(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) A rebound in investor confidence and improved access to mortgages have sparked a pick-up in Oman's real-estate market, with the value of transactions soaring in the first quarter of this year.
The total value of traded properties jumped by 94 per cent to RO687.3mn in the first three months of 2014 as against RO354.1mn in the corresponding period of the previous year, data released by the National Center for Statistics and Information (NCSI) showed.
Philip Paul, country head at Cluttons, said cheaper interest rates and easy availability of financing - due to competition among lenders - have given a boost to mortgages. ''People are confident of a strong economic performance. Government spending, business growth and creation of new jobs are driving growth in the real-estate market.
''With a growing population we have a whole new generation of Omanis who have joined the workforce and are creating demand in the real-estate market,'' he said.
Of the total value of traded properties, mortgage contracts more than doubled to RO396.8mn in the first quarter, compared with RO195.4mn in the same period last year. The number of mortgage contracts went up 36.5 per cent to 4,890 from 3,582 a year ago.
Paul added that with real-estate sector across the region looking up, investor confidence has returned to the Oman market and people are looking to benefit from the growing confidence. ''GCC citizens buy into the Oman property market mainly for investment. They had been watching the Oman market for some time and now are confident to invest here,'' Paul said.
According to NCSI statistics, the value of sales contracts jumped 85 per cent to RO289mn in the first quarter of 2014, as against RO156.5mn in the corresponding period of 2013. The number of sales contracts rose 22 per cent to 22,183.
Chris Steel, managing partner at Savills Oman, said the sultanate's real-estate market has entered a growth phase and people are more confident to invest in the sector.
''There are a number of factors driving this growth. More and more people are getting into the market. The relaxation in mortgage control and reduction in the interest-rate cap, which were introduced last year, have made mortgage financing more attractive. Islamic finance is also helping as it has started to account for a large number of mortgages and is gaining popularity in Oman.''
Steel added that Oman is also benefitting from the momentum in the regional market and the country is starting to look very attractive for GCC investors. ''We are very positive of growth in Oman's real-estate market for the rest of 2014. There will be steady growth in all sectors of the market.''
According to the NCSI, the total number of properties issued during the January-March period this year stood at 60,844, which is 18.5 per cent higher from 51,337 in the same period last year. The number of properties issued for GCC citizens increased 20.8 per cent to 1,075 against 890 in the same period of 2