Speculators pushing up land prices

January 03, 2014 - 3:28:33 am

DOHA: Land is gradually spinning out of reach of the common Qatari as prices have been going through the roof lately, thanks to speculators having literally plunged headlong into the real estate business.

According to a property market expert, land prices have doubled in the past two years — the years that have followed Qatar’s 2022 bid victory in late 2010. 

Speculators have entered the real estate market in a big way and are pushing prices up. “These are not the prices determined by market forces,” said Ahmed Al Oruqi. “These are mind-boggling rates.

“Due to skyrocketing prices of land, particularly, there are only sellers in the market and the few buyers one sees are genuine users (of land as they want to build houses),” Al Oruqi told this newspaper yesterday.

Figures of the Ministry of Justice (which has a Real Estate Registration Department) for December 22-26, 2013, show that a square metre of land in the far-off yet sprawling Umm Salal Mohamed town in the north was selling at over QR5,000 on average.

In Doha, where a several mega development projects are lined up, land is turning so prime that in a working-class locality like the Old Airport area, the rate was QR11,840 in the week under review. In the far-flung Doha suburb of Al Azizya, which falls in Al Rayyan Municipality’s jurisdiction, a plot of land was sold in the week at the rate of QR21,964, the ministry figures reflect.

In Ain Khalid, a sprawling locality on the outskirts of Doha where land was dirt-cheap a few years ago, a plot of 1,033 square meters was sold in the week cited for a staggering QR8.6m — the per square metre rate working out to an incredible QR8,325.

In the far-off Al Daeen town, the rate was ruling at QR2,500 per square metre, according to the ministry’s statistics. In Al Wakrah, the rate was quoted at more than QR5,000, particularly in the developing Al Wukair locality.

“These are artificial prices jacked up by speculators,” Al Oruqi said. “There are more sellers than buyers as a result.”

According to Al Oruqi, what seems to be helping speculators is a mix of factors, including a severe shortage of land and increasing lending facilities from banks. Asked if land rates would go up further this year, he said he thought this was the peak as there was less scope for further manipulation of prices.

About Doha, the expert said that a lot of people were moving to the areas being developed out of the city limits after selling their properties due to a number of development projects being launched. The Peninsula

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