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How to Buy & Restore a House in Fez

How to Buy and Restore a House or Riad in Fez:  Real Estate in the Medina

This page is to give advice to those considering the purchase and restoration of a traditional medina house or riad, to encourage them to do so, and hopefully to help them avoid some of the mistakes others have made. Please feel free to contact me if you're in Fez and would like to discuss any of the matters below. (N.B.: much of the info below is now out of date)

First of all, why buy a house in Fez? The Fez medina is the best preserved medieval medina in the world, yet its architectural heritage is in serious danger. Many of the people living in the 9,000 traditional houses don't have the means to restore or maintain them. Our hope is that, at least in the case of the more important houses, Moroccans and foreigners with the means to restore these houses correctly would do so, either to live in them, or as a holiday home or investment property. About one-hundred houses have been restored in the past eight years, half by foreigners and half by Moroccans. This is a much healthier situation than in some other Moroccan cities, where most of the restoration has been done by foreigners. Gentrification of the medina is not at all the goal, but rather a healthy socio-economic mix as there was in Fez in the past. It used to be that there were middle-class, working-class, poor, and rich people all living together in the medina, but in the past forty years the wealthier people of Fez have moved to the Ville Nouvelle or to Casablanca and Rabat. If only two to five percent of the traditional houses in the medina were restored by those with some political and financial influence, it would make a huge difference and would contribute to the overall preservation of the medina.

Another reason to buy a house in Fez is because it's one of the few cities in the world where it's possible to own a magnificent traditional house for the price of a modest (or not so modest!) car. Traditional courtyard houses start at around $20,000, and most cost between $25,000 and $90,000. A riad, a house with a garden and fruit trees in the center, costs between $80,000 and $200,000. In this price range you can also buy a very grand "dar", virtually a small palace, but without a garden. Generally a house without a garden is a better value, since riads are rare and highly sought-after.

Fez is also one of the few places in the Islamic world where foreigners can live comfortably and safely in the old quarter of the city. I've lived in the medina for over nine years, and it has been a wonderful experience. At no point have I felt threatened, and find the people here friendly and hospitable, even at times when there have been good reasons for hostility against foreigners. Moroccans are gifted with the ability to distinguish between the individual and his or her government's acts or policies.  Recently my phone was stolen (during Ramadan!), right out of my hand as I was talking, but I have to say the thief was quite gentle and discreet.

Is a house in Fez a good investment? I think it is, but I would say you should buy and restore a house primarily as a labor of love, with the expectation that you will at least not lose money if you need to sell it. Official estimates claim that the value of prices in the Fez medina are going up 15% per year, but in some cases it's been much more. I'm aware of four houses that were bought and sold in recent years: one was bought for $9,000 and sold for $20,000, one for $10,000 and sold for $30,000 (and now just sold again for $129,000!!), one for $18,000 and sold for $45,000, and one for $40,000 and sold for $220,000.  It does seem that prices are going up very quickly in the past year, as there have been many articles and TV shows about Fez houses, as well as the creation of new foreign real estate agencies.  It's still possible to find a bargain, but it's not as easy as it was two or three years ago.  In the past few weeks (as of September 2007) friends have found good small houses for $23,000-30,000.  But to get such bargains you have to be willing to kiss--or at least look at--lots of frogs!

It's good to note here that there's a local market and an international market. The key is to buy well in the local market from someone who intends to sell their house to a Moroccan for a "normal" price, and not from someone who understands that uninformed foreigners might pay significantly more. It's also prudent to buy at the low end of the market, since there's far less risk. If you're investing around $20,000, it is easy to find a Moroccan or foreigner who would be able to buy your house if you needed to sell. If you buy a house for $100,000 and wanted to resell it, there are far fewer potential buyers, which could mean waiting a while to sell your house.

