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New law allows foreigners to buy property in Cambodia – but not land

The much awaited Foreign Ownership Property Law has been passed by a large majority in Cambodia’s National Assembly and is set to transform the real estate market.
It now needs to pass the country’s Senate and then King Norodom Sihamoni has final approval before it becomes law but both are considered formalities.
Until the law becomes fully operational foreigners cannot own land or property in their own right and had to set up a deal with a native Cambodian buyer. With demand increasing from foreign property investors the new rules are expected to revolutionize the real estate sector.
‘It increases confidence in the market. It sets things within the law,’ said Daniel Parkes, Cambodia country manager of global property agency CBRE Richard Ellis. He added that it will help spur foreign interest and that those preparing to invest now will benefit from an upswing by 2011.
‘The next six months are a good time to buy. Comparatively, it’s more appealing than Thailand and Vietnam for foreign investors,’ Parkes added.
The law gives foreigners the right to buy real estate at least one floor up due to the fact that owning land will still be banned. Buying property within 20 miles of the Cambodian borders will also be banned for reasons of national security.
Other restrictions include limiting the foreign ownership of any one building to 49%. And those who have bought by setting up a holding company in the name of a Cambodian national will have two years to move the property into their own name.
Im Chhun Lim, Minister of Land Management, said that the adoption of the law would help attract foreign buyers and strengthen Cambodia’s economy. ‘This law will promote the investment sector by encouraging the construction of luxury, high rises,’ he said.
Cambodia’s economy relies mainly on the agriculture and tourism sectors, but foreign investors have helped the economy’s rapid growth and there is a surge in interest in it as an emerging real estate market.