history began with the Berbers, the aboriginal people who have inhabited
the country since the end of the 2nd millennium BC Rome extended its
rule over the area after defeating Carthage in 146 BC, and testimony to
its presence still exists in the fine Roman ruins at Volubilis. As Rome
fell into decline Morocco was invaded first by the Vandals and then, in
the 7th century, by the Arabs. Although external Arab rule lasted little
more than a century, the arrival of Islam proved to be a permanent
addition to Moroccan culture. In the ensuing centuries a series of
ruling dynasties came to power, including the Idrissids, the Almoravids,
and the Almohads, but none seemed capable of long maintaining the
critical support of the Berber leaders.
By the 15th century
Spain and Portugal began to intrude into Morocco, after having expelled
the Moors from their own lands. Although Morocco successfully repulsed
these invasions, the tide of European imperialism eventually proved too
great. By the middle of the 19th century Morocco's strategic importance
had become evident to all of the European powers, and they engaged in a
protracted struggle for possession of the country. Finally, in 1911,
France was formally acknowledged as protector of the greater part of the
country, with Spain receiving a number of isolated locales. French rule
came to an end in 1953, although its cultural influence on Morocco
remains strongly in evidence. Today the country is ruled by King
Mohammed VI. He appears to be leading Morocco toward both long-term
stability and a greater degree of economic prosperity.
Why Buy Property in Morocco?
Despite being only a three hour flight
from the UK, Morocco is a different world. from the ancient cities of
Tangier, Marrakech, Fez and Casablanca to the sprawling arid desert,
Morocco provides something different for today’s overseas property
Bustling towns and cities provide some of the liveliest markets on the
planet, while the sandy white coastline offers rest and relaxation set
to rival some of the world’s most popular beach destinations. Morocco
benefits from having coasts on both the Atlantic and the Mediterranean,
giving visitors the choice of beach locations. It is even possible to
ski on the snow-capped Atlas mountains, proving that Morocco really is
one of the most diverse locations around.
The choice of property in Morocco is just as varied, with new-build
apartments, townhouses and villas competing with traditional riads and
dars. It is this mixture of old and new which makes property in Morocco
unique. Thanks to clever planning and design, old architecture is
complimented by its modern counterparts. But the real icing on the cake
is the country’s property prices, as no matter what type of home you go
for, it simply won’t break the bank.
Popular property locations:
If you are after a city home, the
choice tends to be between Fez and Marrakech. Fez was Morocco’s first
Islamic city, and today these roots are still clearly visible. The city
obtained UNESCO World Heritage site status in 1981, and the funding
received enabled the old medina to be fully restored.
Meanwhile, Marrakech has the advantage of an established tourist and
property market. It was here that the trend for riad restoration took
off. However, as a result, property prices in the city can be higher
than elsewhere in the country. Despite this, land has always been
available in Marrakech, meaning that there is a wide range of modern
villas with slightly more reasonable prices situated on the outskirts of
Property on Morocco’s coastline is also
proving increasingly popular, and the resort of Mediterranean Saidia is
a prime example. Home to huge inward investment, this coastal town will
soon be home to five golf courses, an 850-berth marina, a wide range of
bars and restaurants, no less than ten four and five star hotels and
beach clubs. This part of the northern coastline is attracting
considerable government investment under the ‘Plan Azul’ to attract
tourists in huge amounts to Morocco in the next few years. A new airport
is being built to provide improved access to the area, and high-end
shopping has been attracted to take up retail opportunities.
Once that you have decided that you
want to buy a property in Morocco, it is then important to choose a
notaire. The notaire plays a big role in the Moroccan property buying
process, and so life will simply be easier if you have one arranged from
the beginning. At this stage it is also advisable to engage an
independent solicitor to check over all documents and deal with any
issues for you.
When you have found a property that you like, you should put in a verbal
offer. When this has been accepted you will need to sign a preliminary
contract, which is legally binding, and pay a deposit which will range
from ten per cent for a resale home, to 40 per cent for an off-plan
Your notaire will then obtain 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.
Around four weeks before completion you will receive a draft of the
final contract which must be signed and returned to the notaire. The
signing of the final contract itself must happen in front of the notaire,
although if you are unable to travel to Morocco, you are able to sign
over power of attorney for someone to sign on your behalf. When the
final contract is signed the remainder of the balance is due, including
any fees and taxes.
Although you do not legally require a solicitor in order
to buy a Moroccan property, it is highly recommended, as the notaire
will not provide you with independent legal advice. You should also have
all three contracts translated into English by a professional firm,
therefore ensuring that both you and your lawyer are fully aware of what
you are signing. It is also advisable to inspect your new home before
you sign the final contract, to double check that it is still in the
same state as when you agreed to the sale. Many new builds are now being
offered with building guarantees for the quality of the finish and
Properties without the correct title deeds are commonplace in Morocco
but, despite what you might hear, it is imperative that you do not
purchase a property without the correct documentation. If you are not in
possession of the title deeds, you do not officially own the property
regardless of how much you paid.
It is not essential for
estate agents to be registered in Morocco, and therefore you should
tread extremely carefully. Do not hand over your deposit, or any funds
at all for that matter, to your agent. Your chosen notaire will have an
escrow account specifically for this purpose.
