SONKIM LAND AND THE “LUXURY BOUTIQUE HOME” STRATEGY

CBRE forecasts that high-end housing prices in Saigon will surge by 150% in the near future, while the overall luxury segment will see a 200% price increase in the next three years. Meanwhile, Knight Frank estimates the number of super-rich individuals in Vietnam will grow by 170% over the next decade, one of the highest growth rates in the world. Which strategies have real estate investors drawn up to take advantage of this golden market opportunity? Andy Han Suk Jung, managing director of SonKim Land’s Residential Group, elaborates on his company’s strategic vision.


SonKim Land has reportedly achieved great success with projects in Thao Dien and a unique new project in District 3. As a developer of high-end real estate projects, could you please elaborate on SonKim Land’s strategic orientation?

We officially launched our exciting first housing project in Saigon in 2015, when the local high-end real estate market was dominated by foreign and major domestic investors. To gain a foothold, we chose a unique path by pursuing the “Luxury Boutique Home” model and targeting buyers who possessed both financial strength and refined aesthetic and artistic tastes. We continually conduct thorough studies of market trends, especially in terms of the needs of our customers, in order to provide increasingly sophisticated products. I should emphasize that SonKim Land does not follow a “mass production” model, as this does not provide the exclusivity and quality that we want to give our customers.


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Serenity Sky Villas – the first sky villas concept introduced by SonKim Land


The “Luxury Boutique Home” model is a very new concept in Vietnam. Could you please explain it in detail?

The first key element of a “Luxury Boutique Home” project is the exclusive, selective scale. The second is the location, meaning the project must be situated on a prime, highly desirable site. The third factor is a unique, extremely sophisticated design, one that features innovative high-tech breakthroughs and the finest amenities. Additionally, the basic elements of the high-end real estate market must be more than satisfied, namely high-quality construction, superior finishing and exceptional services.


How has this “Luxury Boutique Home” model been adopted during the development of SonKim Land’s projects?

SonKim Land has charted a clear roadmap to apply the above key standards during the development of our exclusive residential projects. From Gateway Thao Dien with 436 apartments, to The Nassim with 238 units and Serenity Sky Villas with only 45, the scales of our projects are increasingly selective.


What about the strategic locations?

For us, prime sites must be where the property will maintain sustainable long-term value. At the time of purchase, these locations should be highly desirable downtown areas where the best infrastructure and public services have already been established and developed, rather than just proposed.

When planning Gateway Thao Dien and The Nassim, we opted for District 2’s Thao Dien Ward, which is popular among the international community thanks to its modern amenities and incredible selection of restaurants, bars and international schools. For Serenity Sky Villas, we chose Ward 7 of District 3, which is not only packed with alluring local businesses, but is also an area known for its stunning cultural heritage and architectural value to upper-class Saigonese, both in the past and present.


Nowadays, almost every real estate developer claims that its products are high-end across various housing models. How can SonKim Land prove that its “Luxury Boutique Home” system provides authentic luxury?

I think time will offer the best answer to this question. True value is not something that can be realized in just a short amount of time. Over the next three-ten years, SonKim Land properties will remain extremely valuable, while many competing self-proclaimed luxury projects will depreciate. This is the sustainable value we have consistently created for our customers. For SonKim Land, profit is not the first priority; instead we focus on brand credibility and customer confidence.


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Andy Han Suk Jung, Managing Director Director SonKim Land’s Residential Group


Did you encounter any difficulties while adapting a novel residential development model like the “Luxury Boutique Home” to the Vietnamese market?

Difficulties were inevitable, and we anticipated them. Apart from studying and learning new luxury models on the international market, we have invited highly regarded experts and partners to Vietnam to jointly develop our projects.

Gateway Thao Dien was developed in collaboration with Hamon Development, while The Nassim is a joint project with Hongkong Land, a prestigious brand with over 100 years of luxury project development in Asia. As for Serenity Sky Villas, we partnered with URBNarc, a globally recognized architectural firm known for their innovative design solutions in the Asia Pacific region.


In order to work with international partners, SonKim Land must have a very professional workforce?

We are proud to have a team which relies on the excellence of both local and international talent, who are not only professional but also dedicated to the company’s development strategy. This has helped SonKim Land meet the strictest standards in construction quality and finishing.

Although SonKim Land's senior leaders, including myself already have landed houses, we all move in hi-end condominium projects to experience condo living and understand deeply our customers' insights.

Every year, the management of SonKim Land visits successful projects in the U.S., Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand and other countries in order to understand and incorporate the latest trends in the global market.


How is a local real estate developer able to do all of this?

Since our early days, many subsidiaries of SonKim Land have cooperated with strategic international partners such as Itochu, GS Homeshopping, GS Retail and Pourcel. When it began, SonKim Land branched out from Dai Thanh, a well-known leading textile corporation in Vietnam. At that time, Dai Thanh had already gained considerable experience in working with international partners, and as the company expanded into real estate, we continued on this path.

Having won the trust of our international partners in SonKim Land’s business philosophy and development strategy, we have received substantial investment from potential foreign partners. In May 2017, for example, SonKim Land raised US$46 million out of a committed US$100 million through EXS Capital Limited, an investment group focused on Asia.


What is SonKim Land’s plan for the near future after executing three remarkable projects in Saigon?

We are going to develop an exclusive riverside villa project on the Thu Thiem Peninsula, which is envisioned as Saigon’s future city center. Our project will be aimed at young, highly successful Vietnamese and foreigners living in Saigon. SonKim Land also plans to further develop our design team in order to directly capture the needs of customers and intelligently convey them into our designs, ensuring that our products meet international standards while harmonizing with Vietnamese culture.


You have gained extensive experience in real estate management both in Vietnam and South Korea. How do you apply such experience locally?

I’m proud to have been into a family with a tradition of involvement in real estate, and I inherited valuable experience from them. My father was a realty developer and consultant in Gangnam, Seoul, in the 1970s. He was among the first real estate developers in that neighborhood and was involved in the construction of several high-end apartments and grade-A office buildings, such as Samsung Group’s Gangnam Head Office Tower. He often told me: “Whatever you do, small or big, you have to do it with all your heart.”

I have adopted that philosophy of dedication throughout my career and in the residential development strategy of SonKim Land.



 
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