- Foreigners cannot own Cambodian land directly, but can buy strata-title properties.
- Having expert advice and guidance is essential when purchasing Cambodian property.
- Prices for land can be as little as $100 per square meter in rural areas.
- Nominee structures for owning land are illegal and not recommended.
- Foreigners can hold land through a locally-incorporated company.
When it comes to buying land in Cambodia, there tends to be a bit of confusion as to whether foreigners can legally own real estate in the country.
Technically, foreigners are not allowed to own land in Cambodia. However, as a foreign investor, there are a handful of strategic loopholes you can utilize to get around Cambodia’s real estate laws such as acquiring land through a locally incorporated company or through strata titles.
As an avid investor in international real estate, I rely on credible sources to deliver accurate information regarding land acquisitions. In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at the best ways to purchase property in Cambodia, to help you make an informed decision on your next real estate acquisition.
Table of Contents
Can Foreigners Buy Land In Cambodia?
As a foreigner, my ability to buy land in Cambodia is restricted by the country's regulations. Foreign nationals are not permitted to own freehold land. However, I can still own certain types of properties, such as strata-titled properties (mostly condos).
Pursuing Cambodian citizenship would give me the ability to acquire land in the nation, something the government aggressively encourages. This road, however, is not for everyone because it takes a tremendous amount of time, money, & effort.
Types Of Land Ownership In Cambodia
In Cambodia, there are a few different types of land ownership options that I will go over in this section. Understanding these official titles will help you with your decision-making when hunting down your perfect plot in Cambodia.
A hard title is considered the strongest form of land ownership in Cambodia. This type of land title is registered with the national government and proves full ownership of the land.
That said, as a foreigner, I cannot directly own land under my name. There are ways to establish control over land, such as through a local company, a lease, or acquiring Cambodian citizenship.
Soft titles are another form of land ownership recognized in Cambodia. These titles are not registered with the national government, meaning they may not provide the same security as hard titles.
The majority of property in Cambodia is legally held under a soft title. As a foreigner, I still cannot own land directly, so I would need to explore other options for controlling land with a soft title.
Strata titles are a possession right that allows properties to be co-owned by both Cambodians and foreigners.
They apply mostly to condos & are similar to regulations found in other Southeast Asian countries. A property must meet specific criteria to be granted a strata title, including being built after 2009 and being further than 30km from any border.
This may be a more accessible option for me as a foreigner, as it allows me to own a portion of the property legally with the least amount of hassles. While hard titles offer the most security, they are harder to obtain, which is why I recommend most foreign investors pursue strata titles instead.
Now that I've covered the main types of land ownership in Cambodia, we can further explore options to make the best real estate decision possible.
Alternative Ways For Foreigners To Purchase Land
I cannot legally own land in Cambodia directly since I am a foreigner. However, there are a few strategies I may use to take possession of real estate in the country.
I'll go through a few of these choices in this section, including long-term leasing, purchasing through a local business, & owning condominiums.
A long-term lease is often one of the safest ways to acquire land temporarily in Cambodia.
Granted, this approach does not make you the legal owner of the property, but you can always opt for a long-term lease that spans decades to secure the real estate for years down the line.
Each long-term lease is different and it’s essential to carefully read the fine print before signinging any contracts. There may be certain restrictions regarding land use and you may be limited on what you can develop in some cases.
If you plan on pursuing development on the land, make sure to confirm this with the land owner and double-check that it’s mentioned in the long-term lease.
Buying Through A Cambodian Company
An approach worth considering is establishing a corporation with majority Cambodian ownership that can represent me as its beneficiary owner.
Although I intend to maintain partial control as a minority shareholder in this enterprise, working with dependable local stewards and acquiring comprehensive knowledge regarding relevant legal matters will play key roles throughout any transaction.
It’s important to work with trustworthy and reliable business partners when taking this route. You want to know the partners you choose have your best interests in mind and are not going to present legal issues and concerns after contracts are signed.
Owning Condominium Units
If my primary goal is to invest in Cambodia's real estate market, but I am not interested in buying land directly, owning condominium units might be a more suitable solution.
Foreigners are allowed to own strata-title units, which often include condominiums and commercial buildings. This option is more straightforward since it does not need the creation of a land holding company or the execution of a potentially complex lease agreement.
Even though I cannot directly buy land as a foreigner, I may still participate in Cambodia's real estate market by investigating in strata titles.
