Expats who wish to buy apartments in Oman under a new scheme launched by the government can fund their investment with the help of local banks, according to Fahad Al Ismaili, the CEO of Tibiaan Properties.
Expats can pay for flats listed under the usufruct scheme and repay it in installments.
“The Ministry of Housing and Urban Planning has expanded and amplified the rule to make it understandable,” he said, speaking to Times TV.
The usufruct ownership scheme for real estate in Oman is aligned with the government’s medium-term financial plan to diversify the economy and create good foreign investment opportunities.
Under the scheme, expatriates can currently buy property in certain areas of Muscat, including designated zones in Boushar, Seeb, and Amerat, later to be “expanded to other governorates,” explained Al Ismaili.
“These areas are not primarily residential, but more commercial in nature, where expatriates or non-Omanis may like to stay, as opposed to purely residential areas, where locals have their homes.”
Regulations for buying
According to the document issued by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Planning, only flats in buildings that are already built and are less than four years old can be bought. The building must also be at least four storeys high.
The flat in question must have at least two bedrooms. Only 40% of flats in any building can be put up under the usufruct scheme, with a maximum of 20% of people from the same nationality allowed to buy property in a single building. Flats can also be transferred to an owner’s legal heirs.
Should someone wish to sell their flat, they can do so 4 years after purchase, while they can also remain its owners after they leave the country.
Expatriates who have reached the age of 23 can purchase housing units under the usufruct system in multi-storey residential and commercial buildings for a period of 99 years, provided that he/she has a residence permit of no less than two years when submitting the application.
The price of the residential unit needs to be at least OMR 45,000 ($117,000) in Muscat and OMR 35,000 (around $91,000) or more in the rest of the governorates of the Sultanate.
Expatriate property owners automatically acquire residency rights for themselves and their immediate families, by virtue of the property acquisition. In the event of deportation, the expatriate owner has the right to sell the land.
Royal Decree 21/2004 for GCC nationals
Under Royal Decree 21/2004, Gulf Country Council nationals and corporate bodies (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, UAE, and Qatar) are allowed to purchase constructed properties and land in Oman for residential or investment purposes.
GCC citizens are allowed to dispose of constructed properties at any time, but if they purchase undeveloped land, they must develop it within 4 years, or the government may re-possess it (with rightful compensation). Extension of the time frame is possible subject to government approval. Only after developing land can a GCC owner dispose of the property.