Buying property in Qatar: Essential information and unbiased opinion
Buy Land page: Future updates to this post will be made on the Property Guide section of our website. Since 2004 foreigners have been able to buy property in Qatar. However, unbiased and practical information on the web is extremely limited: this is a place where you need to get down on the ground and dig around. We’ve tried to do at least some of that for you.
What’s the choice?
Foreigners can buy property in designated areas. The three main ones are The Pearl, West Bay lagoon and Al Khor but other places are now becoming available. The Pearl is currently being promoted hard, but if you ring Barwa (see below for number) they will offer you other areas.
Prices are sometimes quoted in riyals, sometimes in dollars. 1 dollar is equal to 3.64 riyals. The currency is tied to the dollar, and so is not subject to short term fluctuations.
Hunter and Hunter are charging from 112,000 dollars for a studio apartment to 205,000 dollars for a one bedroom apartment on The Pearl.
The Pearl’s representative offered us a 3 bedroom apartment (312 square metres), top floor with views of the marina for between 2.8 (nearly 770,000 dollars) and 3.14 million riyals (about 862,000 dollars). Town houses vary from 1.9 million (522,000 dollars) to 3.6 million riyals (988,000 dollars). They all have views of the sea. Barwa Real Estate Agents offered us villas in West Bay for 2-4 million riyals and in Al Khor for between 1.5 and 2 million riyals (550,000 to 1,100,000 dollars).
– Man-made island constructed on former pearl diving reef linked by causeway to main land.
– 2.5 billion dollar, 985 acre development which will create 30km of new coastline. According to The Pearl Qatar’s website it will have 40,000 residents and 11,000 villas, town homes, penthouses and apartments.
– Aims to develop Mediterranean atmosphere and style. Will essentially be a gated and self sufficient community, completely shut off from all the riff-raff like me!
– Shops will be targeted at the “top end of the market” i.e. expensive (but there are loads of shops in the City Center mall a few minutes away).
– Will contain three marinas and berths for 700 boats and three five star hotels. There will also be “canals, lakes and internal navigable coves”!
How high above sea-level are the properties?
Marina houses are two metres above sea-level, other properties 8 metres.
The Pearl – their representative claims you don’t need a lawyer. You sign a standard agreement reserving your right for occupation with the legal department of The Pearl. When you make the final payment you get the title of the property. You have to register the property with the land department at your own cost.
At the Pearl at least the property is completely freehold. Purchase will consist of an initial 20% deposit. The rest is payable in installments over the next two years, with the final 5% paid on completion. Mortgages can be used to pay up to 85% of the price.
You pay for the registration of your property with the land department. There is no capital gains or inheritance tax. If you sell your property before it has been completed you pay a 2.5% transfer fee. The developer also has first right of refusal. However, these conditions end when you have taken complete possession of the property.
Is property selling well?
It’s going like hot cakes.
Is there a shortage then?
There seems to be, but buildings are shooting up everywhere, so this could change.
What about visas?
When you buy a property you can obtain residency for you and your dependents. This is guaranteed as long as you are “disease free” (this refers to infectious diseases like HIV and TB), and you do not have a criminal record. You have to organize the visa yourself (or pay someone to do it for you). This involves going to immigration (not the most fun place in the world) and providing proof of ownership. You can also obtain residency for your dependents. This includes parents, wives, husbands and children. According to the Pearl’s representative, when children get married they are no longer considered to be dependents.
Note – it is well worth paying someone to do your paperwork/immigration for you. If you do so it is not normally necessary to go to immigration in person. This should really be done for you by the developer, as it would both save you a lot of hassle and time and cost them peanuts.
Renting out property:
Expatriates are allowed to rent out property and can either do so through an agency or by themselves. They retain their residency when renting out property.
Restaurants and cafes on The Pearl will have alcohol licenses.
Who do I buy from?
With The Pearl you can buy through agents or directly from the developers. Other property is extremely hard to find on the internet, (sometimes it almost seems as if it’s a secret), and requires real digging around to find. The best method is to contact agents with a local presence directly.
The best – sometimes the only way – to get hold of these guys is to ring them. There are only two of many below, but they answered the phone (not as usual as you might expect, especially just before Ramadan), were helpful and spoke good English.
- Barwa (0974 499-8888) – have no email or website but their receptionists speak good English. They also sell in other areas besides The Pearl, and have land for sale.
- Mirage – Mirage actually have a website (mirageproperty.com) and an email address:firstname.lastname@example.org, (they don’t actually reply, so maybe it’s just an illusion). Their agent in Qatar is Ab Sher: Mobile: 5710790 Office 4444431 extension 123. Address: P.O. Box 22621.
- Findaproperty.com currently have three properties listed on-line.
What’s going to happen to prices?
Prices in the short to medium term are notoriously difficult to predict. Developers, obviously, are predicting a price rise. However, the real estate boom has to be tied in part to the huge inflow of money into Qatar from the high price of gas and oil. It’s possible that a fall in these prices could affect prices in the short to medium term. On the other hand, developers claim this is just the start of what is going to happen. Could it be possible that this is the start of a real estate boom (or bubble)? Could Qatar emulate Dubai? Well, Qatar may have a long way to go, but it has the oil and gas money to do it.
Are there any other reasons to buy?
Well, have you thought about taxes? This is a tax free country. If you are living here for the long term, or want to rent your property, rents are sky high – rental yields are currently 10% (ameinfo.com). Of course, there’s no guarantee these rents will remain high.
The government is putting a huge effort into developing the country (with plans to invest 150 billion dollars over the next five years) and is obviously trying to follow in Dubai’s footsteps.
If you are planning to live here:
– There’s good fishing, scuba diving and sailing.
– There’s a huge range of nationalities and restaurants.
– This is a relaxed and liberal country for the area, and you can easily buy alcohol.
– Schools are good value for money.
– It is virtually crime-free.
Other reasons not to buy:
If you are planning to live here:
Qatar is great for a few days, and is developing rapidly. However, you need to be sure you could live here in the long term. A few things to consider are:
– You are not allowed to purchase alcohol during Ramadan, even in hotels, although you can stock up prior to Ramadan.
– If you like opera and theatre – forget it. Come back in a few years when the place is developed a bit more.
– It can be bloody hot in the summer, even in the evening.
Where isn’t there a terrorist threat? I’m from London and there have been a lot fewer deaths here than in London. Having said that, we are in the Middle East, close to Saudi Arabia. There is perhaps a danger that Qatar’s modernization and liberalization could make it a target for terrorists.
Check out The Pearl – Qatar Website for pictures and FAQS, and the Qatar Property section of our website for more articles.
The Pearl-Qatar: PO Box 7256, Doha, State of Qatar
Tel: +974 4463400Fax – +974 4438971