New overpass project breaks ground

Thu, 29 November 2012
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Plan of Stueng Mean Chey fly-over bridge. Photograph: Pha Lina/Phnom Penh Post

After its postponement more than two months ago, the third bridge and overpass project at Stueng Mean Chey saw ground broken on Monday by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The new bridge will cost $19 million and take developer OCIC 28 months to build.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said the new bridge will help to reduce traffic jams in the area of Stueng Mean Chey, Chamkarmorn and Toul Kork.

“Skybridge Stueng Mean Chey is a main point to connect 3 Khan (district) in Phnom Penh, sangkat Stueng Mean Chey in Khan Mean Chey, sangkat Tomnob Teuk in khan Chamkarmon and sangkat Boeung Salang in khan Toul Kork,” Hun Sen said.

“We must build this bridge because this area has traffic jams throughout the day.”

The project will reportedly resemble a butterfly when complete.

The Stueng Mean Chey overpass is the third of its kind in Cambodia after the first at Kbal Thal that cost $6.4 million and the Seven Makara bridge, that cost $8.7 million.Read Original text

To contact the reporter on this story: Seun Son at son.seun@phnompenhpost.com


Three satellite city projects underway

Thu, 29 November 2012
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A view of under construction Koh Pich town. Photograph: Hong Menea/Phnom Penh Post

Three projects of the six satellite cities around Phnom Penh that were originally approved by the government have been “significantly” developed, according to officials of the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction.

The ministry says the other three are still in the planning stages.

The huge projects, costing hundreds of millions dollars, including housing development, economic zones, supermarkets, fitness centres, hotels, industrial parks, hospitals, and other public utilities.

Lao Tepseiha, deputy director of the construction department of the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, said that Koh Pich Island, Grand Phnom Penh International and Camko City have been significantly built among the key projects of the satellite cities.

“Development on huge projects is potent and is pushing the building sector in Cambodia up,” he said.

Six huge satellite cities were approved by the government, including Koh Pich satellite city in Phnom Penh’s Chamka Morn district’s Tonle Basac commune, Grand Phnom Penh International at Sensok district’s Khmunh commune, CAMKO City in Boeung Pong Peay developmental area at Sensok, Boeung Kak Lake in Daun Penh district’s Srais Chark commune, a future satellite city in Russey Keo district’s Chroy Chongva commune, and Oknha Ly Yong Phat’s satellite city along National Road 6.

Tous Saphoeun, dean of the Architecture and Urban Planning Faculty of Mathematics, Sciences and Engineering of Pannasastra University of Cambodia, said that three huge projects are progressing well.

“First, Koh Pich is conclusively progressing and then Grand Phnom International that is gradually finished its own project. Finally, Camko City has been regularly and daily developed,” he said.

“Only Koh Pich is being marketed well among all the projects because it is the first development of an entertainment center,” he said.

It will take at least five or six more years before the other three projects will be constructed, he said.

Cheng Kheng, director of the CPL real estate company and vice president of the Cambodian Valuers and Estate Agents Association, said that the three satellite cities under construction are “interesting”.

Significant investment and selling and purchasing activities are focused on diverse customers, he said.

The Cambodian government should open more opportunities for investors and do not put pressure on them, because it will hurt the growth of investment in Cambodia, he added.Read Original text

To contact the reporter on this story: Seun Son at son.seun@phnompenhpost.com


Yangon building reprieved

Thu, 27 December 2012
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The historic building at 233-235 Pansodan Street, Yangon.

A historic building in central Yangon had a last-minute reprieve this week when conservationists managed to stop its demolition with a media campaign that received the backing of the government.

The much-loved building at 233-235 Pansodan Street had been declared dangerous by Yangon City Development Committee, which had sent workers to tear it down.

The building, which was a hostel for Burmese writers, artists and politicians during the country’s colonial era, became the subject of a last-minute campaign by the Yangon Heritage Trust, which prompted government officials to order the postponement of the demolition.

“We heard that they halted the demolition after news spread through the media to higher authorities who ordered it to stop,” Moe Moe Lwin, the deputy chairman of the Yangon Heritage Trust told a news website.

Only around 40 historic colonial building in downtown Yangon remain, and many have been declared restricted zones by the Yangon City Development Committee after falling into disrepair.

Activists want the former capital’s iconic colonial architecture maintained and preserved, and worry that the remaining colonial buildings will be torn down to make space for hotels to cater to the country’s booming tourism industry.

The Yangon Heritage Trust has highlighted the case of the Athor Ka Theatre, which has already been knocked down, and a modern replacement built instead.

The Myanmar Lawyers Network recently asked the government not to auction the 101-year-old Yangon High Court and Police Commissioner’s Office to a group of Chinese and local business interests who plan to turn the buildings into a restaurant and museum.

