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Soaring real estate prices shut out Morocco's middle class

Sarah Touahri Magharebia
Soaring real estate prices shut out Morocco's middle class - Morocco - Real Estate - Price

Moroccan private company manager Slimane Belhouat has been trying to buy a house for five years. Even with a monthly income of 12,000 dirhams – in a country where the average citizen earns 1,344 MAD each month – he is currently unable to obtain a loan to buy a flat in a decent and quiet area in the capital.

"You now need a budget of at least a million dirhams to buy a home with an area of 80 square metres in Rabat, which I just can't afford. I'm not going to spend three-quarters of my salary for years on end to buy my own flat."

He is not alone. Karima and her husband Othmane wanted to buy a plot of land to build a two-storey house in Temara, but as the years passed, their dream faded away. The young couple now hopes to buy just a flat with enough room for a small family.

"Land prices have skyrocketed. To buy a plot measuring 90 square metres you need at least 900,000 dirhams. That’s beyond our means, even though my wife and I both work as managers for a company. There have been unprecedented rises in prices," says a crestfallen Othmane. His wife Karima notes that the situation has driven many of their friends to buy social housing intended for those on low incomes.

There is another problem preventing many from buying their own homes: so-called "black payments" which buyers are expected to make "off the books" so that developers avoid paying taxes. Even though the practice is illegal, it is widespread. Payments can reach as much as half the price of a flat. The phenomenon has persisted despite numerous promises by the Ministry of Housing to launch a crackdown.

Since banks will only lend up to the amount stated on the official contract, the prevalence of so much money exchanged under the table has forced civil servant Samira Toumani to abandon the dream of having her own home.

"To buy a flat I needed to take out a bank loan and find the rest myself," she tells Magharebia. "In the end I gave up. Renting suits me best for the time being," she says.



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