Factors To Consider When Buying Land In Cambodia
Before making a choice to acquire land in Cambodia, it is essential to evaluate a number of aspects. These considerations, including location, infrastructure, zoning rules, and land use limitations, will be discussed in this section.
The first thing to consider is the location of the land. The value of land is largely determined by its location, with prime locations being more expensive.
I need to take into account the area's accessibility, convenience, and potential for growth when choosing land. For example, land in bigger cities like Phnom Penh and Siem Reap would have a higher value than in smaller towns.
Infrastructure plays a key role in land value as well. When considering a property, I check the availability & quality of essential services such as electricity, water supply, and road maintenance.
Existing or planned infrastructure, such as highways or public transportation, can also impact the land's value.
I constantly research Cambodia's zoning restrictions before acquiring land. These rules govern the types of development & land use permissible in a certain location.
To guarantee that my proposed use for the site is permitted, I must communicate with local officials and acquire information regarding zoning limitations.
Land Use Restrictions
In addition to zoning regulations, I need to look into other land use restrictions. Cambodia has two primary types of land titles: soft titles and hard titles.
Hard titles offer more security and are more widely recognized, while soft titles may be less reliable in terms of legal protections. It is critical to understand the distinctions between these titles & to confirm the ownership of the land before acquiring it.
While buying property in Cambodia might be difficult, by paying attention to these aspects, I can make an informed decision & acquire the ideal piece of land for my purposes.
Land prices in Cambodia fluctuate considerably. The location of your property will heavily influence how much you can expect to spend on real estate in the country.
If you're looking at urban real estate, you might notice that prices for land within the city center and outside the city vary, with city-center commercial land costing up to $5,000 per square meter and residential land can cost up to $2,500 per square meter.
Alternatively, outside the city center, commercial land is $300 per square meter & residential land is $100 per square meter.
Due Diligence Process
When I considered buying land in Cambodia, I realized the importance of conducting a thorough due diligence process. This helped me uncover any potential issues or pitfalls that might devalue the property or cause problems with the acquisition.
Initially, I looked for relevant information about the property's history, ownership, and title. I also checked for any outstanding debts, disputes, or encumbrances on the land.
To accomplish this, I consulted with legal experts in land management in Cambodia and researched the local property market to understand the legal framework and land registration system.
According to bE-Laws, due diligence is essential (if not mandatory) when buying property in Cambodia.
I decided to conduct a physical inspection of the property, assessing its condition and checking for defects or maintenance issues.
This includes verifying the property's boundaries, access rights, and ensuring that it aligned with the information provided by the seller.
During this process, I also considered the local infrastructure, available amenities, and potential developments in the area that could impact the property's value.
Finally, I analyzed the financial aspects of the transaction, such as taxes, fees, and expected return on investment.
This process allowed me to determine if the land's price was fair and competitive, considering the current market conditions in Cambodia. To evaluate these factors, I made use of the resources available through websites like Asia Property HQ and consulted with local real estate experts.
Ultimately, performing due diligence gave me the confidence and peace of mind to proceed with my foreign property ownership in Cambodia.
Legal Assistance And Real Estate Agents
As I researched the process of buying land in Cambodia, I found out that foreigners are not allowed to own land outright due to the restrictions in Article 44 of the Cambodian Constitution.
However, there are options available for those who do want to purchase land in Cambodia, such as buying through a local company, leasing, or acquiring Cambodian citizenship.
Given the complexities of the land buying process, I can't emphasize enough the importance of engaging with legal entities and real estate agents.
Hiring a skilled property lawyer and real estate agent will help me navigate through the process and ensure that all necessary steps are taken in accordance with the law. A reputable real estate agent is also crucial because they can guide me through the market and identify appropriate land options.
It's important that I thoroughly review the credentials of both the legal professionals and real estate agents with whom I choose to work. Established firms and individuals with a successful track record in helping foreigners purchase land in Cambodia are likely to provide the expertise and experience that I need to safeguard my investment.
About THE AUTHOR
Brittany has been in the land business since 2020 when the world was starting to shut down. Since then, we’ve sold to dozens of people from ATV weekend warriors to camping enthusiasts to retired truck drivers. Our inventory spans mostly in the western United States. We’ve been trained by experience, land acquisition courses, and hundreds of hours meeting with county assessors and clerks, zoning officials, realtors, and land investors. We’ve answered hundreds of questions from people regarding the buying and use of land.Read More About Brittany Melling