The Evolution of Cambodian Real Estate, with Bretton Sciaroni on

Feb. 16, 2017, 12:15 p.m.

As with established markets all over the world, the Cambodian real estate market right now is an outcome of an evolutionary process that involved many things. And much of what it will become is part of that evolutionary process.

This is what the Chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia (AMCHAM) and the International Business Chamber (IBC), Mr. Bretton Sciaroni, believes.

In an exclusive interview with, Sciaroni discussed the many factors that have played into shaping the laws, policies and environment of the Cambodian real estate sphere as we now know it.

Cambodian Real Estate in the Past:

As one of the first foreign lawyers in the country, Sciaroni has had vast experience in business dealings and law in the Kingdom. In fact, he negotiated the first foreign investment deal in 1993 for a $60 million brewery venture.

Sciaroni recalls that it wasn’t always smooth sailing for the real estate market. He says that after Pol Pot was kicked out, the communist constitution made it difficult for the citizens to go back to their former land because all the land title documents had been destroyed. But around 1988 or 1989, a proper land titling system was put into place.

Another key event that shaped how Cambodia real estate transactions are made nowadays was the National Elections in 2008. According to Sciaroni, it was normal for activity in the real estate market to slow down months to a year before elections. However, the international financial crisis added another layer of issues that the government needed to address. Sciaroni adds that at this time it was a “superheated real estate market environment.”

Cambodian Real Estate Now:

The country has since recovered from those tough times.

When asked about why he stayed despite having to go through those hurdles, Sciaronii says that “the growth rates have been unbelievable.” A contributing factor to this is that the government is now very open to foreign investment and the citizens are more confident in the electoral process.

As evidence of this growth, new developments like the Exchange Square building and the prestigious Shangri La are already underway.

Sciaroni notes though, “So much needs to be done and so much can be done”.

He says that the current challenges that Cambodia faces are only stepping stones to a more dynamic future for the Cambodian real estate industry, and the society as a whole.

Cambodia’s Bright Future:

The past has proven to be the perfect testing ground for Cambodia’s potential.

And with many changes, such as having His Excellency Chea Sophara take over as the new minister for the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, it can only get better, says Sciaroni.

Now we have an improved communication system where industry professionals and the government can have an open dialogue. Sciaroni believes that the past is not bound to repeat itself in these new times with new approaches.

But he adds that there are still many more things that need to be set in their proper place. He says, “So, what we need to do: we need to encourage the government to continue to work towards getting the laws and policies in place. We really need these laws and policies in place to help the growth continue.”

Cambodia is one of the new lands of milk and honey. It’s a land of opportunity, but it definitely will not come without a little bit of work.

Learn more about investing in Cambodia today!