Sam Yang, CEO of Eastland HK Development Co. Ltd., has made waves in the Cambodian development market recently after announcing a slew of major projects in Phnom Penh. While Yang is a relatively young developer on the Cambodian scene, just 30 years old, his experience speaks for itself. Yang studied in both Canada and China, his two homelands, before beginning his professional career in China, holding roles such as GM of Fuying Construction Company; GM of Citykey Development Co., Ltd; Holding Vice President of YueTai Holding; CEO of XingYuan Mining – and, now, in his first Cambodian real estate venture, CEO of Eastland HK.
Post Property spoke with him regarding his wholly positive outlook on the expansion of the Cambodian real estate sphere and his company.
Can you explain East Land’s latest project?
The first of Eastland’s projects to reach completion will be the “East One International Apartments” project –a condo development which is already 70 per cent sold and under construction in Duan Penh. As we entered the Cambodian real estate market just 3 years ago, we used this first, smaller project to test the market. Based on the success of East One, we are now launching “East Commercial Center (ECC)” along Norodom Boulevard, near the Malaysian Embassy.
Why not start another condo project, if East One was so successful?
We decided to build an office building as our follow up project because, based on our research within the local market, we believe that the number one real estate need within Phnom Penh moving into the future is a lack of affordable, sole-purposed office space. There are a growing number of talented local entrepreneurs and small business owners who need a place for their businesses to take flight, without driving them bankrupt.
The East Commercial Centre (ECC) will be completed in late 2017 and provide the market with 38 floors of pure office space, divided into small and affordable units, with low management fees, and common areas with all necessary business amenities.
We are also intimately aware that Phnom Penh has a growing lack of parking space. That’s why the ECC project will include a total of 680 carparks, [totaling] over 6 floors.
And in fact, the following stage of this development will be the East View Residence project, which will include four 38-floor high residential buildings. This will mark our second Cambodian condominium project and will be on a much larger scale than East One. It will have a total of 768 units, and sufficient parking space to accommodate all residents. This will also provide living space for international and local business people working within the ECC tower, meaning they will not have to commute to their place of work.
Why did you choose B grade office space for ECC?
The current office space market in Phnom Penh is unsuited to the growing demand. These types of start-up businesses are not interested in A-grade office space, as rental rates are too high, and instead now find themselves adapting villas or flat houses into office space. Meanwhile, International companies are increasingly interested in moving an office to Cambodia at low risk because investment incentives are some of the best in the region.
As a developer set to release around 1500 units onto the market in 2017-2018, are you concerned about the property market retracting as the next election approaches in 2018?
I am optimistic about 2018. No market in the region is free from these political concerns. Keep in mind, there will also be elections in Myanmar and Thailand in the near future, under similar scrutiny. Three things are clear to me: Firstly, the next great international economic boom will happen within the ASEAN countries. Secondly, out of the ASEAN nations, Cambodia has demonstrated itself to be within the top three in regards to political stability. Meanwhile, thirdly, in Cambodia investors can still trust in the US dollar – this is unique.
Is there a real estate bubble on the way?
Relative to other international real estate markets, so far Cambodia’s real estate market has only attracted smaller funds of investment. Generally, we are seeing 5 to 10 million dollar investments in real estate projects in Cambodia. The larger funds of 200 to 600 million are yet to consider Cambodia. However, it is only a matter of time before these types of speculators come. This means, the Cambodian market still has a lot of potential growth. By 2018, also, the Chinese plan to have a regional railway completed, effectively linking the Asian markets directly. Although supply is increasing quickly in the Cambodian property market, we should also see relative demand chasing as the region develops faster than ever.
James Whitehead, Realestate.com.kh