It is also important that you do not under declare the value of your new
home or property. This can be common practice in Morocco, as under
declaring saves the buyer purchasing taxes and the seller capital gains
tax. However, this can be rather short sighted, as it is more often than
not cheaper to pay the extra purchasing taxes at the outset as opposed
to capital gains tax on a profit that you haven’t actually made in a few
As there are no British banks in Morocco, it is not
possible to get a loan secured on your Moroccan home from a UK financial
institution. You are able, however, to raise finance through a Moroccan
bank up to 70 per cent of the value of the property.
Current interest rates on Moroccan mortgages
are around seven per cent and so, while these can be arranged on both a
variable and fixed term basis, it will still work out cheaper if you
able to raise finance in the UK, perhaps by remortgaging an existing
If you do decide to borrow from a Moroccan bank, be aware that they will
only lend up to 40 per cent of your net salary, which they have in
common with many southern European countries. It is also important to
note that not all Moroccan banks will lend to overseas property buyers,
and that those that do will only supply repayment loans. There is no
such thing as interest only mortgages.
Fees and taxes:
There are two main types of tax status in Morocco,
tax resident and non tax resident. If you spend more than 183 days per
annum in Morocco you will be considered a tax resident. A double
taxation agreement with the UK does exist, however, meaning that you
won’t be taxed twice for any income earned. In order to avoid any
confusion it is advisable to seek the guidance of an independent tax
expert, as the taxation system can be pretty complicated.
When buying property in Morocco you will need to budget for 2.5 per cent
estate agency fees, 2.5 per cent registration tax, as well as 0.5 per
cent notary tax. You will also be liable for annual local taxes (similar
to our council tax), but these are relatively low. When you come to sell
your property you will be liable for capital gains tax of 20 per cent
unless it has been your principle residence for ten years. There is no
such thing as inheritance tax in Morocco.
Residency, Visas and work
permits: British citizens do not need a
visa to enter Morocco for stays up to 90 days. If you wish to stay
longer than three months, you will either need to leave and re-enter the
country or apply for an extension at the foreign registration department
of your local police station. It is also here that you apply for a
residence permit should you wish to do so, but you must set the wheels
in motion within two weeks of arriving, otherwise you will be required
to leave the country after 90 days. Once issued, a residence permit is
valid for ten years, but it is worth seriously weighing up the
advantages of residency before applying.
If you are planning on working in Morocco
you will need your employer to apply for a work permit on your behalf.
They will be required to prove that you are doing a job that couldn’t be
filled by a Moroccan national, and be warned that the application
process can be very time consuming.
New build or resale properties?
The choice between new build and resale
properties really depends on your personal circumstances, and needs. Off
plan homes sold by reputable developers may offer the easiest route,
simply due to the fact that they should have title deeds secured. They
also promise on site facilities and amenities which can be useful
despite the colour of the local markets it may prove tedious bartering
over your daily loaf of bread. New builds also tend to offer coastal
locations and, if you are planning on renting your property out,
established rental management schemes with guaranteed returns.
However, if you were attracted to Morocco by its vibrant culture you may
simply prefer to plump for a charming riad or dar. Found in the heart of
the old cities, no two riads are alike but, unless you are prepared to
pay a huge premium, it is likely that you will be looking at a
restoration project. These can be daunting, time consuming and
expensive, but for many people restoring a Moroccan riad is simply a
labour of love.
The building boom in Morocco has been compared to that of
Spain 15 years ago. Thanks to a government aim to increase tourism to
the country to ten million by 2010, resorts have fast been springing up
along the country’s coastline. Backed by King Mohammed VI, many of these
developments boast hotels, golf courses, restaurants and, of course,
villas and apartments.
And it is the support of the King which has turned Morocco's property
market into such an attractive proposition. Many ‘emerging’ markets
simply lack the basic infrastructure needed to support a burgeoning
property market, but King Mohammed’s £2.2 billion contribution will
ensure that all necessary facilities and amenities are in place. Put
simply, this means that if these ambitious tourism targets are met,
Morocco could well be the next holiday hotspot which is a move which
could only mean good things for Morocco in terms of both capital growth
and rental returns.
Health and education:
It is essential that you take out private
health insurance before travelling to Morocco,
as not only does the health service leave something to be desired, it
tends to be a case of payment guaranteeing treatment. It is also wise to
ensure that you are covered by air-ambulance, as traditional ambulance
services can be unreliable. There is an abundance of chemists however,
and rules on prescription medicine tend to be relaxed, meaning that you
can probably just order your medication over the counter. You will also
need vaccinations before you enter the country. Consult your GP for the
There are currently seven international schools in Morocco, all of which
operate the American syllabus. Despite this, both Arabic and French will
take up a large proportion of the curriculum. International schools take
children from the age of three, and offer a wide range of facilities. As
a result they don’t come cheap and you could be paying up to £9,000 per
year for your child to attend.
There is a wide range of charter airlines that fly into
Morocco, especially during the summer season. British Airways also
operates daily flights into the country, as doe’s national carrier Royal
Air Maroc, while Ryanair flies to Fez and Marrakech and easyJet has
recently launched flights to Marrakech from London Gatwick.
Once in Morocco there is a range of internal flights available, but be
aware that these can be expensive. If you prefer to drive, there is a
wide choice of car hire firms in all of the major destinations. It is
also possible to drive your own car into Morocco, via the ferry from
either France or Spain. It is important to take care when driving as not
only are Moroccan roads extremely dangerous, there is a strict fixed
penalty system in place for a wide range of common violations.
The train network in Morocco has a great reputation however, with high
speed, air conditioned train services frequently operating at very
reasonable prices. Despite this, if you are planning on
travelling south, be aware that the network ceases in Marrakech.
Vendors, a Quick sale of your