Vacant residential units ‘point to reduction in rents’ _ QATAR

Rents of different types of residential units in the country are stabilising or even declining in many cases, Gulf Times has learnt from industry insiders.

There has been much speculation over the issue in recent months, with many people expecting rents to fall considerably while some others think major changes are unlikely and the rates will stabilise.

Real estate agents, home-seekers and others associated with the real estate sector say that the rates have fallen across properties and the trend is likely to continue.

“All indicators show there is a strong possibility of a further reduction in rents,” said an expatriate who works as a real estate agent, drawing attention to the number of vacant properties in the country.

“This will happen as property dealers and agents try to lure tenants to fill up the numerous vacant units around the country.”

One can find vacant residential units of different sizes and types at places within Doha and outside. These include studio-type units (a room, kitchen space and toilet), the rent for some of which have come down to QR2,000 in villas within Doha and lower than that on the outskirts of the city.

The real estate agent recalled that the demand was a lot higher during the same period last year and people were willing to pay much higher rents (QR3,200) for a studio apartment or even for a single room.

According to a number of brokers, including those working for licensed real estate companies as well as the ones who call themselves “freelancers”, tenants have more “affordable” options now within Doha and beyond.

“Of late, it has not been easy to find customers to fill many of the vacant units. I receive calls from a number of potential customers every day and show them the available options. However, the number of people who actually take an apartment on rent is very small. It seems many people are testing the waters and looking for the best possible offer and do not seem be in any major hurry to take a house on rent,” said a broker.

Sources familiar with the sector say some of the brokers, who are often accused of manipulating the market and increasing rents, have started looking for alternative sources of income in view of the current scenario.

One such “self-employed” agent complained that he could barely cover his daily expenses or pay for the rented car.

“I have managed to rent out only a small studio apartment in the last three months. I also had to bring my commission down to QR500. But what option do I have? People are simply not willing to pay more. There are plenty of options for them in the market now,” he said.

Customers, on their part, are hopeful that rents will come down further.
“Things are a lot better than what they used to be a year ago. It will be good for home-seekers if the trend continues,” said a Doha resident.

Industry observers stressed that the country’s real estate market would remain strong and vibrant for many years and the current situation is just a course correction following a period of high rents.