Something’s brewing in the world’s richest country. The housing market in Qatar is starting to show signs of improvement, offering some excellent investment opportunities in property.
There’s growth in job opportunities too, attracting many expats, not least because earnings are all tax-free.
And so with growth in the expat population, expectations are that the housing market will strengthen further in the long term. The QSA (Qatar Statistics Authority) states that to date, over 75% of Qatar’s population are foreigners and incentives are set to attract more.
2013 saw the start of a boom in property development, and over the following two years, in particular, it continued at a rapid rate. It grew in reaction to population growth and also in preparation for the FIFA World Cup in 2022 but by 2016 things had started to change. Real estate sales fell around 50% and prices began to drop in value.
In 2019 supply of housing stock of apartments and villas continued to rise. And with increased supply, it began to make sense to many to consider investing in this lucrative market, especially in Qatar’s capital, Doha.
Doha, the heart of Qatar, is as you would expect, a vibrant modern city where east meets west. Skyscrapers sit comfortably with mosques and the world of commerce and technology intermingle with ancient customs and traditions.
Safe to walk the streets at any time of the day or night, living in Doha has a lot to offer. It’s an Aladdin’s cave for foodies and art lovers alike. Professional golf tournaments and other world sports events, along with international music concerts are just some of the things happening in Doha. An ever-changing multicultural vibe that has a landscape that keeps on changing with it as new developments are built and the city continues to grow.
82% of Qatar’s foreign population lives in either Doha or Al Rayyan and perhaps because of this, Doha is a welcoming city where expats are keen to make friends and share experiences.
So how easy is it to buy or rent in Doha? There’s no doubt that it’s a tenant-friendly rental market in Doha at the moment. Commercial offices, retail and residential rentals are all experiencing downward price corrections after previous upward trends. Residential rents are continuing to fall for apartments as well as villas. As an incentive to entice people to rent new residential properties, some landlords have offered up to 2-month rent-free periods on a minimum one-year contract and some are even covering utility bills.
Many rentals come fully furnished so you won’t even have to have the hassle or expense of furnishing your accommodation. So it’s a good time to rent in Doha.
But it’s also a good time to buy too. The transition from renting to buying has increased as the market opens up to expats. Buying initiatives have been introduced such as 100% foreign ownership with no capital flow restrictions, no capital gains taxes, estate taxes, wealth taxes or gift taxes.
Reputable local agencies can help with the process of buying but it is a relatively painless one with little bureaucracy involved compared with many other countries. Once contracts are signed then the property is registered. Costs amount to 2- 3% brokerage fees and 1.25% transfer fee of the property purchase price. After that there are no taxes paid to the local government, making this a very affordable process.
There are however restrictions where expats can buy but these restrictions are loosening too. Currently, there are 16 leasehold areas in Qatar where foreigners are able to buy property on a 99-year lease. If the value of that property exceeds US$200,000 owners are entitled to permanent residency for as long as they own their property.
In 2019 new legislation made it easier for foreign investment with the introduction of a new foreign property ownership law that has significantly increased the number of freehold zones in Qatar from 3 to 10. This change embraces Qatar’s cultural diversity and encourages foreign investment which is seen as nothing but a good thing for Qatar’s already vibrant economy.
Expats and their immediate family who buy into the Freehold areas are also automatically granted permanent residency for as long as they own the property. Other entitlements include access to healthcare and the education system.
So what are the best areas to live in Doha as an expat? Msheireb, Downtown Doha, is an affordable family area. With a mix of locals and expats, it has a friendly neighbourhood feel. It is one of Doha’s oldest commercial areas. Small shops and narrow roads make it a great location to leave the car behind and set out on foot. Close to the business district and the main market area, it’s a great place to experience life in Qatar’s capital.
Al Waab, (also known as Al Sadd) has excellent schools, restaurants, and shops and the popular Villagio Mall makes this one of the favourite areas in Doha for expats. It is home to the Aspire Park sports dome and is a particularly pretty part of town and also practical due to a good road network to other areas.
And then there is the stunning Pearl-Qatar. It offers exclusive accommodation on a Riviera-style development built on a giant man-made island off the coast of Doha. It’s added another 40km of coastline to the area and is conveniently linked to mainland Doha by a palm-tree lined 4-lane highway. This was where the first freehold properties to foreigners were sold. To date, there are 16,000 villas and 2, 000 apartments occupying this beautiful stretch. Some of these Riviera-style apartments are going for a breeze compared to the property boom era of 2013 to 2015.
Surrounded by lagoons, as the name suggests is West Bay Lagoon. A private beachfront compound on the northern peninsula of the West Bay district in Doha. Covering 2 million m² it’s another impressive area for expats to call home.
In the large district of Al Gharafa, there’s a huge mix of accommodation. Within easy access are shopping centres, schools and major road links. It’s a popular area for expats who work for government agencies and Qatar University.
There’s so much on offer in Doha and now, when the boom in property development is resonating throughout the region, there’s even more incentive to consider purchasing real estate in Qatar.