The real estate industry body has plans to open a training institute for real estate agents and valuers by the end of the year.
The Cambodian Valuers and Estate Agents Association (CVEA) is gearing up to launch the country’s first national real estate school in an effort to increase professionalism in the industry and rein in the unlicensed and unqualified real estate agents and valuers that have been giving the industry a bad name.
CVEA president Kim Heang said the vocational training institute is expected to open by the end of the year and will provide courses based on a curriculum developed from Thai, Malaysian and Singaporean models. He said courses for certification as real estate agents in Cambodia will run 150 hours, while property valuers will require 180 hours of coursework.
“The purpose of opening this institution is not profit, but rather to strengthen human resources and to support the construction and real estate industry in Cambodia so that it can grow sustainably,” he said, adding that half of the faculty will be locally certified and experienced Cambodian instructors and the other half foreigners.
Heang said 20 companies have signed on as partners for the project, and the association is asking other CVEA members and private companies to pitch in financially in order to have the vocational institute operational by the end of the year.
“We need about $200,000 to open this institution in cooperation with the University of Technology Malaysia, the Ministry of Economy and Finance and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports,” he said.
Heang explained that students who graduate from the real estate training institute will be eligible to sit for an exam at the Ministry of Economy and Finance. Once they pass that exam they will receive a certificate of recognition from the ministry that will be mandatory for any agent or valuer wishing to work in the sector.
While the government has voiced support for the project, it has not yet issued the permits required to open and operate the educational facility, Heang added.
Uy Channimol, deputy director of the department of real estate and pawnshops at the Ministry of Economy and Finance, said she had heard of the CVEA’s plan to open a real estate school but the ministry had not yet received the required documents for its establishment. However, she said the ministry has already signed a memorandum of understanding with the Economics and Finance Institute to create a state curriculum for property agents.
“We welcome it if CVEA really wants to establish such an institution,” she said. “Creating a high-standard institution to improve human resources will contribute to the continual growth and strength of the real estate sector in Cambodia.”
Cheng Kheng, head of the advisory board of Huttons CPL, said he supports the establishment of a national real estate school in Cambodia as many other countries already have such institutions. He went further, adding that his company was ready to pony up some of the investment capital needed to bring the idea to life, “if everything is done with transparency according to each share invested.”
Kheng said the investment would provide returns not in terms of profit, but in human resources.
“The existence of this school will be a huge amenity as I will send my staff to study there too,” he said.
Comparisons have been drawn between the CVEA’s planned real estate school and a vocational academy established by real estate giant Century 21 Cambodia, which offers six-week courses for new and seasoned real estate agents. While open to the general public, the courses at this private institution are primarily geared toward training agents for Century 21 affiliates.
Va Vireak, executive director of Century 21 Fortuna Investment, a member of Century 21 Cambodia, said he welcomed news of the CVEA real estate school as it will be the first independent institution to teach a real estate curriculum. His company has even chipped in funds to get it built.
According to Vireak, Cambodia has about 150 registered real estate companies employing around 1,000 property agents. But there are also hundreds of freelance agents offering services and whose lack of professionalism is hurting the industry.
“I think this school will receive an enormous support, especially from real estate agencies in Cambodia as they want to hire skilled and professional staff,” he said. “They have always wanted this calibre of staff, but didn’t know where to find them as there has never been any specialised training for them.”