Faring better under global recession conditions, Morocco is now one of the most stable economies in northern Africa. A youthful and progressive king, Mohammed VI has enthusiastically embraced economic development and has changed laws to make property investment easier for foreigners, providing an array of tax incentives such as low CGT, no inheritance tax and no property tax for the first five years.
His ambitious tourist project Vision 2010 aims to attract 10 million visitors a year to the country where English, French and Spanish are widely spoken, and is responsible for an extensive programme of resort development, such as the flagship Mediterranea Saidia on the north coast.
In the last ten years, house prices have more than doubled in Morocco, particularly in the popular cities of Tangiers, Marrakech, Fez, Rabat and Casablanca. Buyers have the option of an older property, such as the traditional Moroccan townhouse, or 'riad' that can be found in the medinas of the old cities, or a European colonial-style home (high ceilings, cool spaces, shutters, landscaped gardens) normally found in special development zones on the outskirts of cities, or a property within one of the big Mediterranean-style resort developments with amenities such as swimming pools, shops and restaurants.
A property in need of work can cost from £50,000 upwards, while a refurbished riad can set you back anything from £150,000 to over a million pounds. But Shaw's company can guide prospective buyers through the whole process. "Elite Morocco Properties have a team dedicated to sourcing the best riad opportunities and we can help you with everything from legal advice to renovation to management, rental and even the sale of your finished riad."
Wherever and whatever you buy, says Michael Kent of Moroccan Sands, the property company marketing the Blue Pearl Golf Resort in Saidia, make sure you take good advice. "It is fairly straightforward to buy property in Morocco and there are good tax benefits," says Kent, "but make sure you use a good independent local lawyer with knowledge of the Moroccan system. You should also ensure that all the payments you make for the property go into Morocco. This makes repatriation of the profit much easier."
Moroccan tourism's flagship Plan Azur project offers luxurious resort living in the government-backed Saidia development, which has covenants in place to cover any failure by developers. There is also a 15-year no-build guarantee on the surrounds so that the value of properties cannot be diluted by copycat developments. With shops, restaurants, sport and leisure facilities, marinas, golf courses, landscaped gardens and of course miles and miles of beaches, Saidia is at the centre of the King's Vision 2010 programme, and he often visits to monitor its progress. A variety of house styles are available, from apartments to penthouses and villas, starting at around £100,000.
When it comes to budgeting, on a £100,000 property for example, you would need to allow for around six to seven per cent to cover stamp duty, lawyer and notary fees, land registry and agent fees. So with links by air improving all the time, a glorious year-round climate and an exotic and colourful culture, Morocco seems perfect for Brits looking for some guaranteed winter sun.