New construction prakas slated

Thu, 29 March 2012
The Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction announced that it is drafting a new prakas, or edict, in an attempt to reinforce regulations in Cambodia’s construction sector.{jathumbnail}

The ministry is drawing up the new construction law with the assistance of local architects, engineers and international lawmakers, Lao Tip Seiha, construction department director at the Ministry of Land Management Urban Planning and Construction said.

“The law will strengthen the construction sector and provide an improved living environment for potential customers,” he said, adding that it will also provide more transparency and attract investors to the market.

The proposed prakas will complement the Ministry of Economy and Finance’s Housing Development Law, which, among other requirements, obligates developers to deposit 2 per cent of the total value of the project. It is slated for implementation in the third quarter of 2012.

The drafting of the law was overseen by members of Singapore-based group PEMASEK, which has previous experience drawing up similar edicts in the city state, according to Beng Hong Socheat, spokesman for the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction. He added, however, that a completion date for the draft has yet to be set.

While the sector has experienced reasonable recovery from the economic downturn, some victims were claimed, such as the South Korean-funded Gold Tower 42 and Camko City, which both stand incomplete.

Some members of the sector, however, questioned the significance of another development-related prakas.

“What worries us is that the laws from different ministries will start to overlap. It requires prior consultation, so the same cake isn’t baked twice,” Sung Bonna, president of the National Valuers Association of Cambodia.

He added that an increase in the number of regulators would help to minimise bad practice in the sector. Read Original text


Colonial buildings in Kampot receive restoration funding

Thu, 29 March 2012
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Three colonial-era buildings in Kampot have been earmarked for preservation by a committee including members of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, provincial authorities and France-based group the International Organization of the Francophonie.{jathumbnail}

The committee will spend almost US$300,000 on restoring the properties to their original grandeur, according to Kong Phalla, director of Kampot Provincial Department of Culture and Fine Art.

“We don’t plan on only preserving these three buildings, but also privately owned colonial properties,” he said. “We have instructed the owners not to dismantle them, but constructed in accordance with the original style.”

Some 500 colonial-era buildings are located in Kampot and are classified into two categories – public and privately owned properties, Kong Phalla added.

“Nowadays, people are starting to see the value of such properties and, for example, are renovating them into attractive guesthouses.”

This most significant building considered for renovation is the former provincial hall, Kampot governor Khoy Khunhuor told PostProperty.

Once the reparations are complete, the historical building will be used a museum, he said.

Khoy Khunhuor said, however, that difficulties could arise in conserving privately-owned properties.

“We cannot force owners of colonial houses to reconstruct them in accordance with the previous style…the properties are there possession.”

He added that this is second project in Kampot that the International Organization of the Francophonie have contributed towards, with the previous fund contributing towards the construction of a clean-water system. Read Original text


Property of the week

Thu, 29 March 2012
Located on a peaceful road in the Boeung Kak 1 area of Toul Kork, this European-style villa comes fully furnished with an abundance of natural light.{jathumbnail}

It is well-equipped with a mixture of Western and Cambodian styles and traditional wooden furniture.

Outside, there is a spacious garden and large parking space, which can hold six vehicles. All the required amenities, such as schools, restaurants and banks are nearby.

The villa consists of eight bedrooms, six bathrooms, living room, dining room, and modern kitchen.

A great opportunity to live in a capacious villa in a placid part of town, the property is on the market for US$4,500 per calendar month, excluding bills.  Read Original text


Profile: Landscaping for the future

Thu, 29 March 2012
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Situated on the second floor of a 1930’s colonial house, once used as a photography exhibition hall, is SA.LA Design Landscaping and Architectural Group’s office. The five year old firm is an established member of the Kingdom’s architecture scene, being the first of its kind, and has gradually earned a strong reputation for design, both locally and internationally.{jathumbnail}

Sa.La’s founder Sarunya Lormaneenoapparat, who hails from Thailand, studied landscape architecture at Bangkok-based Chulalongkorn University, before moving on to the Asian Institute of Technology.

She moved to Phnom Penh in 2005 to teach at Norton University, and, in 2006, formed the landscaping company. Sarunya told PostProperty that Sa.La started out as an experimental project to provide students with first-hand experience of how landscaping could be achieved in Cambodia.

“The first thing I tell customers is that this isn’t a job for me – it’s a case study for the next generation [of landscapers], Sarunya said, as she flicked through a hefty stack of designs. “We have a normal income, but it’s not really a big deal.”

Her philosophy is reminiscent of Austrian naturalist architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser, touching on ecological ideas such as reducing the usage of air conditioners through the building and the incorporation of roof gardens and plants to shade buildings.

Sa.La focuses immensely on the process rather than the product. According to Sarunya, she and her colleagues would spend hours at the worksite before starting on any drawings or ideas for the project.

