Registration must for all real estate brokers from today

Registration must for all real estate brokers from today

June 01, 2017

New regulations by the Ministry of Housing which will be implemented from June 1 aim to rein in unlicensed brokers. As per the regulations, all real estate brokers in Oman need to register and become certified.

Omar Mahrooqi, CEO of Adeem Real Estate, said there are hundreds of unregistered brokers who are not held accountable for their work. “There are a lot of brokers without authorisation or it’s just another job, a part-time job for them. They aren’t honest with buyers, because they just want money. Ninety per cent of them don’t even have offices.”

Most real estate investments involve GCC nationals, who have the right to own property they purchase. In one case, Mahrooqi said, a GCC national was led to believe that he had bought a commercial building in the capital, only to learn that it was actually at a village in Batinah. “It was worth just RO5,000, but he bought it for RO500,000.”

After arriving in Muscat, he boarded a taxi and said, “‘Show me this place’. The driver told him, it’s not here, it’s in Batinah,” Mahrooqi said. “He wants his money back now,” he said.

Citing another case, Mahrooqi said, a GCC national bought a beachside house in Sur, but it was in a dilapidated state. “He was persuaded to pay several times the market value of the property.”

In other cases, investors are told that buildings can be converted from residential to commercial, only to learn afterwards that they cannot. Or, the actual cost of properties are much higher than what brokers initially advertised. After meeting the client, the broker raises the price. Additionally, many of the buildings managed by such brokers too are in bad condition, Mahrooqi said.

Eng Mohammed al Busaidi, chairman of the Oman Real Estate Association and a member of Majlis A’Shura, said his organisation has been pushing for these reforms. “It will boost investments. Expatriates, GCC investors, they will now see the market is organised. They can visit the website of the Ministry of Housing and find out who is a registered broker.”

The government began trying to regulate the sector in 2010, after a Royal Decree was issued. However, that was never implemented, Eng Busaidi said.

Around two years ago, the Ministry of Housing created the Directorate General of Real Estate Development. Then, the deadline to register as a licensed broker was issued. Now, brokers have to be registered and have an office, Eng Busaidi said.

Anyone offering services without a licence will be acting illegally. “If he is caught, he can be taken to court,” Eng Busaidi said. The new regulations apply at first to brokers in Muscat, but will be applied to other regions later on, he added.

The ministry will also be creating an online system to handle these brokers within the next few months. “As it stands, there are no rules for brokers. Anyone can work as a broker. We welcome the government’s efforts to regulate the sector,” Mahrooqi added.