Around the Property World in £80k: Morocco

By: Homes Overseas

A budget of ?80,000 can go a long way towards securing a Property in Morocco, North Africa, despite the fact that property prices have been appreciating annually at a significant rate - up to 30 per cent in recent years. Furthermore, the cost of living is far cheaper in Morocco than in the UK, so it is possible to experience a comfortable lifestyle at relatively low expense.

A three-hour flight from the UK, tourism is growing rapidly in Morocco. Its royal leader, King Mohammed VI, a young and forward-thinking monarch, has ambitious plans for his country. He has committed to increasing tourism from 2.2 million visitors in 2002 to ten million by 2010, in accordance with the national tourism strategy 'Vision 2010'. The country has already signed the Open Skies agreement, which is facilitating this growth through increasing the number of airlines flying to Morocco. This includes low-budget carriers such as easyJet, Thomson Fly, Atlas Blue and Ryanair.

According to the Official Airline Guide (OAG), there were around 39 flights a week between London airports and Marrakech before the EU Open Skies agreement was implemented in 2006. But Adam Cornwell of GEM Estates reports that there are now over 100 direct flights every week between the two cities, making tourism the third largest source of revenue in Morocco, providing around seven per cent GDP. However, the aim is to ensure that the tourism sector accounts for around 20 per cent of the GDP by 2010, which will help create an additional 600,000 new jobs. As part of this programme, miles of coastline, urban locations and infrastructure will be dramatically transformed, while a number of new residential-led resorts are being built.

Robert Shaw of Morocco Properties says: 'The King's vision is set to dramatically increase Morocco's standards of infrastructure and tourism facilities, which will undoubtedly have a very positive effect on any property investments made today.'

The rise in tourism has not only improved the Moroccan economy but is also boosting demand for property, strengthening the country's property market. Michael Kent of Moroccan Sands reports that the market in Morocco is at the start of the development cycle and so investors are entering a buoyant market backed by massive government investment and over $18 billion of private finance from the UAE. Consequently, the country now has one of the fastest-emerging property markets in the world.

Steve Worboys of Experience International comments: 'Moroccan property in response to this government initiative has been growing at a fast yet sustainable pace. Its proximity to Europe, along with its warm Mediterranean climate and significantly lower property prices compared to nearby European markets, has turned the country into a hotspot for foreign property investors. Morocco is fast establishing itself as a substitute product for traditionally popular destinations such as Spain and Portugal.'

But what exactly can you buy on the Moroccan property market with a budget of ?80,000?

Marrakech

Marrakech, which is commonly referred to as the Red City, is increasingly popular with tourists and overseas nationals buying property in Morocco. The city is the second largest in Morocco, after Casablanca, and is located south-west of the country in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains.

Shaw comments: 'Marrakech is exotic and chic and is firmly establishing itself as a premier city break destination and the golfing centre of Morocco. It already has an established rental market and with comprehensive long-term development plans it offers a low-risk investment with the opportunity for outstanding returns.'

Worboys reports that property prices in the city have witnessed significant annual growth of up to 30 per cent over the past three years. A shortage of high-quality properties should ensure that this level of appreciation is sustainable over the foreseeable future. It is still possible to buy property in some parts of the city for under ?80,000.

GEM Estates is currently selling off-plan apartments in El Oasis de Marrakech, located in the upmarket Palmeraie area, with prices starting from c96,000 (approx ?70,000). Surrounded by sub-tropical gardens, facilities will include a spa, swimming pools, restaurants, supermarkets, tennis courts, gymnasium as well as a bank and business centre. Those who buy property in this development are also being offered the option of a ten per cent rental guarantee for ten years by the developer.

Elsewhere in Marrakech, Experience International and Moroccan Sands are currently selling a selection of attractive Arabian-style apartments in the five-star Atlas Golf Resort, also situated near the prestigious Palmeraie area. Property prices currently start from around ?62,000.

Tangier

?80,000 will also go a long way towards buying a home in the vibrant city of Tangier, which possesses superb infrastructure and is located along the northern Mediterranean coastline, within close proximity to mainland Spain.

Amelia Gristwood of Saffron Villas reports that Tangier is growing in popularity as a holiday home destination. It is reported that easyJet will soon start flying into Tangier, which will almost certainly have the effect of increasing tourism further. It is still possible to buy an apartment for under ?60,000 in the area. Property prices in Tangier Boulevard, for example, currently start from ?58,000.

Shaw reports: 'Over the past three years, property prices in Tangier have experienced phenomenal growth. With many souks, traditional Moroccan cuisine and nightlife, Tangier is the perfect destination to experience Morocco's diversity in both flavour and culture, as well as an excellent place to buy a property whether for investment or as a holiday home.'

It is also worth noting that construction work on a 39-kilometre rail tunnel will soon get underway. Worboys reports that the new route will eventually run between Punta Palomas, 40 kilometres west of Gibraltar, and Punta Malabata near Tangiers.

Worboys says: 'With the only other land route to Africa requiring a detour of some thousands of miles, via the Middle East, it is not difficult to imagine the enormous positive effect that this new connection will have on Morocco's strategic importance and on property values in Tangiers and the nearby popular northern Mediterranean coastal resorts of Cabo Negro and Tetouan.'

Tetouan

The Mediterranean coast of Morocco is similar to that of the southern coast of Spain, except property prices here are much cheaper. Experience International is currently selling apartments in a development called Playa Vista, in Tetouan, located 25 minutes from the vibrant area of Cabo Negro. A one-bedroom apartment with sea views currently starts from ?49,850.

Mediterrania SaÃ?dia

Mediterrania SaÃ?dia, located in the north-east, is a slightly more upmarket Mediterranean coastal resort, which is also proving popular with foreign property buyers. The area features three 18-hole golf courses, an 840-berth marina, six kilometres of beachfront, plus other sports and shopping amenities.

New-build condominiums within the Sahara Beach Resort & Spa, where the architecture follows a mixture of Moroccan, Andalucian and Roman styles, are available from around ?76,000. Elsewhere, sea view apartments in a new five-star apart-hotel development called Le Jardin de Fleur, a Sahara Beach Resort & Spa, are available from ?75,500. Apartments in this tourist development are subject to a fully managed leaseback system, in which proprietors enter into a rental pool. Owners are also offered the opportunity to use their apartment for a period of up to six to eight weeks per year for personal holiday use.

Cornwell concludes: 'With all the emerging market hype surrounding so many destinations people have a misconception that markets such as Morocco will come and go overnight. Morocco is here to stay and will continue to grow for many years to come. Morocco is a large country with infinite appeal. Expect average property prices to appreciate annually by 15 to 20 per cent over the next five years or so.'

Marc DaSilva for Homes Overseas: Property for sale in Morocco, property investment advice and news.

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