As scheduled, the National Assembly opened debate today on a new law allowing foreigners to own units in co-owned buildings. Though the draft isn’t publicly available, news agencies report [Post, and VOA Khmer] that foreigners would only be able to own units above the ground floor, and that a majority of units must be owned by Cambodian citizens. Further, foreigners couldn’t own units in buildings within 30 km of a land border, unless it’s in a Special Economic Zone. That doesn’t seem to be a terribly problematic restriction, given that most foreign demand is outside that zone in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville.

Presently, foreigners cannot hold title to land in Cambodia. Short of obtaining Cambodian citizenship, there are still ways for a foreigner, or foreign-owned company, to control land – such as a through a joint-venture or long-term lease. Still, these solutions don’t offer the security and value of full title to the unit itself.

There are quite a few mixed residential/office towers planned or under construction around Phnom Penh. Many were planned during the heady real estate boom of a few years ago, but were put on hold or delayed because of the bust. The hope is that allowing foreigners to own condominiums will give a needed boost to the real estate market. Stay tuned for further developments, I’ll try to post the text of the law once available.