Due Diligence – Experiences of a Western Woman Researching Property in Morocco

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As part of any due diligence process, a visit in person is recommended. This helps get a feel for the country and place in question. Understanding a country’s culture, lifestyle and the people helps establish whether a property purchase is appropriate for an individual. In this case it was Saidia, Morocco.

So the first cultural difference is the manner of driving in Morocco. It is very different from driving in Europe. It is either the way in Morocco, or development has come at such a fast pace for Moroccans, they almost don’t seem to notice when they wander into the road and are completely unperturbed by the presence of moving cars. Drivers seem to choose which lane to travel in, rather than adhere to any kind of accepted code of motoring conduct. This is something holiday-makers will need to get used to.

Currently most of the decent hotels are an hour away in Oujda (until the opening of the upmarket hotels on the Saidia site this summer). Oujda is a typical Moroccan town. Being in more traditional surroundings provides the chance to glimpse the real Morocco, the surrounding area of Saidia and the facilities potential property buyers could expect. It also gave a great insight into the ease of transportation and getting around.

The second cultural difference is how the men and women live. In Oujda if a woman wants to relax with a mint tea, so much a part of daily Morocco, then this is done at home. Cafes are mainly full of men, with not a woman in sight. Evidently there are some boundaries that differ between continental European norms and a Muslim nation.

The antithesis to this was Saidia, which in contrast has quite a cosmopolitan feel. Local women and foreigners happily mingle in the restaurants and cafes, without any of the staring that can be found in the more traditional towns.

The sheer scale of what is being created in Saidia creates a significant impression. Lots of beach side properties have been built, next to golden, sandy Mediterranean beaches. The Moroccan beaches are the mirror image of Spain’s but without all the same level of development. It certainly has a magnetic pull. This is where visiting in person brings a property to life. There are few developments in Europe on this scale and size. Seeing is believing.

It is always reassuring to prospective buyers to see a development under way. It is at this point that website details and specifications, direct from the developers, can be checked out fully. Although it did seem that pockets of work were focused around the hotels and one or two residential blocks. There had been some delay owing to a number of reasons e.g. weather and the relevant licences taking longer to come through.

It is not only good to see progress to date, but also to gauge how quickly things are moving on and the likely completion dates. Getting first hand experience of a developer, how they approach a visit and the answers they provide to questions, acts as a proxy for how they are likely to behave through the buying process.

There is certainly no better way of conducting due diligence than going in person to a development, or at least speaking with someone who has.

Louise Reynolds – Director, Property Venture. Louise runs her own company helping people, in a practical way, to buy property overseas: http://property-venture.com

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