If you're bringing foreign currency into Morocco to buy a house, it is possible for you to export the original funds plus any increase in value upon reselling the house, but it is critical that you bring the funds into the country legally through a convertible bank account and fill out the appropriate documents within six months of purchase. It's also possible that you could sell the house to someone who would be able to give you a check in foreign currency, in which case the documentation would be less critical.  If you are buying a house to make a business, you should visit the Regional Center for Investment, where you can get excellent advice about how to set up a business in Fez.  You should be aware that there's a proposed new law for those who want to turn a traditional house into a guest house or maison d'hotes.  The law specifies that there should be three rooms, as well as other requirements.  It does not seem necessary to meet all the requirements specified in the law (mini-bar?!!), but it's good to keep in mind while considering what kind of house to buy.  If you don't want to have such a large house, it may also be possible to get a license to rent rooms, or to rent the house as a whole, which is what I do with Dar Bennis.  Jenny Barnard and Jonathan Green have kindly translated the new rules for the different categories of maison d'hotes and guest houses in Fes.  Note that these new rules are not yet in effect (September, 2006).  The current rules require a minimum of five rooms, but hopefully that will change very soon.

How can you find a house to buy? I would strongly advise going with an agent, called a "simsaar", and ideally with one who is recommended.  And even then, you need to keep your wits about you and not be too trusting.  Caveat emptor!!  A good agent knows which houses have clear ownership and will be relatively easy to buy.  Because many simsaars don't speak English or French, you may want to hire someone to help translate.  Be very careful in choosing someone to help you, since choosing the wrong "helper" can result in your paying a much higher price.  A simsaar charges 2.5% if you buy, and some ask for 20 dirhams per house you see as an advance/tip.  Because a simsaar can go months without a sale, I would advise giving an advance of about 50 dirhams per half day that will be subtracted from the 2.5% commission if you find a house to buy; this will help keep the agent patient with those of us who need days or weeks of looking before making a decision.  A new fashion is to ask foreign buyers to pay 5%, both the buyer and the seller's share of the commission.  This is totally unacceptable.  2.5% is quite fair, as many Moroccans would pay less.  If the seller doesn't want to pay the simsaar, that's not your problem.  Under no circumstances should you give a deposit for a house directly to the simsaar or owner without everything being properly documented by an adoul or notaire.

 It's also a good idea to ask people you meet if they know of houses for sale, since some people sell their house via word of mouth and not through a simsaar to avoid the commission. When you go with a simsaar, it's a good idea to keep detailed notes along the way, since things get very confusing after you've seen ten houses. I prefer to know something about a house before I see it, and ask the price beforehand. Beware of people who insist that you have to see a house before you hear the price. You should also make it very clear to the simsaar what your price range is and what kind of house you're looking for.  If the simsaar seems to be showing you houses quite different from what you said you're looking for, best to look for another simsaar.

If your limit is $30,000, it's a good idea to tell the simsaar you want to see houses between $15,000 and $25,000 and see what he comes up with. If he knows you'll pay $30,000, you may not see a wonderful house that's $24,000. Or else you might see that house but with an inflated price. If you are told the "real" price in the beginning, you should be aware that prices with houses are not like prices in a carpet shop; the owners may be willing to accept less, but not much less. I've bought four houses, and in only one case would they accept less than the asking price, and then only 10% less. And in four cases I know of the owners accepted to sell for one price, and then they changed their mind and wanted more! There was a lovely little house I had decided to buy, for which they were asking $18,000 and accepted to sell for $16,000, which was my limit. Then they decided they wanted $17,000, so I looked around and found a better house for $16,000, and five years later their house is still on the market!!  

In determining which kind of house to look for and purchase, there are several matters to consider: location, age, size, architectural value, condition, view from the terrace, riad versus dar, clear "title" and ownership, and the cost of purchase and restoration.

Concerning location, one of the first questions is how close to parking you want to be. If it's very close to parking, a house will be much more expensive, newer, and usually less interesting architecturally. Many people have the idea that it's necessary to be very close to parking, but the better values and more interesting houses and neighborhoods are a five or ten-minute walk into the medina. It is important, however, to make sure the area feels safe in the evening. I make a point of asking as many people as possible about the neighborhood and street in question, and go there several times at night to see how it feels. It's important to ask people who live in the medina, since Ville Nouvellians tend to think that any place other than Batha is dangerous.

In terms of age, you need to decide whether you want a older house, generally 17th to 19th century, or a "neotraditional" house from the early 20th century. Older houses are more interesting, but generally need more restoration and are deeper in the medina. Note too that the age of a medina house is often hard to determine. There is often a date on the plaster above one of the main salon doors, but this is the date in the Islamic calendar of when that plaster was completed and generally has nothing to do with when the house was built. It's also normal for doors, beams, carved plaster, and zellij to be replaced every one to two hundred years, which means that a seven-hundred-year-old house sometimes looks like it's 19th century.

