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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Developer takes glass half full approach on property market

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Borey Woodland developer Ly Senleap. Photo supplied

Developer takes glass half full approach on property market

Borey Woodland developer Ly Senleap, also chief executive of FURI Real Estate, recently relayed that his development has managed to successfully sell half of its units despite only having recently started construction. While Cambodia’s real estate market has its fear share of bears, as Senleap told Post Property, having a bullish outlook can keep you on top of the game.

In a period where the real estate sector in Cambodia is moving into a period of oversupply, why did you decide to invest in Borey Woodland?
I have seen many big corporations coming in and expanding their operation in Cambodia, such as Coca Cola. In terms of the national market, it still has potential. Borey Woodland is not competing with anyone else. We have our own market. We’re only developing 88 houses in the first phase.

Woodland has a unique vision. We thrive to create new experiences for our customers. I would not do anything like other [developers] or copy from other people.

2017 is a year marked with differing perspectives and opinions on the state of real estate sales. What is your take on the current state of the market?
In the perspective of Cambodian people, it’s normal for them to be worried about the election and politics. As for me, I am not concerned about the politics because if you look at neighbouring countries like Thailand, their military is not as stable as ours. Every year, when the election approaches, the people are always afraid, but there’s nothing for me to be afraid of because our leaders will figure out a solution or compromise, which gains my confidence. Strong economic growth is dependent on political stability, so if the politics is as stable as this, what we can anticipate is many new developers. I barely have time to meet new developers – most of them are from Singapore, Taiwan, and recently, Philippines, ever since the Philippines’ president visited Cambodia.

What is your opinion on the slated oversupply of condo units set to flood Phnom Penh in coming years?
There will be many completed condo developments entering the market, but if you’re talking about the rental market, there are still many available. According to the Ministry of Interior, in 2016, there were more than 30,000 foreigners requesting work permits in Cambodia. All of them require an apartment, and 30 percent of them are able to pay $1,200 a month, so they are able to rent a condo.

As a matter of fact, the condos that my company manages are always full. In a free market, if you don’t have any services or special features to attract customers, it’s quite hard, but all my apartments and condo buildings are always sold out or rented out as the demand is still there.

Both 2017 and 2018 are election years. Is this an opportunity for investment or is it a risk?
If you look at successful people, they take challenges and turn it into opportunities, but those who fail look at challenges as obstacles. For me, if the whole market is good for everyone, then real estate prices will go up, and it will be difficult to buy. In the meantime, however, everyone is worried, so it’s a good opportunity to buy at a good price. Different developers have different opinions.

In recent years, foreign real estate developers have come to Cambodia in droves. Do you see this continuing in 2017?
People tend to say that the real estate market is heading downhill, but we can see that there are more local and foreign developers now. If the market wasn’t doing well, there wouldn’t be new companies and international developers opening up here. This goes to show that this is a great opportunity. Personally, if the competition gets tighter, the country will only prosper more. Therefore, if we crave success, we can’t stand by as we did because the market is getting more competitive. We have to figure out a way to compete, win, and figure out what is special about us. I always advise small real estate companies to find their specialty and practice it. If you’re a rent agent or a sales agent, then you focus on sales. If you’re a property valuer, then you focus on evaluating.

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oldkhmer's picture

The World is in the biggest financial bubble in history. Bubbles are not new.. just that this one is bigger than all others by a huge margin. China is vastly overbuilt, so I guess it is no surprise that the Chinese look for "other" opportunities. The bubble will keep going so long as there is one more person who can borrow more money to buy another property. Investing in residential does not add to long term GDP, but it does add to borrowing which attracts interest. So what will happen is that eventually more people will have to divert more money from productive earning (as in making things) to service debt that has been created out of thin air at interest. It is economics of the bizarre.. but so long as people can be convinced to keep buying, and that banks to keep lending, then it will continue until.. the last person with any money no longer has any and then you will see prices go down at a rate that will take peoples breath away. Of course the $64,000 is when will the last person no longer have recourse to more money. It's not if, just a question of when. So the really smart people will get out before the dumb ones are left holding the baby...