Benjamin Cullum, General Manager, Hamptons International and Partners talks to OER about the trends and prospects of the real estate market in the Sultanate.
Can you give us a brief background on the services offered by Hamptons International in Oman?
The Hamptons brand is one that is synonymous with professional expertise and a comprehensive range of property product services. We have an extensive portfolio of leading property projects in Oman and across a number of international markets including UAE, France, Italy, Spain, Egypt, the UK, the USA and the Seychelles. We aim to provide customers with a wealth of property opportunities and access to a diverse property portfolio.
Locally, our Oman office provides the following specialised services:
- Residential & commercial leasing
- Local & international property sales
- Valuation & appraisals
- Property management
- Real estate consultancy
Hamptons has expanded its Property Management services in Muscat and Salalah recently. What are the reasons for this expansion?
Following the global financial crisis, investors and owners of real estate in the Sultanate have begun to experience the benefits of professional property advice. This has helped all our business lines, however it is in the effective asset management of property that the investors and owners have really witnessed tangible benefits. We have found that the demand for property management services has increased as a direct result of this.
How long has Hamptons been present in Oman and where do you have your offices in the Sultanate?
Hamptons International and Partners was established in Muscat in 2000 as a first phase in its Gulf network presence. During 2007 we opened our branch office in Salalah which has been very succesful. At the moment we do not have plans for any further office locations in the Sultanate but are very optimistic about the anticipated growth in our two offices over the coming years.
What is Hamptons differentiation in the market compared to its competitors?
I am extremely proud of our team; we have a great mix of skilled expatriate and Omani employees, bringing international and local expertise together. In comparison to the market, our employee retention levels are very good and this tends to mean that our clients keep returning to us as there is a substantial body of retained knowledge within the company. The team is adept at combining this knowledge, its varied experience and considerable expertise to look beyond individual client’s demands to discover possibilities where others see obstacles, and produce desired results with an exceptionally high degree of diligence and flexibility.
How is the real estate market in Oman faring and how would you rate its future prospects?
The real estate market in Oman is undergoing significant change, primarily as a result of the general economic growth in the country. The Sultanate has worked at creating the right climate for new investments by developing a free, competitive economy with equal opportunities for all, and shaping laws and regulations that encourage enterprise. It is clear that the real estate market in Oman was affected in the same ways as many others in the region and globally over the last five years. However Oman’s inate conservatism has meant that the negative impacts of the global financial crisis were not as deeply felt as other regional countries, it has also led to a fairly stable growth pattern over the last couple of years.
Looking forward to 2014 and beyond, the prospects for the real estate market are good: the economy continues to grow, creating both residential and commercial based demand; the large infrastructure projects in the Sultanate are encouraging new migrants to the country and providing local employment; and the strategic geographic location of the Sultanate is attracting considerable Foreign Direct Investment. There are of course several challenges ahead for the Sultanate’s real estate market, I consider the biggest of which, like many of the GCC countries, is going to be the provision of affordable housing to its young population. Of course, as a real estate professional, I consider the challenge more of an opportunity than a potential problem going forward!