The housing market in Morocco is developing swiftly as people find it a good place to retire and invest. The country was rivaling Spain and Italy as the retirement/vacation location of choice, but recent issues with global financial crisis and political turmoil have seen the market slow.
The choice of property and geography in Morocco is varied. There are new build apartments, townhouses and villas as well as traditional riads.
Any investor, resident or overseas buyer can purchase property (except agricultural land) in Morocco. The government is actively trying to lure back Moroccans living abroad by offering 25 year 100 percent loans for up to $100,000 USD.
You should first determine what exactly you are looking for.
Real estate agents are extremely helpful in finding a home and understanding the real estate climate. Usually known as a samsar in Morocco, they provide you with a description of available properties, escort you to viewings, make sure your contract complies with expected standards.
Samsars usually hold another full-time job and rarely have offices so the easiest way to find someone is usually to just ask around. Inquire at tea cafes, convenience stores, and other places where locals convene. If you are employed with a company, they may have an official agent they work with they can refer. Also check with friends and acquaintances for recommendations.
While viewing apartments with an agent, be sure to ask to see a wide range of housing options. As a foreigner, many agents assume that you want a lavish or expensive apartment. Do your research ahead of time by asking fellow expats about housing costs and standards. Remember there are always options for every budget. If your agent won't show you them, find a new agent.
Online listings can give you a great feel for the market and allow you to determine if a place fits your specifications before you spend time going to look at it.
If you prefer print, as even some sellers do, property sections can be found in most daily newspapers on a weekly or bi-weekly basis as well as online and through specialist property publications.
Many places have billboards offering advertisements for a variety of goods and services. It is rare to find property listings, but there may be useful postings. Laundrettes, cafes, grocery stores, community centers, and bars all might have private ads.
Expat and social forums and classified's are another resource for house seekers. You can get a realistic expectations of what it's like to live in Morocco as well as make helpful contacts. Check out Easy Expat's classified as well as the forum and network to connect with expats there.
Once you have decided on a property, make a verbal offer through the agent. Once this has been accepted by the vendor and a price has been agreed upon, you should have a lawyer or notaire formalize the agreement. Make sure to have the property independently evaluated. You want to be sure the place is without major structural issues before preceding.
At this time you will need to pay a reservation fee to freeze the price. The amount depends on the unit you choose, the developer and the development. It is typically around 3,000 euro. The notaire then obtains the title deeds of the property. While this is relatively straightforward for a new-build home, it has been known to take up to a year for resale homes, as every member of the vendor's family needs to agree to the sale.
After 30 days, 30 percent of the cost of the property is due as a deposit. Various developers and developments require different deposit payment percentages. They may also require interim payments throughout the construction process. You will need to ensure you fully understand exactly what payment structure is in place before committing to a property purchase in Morocco.
If buying in a development, the remaining 70 percent is payable. Many people choose to finance this with a mortgage. At this point ownership of the home has been transferred along with the final signing of the contract.
Mortgages in Morocco are available for foreign buyers. Between 60 - 70 percent is standard. Moroccan bank accounts include convertible dirhams accounts that allow you to prove you brought the money in from outside of the country.
Property is usually an additional 5 - 6 percent of the purchase price because of fees.
There is a 75 percent discount if the home is your permanent or vacation home residence.
When buying property as an investment, you must be certain that you can afford to buy and hold the investment over the long term as there are costs and risks involved in disposal and acquisition. Get independent advice and proceed with caution.
The Moroccan property market is filled with investment properties. There are few barriers for foreign buyers and the climate and cost of living are attractive. Many people invest in property in Morocco to operate as a "Buy to Let" strategy. Morocco has a solid rental market with occupancy around 85 percent in the high season.
Buying at auction is very exciting and can offer you a significant savings. Note that most properties are sold cheaply, but may need extensive renovation. This option is not recommended for first time buyers, and even experienced buyers should bring a friend or advisor as a second opinion.
The site, http://www.worldwidepropertyauctions.com/, is a useful resource.