Where next to invest? We profile the world’s top property hotspots, detailing everything an investor needs to know.
Up 1.6% q-o-q (Marrakech, Q2 2016, REPI)
10% rental return (Marrakech)
Enquiries up 29% q-o-q (TheMoveChannel.com, Q1 2017)
Where is it?
The fourth largest city in Morocco, after Casablanca, Fez and Tangier, Marrakech is in the mid-southwest of the country. Part of the Marrakesh-Safi region, it is around 360 milies from Tangier, and, while it may not be the capital, or sit on the coast, it is one of the most consistently popular tourist destinations in the country, thanks to its lively culture and stunning old architecture.
Who lives there?
In addition to the Moroccans who live in the city, there is a vibrant mix of people who come to Marrakech and buy in the area. There have been countless film stars, writers and artists drawn to its exotic blnd of Western and Eastern, African and Arab, desert and modern metropolis. Celebrities such as Yves Saint Laurent and Jeal-Paul Gaultier have purchased homes in the past. Indeed, French nationals make up the majority of the city’s foreign population, with French widely spoken by many residents. As the city’s demographics become more international, English can also be increasingly heard in the most tourist-friendly hotspots.
Who hasn’t looked at photos of Marrakech and thought about visiting to experience the city’s vivid, diverse atmosphere themselves? The draw of the exotic has been a central part of its appeal over the years and that is what has fuelled investment by foreign buyers keen to spend more time there and soak up the city’s mood on a more permanent basis. Indeed, the summer season lasts far more months than in most countries, with a low temperature of 20 degrees on offer in the winter.
Favourable tax conditions, a close promixity to Europe and strong travel connections also make it an accessible destination, with a low cost of living and no need to obtain residency before purchasing a property the icing on the cake. Mortgages are also available to foreigners from Moroccan banks.
Since the financial crisis of 2008, though, Marrakech’s appeal has gone beyond the thrill of a foreign lifestyle to a profitable investment in its own right.
This is partly due to the city’s ongoing status as one of the most unique tourist destinations in the world. Le Monde and Trivago have both highlighted the Red City as one to visit for 2017, while the New York Times ranked Marrakech as the 11th best destination for the year, with a new museum dedicated to Yves Saint Laurent highlighted as a must-see attraction. In the first nine months of 2016, Marrakesh saw tourist arrivals rise 0.3 per cent from 2015 to 9.1 million, fuelled by a 3,500 per cent annual increase in Chinese visa applications last year. With the reopening of Air France’s Marrakech-Roissy air route, meanwhile, the established French tourist market is only set to get stronger.
In some parts of Marrakesh, such as the iconic Medina, with its maze of market stalls, rental yields can therefore potentially reach double-digits, due to strong foreign demand for holiday accommodation. King Mohammed VI has pledged to attract 20 million tourists a year by 2020 to the country, which means thatthose seeking yields can expect reliable returns for some time to come.
It is also partly due to the city’s property prices, which have become notably more affordable since the financial crisis – falling as low as 50 per cent from their peak in the last 10 years. Nonetheless, prices are not plummeting: in Marrakesh, house prices rose 1.6 per cent in Q2 2016 compared to Q1 2017, as the market begins to recover. (Prices in cities such as Tangier and Rabat also rose both year-on-year and quarter-on-quarter, highlighting the country’s gradual improvement overall.)
Away from residential real estate, Marrakech’s thriving tourism industry also makes it a worthwhile commercial investment, with high occupancy rates holding promise for hotels – particularly in the bustling Medina, where more commercial properties tend to be located. The high-end hotel sector, in particular, has seen construction soar recently. The nearby Aglad tourism zone, dedicated to the development of tourism infrastructure, is also an area to consider, with its gold courses, large shopping centre and water park, and the new airport a 1.4km jaunt down the highway.
Whether for residential or commercial real estate, Marrakesh’s investment potential is strengthened by the country’s political stability. Cushman & Wakefield ranked the city as the eighth lowest-risk country among emerging markets in 2015. That stability continues to encourage tourists to visit, with investors naturally following suit: in Q1 2017, enquiries for Moroccan real estate rose 29 per cent compared to Q4 2016.
French investors dominate foreign activity in Morocco overall, buying significantly more than buyers from other countries. Nonetheless, British and American investors can still be found in the city, drawn by that elusive, exotic aura.
“Low prices and a thriving tourism industry make Marrakesh a destination for profit-seeking investors as well as star-struck holiday home hunters.”
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