My first investment in overseas property and it’s in Cambodia!

Last week, I made a downpayment for my very first property investment in a country that most investors in Singapore have probably never considered before – Cambodia. My property of choice was a  freehold small office/home office, also known as SOHO in a 45 storeys tall mixed residential and commercial development mixed development in Phnom Penh called The Bridge Cambodia.

Why Cambodia?

Cambodia is one of the countries that I have shortlisted as a potential destination for retirement. The country has a rather impressive average of 7.8% GDP over the last 12 years. With 100% foreign ownership, competitive wages and tax incentives, Cambodia is ready for business. While most Singaporean investors are looking at investing in properties in Australia, Malaysia and the United Kingdom, I decided to jump on the Cambodia wagon to capitalise on first mover advantage and the low property prices in Cambodia.

How I selected my investment property in Cambodia?

When I was doing my research about investing in properties in Cambodia, I learnt that many property developments were
badly hit during the global financial crisis and some of them remained uncompleted to date. While this did not scare me away from investing in Cambodia, it was clear that the selection of a trusted property developer is of utmost importance.

Looking at the list of property developments that are in the market, I shortlisted The Bridge Cambodia because it is jointly developed by two prominent property developers – Singapore-based Oxley and Cambodia-based Worldbridge Land. Oxley Holdings Pte Ltd has a strong track record as a property developer and is listed in Stock Exchange of Singapore.

I went for the cheapest unit available

Coming from a low income family, I didn’t have a lot of capital in the bank. While I want to begin my first foray in the world of property investment, I don’t want to lose everything in one go.

After examining the entire development, I decided on a SOHO unit that costs around 110,000 USD that is able to house a small room for the Director and 2-3 office tables for Executives. This set up is perfect for foreign companies who are coming in with a small footprint to establish their presence in Cambodia.

6% guaranteed rental yield is a good start

One of the reasons why I was interested in The Bridge Cambodia is because the developer  offered a guaranteed rental yield of 6% for the first 3 years. While 6% rental yield is quite decent, the average rental yield in Cambodia is around 10%. It makes me wonder if I could get a higher rental income if I rented it myself or had a local property agent rent the property out on my behalf. That said, with no connections to trusted local property agents, I would play it safe and let the property developer manage the property for me.

How does this property investment change my investment strategy?

Previously, I have been making regular investments into the Nikko AM Singapore STI ETF with a good portion of my monthly income. With this property investment, I will stop making the regular investments in the equities market and hold on to the cash to meet the deferred payment required for the property.

My plan is to try to complete the property purchase with cash and try not to take a mortgage loan because the interest rates charged by Cambodian banks for mortgage loans are too high for my comfort.

Are you looking to invest in properties in Cambodia?

Are you also interested in investing in Cambodia properties and would like to get more information?

Please contact me with your questions and I’ll try my best to answer them and connect you to my trusted property agent to get you started.

Leave a Comment:

14 comments
The Buyer’s Guide for Cambodia property investment | Retire by 50 says December 5, 2014

[…] Below is a summary of the charges and taxes involved in my purchase of a SOHO unit in The Bridge Cambodia. […]

Reply
My 15HWW says December 11, 2014

Hi Mickey,

Wow. I am impressed. You must be pretty familiar with the country. I haven’t even been to the place before!

Just curious, what are your plans after the 3 years are up?

Reply
    Mickey J says January 28, 2015

    Hi Mr 15HWW, I can’t say I am very familiar with the country, but my travel adventure there has shown that this country has potential. My plan is to see how the rental market performs in the next 3 years and if it does well, I’ll most likely renew the additional rent management option that the developer may offer. If I manage to find a good property agent in Cambodia, I may even consider having the agent manage the property on my behalf.

    Reply
How Budget 2015 impacts my retirement plans | Retire by 50 says February 24, 2015

[…] Being a glass-half-full kind of guy, it just means I would have to either find a way to earn $200 passive income each month, or spend $200 lesser in order to maintain my monthly saving limit. I prefer not to reduce my monthly saving limit because I need the money to pay for the new property I bought in Cambodia. […]

Reply
If you want to retire, double your savings rate! says June 15, 2015

[…] year, I achieved a monthly Personal Savings Rate of 72.59% although most of that going into my real estate investment in Cambodia. With a small salary bump this year and a reduction in personal income tax, I increased my […]

Reply
Rainbowcoin says October 8, 2015

woah, that’s a pretty daring venture in a used-to-be communist state. USD 110,000 is a rather big commitment considering it’s almost same price as that of a small subsidized HDB flat. Is there an sg bank loan to take for it?

Hope this investment would pay off well in time.

Reply
    Mickey J says October 9, 2015

    You are right that it is a daring venture. I already own a flat so I only compared this investment with private properties in Singapore (which makes it insignificant). In any case, it’s high risks for high returns right? I would prefer to be a first-mover in an emerging market than a laggard in a developed market. As for loans, I don’t see any mortgage loans in Singapore and Cambodia that is attractive enough to consider to date, so it’s going to be fully funded by cash for now.

    Reply
Wilson says June 8, 2016

Hi,

Just read your post regarding your property investment in Phnom Phen.

I am living in Hongkong and recently have idea to invest in property in Phnom Phen. Similarly, I am just a white-collar with not much initial capital. Is it possible for a foreigner (not living in Cambodia) to apply mortgage for purchasing?

At present, is it still good for investing in serviced apartment type property?

Thanks!

Reply
    Mickey J says October 11, 2016

    Hi Wilson,

    I’m not really in the position to advise you on whether it’s still good to invest in serviced apartment type property. You probably want to get a real estate professional’s advice on that.

    It’s definitely possible for a foreigner to apply for mortgage for purchasing. However, the interest rate for the loan is quite high. That’s the main reason why I opted for cash payment instead.

    Reply
    Catrina says October 29, 2016

    Hi some developers might provide loan. It depends. Fully funded by cash is best options.

    Reply
Automating the investing process with OCBC BCIP and POSB Invest-Saver – Retire by 50 says December 12, 2016

[…] Unfortunately, the monthly cash investment is still very small as bulk of my savings is still going towards funding my Cambodia SOHO property purchase. […]

Reply
FC says December 14, 2016

how are you funding your monthly installments?
you opened a local bank account?
how do you plan to liquidate your asset, and take your profit back to SGP?

Reply
    Mickey J says December 15, 2016

    I’m funding the payments by remitting the money to the developer from Singapore. No local bank account was created.

    The current plan is to sell to investors in Singapore and get everything done in Singapore. That may change in a couple years time.

    Reply
Amy James says July 17, 2017

Sometimes real estate investing for beginners can seem a bit intimidating and it’s easy to get lost in the lights and sounds of all the blogs, books, and television gurus with their slick hair.

Reply
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