Housing Market in Qatar
The Qatari real estate market only recently opened up to non-Qataris. Foreigners are permitted to buy property in Qatar in certain designated developments only. These developments are:
- The Pearl: Riviera-style development on a vast man-made island off the coast of Doha. 20 kilometers from the Doha airport.
- West Bay Lagoon: Private beachfront compound, surrounded by artificial lagoons.
- Al Khor Resort Project (Barwa – Al Khor City): complete city, including chalets, villas and elite apartments covering 5.5 million square meters in Al Khor, 57 km north of Doha. Al Khor City will have 63,000 residents in 24,114 elite residential units when it is completed.
One advantage of purchasing property in Qatar is that property owners are automatically entitled to a real estate residency visa for themselves and their immediate family, subject to certain conditions.
There were about 259,000 housing units in Qatar in 2010, with 193,000 being apartments and 62,000 being villas. Of these units, about 81% are occupied. Doha is also currently experiencing a construction boom, with an additional 74,000 residential units to be completed by 2020, of which 66,000 will be apartments and 8,000 will be villas.
Average purchase prices of property in Doha:
- 15,500 QR per sq. m of new apartments in The Pearl development
- 14,500 QR per sq. m of existing apartments in The Pearl development
- 13,500 QR per sq. m of new apartments in the first (oldest) phase of The Pearl development
- 10,750 QR per sw. m of existing apartments in the first (oldest) phase of The Pearl development
- 12,500 QR per sq. m for new apartments at Lagoon Plaza in the West Bay
- 9,500 QR per sq. m for existing apartments at Lagoon Plaza in the West Bay
How to Search for Real Estate in Qatar
There are many websites to assist you in finding property to purchase in Doha. These can be classifieds-type websites, or real estate agency web sites.
Another great online resource is the Qatar classifieds on EasyExpat. You can also chat with other expats on the Qatar forum or network and receive advice.
Newspapers Classifieds for Property in Qatar
You can also find property for sale postings in the Gulf Times, a major English language newspaper in Qatar. Housing postings can be found in the classifieds section of the hard copy of the newspaper.
Estate Agents in Qatar
The real estate industry is not yet regulated in Qatar and it is unclear how the commission structure works. In some cases, commission fees are 5% of the annual rent or 50% of one month's rent, payable by the tenant. In other cases the landlord pays commission fees to the agency. Be sure to verify in writing what the agency's fees are before committing to anything.
You should get real estate agency recommendations through Qatar expat forums and inquiring with friends and co-workers before hiring an agent.
Making an Offer on Property in Doha
Purchasers in Doha may make an offer to buy through their real estate agent or lawyer. If a purchaser is using a mortgage, he/he must obtain final mortgage approval before making an offer. Bargaining and negotiation are permitted.
Real Estate Contracts in Qatar
Purchase contracts in Qatar should be drawn up and verified by a lawyer. Your friends, co-workers or employer may be able to recommend a reputable real estate lawyer to you. You may also ask questions and share advice on Qatar Property expat forum. Legal documents in Qatar are always written in Arabic.
Your lawyer should also carry out due diligence on all relevant aspects of the purchase, including:
- Obtaining and verifying any building licenses
- Planning permission consents
- Company registration documents of developers and sellers
Registering Property in Qatar
Finally, your lawyer will assist you in registering your property. To register a property in Doha:
- The purchaser takes the property deeds, signed contracts, and final payment confirmation or mortgage and deposit details to Qatar's Real Estate Registration and Authentication Department at the Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning (Tel. 44266666). You must also submit a copy of the seller and purchaser's ID cards, an application fee of QR 15.
- The purchaser completes the application forms provided by the Ministry, with the assistance of his/her lawyer.
- An archive officer checks for encumbrances.
- Registration is completed at the Ministry of Justice's Real Estate Registration Department. The purchase pays the transfer fee (0.25% of the purchase price) at the Customer Service counter, and fees to authenticate documents (5 riyals per document). Upon paying their registration fees, the purchaser is given a receipt.
- The director of the Real Estate Registration Department checks that the seller is the owner and verifies the transfer agreement.
- The contracting parties need to appear in person before the director of the Real Estate Registration Department. The director verifies the capacities and identities of the contracting parties and witnesses as well as the legality of the application and agreement. The Director reviews the submitted applications, documents and title deeds. If they are found to be valid, legal and complete, the Director approves the application and verifies the contracting parties' acceptance of the application and makes sure they understand its contents.
- The Director draws up minutes of the contract and has them signed by the contracting parties in the presence of two adult witnesses. If both parties fail to attend the Government department due to sickness or other compelling reasons, the contract may be heard in a private session.
- The purchaser visits the Office for Registration of Real Estate for non-Qatari nationals, located in the Doha Municipality Office in Al Sadd.
- The contract is sent to the Register section of the Real Estate Registration Department for it to be recorded in the property folio, and in the alphabetical index, and for a title deed to be issued in the name of the new purchaser or a registration certificate to be issued in the name of the new right holder as the case may be.
- The purchaser received the final title in his/her name.
Mortgages/Payment for Property in Qatar
Your lawyer can also assist you in setting up a secure payment plan for instalment and deposit transactions.
Some developers in Doha have links with particular banks, through which you may secure a mortgage. Alternately, you may apply for a mortgage at a bank of your choosing.
Be aware that deposits required vary from lender to lender, and depend on the value of the property being purchased. Mortgages can be agreed in principle before a property bid is made in Doha, but confirmation of your mortgage is required before the property is actually purchased. Interest rates and the length of mortgages in Doha vary by lending institution. Islamic banks, in accordance with Sharia law, do not charge interest but usually have a shorter repayment term.
Property Fees in Qatar
There is no property tax in Qatar. However, a transfer fee of 0.25% is payable on the value of the property. The developer may also charge other fees, such as ongoing maintenance, car park fees, and facility fees. You should inquire about extra fees before finalizing your property purchase.
Since Doha's real estate industry is relatively young, there are no real estate auctions in the city as of yet.