However a spokesman for the group said that they still have not received a reply from the government.

“The sentimental and historical value cannot be found anywhere else,” he said. “But our government does not appreciate the value of this old building.”

The Lawyers Network said that they will meet at the end of this month to discuss their next move.Read Original text

 

To contact the reporter on this story: Rupert Winchester at rupert.winchester@phnompenhpost.com


Phnom Penh’s new commune prices steady

Thu, 27 December 2012
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A map of a new area that has been transferred into Phnom Penh from Kandal.

Land prices in Meanchey district’s four communes that had been transferred into Phnom Penh municipality’s control from Kandal province have held steady, despite the construction of Prek Samroung Bridge and the extension of roads to the area.

Cheng Kheng, director of the CPL real estate company, said that though the bridge has been built and roads extended, the land prices within the four communes has not climbed because buyers are very careful before purchasing and investing, and consider potential income first.

Sung Bonna, director of the Bonna Realty Group and president of the Cambodian Valuers and Estate Agents Association, said the price of land there should have increased, because of the bridge and roads, as well as a golf course and several more housing projects in the works, but in fact, land prices are still much the same as a year ago.

“Those lands aren’t in so much demand as there are many sellers so the prices haven’t changed much. After the roads are completely finished and if the real estate situation is still good, the price of that land will be better then nowadays, especially in 2013, I hope,” he said.

Meanchey Governor Kuch Chamroeun said that he is not aware of the land prices after the construction of the Prek Samroung Bridge, but says residents are satisfied because of their new connection to Phnom Penh city.

Some of the roads will be finished in 2015. He added that Vel Sbov, Kbal Koh, Prek Aeng, and Prek Thmey communes were transferred to Phnom Penh.

Dith Channa, general manager of VMC Real Estate Cambodia, who has just returned from the area, differed, saying the land price of the four communes has climbed about 30 to 40 per cent because many customers from Phnom Penh are looking at purchasing there.

“The building of the Prek Samroung bridge, the extending of roads and other building projects are good for living. This is the reason why land prices are increasing,” he said.

“Many factories from China and Vietnam planned to build in the area, especial Vattanac bank’s huge housing project is which is being started there.”

The price of land along big roads goes up to $100 per square metre and it goes from $ 30 to $50 per square metre on smaller roads because there are many housing development projects and apartment projects, said Channa.

He said that the communes will be attractive because they are not far from Phnom Penh, and there are many roads off National Road 1.Read Original text


Siem Reap hotels oversupplied

Wed, 12 December 2012
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Potential real estate investors in Siem Reap are being advised to look towards retail strips rather than hotels, according to Cambodian real estate professionals.

Knight Frank’s Cambodia chief, Sunny Soo, said that while the hotel industry is well supplied, the town lacks an organised retail strip.

“I think it can have a retail street. A more developed retail strip like you might find in Bali or Phuket would do well. It just doesn’t have a very organised retail street right now,” Soo said.

He said there are more than enough hotels in the area, leaving it less attractive to hotel investors.

“Siem Reap has developed to the stage whereby the supply is more than sufficient to cater for the existing and future demand,” Soo said, adding that with hotels, the occupancy rate isn’t that strong, apart from a few which are doing fairly well.

“But new hotels usually do not perform that well. I do not know if the area can fit in another five-star hotel.”

His thoughts are echoed by CBRE’s Simon Griffiths. “Today there is an oversupply of hotels in Siem Reap. Tourism figures are increasing and demand is in line with supply,” Griffiths.

“Developers have been looking at possible residential developments for expats and the growing middle-class market.

So that’s a shift away from tourism and retail is certainly a viable option, catering for people with disposable income. But that’s still a few years away.”

Griffiths said there has been increasing developer interest in the town.

“We are seeing an increase in activity. Just in the last couple of months CBRE has had to go up there a few times.

There are more and more people approaching us,” Griffiths said.

Soo said the area could also cater to a few more apartments, but investors looking at building for the expat retiree and holiday-home market are more interested in areas like Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh.

“You could have a few apartments in Siem Reap, but not many,” Soo said. “I can’t say whether the market is now justified for serviced apartments.”

Overall though, he said overseas investors, particularly Koreans, are interested in the area. His office receives regular interest in investing in Siem Reap.

Foreign ownership is tricky though, with foreign investors allowed to own just 49 per cent of a project.

Even finding land to buy in Siem Reap can be difficult, with a dearth of official real estate agents based in the town.

Buyers of smaller plots of land tend to enlist the help of a tuk-tuk driver with knowledge of for-sale signs. For larger purchases, buyers are advised by agents to approach international real estate firms who can negotiate with large landholders in the area.

