Transactions in Qatar's residential rental market picked up significantly in the first three months of 2012 compared to the previous quarter although rents remained largely unchanged, Asteco said on Sunday.
The transactions rose as several established Qatari firms changed their housing policies to allow employees to take direct leases with landlords rather than employer-owned accommodation, it said.
However average rental rates for apartments and villas across all areas of the capital Doha remained unchanged, according to the Q1 2012 report by Asteco.
"The location most in demand was the Pearl-Qatar, which continues to be Doha's prime development for many expatriates," said Jed Wolfe, managing director, Asteco Qatar.
"If demand continues at this level, and, assuming no new towers or phases are delivered, rental rates for the best configured apartments may witness a slight increase during Q2 2012," added Wolfe.
The average rental rate for a two-bedroom apartment at the Pearl-Qatar during the first quarter was QR13,000 per month while a three-bedroom apartment was QR16,250 per month.
The cheapest rents were found in Al Muntazah where two and three-bedroom apartments averaged QR5,000 per month and QR6,250 per month, respectively.
Rental rates for high-end four-bedroom villas in West Bay and West Bay Lagoon averaged QR22,000 per month while in Al Khraytiyat they cost QR9,250 per month.
The residential sales market saw improved levels of enquiries in the freehold market during the first quarter of this year, Asteco added.
"With prices having remained relatively flat for 12 months, and still at a significant discount to pricing levels at the height of the market in 2008, serious investors are once again reviewing their options with regard to residential property," said Wolfe.
The majority of enquiries were from local investors seeking to purchase from distressed sellers, he added.
The first three months of the year also saw an increase in the volume of land sales at the Pearl-Qatar in the freehold secondary market, the Asteco report noted.
Rental rates for offices remained static during the first quarter of this year further demonstrating stability in the market, but are unlikely to rise until the beginning of 2013 at the earliest, it added.