SCHWARTZWILLIAMS spoke to Alex Peto about his experience in the Moroccan property market.
Morocco is a beautiful country, with a rich history and culture, and highly diverse landscapes. From historical cities to a long oastlcine, incredible mountain ranges and a vast desert, this country has it all, with the convenience of being within reach with a short flight from most European major cities. Here, one of the founders of Kensington Morocco, Alex Peto shares his experience in the Moroccan real estate industry.
How did you get into the real estate industry?
I was working on my own in 1991, acting for buyers in London who were either too busy to look for themselves or lived abroad, so I would do their donkey work and then show them the best few properties. This later became a big business in the UK, but whilst I was doing this, Andrew Langton, the boss of well-established central London estate agency, Aylesford International, asked me to join. I joined thinking I would stay for a year or two to learn the ropes better but stayed 21 years.
What are some of your career highlights from your time in the industry?
There have been many but making close friends with Boris Becker whilst showing him houses in London each year before Wimbledon is certainly one of the highlights, as well as selling a house to Mick Jagger in Chelsea, London.
What are the biggest issues facing the industry in your market at the moment?
Now that I live and work in the Moroccan property industry, the main problem is the global perception of the problems in the Muslim world. Morocco is a safe country but sadly tarred by the same brush as other North African and Muslim countries – people are cautious to invest, which is wrong in my opinion. I personally bought a house last year in Marrakech.
How has the industry changed in the time you have been involved with it?
The rise of the internet has to be the biggest factor. I originally started out doing ‘relocation’ in the UK, but the market has changed greatly as have many tax implications such as domiciled/non domiciled and stamp duty. In the Moroccan market, I am looking forward to a period when people see Morocco as a safe country and with its proximity to Europe, it is an excellent place to invest, let alone own a home.
What do you like about the areas you are specializing in?
I love living in Morocco for many reasons but being British, I like the proximity to Europe and the UK. The climate is near perfect and friends and family come and visit regularly.
What do you believe is a unique factor of doing business in your market?
Firstly, there is no other British agent doing what I do in Marrakech and possibly not in all of Morocco. Being the Christies exclusive affiliate for Morocco means we deal with many of the very best properties all over the country. I also have a very knowledgeable French partner, Marc Leon, who has been living in Morocco for a long time which is great help.
What is your favourite holiday destination in MENA?
Has to be Morocco!
What’s your outlook for your sector for the next year?
Definitely the market has stabilised, and I foresee growth in the property market going forward, but there is a lot of stock on the market so prices will probably not rocket again immediately.
Where would your next purchase be?
Maybe on the Moroccan coast – Essauouira / Oualidia / Tangier.
Anything else you would like others to know about you?
I love living in Morocco. I have 4 dogs, 2 donkeys, chickens, grow my own fruit and veg and very happy not to be living a truly conventional life.