“There are a number of large landholders who own a lot of land. We can negotiate with them for buyers. For larger assets, approaching a large company is the best way,” Griffiths said.Read Original text


Banteay Meanchey on the rise

Wed, 12 December 2012
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Real estate in Cambodia is likely to increase in value if Phnom Penh and some of the provinces continue to grow, including Banteay Meanchey province in the west of the country.

Dith Channa, general manager of VMC Real Estate Cambodia, said real estate in Banteay Meanchey has increased by around 10 to 20 per cent by the end of this year, if compared to the same period last year. This growth is due to the construction of garment factories, rice milling, and housing, while Banteay Meanchey still has a great deal of potential with agriculture, industrial factories, and much import and export of goods between Cambodia and Thailand.

“The international border at Poi Pet in Banteay Meanchey is vital for the purchasing and selling of goods between both countries. Most goods or products need stock or factories so this province attracts investors well,” said Channa.

It was observed in 2010 that real estate growth across the country was steady while any construction progressed slowly, but now this sector has significantly changed.

Recently a night market has opened in Banteay Meanchey town. The market is intended to attract foreign investors, while many foreign investors such Thai, Chinese, and Japanese are interested in Banteay Meanchey town and the big roads along the Poi Pet border, he said.

Increasing the province’s real estate is a part of improving the national economy through small-sized businesses. Residents, for instance, will profit wherever investors start to develop markets, trade buildings and factory buildings.

Channa said that the price of land goes from $600 to $700 per square metre within the town and along the larger roads, but goes from $100 to $200 per square metre along small roads while $100 to $150 per square metre for lands located near the night market, and from $1 to $2 per square metre for agricultural fields.

Sorn Seap, CEO of Key Real Estate company, said that real estate development in the provinces is not good and some provinces have potential such as Kampong Chham, Battambang, Siem Reap and Preah Sihanouk but now it has not increased yet.

“The development we can’t regard as noticeable growth because the price of real estate is well increased only in Phnom Penh,” he said.

Price of real estate in Serey Sophon town in Banteay Meanchey is low if compared to Kampong Chham’s Soung and Battambang towns, he said.

“Based on my research, Serey Sophon is not a highly profitable area but Poi Pet is good because it is on the international border,” said Seap.

Banteay Meanchey governor Oung Oeun said Thai businessmen have recently invested in garment factories and the Japanese have invested in rice milling, while the Chinese are beginning to build more factories.

“The development of Banteay Meanchey provincial real estate is better then last year, especial the construction of rice milling buildings that can produce 8 to 10 tonnes per hour,” he said.

A market has been just opened in Serey Sophon town that is open 24 hours a day so it can attract investors as well, he added.Read Original text

To contact the reporter on this story: Seun Son at son.seun@phnompenhpost.com


Real Estate Mondays launches

Thu, 6 December 2012
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Kuy Vat of VTrust Propertie at Real Estate Monday. Photograph: Rupert Winchester/Phnom Penh Post

A group of local property agents has initiated a monthly gathering for real estate professionals and those interested in the industry to meet and share business ideas and industry insights.

The first of the monthly gatherings, known as Real Estate Monday, was held this week at the Park Café Calmette, and included talks from local property luminaries including Cheng Kheng, the CEO of CPL Cambodia, and Kuy Vat, the CEO of VTrust Properties.

Other local companies involved with Real Estate Monday include Bonna Realty, Key Real Estate and Asia Real Estate Cambodia.

The organisers of the event, which will be held on the first Monday of every month, said that for too long, real estate companies in Cambodia “have worked on their own projects without knowing what needs improving… to better benefit from the lucrative industry.”

The gathering intends to act as “a platform for active real estate players and related business bodies to provide ideas and share experiences in order to find out ways to boost this economic driver.”

As well as the notable speakers, Monday night also saw a presentation from a mortgage expert from ANZ Royal on providing finance to potential homeowners.

As well as boosting the local property industry, the gathering aims to involve everyone in examining how the industry, which “plays a key role in shaping society… can contribute to making our neighbourhoods, our cities and our societies better.”

Details of upcoming meetings, which are open to all interested participants, are available on Real Estate Monday Facebook page.Read Original text

To contact the reporter on this story: Rupert Winchester at rupert.winchester@phnompenhpost.com


Sunny outlook for Phnom Penh property

Thu, 6 December 2012
Sunny Soo of Knight Frank.

Sunny Soo of Knight Frank. Photograph supplied

For many years, Phnom Penh has been too small, in international terms, to attract the attention of the big players in the world of property consultancy, and the local market has been the province of local companies. However, there have been a few exceptions, where big international companies have seen the potential in the Kingdom, and established offices here, staffed with knowledgeable, highly trained staff.

One of the longest established international firms operating in Cambodia is London-based Knight Frank, one of the world’s biggest independent global property consultancies, originally established in 1896. Headed in Cambodia by the enthusiastic Sunny Soo, the company has been ideally placed to watch the market here develop.

