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Procedures simplified to stimulate real estate sector

21 Aug 2021

Oman has simplified procedures and laid down several regulations in order to stimulate the real estate sector, while work is in progress to issue the Real Estate Development Law.

Currently, the main focus is to prepare the Real Estate Development Law as it will include the development of a real estate indicator to evaluate properties, focus on the role of real estate brokers and evaluators, and set clear standards for their work, while promoting various aspects of the real estate market.

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Planning (MHUP) has completed the final draft and also obtained the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs’s approval of the draft. The process of engaging all stakeholders related to the regulation is currently going on, according to the Economic Diversification Report 2020 of the Oman Vision 2040 Implementation Follow-Up Unit.

MHUP worked with former Implementation Support and Follow-Up Unit (ISFU) to draft the Foreign Ownership of Real Estate regulation, which was later issued in October 2020. ‘The initiative aims to find a tool for foreign individuals to own/benefit from specific housing ranges, in order to keep capital in the sultanate and promote foreign investment.’

With an aim to further revitalise the real estate sector, MHUP reduced housing fees in 2020 and proposed a new way of owning real estate units.

MHUP and the Ministry of Finance worked to reduce the housing fees from five per cent to three per cent, while it started a rent-to-own agreement system. Through the rent-to-own agreement, one can commit to renting a property for a specific period of time, with the option of buying it before the lease runs out. 

‘The working group proposed the draft regulation, then a decision that regulates ‘rent-to-own’ was published and it is now active,’ the report stated. 

To speed up and minimise the procedures involved in setting up real estate ventures or owing one, MHUP has been operating the Real Estate Development Centre. 

‘With the centre, a single platform has been created that brings together 11 entities to complete the investors’ transactions, aiming to finalise initial construction permit procedures within 27 working days. The registration of real estate developers commenced in the beginning of 2019 and began receiving projects manually from March 2019.’

Another project which has helped expedite the process for investors is the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion’s (MoCIIP) fast-track registration of projects above RO10mn. 

‘His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik gave directives to accelerate the approval of licences and permits for the strategic projects valued at RO10mn and more. Therefore, this initiative aims to prioritise the registration and licensing of high impact projects for strategic high net worth investors,’ stated the report.

MoCIIP also issued the Foreign Direct Capital Investment Executive Regulations in 2020 after the issuance of the Foreign Direct Capital Investment Law in 2019 led to a ministerial decision to create a working team to handle the executive regulations of the law. The former ISFU facilitated multiple workshops with the stakeholders to align and accelerate the pace of work.

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