Ads rebound as slump continues

Ads rebound as slump continues

Advertising related to the property sector has started to bounce back from a slow end of the year as developers and real estate agents look to offload properties in Cambodia's sluggish property market, publishers and realtors say.

Home and Life Managing Director Sen Nit told Prime Location that the magazine had come out the other side of a tough half-year in which advertising revenues declined in line with a tanking property market.

"This month I have already confirmed five to six pages of ads from developers and real estate agents and I are in still in negotiations with others," he said.

Sour Khieng, the sales and marketing coordinator at Rasmei Kampuchea, Cambodia's biggest-circulation daily newspaper, also said revenues from real estate-related advertising began to recover at the start of the year after collapsing along with the property market in the middle of last year.

He refused to disclose revenues but said the last few months had been better than at any time since June 2008.

Developers and realtors have been hit hard in recent months by a loss of confidence among buyers, with many saying sales have dropped practically to zero.

The downturn followed a prosperous few years for the sector. Sales activity and land values soared as speculators flipped properties to make quick profits in a market buoyed by an influx of foreign investment.

The run-up to last year's national election led to a natural slowdown, which most expected to be short-lived. But despite the rapid formation of a new government, ongoing political uncertainty with Thailand over ownership of the Preah Vihear temple complex extended the slump; and then the global financial crisis kicked in, eroding what confidence remained.  

National Valuers Association of Cambodia President Sung Bonna said prices for land had dropped 30 to 40 percent since its June peak as land and property owners tried to offload holdings in a market with no buyers.  

Phnom Penh Monument City sales and marketing manager Sim Phalla said the ongoing sales slump in Cambodia made it more critical to adopt an aggressive marketing campaign.

She started advertising houses and villas for sale in Khmer-language newspapers at the beginning of the year.

"I have had ads about my development in the Koh Santepheap and Kampuchea Thmei newspapers since the beginning of 2009 even though the world financial crisis has hit Cambodia's property sector," she said. To sweeten the deal, she was also offering a 10-percent discount to the first 10 buyers.

Sean Sony, 48, who runs a stall at Phnom Penh's Olympic Market, said he was using advertisements in local newspapers to find a house or a flat for his daughter. While the number of properties advertised had increased, prices had not yet fallen far enough, he said.

"I read the newspaper every day looking for a flat for my daughter, who just got married, but the prices are still too expensive so I will keep reading," he said.

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