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US real estate name enters Kingdom

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Kim Heang is shown on a visit to the US offices of Keller Williams Realty. Photo supplied

US real estate name enters Kingdom

The real estate market in Cambodia has witnessed rapid progress, especially over the last four to five years. Unfortunately, many have noted that human resources and other vital areas of the workforce seem to be lagging.

In order to make the market more robust and internationally recognised, in late May, Kim Heang, the CEO of Khmer Real Estate Co Ltd, signed an agreement for the master franchise rights to bring US real estate company Keller Williams Realty to the Kingdom. Post Property’s Hin Pisei sat down with him to find out more.

What do you think of the real estate sector in Cambodia today?

I recognise that the real estate sector in Cambodia is now moving forward very fast in terms of leasing activities, and purchase and sales. However, the sector still faces a number of obstacles, especially in terms of ability and professionalism, and a lack of compliance with the law and code of ethics.

We know that in Cambodia there are many practitioners in this sector, but of every 100, less than five have gone through training to be registered as estate agents.

What is Keller Williams Realty and why did you buy the Keller Williams Realty’s master franchise rights for Cambodia?

The Texas, US-based company was founded in 1983. It earned more than $1 billion in revenue last year, which is a US and global record for that year. It has a total of 165,642 estate agents worldwide.

I went to the US several times to study the many real estate companies’ methods so that I could use them to help develop human resources and the real estate sector in Cambodia.

Keller Williams Realty is a company which has a business model that fits the market situation in Cambodia, which has a lot of young people and many untrained or unlicensed estate agents in business.

Keller Williams Realty is a company created by estate agents for estate agents.

On signing the master franchise deal, I am not only aiming to expand business partners across Cambodia, but in the future I can also expand my business to neighbouring countries in the Asean region.

When will Keller Williams Cambodia make sub-franchise deals with partner companies?

I plan to do that in the beginning of next year, because from now to the end of this year, I have a lot of work to do setting up the company’s new office which is 10 times bigger than the current one, training more staff, setting up the management group and a standardised system in compliance with Keller Williams Realty.

For the first stage of a sub-franchise agreement, I will not sell to many companies, only three to five in Phnom Penh, and only one in each province.

A company that wants to land a sub-franchise has to be licensed with at least three years experience in real estate. They need to have a good reputation and at least 20 people as sales staff. The sub-franchisee’s management team may understudy at Keller Williams Realty in the US.

Are there any companies interested in a sub-franchise deal with your company?

At present, many real estate companies have contacted me about running a sub-franchise, however I have not decided to sell to any company yet.

Before doing so, I need to check and evaluate that company clearly because we do not sell only for money, regardless of those sub-franchisees’ success.

Regarding capacity, do you plan to train Keller Williams Cambodia staff?

In the first phase, Keller Williams Cambodia will conduct training courses for its own staff every month. By 2022, we plan to launch an institute named the Institute of Keller Williams Cambodia to provide training to those keen to learn the required skills to achieve success in the real estate sector.

What are your expectations for Keller Williams Cambodia?

Keller Williams Realty is a globally famous company like McDonald’s and Starbucks. On behalf of the Regional Operation Principal of Keller Williams Cambodia, I expect the company will operate smoothly, and through this, it will help to drive the real estate sector in Cambodia to be more prosperous.

By 2022, I expect Keller Williams Cambodia to control at least 30 percent share of the real estate market in Phnom Penh, and by 2029, it will hold more than 30 percent in the Kingdom.

Cambodia is the fourth country in Asean with the presence of Keller Williams Realty after Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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