Property deals to be e-linked by March

By Samuel Kutty — MUSCAT: Jan 24 – The Ministry of Housing is expected to complete the process of e-linking with real estate brokerage firms by March this year. The move allows brokerage companies to sell, buy, swap and mortgage properties through unified electronic contracts, and issue title deeds through the real estate register at the ministry. According to a senior official at the ministry, the new mechanism will be initially implemented in Muscat and gradually extended to other governorates. “The system is a positive step towards activating the partnership between the ministry and private sector,” said the official at the Ministry of Housing.

In addition, the move aims to legally organise brokerage business to unify the real estate registration procedures, he said. The official said a proposal is being studied for applying the system to residential, commercial, industrial, tourist and agricultural transactions as well as those related to apartments and multi-storeyed buildings. According to the proposal, the implementation of residential transactions is optional. Regarding transactions which the brokerage firms conclude and arrange between sellers and buyers, the companies will have the right to collect their legally prescribed commissions. As for the deals concluded directly between sellers and buyers, the pre-real estate disposition procedures will be completed in a brokerage office to be selected by the two parties.

The legally prescribed fees will be paid without charging a commission by the brokerage firm. The electronic systems applied by the ministry contribute to organising the sector, especially as the real estate brokerage is not organised because of the lack of regulations and a regulator. This led to speculations by some unauthorised brokers, an unjustified rise in real estate prices as well as fraud and lack of credibility especially among foreign investors. To maintain investor confidence in the real estate sector, the government activated the real estate brokerage regulations by establishing the Real Estate Development Directorate at the Ministry of Housing.