Property market feels the pinch

Muscat, March 11 –
Property managers in Muscat are hoping for a rebound in oil prices to revitalise their businesses that are going through a rough patch for the past three years.
Apart from the demand slowdown, the market is feeling pressure due to the mushrooming of new properties, arguably with better facilities.
With most corporates moving towards the new townships around the airport, a number of flats in the popular expatriate neighbourhoods such as the CBD, MBD and Wadi Kabir are feeling the pressure.
Property managers say new rules limiting the recruitment of expatriate workers will have some impact on the house rental market, especially in the coming months.
“We have an apartment in which 15 out of 40 flats are lying vacant for months although rents for two-bedroom flats have been reduced to RO 200 from RO 325 during 2008-2012,” said Kumar, a supervisor for six apartments in the Ruwi-Wadi Kabir area.
According to him, there is pressure against renting out flats to bachelors.
“Families are reluctant if there are too many ‘single male tenants’ in the apartment. With new properties available at competitive prices, these occupants threaten to move out at short notice.”
A number of property owners said approvals for new apartments should be given as per the market requirements. “We see new buildings coming up in many parts of the country while the existing owners are struggling to fend for themselves.”
“Allowing new buildings to come up because landlords can afford to do so makes no sense,” said Moshin, who has three apartments of over 25 years old under his belt in Muscat.
If the oil prices continue to remain at the current levels, business confidence may go up, he felt.
“Companies are struggling to meet their costs, while employees are facing salary delays. We keep getting requests from tenants seeking special consideration because of such delays. We have fewer options because we need funds for maintenance and to pay our employees.”
Most of the employed Omanis prefer to stay with families on the outskirts. “What happens then is we get requests from Omani bachelors who want to share flats with their friends.”
“Renting out flats to bachelors is like virtually saying no to families of any nationalities. Tenants are having a free run. They threaten to leave if conditions, including rent cuts, are not met,” said Yisin, a liaison manager for a property owner with several buildings.
The recent decision to limit the recruitment of expatriates in several professions is expected to cause some strain in 2018.
“A large number of properties have been built for the rental market. If that slows down, we are in for challenging times,” said a young Omani landlord with an apartment in Amerat.