CVEA shares 5th Mandate vision

CVEA shares 5th Mandate vision

After being appointed as president of the Cambodian Valuers and Estate Agents Association (CVEA) for his 2nd mandate in 2017-2018, Kim Heang lays out the association’s ambitious vision in an exclusive interview with Construction and Property Magazine.

The election for CVEA President was tight with just one vote separating the 27-28 result. Does this division concern you? How do you plan to improve solidarity, and partnerships among the members for the CVEA to move forward in a united way? 

Despite the tight voting result, I don’t think there will be any internal division among us. Just like in the previous mandate when I won the election, I invited the three candidates to be the vice-presidents. Two of them agreed and another one became the advisor, so we can run the association successfully. Here, we work as a team; it is not about who is more superior to     who. The votes also reflect my leadership in the previous mandate and what I should change and improve. To unite them, there is only one solution. People apply as a member because they want the benefits, so when we have projects and benefits we need to distribute them fairly. Those who contribute much receive much, those contribute less receive less.

Will there be any restructure of the CVEA’s structure with 7 board members and 2 advisors?

I will restructure a lot in this 5th mandate; not only the board members, but also the administrative staff. Two years ago when I became the president with only 51 members, we invited people to be board members. Everyone, including me, was not ready as we were all new to the positions. Now, due to the changing situation with 98 members, I will increase the board members to between 10 and 12 for this mandate due to rising member numbers compared to only 7 board members and 2 advisors in the previous mandate. I plan to recruit five vice-presidents including females, not only three like before. Board members are volunteers, so those who wish to be the board members must submit the application along with a letter of commitment and need to be recruited via the election unlike before when we invited them in. We need people who are devoted to the association, not those who just take the positions but devote nothing. In this mandate, I won’t do everything alone, but we do and achieve things together. Since we have been together for one mandate already, I believe we can understand each other better and work more effectively. 

What have been the key successes from the 4th mandate?

We have devoted a lot of very hard work in the 4th mandate. We hosted two public real estate forums, two real estate lectures and many internal meetings. What I am really proud of is the successful hosting of the ASEAN Valuers Association (AVA) Conference in Phnom Penh on 4-6 May, 2016 that was attended by over 400 real estate local and international professionals.

We took our members in groups to visit and match businesses with many projects almost every week. Within 14 months after I took the office, the membership was doubled from 51 to 98, and so did the membership revenue. We have expanded our networks locally and internationally. The media also featured us and the market daily. Now Cambodia has been a member of AVA since 2010 and the ASEAN Real Estate Network Alliance (ARENA) since 2016. Soon we will be a member of the US-based National Association of Realtor (NAR).

What goals remain to be achieved from your 1st mandate and what are the key milestones for the 2nd mandate?

As the 2016 ARENA Conference was hosted in Thailand, and 2017 will be in Malaysia, I will bid to host the 2018 conference in Cambodia. I attended the National Association of Realtor (NAR) Conference in South Korea in 2016 and they will host another one in Thailand in 2018. So, I want Cambodia to chair the next conference in 2020. CVEA members, the Cambodian economy and our society will benefit largely from these two hallmark events. I have signed MoUs with ARENA, the Institute of Estate Agents of Singapore (IEAS) and NAR for real estate training programs and we will make the programs available in early 2017. In 2017, we will set up two working teams to manage exclusive projects for our members, and another appraisal team to appraise only exclusive projects as well. 

How many agencies and agents are members of the CVEA now? How many of them are foreign entities?

As of December 2016, there were 80 official members, and 18 affiliated members. There were 80 local firms and 18 foreign firms. Over 1,200 agents were registered under the association.

The market has seen the property sector slow in 2016 compared to last year.  Do you see the real estate sector continuing to contract through 2017 and 2018? What factors are influencing the market at present?

I don’t see the market crashing. As long as there are people seeking homes, the market won’t crash. So far 800,000 workers are living in Phnom Penh, and more migrants are pouring into the capital annually. How can the market fall? The problem today is not about the downside of the real estate industry but the over-pricing by developers. As people can’t afford those properties, soon the property values will decrease to their realistic prices automatically. The market won’t get stuck. The main factors influencing the market today are; over-pricing by developers, and the minor problems are the political situation, economic development, and the flow of Foreign Direct Investment.

One of your key aims has been to establish the Kingdom’s first real estate training institute. How are the plans for this progressing?

We already signed a MoU with the University of Technology of Malaysia (UTM) in December 2016 that specialises in real estate training programs. Then we will work on the curriculum, course outline, course syllabus and fees. We plan to use some of their lecturers and our lectures due to expenses. We will open the program before this Chinese New Year Celebration. We may rent the hotel rooms or school classrooms first.

There have been a lot of discussions on how to integrate Cambodia’s real estate industry into the global market.  How well do you think this is progressing and what still needs to be done? Can Cambodia’s real estate truly compete on a global market?

Cambodia is still a closed market, as few people know us. Our country lacks marketing promotion. Now I have promoted Cambodia’s real estate to Malaysia, South Korea and the United States. In 2017, I plan to promote our country in seven other countries. I don’t think there is any harsh competition with real estate markets with other countries. They build for their own people and foreigners living in their countries, as do we.  We just compete on the economic situation. If our economy is better, more people will come to us.

A robust property industry needs positive involvement from all parties. What are your requests and recommendations to private sector developers, property buyers and sellers, and the government to ensure a prosperous property market in Cambodia?

The government should lead in driving this market. There should be a proper city master plan and city zoning so that we, as agents and developers, know what to develop and where. There must be a more effective regulation to control this sector. For developers, they should re-study as the market for the rich and upper-middle class is already over-supplied. Now over 70 percent of the people have a low-income. They should target on residences costing lower than USD20,000. For brokers, they should comply with the law.

What are the greatest challenges and opportunities facing the Cambodian real estate market looking 10 years into the future?

Our great challenges are the lack of a proper city master plan and the regulations such as the law on real estate businesses. Cambodia is like a growing girl due to the strong economy, great demography, safe geography, friendly people and being in the centre of ASEAN which is attracting the rest of the world. So we have plenty of opportunities.

Kim Heang, CVEA President, thank you for sharing your valuable insights with Construction & Property Magazine.

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