Regardless of whom you read, Brexit is having a negative impact on central London housing. An October 17 European Union summit was presaged by European Council president Donald Tusk saying yesterday there is “no grounds for optimism” given the state of negotiations. Coupled with fresh inflation data, the pound was down again. Since the Brexit vote, the pound has almost exclusively traded +/-$1.30 where as it typically had ranged in the $1.50-$1.60 range previously.

Adding to the stress, in early October, two more large financial institutions announced plans to shift some London operations to Paris with whispers of more to follow. Financial services is one of the largest employers in London as well as one of the highest paid. Removing significant quantities of high earners will cause a glut in some price bands as relocated staff sell up for Gay Purr-ee.

During my London holiday, I was able to meet with a host of HGTV’s House Hunters International, Richard Blanco. A Spanish national growing up in the UK, Blanco was schooled in theater and dance – a story common to many real estate professionals whose early interests gave way to a profession in property. So far Blanco has chalked up over 30 House Hunters International episodes, including being the only presenter to work in multiple countries (eagle eyes have seen him in Spanish episodes). He’s currently a spokesperson for the UK’s National Landlords Association and is a regular commentator on various television shows – in fact, Blanco had popped into the BBC earlier in the day. For those wanting a regular dose of the London property market, Blanco produces a monthly podcast Inside Property.  In his spare time, Blanco flips homes he buys at auction.

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Riad Pic 1

Morocco can be quite reasonably-priced for Western residents, and the city of Marrakech is as good a place as any to have a second home. I just returned from my first international mission for CandysDirt.com, scoping out the real estate scene in Marrakech. (OK, so I embellish. I’d already planned a vacation and did some investigating on the local real estate)

Marrakech is an interesting place, and Morocco is a bit of a mix with everyone who was anyone having invaded over the past 1,000 years. There were the native Berbers, then came the Phoenicians, Romans, Moors, Turks and most recently the Spanish and French who only left in the 1950s (the French left their language).

There is a certain faded Moorish charm peering out between the third-world chic of everyday Marrakech. I admit being fearful of Marrakech being like “tip-y” Egypt, where everyone, including airport security, wanted a tip (because my bag miraculously appeared on the other end of the X-Ray machine – true story). It’s not. Aside from the souk merchants and their hard sell haggling, it was pretty stress-free for a first-world resident visiting a third-world country.

But nor is it the Marrakech of the over-romanticized 1940s Casablanca film (Sam played it again in a different city for a start), nor the swinging 1960’s “Marrakech Express” of Yves Saint Laurent’s jet set hippy crowd.

Minaret of the Koutoubia Mosque, built 1190AD

Minaret of the Koutoubia Mosque, built 1190AD

No, the Marrakech of today is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s also seeing a building boom resulting from King Mohammed IV’s goal of doubling tourism by 2020. Building boom? Yes, Marrakech has more cranes than Dallas these days, albeit shorter ones (the city is not tall). I would hazard a guess that the old city is all two and three stories with no building taller than four stories (unless it’s a mosque minaret).

Much of the building consists of new hotels, golf courses and second homes for foreigners. Morocco, it seems, is turning into a North African Scottsdale or Boca Raton for aging Europeans. But it’s not all new…

If you’re looking for a second or third shelter, there are two types of homes available in Marrakech for differing buyers.

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