By Siv Meng
Phnom Penh: Century 21 has been in existence for 47 years and has now expanded to 8,225 offices in 81 countries and has over 130,000 agents worldwide.
Mrs. Grace Rachny Fong, Executive Director of Century21 Cambodia, takes 15 minutes to talk about the real estate industry with the director of Propertyarea.asia.
Property: First of all, talk about entering the market for Century21 in Cambodia. How does it work?
Grace: In fact, we have been bringing Master Franchise from Century21 to Cambodia since 2013. It is the right Master Franchise in Cambodia as the 75th country to take the Master Franchise from the US. We have registered with the Ministry of Commerce and relevant institutions in Cambodia. Before the global company decided to grant Master Franchise to Cambodia, they (the parent company) studied six months about the history of the company. They first studied capital on cash, second on capacity, third on the experience, and the reputation in the real estate market.
Property: Why did VTRUST GROUP need to bring this company to Cambodia’s market?
Grace: Why did the brand come to Cambodia? In fact, franchise Century21 is ranked 21st among 100 reputable franchises in the United States. Century 21 was established in 47 years ago and has 82 branches in the world. Therefore, we must bring a very well-known and recognized company into the market, especially in the world market, because in Cambodia, we are not serving domestic services, but we also cooperate with our neighbors or countries in the world to get to know us.
Property: After choosing the company, how has this company helped promoted this sector and its reputation of Cambodia in the international arena?
Grace: We are not known or recognized, but we know them and our flag is unknown. Today they are not only well known, but they want to come to us more because of the opportunity. Therefore, Mr. Kuy Vat, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Century21 Cambodia, has decided to take it as a symbol or brand that provides confidence in the market. Among all this! Another is the concept of building confidence. This confidence is not only making us more attractive to local investors, but also looking attractive abroad to bring more cooperation in our local area. Certainly, in the Cambodian market, Cambodians begin to understand more about the brand when we provide them like our company every day. The company has expanded to 23 offices that customers, buyers and sellers will know that the Century21 logo is a package service.
Property: What is the package service?
Grace: With package service, we have something to offer them (clients), not just real estate agents, buyers and sellers, but we provide package services, including legal documents, loan instructions with banks, he or she does not need to be easy to pick up a phone or other problem. We look at the legal aspects. First, we look at the legal property title and their property title transfer. Second, we help prepare documents for lawyers who have a legally binding contract, reduce the risk, and help make the property transfer with relevant ministries and, third, we can help prepare loans with banks. Most Cambodians do not know how to prepare loan documents, and now 98 percent of Cambodians buy houses through a bank loan; we have a package service, and then provide the services from the sales process to the complete process of the sale for both buyers and sellers. This does not mean that we sell and only pay for our services. We provide additional services until the process is completed. So the owner and the buyer sometimes do not have to worry so much that they have to pick up call every day, and the owner does not have to go anywhere to Phnom Penh or to the provinces.
So looking at whether the property title is legal or not is not is a problem; we help organize and provide warmth and follow the legal procedure for them.
Property: With the Master franchise, what is the parent company offering Century21 Cambodia here?
Grace: Five major points Century21 in the United States offers as the famous symbol, or brand name, because we have local registrations, then when we go, we can equip our services with international standards. Second, training, even though we are coaches, must be trained in the center so that we can train local agents. Third, marketing material is essential to innovation to serve the marketplace so that our customers know us. Fourth, the technology system is important in managing real estate in agency management and data management, and the fifth is that the network is really important when we sign a contract with Century 21, the United States of America or franchise buyers from us, meaning that they are not alone. If they run a local company, they is alone. But if they can connect with 81 countries, they can get to know other people, and they can work with other member countries, because if we go to the United States, Japan, or China, we are called family. When the family wants to go to a country, they open the door, we open the book, we see them collaborating with us, like a family in the house. This is a network abroad. Another network is those who live in Cambodia that have difficulty traveling to the US. Even if having money, it cannot give them a chance to go to the US, but when they buy a franchise from us, they can visit the United States with the guarantee from the central office with invitation letters from the headquarter, so they can travel even with their family to the United States, or reach other countries in 81 countries that the member.
Property: From 2013 to 2019, over 6 years, the company has come to Cambodia first as a world-class company. How can the company penetrate into the market?
Grace: After coming to Cambodia and all the franchises that have been purchased, they have registered with the local authorities, called the relevant ministry, even if the company is the international franchise. We need to make local legal procedures when registering. It is important that the owners of the property or the buyers should know that some companies have registered with only two institutions at the Ministry of Commerce and General Tax Department. They have not taken another license from the Ministry of Economy and Finance. It is equally illegal, but all 23 of us, such as the new offices, are currently taking licenses from four other Ministries, with another Justice Department, to make a judgment note. Twenty-five years ago, when I started doing business, there were always visitors from Singapore, Hong Kong, and Malaysia to Cambodia. When entering the Cambodian market, they sometimes meet with realtors without license and never go through training, they do not have a clear listing of companies. Some of them never worked in the real estate sector and they called this group a “realtor.” When foreign investors want to invest in a land or building when not meeting with a licensed agent, an internationally recognized company and the they evaluated the whole sector in the industry badly. The whole thing was not good and said that the market in Cambodia could not be trusted. This is the most dangerous, but when Century 21 stepped in for more than five years, as international companies met with us, they always have a good feedback about us. After, they say good and different about since they say that Cambodia has the opportunity to invest, and opportunities to make a profit and safe.
Property: Did you get good feedback from the Master Franchise?
Grace: Yes! We have built a reputation and build trust with the symbols taken, and our agents have been exploring the real estate sector to help guide the property owners.
Property: Does it mean that it not only creates a good image locally, but we help Cambodia become famous in the international arena?
Grace: Yes, we have helped to make the market more trustworthy and outsiders are confident that our company has a certain license
and is a company that has been internationally recognized with its brand.
Property: How does Century21 Cambodia make achange, especially the integration of the concept between Asia and the US in the realm of the current working system?
Grace: Yes! In fact, the United States of America is recognized as a superpower. If the product comes from America, the product will be trusted, through quality control, and then go to the market. So they can control this world power, but now the two tigers (the United States of America and China) are fighting. The Western culture and Eastern culture are different, but we cannot deny that Western culture can be used in the East. We use and adjust Western’s strengths to apply to the east. We have more customized adjustments to the Cambodian market, especially the owners can receive from our own service. So, our 100 percent of our agent does not have foreign agents; they are Cambodian, but can speak 4 languages, English, Chinese, Khmer, and Japanese. So, when taking us, we take the Western strength to adjust to our social context.
Property: Now, local companies are growing because of the fast growing sector, with new brands coming to Cambodia. How does Century 21 Cambodia position in maintaining excellence?
Grace: Trust is the foundation or belief in our business as Century 21 Cambodia, our family member, who has been operating since 2013 until they have the bright future. We do not compete with each other. One word is that we want to work together to develop the market that does not want to take the time to compete to win the market alone, but our philosophy is to work together on win-win situation. Gain profit together and develop the market together, though the company is small or the big giant company coming into the market, we welcome.