Condo market strong but needs experts

As the condominium market booms in Phnom Penh, more buyers are on the prowl for a unit. But with low quality standards and a lack of building regulations, high-quality units are increasingly being
sought out.

Kevin Goos, CEO of real estate firm Century 21’s Cambodia branch, sat down with Post Weekend to discuss the condo market and the challenges it faces.

What do you think of real estate developers in Cambodia and the quality of their work?
My perception is that there are few professional real estate developers building condominiums in Cambodia now. We need more real estate developers to come to Cambodia because we need high-quality projects that those experienced developers can bring into the country. What Phnom Penh needs is more developers from Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan and China because these people have 10 or 20 years’ experience. 

What do you make of Cambodia’s property market? Is it saturated?
There just wasn’t any modern real estate development going on in Phnom Penh in the 1980s and part of the ’90s, so Phnom Penh is really catching up right now. We need to have more projects built by experienced developers. Particularly for condos, there are not a lot of condominiums in Cambodia, especially if you compare it to Taiwan, Singapore, and Hong Kong, where the entire city is made up of condos. In Phnom Penh, it’s still completely different.

Cambodia remains a poor country. Is there enough demand?
Yes. No matter what, Phnom Penh is getting bigger, will need more homes and is becoming more attractive for foreigners to come to work. We’ve seen a lot of great projects, but right now there are not enough places for people to live in. When you look at buildings in Boeung Keng Kang and look at all those apartments, it’s clear a lot of foreigners are renting. However, there are not enough high-quality residential units for expatriates to live in.

How is the market in Cambodia compared to other countries?
It’s not really about supply and demand right now. Condominiums are the sort of investment that mature with time, and the same thing happens in every country and every major city when it comes to condo growth. Cambodia right now is a good market because of the prices: it’s more affordable than Singapore and Taipei. You can buy a condominium here for $150,000, but in Japan it costs far more. And right now, even though you do have great investments and great developers in Cambodia, there are quite few really excellent developers. One of the good ones is Canadia Bank, a great developer, and their project on Diamond Island is really a beautiful concept. But you still need more experienced developers in Cambodia.

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