Omani property companies urge expat property purchase simplification

Published:  15 Apr at 6 PM
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Omani real estate moguls are pressing the government to enact policies boosting the sector by making it easier for wealthy expats to purchase homes in the Sultanate.

At present, expatriates are permitted to purchase only properties located in special Integrated Tourism Complexes licensed as such by a government agency. In addition, any purchases need to be approved by Oman’s Ministry of Housing.The system is problematic in that many foreign buyers find the necessary reams of paperwork cause issues, especially if a residency visa is being applied for at the same time.

According to CEO of The Wave Homes Hatim Ali, the bureaucratic requirements are not clear across the various government authorities involved, with potential buyers being put off by the time it takes to complete the legal framework required. Ali told local media that, although Oman is a safe country for property purchase, wealthy investors need to be able to see a straightforward purchase process setting out obligations and responsibilities. This, he said, is not happening right now, with the present setup discouraging would-be buyers for the Sultanate’s reasonably priced real estate.

Another issue with the present system is that the property purchaser’s ID card is marked ‘owner’, rather than ‘investor'. Should an expat home owner working in Oman wish to travel to other GCC countries, visa difficulties may result as he is not regarded as an investor even if his home cost millions. There is no collective agreement across GCC states which allow ‘owners’ to move freely across borders.

Ali is also in favour of the setting up of Home Owners’ Associations as a protection for householders’ investments. Such associations would need to be registered with the Housing Ministry in order to be legal and protect the interests of purchasers. He believes that opening up the property market in these ways would help replace Oman’s lost oil and gas revenues as well as stimulating tourism to the Sultanate.
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