So you want to buy a Riad?

If like me, you come to Marrakech, love it, and you have an eye for architecture and design, it will most likely cross your mind that you would like to buy a Riad. If nothing else so that you can furnish it with all the lovely artisan arts and crafts that you see in the city but can’t fit in your Ryan Air suitcase.

There are thousands of Riad’s and Dar’s here, many of which have been bought and renovated by Europeans, but what is really involved in buying and running a Riad? I spoke with a few Riad owners and with Colin Bosworth from Bosworth Properties for a view. I’ve summarised some of the themes here:

Be Cautious
Invest only what you can afford to lose and make sure that within that you’ve accounted for an uplift and additional costs beyond the price of the Riad itself.

Be Prepared
If your Riad needs renovating it will be a costly and time consuming process, there are also many cultural considerations to take into account (like the Moroccan difficulty with saying they don’t know).

Buy with a Title
Buy a place with a Title, because finding the paper and people trail to make this a reality is otherwise very difficult – you might save money in the first place but lose money and time later on.

Experience Helps
If you haven’t run a guest house and if you aren’t in touch with what is required to market the property it’s a lot more risky, account for some consultancy and help with this if its not what you are used to.

Live Here
Don’t rely on the 3 month visa rule and coming and going to renew, although it’s not required to buy – get residency, this is not as difficult as it sounds if you have some money and a local business of some sort.

Be Fair
Europeans can sometimes expect the same from their staff here as they would at home, however the heat and dust here can make work much more tiring, hence many Riads have more staff than rooms – respect your staff, and be aware of severance pay rules.

Overall my observation is that ‘cutting through‘ is an issue for a commercial Riad proposition, Riads can tend to blur into an amorphous mass of stylish pads, so creating a brand and marketing with a distinctive differentiator (whether its design, food, art, yoga etc) is essential. However the rewards are apparently very good – so it’s worth the investment.

If you are interested in finding out more – watch my interview with Colin Bosworth, I will also be reviewing some of the Riads which stand out to me in an accompanying series of features.

Buying a Riad from Sara Marshall on Vimeo.

Thanks to Colin Bosworth, Edwina at House of Fusion, the manager of Riad Sebban and Riad BE (pictured)