SCHWARTZWILLIAMS spoke to Alex Peto about his experience in the Moroccan real estate market.
Morocco is a beautiful country, with a rich history and culture, and a diverse landscape. From historic cities to a long coastline, incredible mountain ranges and vast desert, this country has it all, with the convenience of being accessible by a short flight from most major European 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 business?
In 1991 I was working on my own, on behalf of London buyers who were too busy to look for themselves or who lived abroad, so I was doing their work and showing them the best properties. This later became an important business in the UK, but while I was doing this, Andrew Langton, the head of a well-established central London estate agency, Aylesford International, asked me to join him. I joined the agency thinking I would stay for a year or two to learn the ropes, but I stayed for 21 years.
What are the highlights of your career in the industry?
There have been many, but befriending Boris Becker by showing him houses in London every year before Wimbledon is certainly one of the highlights, as is selling a house to Mick Jagger in Chelsea, London.
What are the main issues facing the industry in your market right now?
Now that I live and work in the Moroccan real estate industry, the main problem is the global perception of the problems of the Muslim world. Morocco is a safe country, but unfortunately it has the same reputation as other North African and Muslim countries: people are reluctant to invest, which I think is wrong. I personally bought a house last year in Marrakech.
How has the industry changed since you started working in it?
The rise of the internet has to be the most important factor. I originally started dealing with "relocation" to the UK, but the market has changed a lot, as have many of the tax implications, such as stamp duty and domiciliation/non-domiciliation requirements. In the Moroccan market, I look forward to people seeing 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 fields in which you specialize?
I love living in Morocco for many reasons, but being British, I appreciate the proximity to Europe and the UK. The climate is almost perfect and friends and family come to visit regularly.
What do you think is the unique factor that makes it possible to do business in your market?
First of all, no other British agent does what I do in Marrakech and perhaps in all of Morocco. Being Christies' exclusive agent for Morocco means that we handle many of the best properties throughout the country. I also have a very knowledgeable French partner, Marc Leon, who has lived in Morocco for a long time, which is a great help.
What is your favorite vacation destination in the MENA region?
It must be Morocco!
What is the outlook for your industry in the coming year?
Certainly the market has stabilized and I expect the housing market to grow in the future, but there is a lot of inventory on the market and prices are not likely to skyrocket immediately.
Where would your next purchase be?
Maybe on the Moroccan coast - Essauouira / Oualidia / Tangier.
Is there anything else you would like others to know about you?
I love living in Morocco. I have 4 dogs, 2 donkeys, chickens, I grow my own fruits and vegetables and I am very happy not to live a really conventional life.