The real estate market in Preah Sihanouk province, which was hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, is now slowly recovering, according to real estate experts in the province.

Dith Channa, CEO of Sihanoukville’s Lucky Real Estate, said the market in the coastal city has improved slightly, especially following the opening of the Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway. The new road has seen a rise in the number of tourists visiting the town.

He added that several Chinese investors have started rebuilding previously stalled buildings, and some new projects are underway. He said various ministries and institutions are also beginning to address the problems of the stalled buildings in the province.

“There have been slight declines in prices in some areas when compared to what they were selling for before the temporary lockdowns caused by the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021. However, desirable locations are holding their value well. It is true that the total number of sales is down, but it is important to note that prices are similar to pre-pandemic levels, especially in urban areas” he said.

“Property prices remain particularly high in the area between Independence Beach and the Golden Lion Roundabout, and around the Sokha Hotel. Depending on the overall size of the plot, land here is still fetching from $3,000 to $3,500 per square metre. Some desirable suburban sections are still going for as much as $2,500 per square metre,” he added.

Rith Darika, another real estate agent in Sihanoukville, said demand for condominiums and business premises has increased by 20 or 30 per cent compared to the beginning of the year. She put this down to the government’s effective control of the virus.

“Chinese businessmen are gradually returning to Sihanoukville. What is important is that most of the newcomers are investors, including small and medium-sized businesses such as food stalls, restaurants and consumer goods stores,” she said.

Chhun Makara, the owner of a guesthouse as well as a real estate business in Preah Sihanouk, said that although the increase in tourism has contributed significantly to increases in demand for rental properties, fewer people were buying.

“With that being said, I am receiving more and more enquiries about land prices, which may be a sign for buying and selling activity in the near future,” he added.

According to a report from the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, in the first nine months of 2022, the ministry issued 3,176 construction permits nationwide, representing registered investment capital of about $1.963 billion – 98 of them were for projects of five storeys or higher, with 11 of them in Preah Sihanouk.

From 2017 to 2021, the province saw an explosion in construction, with a total 1,661 construction projects with an investment capital of over $8.4 billion. 620 projects were high-rise buildings, ranging from 5 to 53 floors.

Many of the buildings remain unfinished, with work abandoned during the pandemic. A government working group is working to restore progress on these sites.