Home search in Morocco: a Riad in Marrakech for less than $ 500,000

This three bedroom renovated riad sits in the old walled section of Marrakech, Morocco, known as the Medina. A riad is a traditional Moroccan house in which all the rooms are built around an interior courtyard.

The house is located near Dar El Bacha, once the palace of Thami El Glaoui, a supporter of the French protectorate, who ruthlessly ruled the city from 1912 until his death in 1956, when Morocco gained independence .

“When the French set up their first riads here, this was the neighborhood they went to – they wanted to be close to the seat of power,” said Colin Bosworth, owner of Bosworth Property Marrakech, who holds the list. “Since then, it has been the most upscale part of the medina and it has the reputation of being a very safe area.”

The house was rebuilt 12 years ago; all that remains of the original riad, from the turn of the 20th century, is the facade and the kitchen wall, Mr Bosworth said. But the new design incorporates many traditional Moroccan elements, including Moorish-style arcades, decorative plasterwork, and walls in tadelakt, a polished, waterproof plaster. The price includes most of the furniture.

The main entrance, in a covered alley in the medina, opens into a hall facing a concrete archway leading to the tiled courtyard. The square courtyard has decorative columns, large arches on all sides, and high white walls with interior windows lining the upper level. The glass ceiling has panels that fold out to let in fresh air, Mr Bosworth said.

Facing the courtyard is a long room with gray tadelakt walls which serves both as a living room and a dining room. A small bar is set up in a corner.

The small kitchen and pantry are on another wall in the courtyard. Bright red cabinets in an L-shaped prep area contrast with gray walls. A breakfast bar with granite counters faces a wall of open shelving.

The bedrooms, all with private bathrooms with walk-in showers, are located on the second floor. One bedroom has a small balcony overlooking the courtyard; another has an arched window facing the street.

On the third floor is a spa with a hammam (a Turkish bath), a massage room and a bathroom. At the end of the hall, a door opens onto a terrace with a hot tub, a summer kitchen and a covered seating area.

A flight of concrete steps from the patio leads up to a large roof terrace with panoramic city views.

The house is a popular Airbnb rental when its European owners are not using it, Mr Bosworth said. There is no parking, but a taxi service is available nearby. He noted that the easiest means of transportation in the medina is by bicycle or scooter. Marrakech Menara Airport is approximately 20 minutes by car.

The walls around the medina and most of the buildings that line its winding alleys are made of an orange-red clay that gives Marrakech its nickname of the red city. Part of Dar El Bacha, now entrusted to the National Museum Foundation, was lavishly restored and reopened in 2017 as the Musée des Confluences. Coffee is also housed in the palace.

Before the pandemic cut tourism to Morocco, which lies just south of Spain in northwest Africa, a concerted push by the national government to improve infrastructure and promote tourism was boosting the tourism market. housing for several years. Today, after strict lockdowns dampened activity in the spring and summer of 2020, the housing market in Marrakech, Morocco’s fourth-largest city, is set to pick up, agents said.

The Moroccan government recently suspended all flights to and from most countries during the several weeks of Ramadan, to avoid an influx of people for the religious holiday, but the restriction should be lifted by June, said Maud Faujas, director by Emile Garcin Marrakech.

Alex Peto, partner of Kensington Luxury Properties, the Moroccan branch of Christie’s International, said he expects the market to accelerate considerably in September, after the end of the hot summer and the spread of vaccinations.

“In January, February 2020, it was the first time in almost a decade that things were really starting to bubble,” he said. “Then Covid happened.

As of May 10, Morocco had reported 513,864 cases of Covid-19 and 9,072 deaths, according to the New York Times coronavirus world map. Flights from the United States to Morocco are available but remain very limited. Travelers entering Morocco must show negative results from a Covid-19 test carried out less than 72 hours before boarding.

Mr Peto said the continued easing of travel restrictions should remove stops from the market. “The number of investigations is the same as last year,” he said, “and there are a lot of people who keep saying, ‘As soon as the borders reopen, I’m in the first plane. ‘”

In the fourth quarter of 2020, residential prices increased by 0.8% in Morocco compared to the fourth quarter of 2019, according to data from Bank Al-Maghrib, The central bank of Morocco. In Marrakech, prices in the fourth quarter rose 1.1% from the previous quarter, and transactions climbed 47%.

There are currently struggling sales in the small guesthouse market – family farms with five to seven bedrooms, Mr Bosworth said. The lack of tourism has hit the sector hard, leading to price reductions of 30 to 40 percent.

But prices are otherwise stable, as interest from European buyers has increased significantly, said Ms Faujas. Riads in the densely populated Marrakech medina are popular with vacation home buyers because they are reasonably priced, starting at around 250,000 euros ($ 304,000), and are a reliable source of rental income, a she declared. (While the listing price is usually in euros due to the predominance of European buyers, final transactions are done in Moroccan dirhams.)

“Even a small apartment that you can rent for 200-250 euros a night,” she says. “It’s the best thing to buy as an investment.”

Villas on the 15 18-hole golf courses around Marrakech average around 1 million euros ($ 1.22 million), although they can be had for as little as 500,000 ($ 608,000). . Lavish homes in the desert suburb of Palmeraie, home to many wealthy Moroccan families, start at around 3 million euros ($ 3.6 million), she said.

Most of the foreign buyers come from Europe, with France in the lead. “We are three hours from Paris and Geneva, two hours from Madrid,” said Bosworth.

More recently, investors from Mexico, Singapore and the United States have shown interest, acknowledging that European tourists risk flooding Marrakech once the pandemic subsides, he said.

In addition, Morocco’s decision last year to begin normalizing relations with Israel, and the planned launch of direct flights between the two countries, has sparked greater interest in the vacation homes of Jewish Moroccans living elsewhere. , said Ms Faujas.

There are no restrictions on foreign buyers in Morocco. A notary takes care of the transaction and is responsible for due diligence. Foreign buyers who pay in cash must register their money with the bureau de change, which can be done by the notary

The agent’s commission is 6-8%, split between buyer and seller, Ms. Faujas said.

Arabic and French; Moroccan dirham (1 dirham = 0.11 USD)

Closing costs, including land registry fees, stamp duty, notary and agent fees, are typically around 10% of the purchase price, Mr Bosworth said. A government incentive program for buyers who buy private residences up to about $ 400,000 cuts land registration fees in half, reducing closing costs to about 8%, he said.

Tourist taxes on this house are approximately $ 400 per year.

Colin Bosworth, Bosworth Property Marrakech, 011-212-658-025028; bosworthpropertymarrakech.com/

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