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Low-income property seekers priced out in Phnom Penh

A need for more open, transparent land sales with an eye toward affordable housing

Mekong River tourist boats in Phnom Penh. TravelPhotoSpirit/Shutterstock

The affordability of homes in Phnom Penh is deteriorating, putting them out of low- and mid-income earners’ reach, market observers tell The Phnom Penh Post.

Houses in the Cambodian capital’s outer districts currently fetch prices of more than USD40,000, beyond the means of civil servants and workers in the industrial and service sectors, opined Kim Heang, regional operating principal at Keller Williams Cambodia.

These workers typically earn just between USD250 and USD500 per month, he added.  “The rich buy houses for delayed benefit, while many people are unable to buy them because of the continually increasing prices.”

Key Real Estate Co Ltd founding director Sorn Seap, head of judges at this year’s PropertyGuru Cambodia Property Awards, exhorted the government to develop more affordable units geared toward lower-income segments.

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“The state should develop more affordable houses in the outskirts, as land prices there are still low,” he explained.

Units in gated communities nonetheless still remain popular among property seekers for a reason. “We think those who can buy a house worth $100,000 do, because gated communities have good infrastructure, water and electricity. There is security as well,” said Sorn Seap.

Heang called for more transparency in the disposal of state land. “The state should not sell public land to the private sector, but instead put it up for bid by companies to develop affordable housing transparently and without corruption.

“Common people such as service staff will obtain real benefits. Otherwise, only a few dozen people will benefit,” he told the Post.

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