“Sometimes sites will give you ideas. We try to make good of the site, environment and the ecology.” Sarunya said. “The physical aspects are things we need to conserve”

It is such attention to detail, that most of us do not even consider, that has earned Sa.La a reputation both locally and internationally. With projects such as the European Commission, Naga Hotel courtyard, the Welcome Centre in Siem Reap, as well as the private residences for many Excellencies under its long list of satisfied clients, Sarunya is certainly doing something right.

“Everything was set up well and professionally, and all the guests give good feedback on it,” Mr Kansathyan, manager of the Siem Reap-based Frangipani Hotel, and a satisfied customer said.

Beyond her innovative designs and full octane work ethic, Sarunya also has plenty of time for Cambodia’s budding landscapers and architects.

“It is my dream to make a foundation, I want to send students to study abroad, I want to create internships. Read Original text


Good start to 2012 for property companies

Thu, 15 March 2012
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Property companies experienced a year-on-year increase in transactions through the first two months of 2012, offering an optimistic outlook for the rest of the year.{jathumbnail}

A number of major real estate firms told Post Property that both property sales and rentals rose, compared to the same period last year.

“A number of new housing developments entered the market last year, which has led to large growth in customers,” Chrek Soknim, deputy director of VTrust Property Co said.

In the first two months of the year, VTrust has dealt with a total of 130 customers, a 62 per cent increase from the 80 customers in January and February last year, he said.

“We only had 10 customers buying properties last year, but in the first two months of 2012 this doubled. In addition, the number of customers leasing units soared 60 per cent,” Chrek Soknim said.

He added that his company has also assisted 30 customers in leasing office space, of which more than half were foreign nationals.

Other property agents have also seen transactions pick up this year.

Dith Channa, general manager of VMC Real Estate Company said overall transactions rose 29 per cent year-on-year.

“We saw little activity in the market in early 2011, however, things sped up through the year, especially in the growing office market,” he said.

The firms office space rentals increased 44 per cent, while house purchases and leases rose 18 and 32 per cent respectively, Dith Channa added.

Chheng Kimlong, business and economics lecturer at the University of Cambodia said that he expects this trend to continue throughout 2012 and the coming years.

“While the economy continues to grow, increased demand for housing will follow, particularly in the residential market,” he said, adding that he expects the office space market to continue to soar in the next decade.  Read Original text


Phase one of latest Borey Peng Houth project complete

Thu, 8 March 2012
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The first phase in the construction of the Phnom Penh-based Borey Peng Huoth The Star Platinum housing development was recently concluded, with completion of the entire project slated for the second quarter of 2013.{jathumbnail}

Construction is now underway on the second phase, which will comprise 550 mixed units, according to sales manager Ouk Thavy.

“We started the development in early 2011 when the market started to show signs of improving, and now sales are picking up by the day,” she said.

About 70 per cent of the properties in phase two have already sold – exclusively to Cambodian nationals, according to Ouk Thavy.

Properties in the second phase, of which 60 per cent has been completed, will be priced between US$83,500 and $580,000.

In addition to The Star Platinum development, Borey Peng Huoth investment group has completed four more housing projects in the last seven years, namely the 500 unit Toul Sangke and 200 unit Stung Meanchey projects.

“We built these new housing developments to respond the growing demand in the Kingdom. So far, sales have gone smoothly,” Ouk Thavy said.

She added that the quality of the construction and the facilities offered, such as gymnasiums, swimming pools and onsite shopping markets, continued to attract new clients.

Some members of the sector have welcomed the entry of additional residential options in the capital.

Chheng Keng, director of real estate company Cambodia Property Limited said the success of Borey Penh Huot’s latest projects showed its understanding of the current climate of the market.

“The quality of the construction and the sale prices are in line with the rest of the market, allowing it to attract a wide range of clients.” Read Original text


Kang Men project eyes year-end finish

Thu, 1 March 2012
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Kang Men housing development is speeding up construction to ensure project completion by the end of this year and to meet the increasing demand for property, according to company site manager.{jathumbnail}

Sun Dara, Kang Meng Group’s General Manager said the project started last June, when the Cambodian property market was in recovery mode, since then, he said sale figures have increased gradually each day.

“We’ll complete the project as soon as August 2012 in order for our clients to settle in. We’ll start other development projects in a bid to help improving this city to become a centre of businesspersons and investors.”

The Mean Chey-based housing development, which consists of 218 units, is being built on almost three hectares of land.

Sun Dara added that upon completion of the project, they’ll commence construction on a second development.

Seih Kanha, Kang Meng Group’s sales deputy said Cambodia’s has progressed since early 2011 with Kang Meng house sales having significantly increased. “As of today, our 218-flat housing development project is around 80 per cent sold out, and most of the buyers are Cambodians,” she said, adding that the company currently employs about 300 labourers.

