Pandemic brings real estate activity to near nil

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The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has hammered the sales of land plots around the Kingdom. Hong Menea

The value of Cambodian real estate has not shown signs of decline in recent weeks, despite the Covid-19 pandemic bringing market activity to a virtual standstill, industry insiders said on Wednesday.

The spread of the novel coronavirus has forced lay-offs and temporary closures among a number of real estate companies.

Century 21 Cambodia executive director Grace Rachny Fong told The Post that the world’s real estate markets are shrinking due to rising virus fears.

She noted that affordable housing projects have suffered less of a blow than their luxury and higher-priced counterparts.

Travel restrictions have been implemented around the world in an effort to curb the spread of Covid-19. This has reduced the number of foreigners in the Kingdom, which is the main source of investment in high-priced real estate, she said.

“Before many countries closed their borders, there was an active flow of foreign investors’ travel and real estate orders in Cambodia. But after the closure, it caused most orders to be postponed,” said Fong.

She argues that a market slowdown is the perfect time for those with extra capital in hand to purchase an affordable property.

“This is the chance to order real estate at a good price. The negotiation process will be easier than normal.

“All signs point to the prompt development of drugs and vaccines [Covid-19] in most developed countries. I expect the real estate market to recover once the World Health Organisation approves their use. I think the impact [of the pandemic] will only be short term,” Fong said.

Keller Williams Sen Sok regional operation principal Sam Soknoeun said: “Covid-19 has discouraged those wanting to buy real estate.

“[The impact on the industry] depends on the length of the Covid-19” outbreak, he said, adding that he is not worried about the real estate market.

Echoing Fong’s remarks, Soknoeun said the decline in market activity presents a golden opportunity for those who want to buy property for residential stay or investment.

The ongoing crisis has also hammered the sales of land plots around the Kingdom.

Vin Chhunhiet is a real estate entrepreneur who buys parcels of land in Kampot province and in the capital’s outskirts and subdivides them into separate plots for resale.

He said news of the virus’ spread has caused a decline in the sales of his company’s plots.

There are currently no buyers, he said. Even customers who had scheduled to see the plots have postponed their appointments due to concerns over the risk of infection.

He noted that as more people enter isolation, they are less willing to go out or spend money. The impact has been huge and it echoes across all sectors.

“Weeks ago, before the Covid-19 outbreak, my company was able to sell more than 20 parcels per week.

“However, since the beginning of March, sales have been steadily declining, especially over the past week. It is impossible to sell,” said Chhunhiet.

Despite the current lack of clients, his company will not lower prices, he said, adding that he expects the market to recover soon.

Cambodia Constructors Association general manager and secretary Chiv Sivpheng said the construction sector now is not as active as before in both Phnom Penh and the provinces.

He cited a slump in construction supplies, worker layoffs and a call for temporary suspension among industry insiders in the face of the pandemic as the main reasons behind the current slowdown.

“The construction sector in Cambodia is now stagnant – mainly due to insufficient equipment to meet demand, as the coronavirus epidemic has caused transport issues,” said Sivpheng.