Myint Myint San
How did you get into the real estate industry?
I got into real estate through a bit of necessity-based innovation. Some years ago I was working as a journalist and editor in Yangon, Myanmar and had a large disagreement with my then boss that prompted me to consider other sources of income.
I had also recently had my first child and was quickly realising that the costs associated with raising a child were not going to be sufficiently covered by the job I had, even assuming I resolved the issue, which I did.
So, I considered my options and figured that I could probably found a small real estate brokerage in Yangon to help other expats like myself find a house.
I did establish the brokerage and then after 6 months of doing two jobs, I quit the paper and went solo and haven’t looked back.
What are the biggest issues facing the industry in the your market at the moment?
I work in both residential and commercial real estate in Yangon and I think the bigger challenges are facing the residential side but in a tangential way.
For residential properties, it’s uncertainty surrounding proposed foreigner laws in Myanmar. As well as being somewhat confusing, if the laws are passed they will make moving to and staying in Myanmar both more expensive and difficult.
Commercial real estate probably faces fewer problems at the moment – there is plenty of space available and rents are falling quite quickly as more stock hits the market. But future developments might also face greater government scrutiny, which could delay their completion, as has happened a couple of times recently.
The industry has changed plenty in the 5 or so years I’ve been working in it. There is a lot more stock on the market now than when I started and it is spread right across Yangon. Housing and office spaces are both improving in quality all the time and prices are falling, which makes life easier for everyone, although some landlords might miss the very high rents they have been earning.
What changes would you like to see over the next two to five years in the industry?
I would like to see the government be a bit more proactive on zoning – let developers know clearly that certain projects in some locations are not acceptable. There’s a few that are nearing completion in Yangon that are in locations that don’t make any sense and are probably serious fire and safety risks.
I’d like to see the recently passed Condominium Law have its relevant bylaws passed as well, which can only improve the quality of service delivery in residential units.
Finally, I’d like vacant land in the downtown area in particular to be appropriated by the government and used to make parking blocks – there are too many cars in several busy areas and people have nowhere to park.
What advice do you have for people who are just starting out in similar careers?
Be positive, keep your chin up and learn to roll with the punches if you have to. You’ll have good days and bad days and you can’t let a bad day or spell keep you down. Finally, be good to the people you work with.
What do you believe is a unique factor of doing business in your market?
I’d imagine all markets have their own unique factors. For Myanmar, I would say uncertainty is a strong player – it’s hard to know what the government will do next because this is a very young market and a young government too, in terms of experience governing. Small decisions made at the top can create large waves down below.
What is your favourite holiday destination in Asia?
My favourite would be Ngapali beach in Rakhine State, Myanmar. But I’ve also recently travelled to Putao, in Kachin State and loved it, I’d go back in a second. But where do I most want to go back to right now: somewhere with deep snow in Japan.
What’s your outlook for your sector/s for the next year?
Positive. I’m getting plenty of clients at present and every indicator I can see (and I check across other industries too) points toward 2020 being a buoyant year.