Positioning ourselves as a housing solution partner, First Finance has been delivering to our client beyond financial services. With more than 9 years’ experience as micro mortgage specialists, we still find that Cambodian people are faced with a lot of problems in buying/selling property. Such problems include buying land or a house that has no recorded history, buying from an illegal property developer (Boreys), land or houses with duplicate titles, accepting soft title even though the original title is hard or transferring ownership at the village/commune level to avoid tax duty, etc. These issues are risky for purchasers and could result in losing the right to owning their properties. Limited knowledge on property buying/selling, managing or transferring legal ownership; creates such problems.

First Finance saw the need to address this and with support from Microfinance Initiative for Asia (MIFA), cooperated with partners and experts from related ministries to create an educational campaign for the public on reducing the risk of buying and selling property in 2018. This cooperation culminated in holding a public workshop, providing staff training, setting up a call-center and developing an animated infographic video.

Public Workshop

Around 150 participants attended the workshop on “Reducing the risk in buying and selling property” in Phnom Penh on October 20, 2018. Registration for the workshop was opened online and within two days there was a flood of applications to join, exceeding the number anticipated and allowed on the online system, due to their strong interest in the event’s topic. Participants actively participated in the workshop and they raised a number of questions for speakers after their presentation.
Mr. Sao Vary, Director of the Cadastral Conservation Department, Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction (MLMUPC), presented on the principles and procedures of property ownership registration as well as ownership transfer, types of property ownership certificates, and procedures in confirming genuine and forged certificates. He also provided specific details on ownership transfer from property developers to individual buyers and from parents to children or relatives.
In the workshop, Mr. Sao Vary suggested that buyers should carefully select a property developer when making the decision to buy. In some cases, such as when the project title has been pledged with a bank or it is an illegal project, these situations will not allow for the transfer of ownership.
Mr. Yet Kolketya, Bureau Head of the General Department of Taxation, Ministry of Economy and Finance, shared the practice of tax collection on properties and stamp duty tax on property ownership transfer.

Staff Training

First Finance engaged Mr. Sao Vary, MLMUPC’s Director of the Cadastral Conservation Department from 1-2 November 2018, to provide a training-of-trainers (ToT) course on “Property Rights” to their key staff who would then deliver the training to operational staff so that they could directly provide consultation to clients. The participants were comprised of representatives of the Learning and Development Unit, the Legal and Compliance Specialist, key management team members, as well as branch managers. Upon completion of the ToT, the Learning and Development team, with support from the Legal and Compliance Specialist and the Credit team will conduct training courses to all relevant field staff from January 2019 onwards.

Animation video

Tips for buying a house, key points for risk awareness in buying property and selecting a financial institution to help finance house purchase for first-time buyers were summarized and developed into attractive animation videos. The videos aim to help the audience quickly gather awareness and have a greater understanding of house purchase. Initial videos were first shared on First Finance social media – Facebook and YouTube – which can be accessed by all smartphone users nationwide and are being liked and shared. Further videos are being finalized and will be broadcast in 2019.

Call-Center

As part of the campaign, a call-center was set up by First Finance and went operational in early 2019, to provide free consultation on property issues to existing and new clients and the public through the Hotline Number: 093 6666 35