x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Property on move in Qatar after World Cup call

Qatar's depressed property market is already getting a kick from the World Cup.

Qatar’s depressed property market is already getting a kick from the World Cup.

"We have definitely seen a spike in interest with regards to purchasing that we have not seen since the start of the recession," said Sam Youssef, the managing director of Better Homes Qatar, a property agency.

In response to the activity, landlords who were offering three to six months free rent have revoked their offers, Mr Youssef said.

Any increase in activity is good news for Qatar's residential sector, which has seen values drop 40 per cent since 2008, analysts say.

Coreo, a company marketing Pearl Qatar, the 398-hectare master-planned development north of Doha, received 60 inquiries in the two days after the announcement last Thursday that Qatar would host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. This compared with the usual two or three a day, said Khalifa al Misnad, Coreo's chief executive. Pearl is one of the few developments in Qatar where foreigners can own freehold property.

"We're seeing a surge in confidence in both local and international buyers," Mr al Misnad said.

He expects to increase Coreo's international marketing in the weeks ahead. "We're definitely looking at different ways to market to international investors," Mr al Misnad said.

Some property companies have raised prices since the announcement, said Diaa Noufal, the head of research for Century 21 Qatar.

But that confidence may be premature. Vacancy rates are between 15 per cent and 20 per cent in most areas of the country, he said.

"We find it very early," Mr Noufal said. "With so much supply in the market there is no reasonable motivation to raise prices."

Demand for housing in Qatar has not kept up with supply. More than 10,000 new homes were scheduled for completion this year, according to the asset management unit of The First Investor, an investment bank.

Any activity since the World Cup announcement is "more speculation than market reaction", said Issa al Mohannadi, the chief executive of Dohaland, a property developer.

A subsidiary of the Qatar Foundation, Dohaland is developing Musheireb, a 34ha mixed-use project in Doha that started construction in January.

kbrass@thenational.ae