Oman: real estate market…

it is well known by now that every body in Oman is now a real estate broker. its a dogy dog world that includes the expats and the Omanis. on the expat side it is mainly western and arab expats. i am yet to come across asian expats that are into this. i am not discounting them, they might be out there ! i’ve heard stories that people have to sell properties that are not even for sale. they would solicit the sale and negotiate the price and then try to find the owner and convince him to sell. on the other hand when something is for sale and the seller is asking for X, the property is offered at x+y+z depending on how many people are in the middle. The same property could be in the market for 5 different prices depending on who you talk to. the other day i was approached by the guy that works the sheesha at my local sheesha joint to help him sell a building worth 3 million Omani Rials ! When stuff like this starts happening, you know that we are headed for trouble … the same thing happened in 1997 when taxi drivers knew the latest stock prices.. and we all know what happened that year..

the western expats:
i must admit are going about it in a very professional manner. they are registered and operate in a very transparent way. They might charge you a premium, but it is well worth it as you dont have to deal with any hassles and whole transaction is extremely smooth. If you are going to invest or buy a property then this is the route i recommend. hassle free and clean.

the arab expats and the Omanis:
these guys, on the other hand, act like hustlers and street thugs… they try to put deals together that involve a chain of people (an average of 4) between the buyer and the seller. almost always the guys in the middle fail to agree on the commission to be paid and the deals never go through. If the deals ever go through then you are bound to have a middle man that was left out of the loop and would then come and create all sorts of problems for everyone. these problems can actually reach the local courts. this makes me wonder, if these people just learn from their mistakes and move on the next deal, wouldnt it be a more constructive way to concentrate their energy? it reminds of the energy george contanza exerted to stay out of a job. he worked so hard to stay unemployed it was a full time job!

open questions:
is there no regulations that govern this sector? can this sector be regulated? and how?
especially now that there is a real boom in this area?
how does one go about buying a property?
is brokerage regulated? we all hear that the standard is 3%, but i also know people that have paid brokerage of less than 1%.
who should pay the commission? the buyer? the seller? both?
when you are confronted by a chain of people that are all in the middle, who do you deal with? they should have a representative.
is there a way to make sure that the property is actually for sale?
is there a way to make sure that you are paying market price?
how is market price determined anyway? is it supply and demand? who determines market price?
are brokers qualified to do the job? shouldnt they have some kind of basic knowledge? should they get licensed?

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