The most popular places for property sales in Morocco are Marrakech, Fez and Essaouira, although the new resort developments along the coast also offer some opportunities. Sidi Ifni, Agadir, Essaouira, El Jadida, Tangier and Casablanca are all areas along the Atlantic coast and Ceuta, Tetouan and Nadir can be found along the Mediterranean coast. Marrakech is located inland.
Although there is no rental market as yet, the interest surrounding these developments combined with the country's increasing number of tourists means occupancy will be high. A lot of the 'Plan Azur' resorts are centred on golf as the sport is a big passion of the kings. As a result some of the world's greatest golf courses are built here and when buying a property it is worth checking if golf membership is included in the price. With so many resorts to choose from, be sure to see what extras are included in the property price.
There is neither a better nor worse coast for investment, it is merely a matter of personal preference. Choose the Mediterranean coast if you prefer a warmer climate and the Atlantic coast if you want to catch the 'Alizee', the local name given to the strong winds that offer perfect conditions for wind sports.
Essaouira is located along this coast and has been nicknamed the 'surfing capital' of Morocco, alongside other attractions such as sailing, horse riding, yoga and kite surfing. Essaouira attracts thrill seeking holiday makers all year round and June is its busiest month. It is not only adrenaline junkies that travel here though, the walled old town hides spice and fish souks and labyrinth streets affording a rare glimpse at times gone by.
Two and a half hours from Marrakech on the Atlantic coast, Essaouira is the second most popular destination for homebuyers after Marrakech. The city was once the port for Timbuctou, and as a result has a wide mix of cultures. Essaouira has the only medina with a grid system, as it was one of the first towns to have an urban planning policy. The area has also proved popular with film-makers, and was the location for Oliver Stone's Alexander and Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven. The market here is particularly suited to second home buyers with property cheaper than in both Marrakech and Fez.
Marrakech is known as the 'entertainment capital' of the country, and has long been the most popular tourist destination due to its year-round desert heat, its rose-red medina, its boutiques, It is even home to one of the famous Pacha nightclubs, hosting events with world renowned DJs and attracting a famous crowd. It also has the most developed property market with 85% occupancy rates achievable during the high season making it great for rental income.
A fabulous mix of traditional and modern, the city is within easy reach of ski slopes and also boasts many golf courses. It has attracted stars such as Jean-Paul Gaultier and Yves Saint-Laurent, and until recently was the most accessible Moroccan destination from the UK. This made it the most sought-after place to buy property, and prices reflect this. The current trend for property developers is to buy old houses in the commercial district of Gueliz, knock them down and build modern apartment blocks in their place, creating a 'pied a terre' market for long weekenders from Europe. Whilst Marrakech still presents good opportunities for investment and is an exciting destination, prices here may be prohibitive.
An alternative option is to buy land in the countryside around Marrakech and to build on it: the Route d'Ourika, the Route d'Ouarzazate and the Route de Fez are three areas which are gaining in popularity, the first due to the stunning views and the second two due to their proximity to facilities such as the American School, large supermarkets and Club Amelkis, a new 18-hole golf course.
Rabat as the country's capital is more cosmopolitan than some of Morocco's other cities and boasts some of the regions best golf courses which are a popular allure for tourists. Economic reforms have had a substantial impact on the property market meaning that in the last few years it has experienced exceptional growth.
A less popular destination but one set to dominate the Moroccan property market in coming years, is Tangier. Located on the northern tip of Morocco this bustling port enjoys lively markets, a superb bay and delectable beaches. If the proposed tunnel link with Europe goes ahead it will welcome a constant stream of pleasure seeking tourists each year. Prospects for short-term letting options are encouraging and with the UK just a two and a half hour flight away, Tangier's accessibility is one of the easiest in the country. Experts are finding that there is also growing demand for long-term rental property making it ideal for an investor seeking stable investment options.
Fez, a Moroccan Florence, prides itself on having the most elegant and highly-decorated houses in the country. It is also considered to be the best preserved medieval medina in the world and has been described as the world's 'most beautiful city'. Although it is somewhat quieter than other Moroccan hotspots, it is the ideal place to go to get your hands on a traditional home at a bargain price. Indeed, property can be 50% cheaper than Marrakech. The city, once the nation's capital now has a significant number of run down properties left vacant or poorly maintained from when inhabitants fled to the new capital Rabat and new commercial hub Casablanca in 1912.
Buying an apartment in one of the old palaces, once inhabited by ruling oligarchy, could also prove to be a shrewd move. The fact that riads are so sought after is reflected in their elevated prices, meaning it is often better to opt for dars which are easier to attain and are therefore cheaper. It is unlikely that Fez's property market will mirror the success story that is now Marrakech within the short term, however for those willing to invest in a long term market, Fez may well be the ideal location.
Those interested in taking advantage of the growing tourist industry should be cheered by the fact that the Moroccan Tourist Ministry have made it easy for foreigners to obtain licenses to operate bed and breakfasts. Whilst other cities have restrictions on such permits, the government's aims to encourage foreign direct investment, bolster the tourism industry and renovate the medina in Fez mean that this type of enterprise is encouraged.
An example of an area benefiting from Plan Azur investment and emerging as a promising investment hub, is Saidia. This large master planned resort development is three hours by air from the UK, has a perfect Mediterranean climate. It is also the only Plan Azur area situated on the Mediterranean coast and has a variety of villas, apartments and penthouses for sale.