Post Property asked Soo how he thought the Phnom Penh property market was doing. “Well, it seems to be going strongly. I think the locals keep building, although I’m not seeing that much foreign investment coming from the regions that were previously strong, like Malaysia or Singapore.”

Other areas in the region are mixed in terms of their presence in Cambodia: “It seems like the Japanese are coming in, if not the Koreans, although I’ve had conversations with Korean entrepreneurs, who are saying that the second wave of Korean investment is likely to come in very soon, although we haven’t seen any solid evidence of this. But I take them as serious developers. I think they have the intention to complete the projects they’ve started, but it’s slow.”

With Phnom Penh having seen a destructive property bubble in 2008 due to an influx of foreign investment, does Soo see the same thing happening again? “It depends on how we define bubble, but if we talk about the price of development land that’s currently being asked, it seems like the locals are buying land in the prime areas in a manner similar to people buying antiques, where it’s about buying places they like rather than assessing the economic value of it; they may be paying above what I think the real economic value might be, but they’re happy.”

But if there is another bubble, how bad could it be? “I think it’s too early for us to tell: the majority of developments here do not get funded by banks, so this is funded by individual wealth, so with that, a bubble, if there is one, will not cause a downturn if there’s a huge economic crisis. Because it’s being funded with money from under the mattress, as it were, it’s very difficult for the price to adjust to the market. People will just complete their projects, and even if they don’t get what they want, they can just wait.”

Is the government doing enough to manage the property market in the Kingdom? “The government is trying to explore how they can control the behaviour of developers to protect homebuyers at the moment, but I think the process has been very very slow. For instance they’ve been talking about a housing development act for a while, and we still haven’t seen any clear indication of how this act might go. There are issues with strata titles, as well, and we need those to be sorted out. So there is quite a lot to be done,” Soo says.

But Soo says he is optimistic about the future of the property market in Cambodia, for two main reasons. Firstly, “from the feeling I get talking to the locals, the privileged groups, who know what’s going on, and have good government contacts and can see where the country is going, and they seem to be very optimistic.

Many of these people have very strong exposure overseas as well, maybe in Hong Kong, and France, and they seem more and more to be looking to Asia for development, they really truly believe that Cambodia is very pro-business, and it makes them very very positive about the levels of interest in this country,” Soo says.

And secondly, Soo believes that “industries are on the increase, exports are growing, and that’s all very optimistic. And oil should have a good impact on GDP.”

He continues: “In property terms, in the short term there is a lot of potential. There is a lot of property available for sale: it really depends on how far you want to look ahead, in the short term the market is stable, rather strong, and I’m always cautiously optimistic.”Read Original text

To contact the reporter on this story: Rupert Winchester at rupert.winchester@phnompenhpost.com


Kampong Chhnang prices on the rise

Thu, 6 December 2012
The road to the airport at Kampong Chhang

The road to the airport at Kampong Chhang. Rann Reuy

Real estate prices in Kampong Chhang province have increased by around 10 per cent over the last 12 months, according to experts.

Dith Chana, general manager of VMC Real Estate Cambodia, said that Kampong Chhnang is only 91 kilometres from Phnom Penh, but the development of its real estate has not risen “significantly,” he said.

The most obvious activities of investment are around five to six garment factories, while housing development is slow.

“Land prices and the demand of buyers for real estate in the province in 2012 is climbing around 10 per cent if compared to the same period in 2011,” he said.

“The price of land goes from $300 to $350 per square metre within the town, but only $3 to $5 per square metre to farming fields that are far from the town, while $5 to $15 per square metre for lands that are near National Road 5,” said Channa.

The development of garment and beverage factories as well as private schools has begun to build gradually in the province, that could increase the demand of investment areas.

In general, wherever big investment projects start, those areas will get more and more investments and the price of real estate will also climb, he said.

However, the price of real estate in Siem Reap, Battambang and Preah Sihanouk provinces is more attractive to investors than Kampong Chhnang, but it has potential for investment compared to smaller provinces.

“The demand for real estate, and prices, will increase when the international airport is established and infrastructures are expanded in the province,” said Channa.

In October Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that Phnom Penh’s new international airport would be built in Kampong Chhnang in 2025.

Kampong Chhnang governor Tuch Marim said that the activities of investment in Kampong Chhnang are not different to last year but there are 10 new factories that have been built, while the buying and selling of real estate have followed the global financial crisis.

When the international airport is operational, infrastructure such as roads will be expanded which will cause real estate prices to climb, he said.

Tuch Marim said he hoped that investment in Kampong Chhnang would increase when the international airport is operational, and that good infrastructure will attract investors, including hotels and bakers.

“I think that Kampong Chhnang will become a place that investors are interested in in the future,” said Marim.Read Original text

To contact the reporter on this story: Seun Son at son.seun@phnompenhpost.com