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Morocco Property Investment For Sale

 

"The Gateway to Africa, Morocco is an exotic alternative to a Spanish second home."

 

Oozing colour, charm and a vibrant and rich culture and history, Morocco is both inspirational and exotic.  From its tile festooned Riads and bustling souks to its famous aromatic cuisine, Morocco has an enduring appeal which has attracted visitors from all walks of life and every corner of the world.

As Europe’s “Gateway to Africa”, Morocco has thrown enormous effort behind turning Morocco into a leading tourist destination and has set out to rival Spain as a second home destination for north Europeans. Massive infrastructure improvements have been initiated such as a new port and free trade zone near Tangier which have improved Morocco’s economic competitiveness and along with tourism much emphasis has been placed on agriculture, phosphates, textiles, apparel and the subcomponent industries.  However there are still issues with high unemployment, corruption and illiteracy.

As a second home destination Morocco however has much to offer as house prices are still very reasonable and living costs are low.  Only an hour’s ferry ride from southern Europe, it is easily the nearest exotic short haul holiday or investment destination from Europe.

Popular investment and tourist destinations include:  inland – Marrakech, along the Atlantic coast, Sidi ifni, Agadir, Essaouira, El Jadida, Tangier and Casablanca and along the Mediterranean coast, Ceuta, Tetouan and Nadir.

Country Guide

Geography

Morocco lies in North Africa, with its borders touching the Mediterranean Sea and Spain in the north, Algeria in the east and the Atlantic Ocean in the west. A large part of Morocco is mountainous with four different mountain ranges within the country. The Atlas Mountains are located in the centre and to the south of the country, whilst the rest of Morocco comprises rich coastal plains and the Sahara desert.

Government

Since the death of King Hassan in July 1999, his son King Mohammed has ruled and taken drastic steps to change the way in which Morocco is governed. As a result, the country's outlook has become more transparent and democratic.

King Mohammed also serves as Morocco's spiritual and moral guide due to his direct lineage with Prophet Mohammed, the founder of Islam.

There are 29 officially recognized political parties in Morocco. The political leaning of a majority of these parties is left of centre, but several parties, including the Movement Populaire, the country's largest, are pro-monarchy. Islamists are represented by the Parti de la Justice et du Development. The king has the power to appoint and dismiss the Prime Minister and members of the cabinet.

Language

The official language in Morocco is Arabic but French is the most dominant business language used in central and southern Morocco. Spanish is often spoken in the north of the country and English is fairly widely spoken due to the growing tourism industries.

The original Berber languages, once dominant throughout Morocco, are heard less and less across the country. 

Standard of Living

Morocco is a wealthy country with an economy that should provide its people with a good standard of living. Since ascending the throne, King Mohammed VI has tackled issues including improvement of education, health and human rights and the abomination of corruption in a bid to create transparency within the government. However over half of the population is still involved in petty agriculture and the rural standard of living is minimal. Many teenagers are illiterate and malnutrition is a major problem.

Country Economy

The Moroccan economy has been helped enormously by the numerous changes undertaken since the mid 1990's with much privatisation of previous government controlled economic sectors.

The services sector accounts for just over half of GDP and industry, made up of mining, construction and manufacturing, forms an additional quarter of GDP. The industries that recorded the highest growth are tourism, telecoms, information technology, and textiles. Almost half the working population however continue to work in agriculture although this sector only provides a small percentage of GDP and is highly dependent on the weather.

The major resources of the Moroccan economy are agriculture, phosphates, and tourism. Sales of fish and seafood are important as well. Industry and mining contribute about one-third of the annual GDP. Morocco is the world's third-largest producer of phosphorus after China and the United States and the price fluctuations of phosphates on the international market greatly influence Morocco's economy.

Key industries:

Morocco's largest industry is the mining of phosphates. Its second and third largest industries come from foreign investment and tourism. Although it is illegal, Morocco ranks among the world's largest producers and exporters of cannabis. Its cultivation and sale provide the economic base for much of the population of northern Morocco. Almost 1 million Moroccans earn a living through the industry. 

 

Hotspots

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.

Plan Azur

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

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

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

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.

Tangier

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

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.

Saidia

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. 


 

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