Q1 I have just returned from Hanoi and am completely captivated by the French architecture especially at the French Quarter. How easy is it for a foreigner to buy a shoplot in the French Quarter and use it as retail space (ground floor) and residence (upper floor)?

AW Unfortunately, foreigners are not eligible to purchase landed property that is not within a real estate project boundary. A shophouse in the old quarters of Hanoi is classified as a standalone landed residential property that is not within a real estate project boundary; the only way foreigners can buy such a unit is to buy it through a local Vietnamese proxy. That said, such a procedure carries with it significant risks as the Ownership Certificate dubbed the “Red Book” will be under the name of the proxy. Vietnam legal system is a variation of the Civil Law as opposed to the more widespread Common Law system. Hence, a trust document is not recognised as a legal basis of property ownership. Therefore, having a proxy “own” a property with no acceptable legal documentation and recourse on the part of the person financing it, is a high risk endeavour. That said, you are advised to seek separate advice from a lawyer before proceeding as this feedback is purely to the best of my knowledge and is not to be construed as legal advice.
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