to a market-based economy.

As part of a lecture to visiting Carolina faculty and staff, Schrage says Vietnam is one of the easiest countries to conduct business, which in turn allows the country to attract foreign investment.

Schrage’s employer, RMIT University Vietnam was one such overseas investment in the country. The university, based in Australia, opened the satellite campus in Ho Chi Minh City in 2001.

RMIT University Vietnam now has 6,000 students studying at its campus in Ho Chi Minh City.

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