Global real estate franchise giant Century 21 has been operating in Cambodia for two years, but has been dogged by rumours that it hasn’t sold enough franchises.
Original CEO Kevin Goos recently left the company, with Century 21 Cambodia Chairman Kuy Vat taking his place. Vat sat down with Post Property this week to discuss his company’s situation.
What were you doing before joining Century 21?
I am the founder and owner of a group of companies, including Vtrust Property, Vtrust Appraisal, Park Café and Phnom Penh Security. I’m also the chairman of the Cambodian Investor Club. More importantly, I have been in the real estate sector for over 10 years as an investor and buyer. Also, I’m the chairman of the Cambodian Valuers and Estate Agents Association.
What are the benefits of being a Century 21 franchisee?
As the master franchiser, with the support of head office, our mission is to build trust, professionalism and integrity in the Cambodian real estate market to promote cooperation and collaboration between local and international buyers and investors.
What will you bring to Century 21 that it did not have before?
Our aim is for real estate agency owners and agents in Cambodia to build and observe ethical practices, trust and professionalism between local and international buyers and agents – and Century 21, being a world-renowned brand, is in a position to do this.
Why did former CEO Kevin Goos leave Century 21?
Kevin left us for personal reasons, and to pursue his own personal interests. As the former chairman of Century 21 Cambodia, I am very proud and grateful that he has helped in setting up the company, which has grown so fast in this market. We’re still friends.
How effective is Century 21 in the Cambodian marketplace?
Our simple system, which we are using right now, is working as one big family sharing common goals and aspirations. We are united in collaborations, networking and connecting among our Century 21 Cambodia family of offices and working together to grow the real estate market in Cambodia.
Is an essentially American real estate company going to be responsive to the Cambodian marketplace?
The Century 21 corporate head office is in America, yes, but the brand has already reached 78 countries around the world and the Century 21 brand is growing very well in Southeast Asia, as well as in Asia. Century 21 Japan has been working very well for the past 32 years with almost 900 franchisee offices, and China has almost 1,000 franchisee offices—with 200 in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Taiwan and Singapore. In Cambodia right now, many business owners, from multinational corporations to SMEs, know our brand and are working with us as strategic partners as well.
How many Cambodian real estate companies operate under the Century 21 franchise?
Right now we have 14 independently owned and operated offices in Phnom Penh. Since Century 21 came to Cambodia two years ago, we have seen a lot of developers arrive because they have seen our big brand and that brings a good image to Cambodia.
So everyone is happy with Century 21?
No, not everyone is happy. If you have a brand it will be between 50 and 70 percent successful. But our priority is how to support the growth of franchise offices.
Are you confident that Century 21 will succeed in Cambodia?
We strongly believe that Century 21 Cambodia will succeed, as it has done in many Asia Pacific countries like Japan, China, Hong Kong and so on. Right now we have Mr Hideyuki Nagamatsu in our team providing strategic support. He has 32 years of experience and his office earned about $5 million last year in commissions.
Do you think Cambodia is facing a looming property bubble?
I think the condo market will become very competitive in the future because it’s growing very fast. However, the opportunity for investment to come to Cambodia is good. Prices will be forced downwards but there will still be good opportunities for the international buyer and local investors too.