She added that the project is 90 percent complete, with apartment sizes ranging from 4x13 square metres to 4x16 square metres and cost between US$29,000 to $103,800.

“Because Kang Meng houses are of high quality, we gain such big support from our buyers,” Seih Kanha said, adding that buyers can obtain mortgages from any bank or buy directly through the company using a 17-year payment plan which incurs a 1.5 per cent interest charge per month.

Housing developments are integral to the development of Cambodia’s property and construction sectors and are meant to attract more foreign investors to the Kingdom, she added.

Keuk Narin, deputy manager of Asia Real Estate said the Kingdom’s market has done particularly well in 2012, but suggested housing development companies aren’t too vehement in construction and ensure their projects meet only the demands of buyers. Read Original text


CBRE regional chairman talks Cambodia real estate

Thu, 1 March 2012
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David Simister, regional chairman of the world’s largest real estate firm CBRE, has more than 20 years experience in Southeast Asia. He sat down with PostProperty editor Liam Barnes recently to discuss the current climate of the Kingdom’s property sector, Phnom Penh’s latest flagship development Vattanac Capital and the future of investment in one of Cambodia’s pillar sectors.{jathumbnail}
• What have been the most significant changes in the Cambodian property market over the last 12/18 months?
In the last six months some real quality property has entered the market, which is attracting a new level of client. Cambodia’s economic growth has been solid in many different areas through the economy.

The increasing level of prosperity has been impressive over the last four years, with the current situation in Phnom Penh being very reminiscent of the late eighties in Bangkok. It’s now a more fundamental, healthy market and people are making much more sober decisions.

• Is it safe to say Cambodia’s property market is on the road to recovery?
Yes. If we had to pick a point when the market clearly showed an up turn, it would be the sale of the JSM sites by CBRE to Hong Kong Land last year.

• Cambodia has welcomed considerable regional investment in recent years, particularly from Korea and China, will this continue and will the Kingdom become a favourable destination for a wider range of international investors?
Yes. Chinese mainland companies are currently the dominate overseas player in major Phnom Penh and Resort development. This will in the future have a major impact in the property market and the economy. These companies are developing multi-use complexes, which are usually long-term investments rather than immediate paybacks. The investment will pay dividends down the track. There is also significant Korean investment and Hyundai completed and opened Phnom Penh Tower last year. There is also, in our view, growing regional interest. If you look at Myanmar, investors are very interested without doing much research. Cambodia is a compact country with much room to develop.

• Has there been an increase in domestic companies entering the real estate market?
Yes, the most significant and the major local development is Vattanac Capital, Grade A offices, which will open this year. With every floor that goes up, it’s very clear it’s a significantly better offering than anything else the market has seen before. It is undoubtedly the most expensive office development in Phnom Penh, but arguably also the best value. Vattanac does not have to compete with the existing stock, as it will set its own level as a grade-A building.

• Upon completion, will Vattanac prove to be a catalyst in attracting further foreign investment to the Kingdom?
Cambodia isn’t necessarily recognised on a global stage as an investment destination. But for those companies that are trading here, we believe Vattanac is the right building coming along at the right time.

Office markets evolve steadily – Bangkok went from having about 150,000 square metres of purpose built offices in 1989 to having three million square metres only three and a half years later, and still demand is outstripping supply. In Phnom Penh, we’re looking at a market where current office stock is 150,000 square metres and even with the completion of Phnom Penh Tower and Vattanac, it’s still less than 225,000 square metres. It is also important that Vattanac is completed on schedule, in order to demonstrate that this is the norm in the market and not the exception.

• Does the recent and potential supply of high-end office space justify the demand?
Demand will come mainly from multinationals. The insurance industry is a big growth sector, along with transportation, shipping, financial sector, construction industry and diplomatic bodies. There is increasing pressure on diplomatic missions to be in efficient space, rather than to work out of older properties. The rate of change from people moving out from non-purpose built office space may be slow at first, however, when they do move out, in the same way people do when buying a new Iphone, you go for the latest and best product on the market.

• How does the regional property market compare to rest of the world?
The overall local backdrop is largely positive, while the global backdrop is an area were there is a much more muted situation and there is still obviously global concerns. In terms of global real estate, we believe most markets have bottomed out. We feel there has been a floor reached in the US market. In Europe, whilst yields have moved, again we feel that the markets are relatively strong in the quality centres. Asia is certainly seen as the growth market.

• What does the future hold for Cambodia’s property market?
Many new projects will enter the market which will change people’s attitude and the type of accommodation that they take. There will be a new era of mega Chinese projects, whereas previously the large-scale projects were principally Korean. The only established market we see is Phnom Penh but watch out for the development of the resort sector. Whilst there is no boom, the property market is steadily improving in all areas. Read Original text