Expats exit hits rental market

MUSCAT, MARCH 2 – Property rental prices may further be affected due to the falling number of expatriates in the Sultanate. According to contracting companies and property owners, the residential market, already in the grip of oversupply, will continue to remain subdued as thousands of expatriates are leaving the country for various reasons. “There has already been a glut in the market with construction of a large number of apartment blocks and villas in various parts of the city. The supply has surpassed the demand,” said Nasser al Wahaibi, managing director of a contracting company.
Adding fuel to the fire is the decreasing number of expatriates who form the larger chunk of consumers in the leasing market, he said.
“A rough estimate indicates that the fall in the rental market has been more than 30 per cent during the recent months. In lower grade properties, the drop is more than 40 per cent,” he said.
According to figures from the National Centre for Statistics and Information, the number of expatriates registered a decline of 3.7 per cent to reach 1,782,248 during the 13-month period from January 2018 to January 2019.
The latest data from the NCSI shows that worker arrivals in the Sultanate from Asian countries including India, Pakistan and Bangladesh have seen a big drop during the past one year.
While Pakistanis witnessed a drop of 7.3 per cent to reach 216,222, Bangladeshis fell by 4.8 per cent at 657,222. This was followed by Indians with a drop of 4.1 per cent to reach 657,921.
Khalid al Balushi, a real estate broker in Ruwi, said that the market is fully in favour of buyers and tenants.
“Gone are the days when the landlords had upper hands as far as the rents and facilities were concerned. Now the tenants can negotiate on the prices. This trend is apparent across the capital,” he said.
According to Jagdish Shukla, manager with a leasing company in Muscat, the ban on recruitment to a number of jobs has negatively affected the rental market.
“This has led to a big drop in the number of professional expatriates arriving in Oman. As a result, many A Grade apartments and villas are vacant due to absence of takers,” Shukla said.
The real estate market relies on new arrivals, and the visa ban has stopped new recruitments affecting the market. He said that the rental market is not expected to see any significant improvement in the next few years.
According to consultancy and chartered surveying firm Cavendish Maxwell, the residential real estate prices continued to decrease as demand remained subdued overall.
It said in a report that Muscat’s residential market continues to be oversupplied with apartments, despite a gap in the market for high-quality villas and townhouses.