Discover the best way to invest in real estate in northern Africa

Global Citizen By Roshnara Corby March 3, 2020

This article was created in partnership with Western Union

Maze-like souks, heaps of fresh spices, colourful djellabas and the blazing sun all spring to mind when one thinks of North Africa. But the region has so much more to offer than just the travel guide clichés. The vibrant cultural life, ever-improving infrastructure, famously welcoming locals and easy travel connections are just a few of the reasons that people invest in property in places like Marrakech or Djerba.

The best way to invest in real estate in northern Africa is to take your time exploring your options before signing on the dotted line. Keep reading to find out how to make an investment that makes sense.

Why people are investing in North Africa

There are many reasons why increasing numbers of French residents are choosing to invest in North African real estate. Beyond the quality of life that comes with great weather, good food and beautiful landscapes, potential buyers can expect relatively low property prices, easy links to major European cities, a network of reputed French-language “Lycées français” and the chance to connect with close-knit but welcoming expat communities.

Economic development in the region also means that major Moroccan and Tunisian cities are becoming hubs for innovation, with the technological ecosystems of Casablanca and Tunis attracting attention from global entrepreneurs.

Different places for different needs

With both Morocco and Tunisia increasingly open to foreign buyers and properties currently available at accessible price points, it would seem that now is the time to think about the best way to invest in real estate in northern Africa. Where you choose to invest depends on your requirements: Those seeking a Moroccan holiday idyll can look to cities such as Tangiers, Essaouira, Agadir, Rabat or Casablanca, with the latter two known for their high concentration of French and Spanish expats. Marrakech is a major draw for tourists and a good option for those looking to attract rental income, similarly to Fes, Chefchaouen, Essaouira and Ouarzazate.

In Tunisia, Hammemet, Monastir and Djerba attract large numbers of foreigners in search of a relaxed lifestyle, good airports and strong expat communities.

What you can expect to pay

Though prices in Morocco have begun to rise again after a post-crisis slump (most likely reflecting increasing confidence in the region’s stability), North African properties generally come at lower prices than similarly sun-drenched European spots. Houses in the casbah (citadel) of Tangiers, a former haunting ground of artists including Tennessee Williams, Henri Matisse and William S. Burroughs, can range from €100,000 to €200,000 for those in need of renovation and €200,000 to €300,000 for a riad (traditional Moroccan home).

In Tunisia, residential property prices are falling, with units in Hammamet priced at €530 to €900 per square meter, €450 to €750 in Sousse and €360 to €668 on the island of Djerba.

The nitty-gritty

Foreign real estate ownership is legal in both Morocco and Tunisia, though neither country allows foreign nationals to buy agricultural property. In Tunisia, real estate transactions are still subject to approval from the regional governor, but authorities are increasingly open to foreign buyers.

In both countries, it is advisable to work with an estate agent (expect to pay a commission of 2% to 3%) and have a lawyer or licensed notary on hand to navigate practicalities and verify aspects such as the identity of the legal owner of the property, whether they have the right to sell and the conformity of property details (size, construction, etc.). Up to 12% of the purchase price should be set aside for service fees, taxes and charges.

With all this in mind, it’s a good idea to find the best way to send money quickly and convenuiently before you start.