The size of the house really depends on your needs and taste. If you plan to make a maison d'hotes or guest house, you probably need at least five large salons. If you want it just for yourself, smaller may be better. These days small houses are still a very good value, but larger houses that are "maison-d'hotes-able" tend to be very expensive, since the owners are hoping for a rich foreign investor. And of course the restoration of a smaller house will be easier and less expensive. Also consider a "massreiyya", which was originally the guest house attached to a larger house. These are often perfect for a couple or small family and cost between $10,000 and $25,000. But make sure the front door and terrace are not shared, since negotiating with neighbors over common space is no fun. It's also quite normal for parts of one house to be built on top of another, but it's better to know that before you buy! In the case of Dar Bennis, the neighbors' entrance goes under the bathroom of my house. And with my new house the neighbors' main salon is above part of my house, and my upstairs salon is above theirs, but I didn't realize this until after I had bought it. The reason for this strange situation is that originally several houses belonged to one family, but were later sold separately.

The artistic and architectural value of a house is a strange factor because there is often no connection between the price and artistic or architectural interest of the house. Generally price is based on size and location, which sometimes means you can get an amazing small or medium-sized house for a very modest price. To get a sense of the range of architectural merit, you need to spend some time and train your eye, since in the beginning all handmade zellij and carved plaster looks wonderful, but there are vast differences in quality. With zellij look for very small joins between the pieces, and in general smaller pieces are better. If some of the color is worn off the zellij, this is a sign of its age, and is a good thing. With painted wood, look for subtle carving instead of painting on flat surfaces, and for original painting rather than recent modern colors. With carved plaster, look for small, intricate work, and faded natural colors instead of modern pastels. Carefully examine doors and windows to determine their age and the quality of the work. If you find windows or balconies with masharabia, or wooden screens made of pegs turned on a lathe, this is a sign of an older house and is rare and desirable.

In terms of condition, you want to make sure there are no major structural problems, and ideally you want a house where not too much has been modernized, since it's expensive to replace the "improvements" with traditional zellij, plaster, and cedar. And when someone has spent a fortune to cover the walls with shiny new bathroom tile, you end up paying more. "Benign neglect" is the thing to hope for. Look carefully at the ceilings to see how much rotten wood there is, since cedar is very expensive. Some cracks in the walls are normal, but note that horizontal cracks are more serious. Also look for water and moisture damage in the walls. This is sometimes difficult to stop, especially if it's coming from a neighboring house. It's very common for wood and carved plaster to have layers of new paint that will need to be removed, but this is expensive and time-consuming, so try to find a house with as little modern paint as possible. Let the agent know that you want a house with zellij "beldi" (traditional handmade mosaic) and not zellij "romi". Many houses have dark and dirty corrugated plastic covering the skylight, which makes them look much darker than they will be once this is removed. Don't eliminate a gloomy house unless you're convinced the problem can't be fixed. You need to train your eye to spot a house that's ugly now but has "inner beauty" that needs to be uncovered. At least that's the way to get a bargain. 

Once you find a house you're seriously considering, it's a very good idea to have an architect or structural engineer familiar with medina houses take a careful look.  An inspection and report normally costs 500 to 700 dirhams.  I'm happy to recommend someone to do this.

Ideally try to find a house with a wonderful view from the terrace, but note at the same time that this is a bit rare. In a riad there is often no view because they are usually built on one level to allow more sun to enter the courtyard. If you can't have an amazing view of the mountains, at least try for a pleasant medina view, since this greatly affects resale value and generally makes a house easier to sell. There's a beautiful house that's been on the market for years, largely because the terrace feels like a prison yard with high walls and no view at all.  It's sometimes possible to lower one or two walls, resulting in a great view, which is the case with the house I'm currently restoring.  But don't assume that this will be possible, since sometimes you need the neighbors' permission to lower a wall.

I've mentioned before that a "dar" without a garden is a better value than a riad, but if you're set on a garden with fruit trees, you can have one as long as you can afford it. It's also possible with a dar to make a roof garden and put plants and trees in containers in the courtyard. One downside of a riad you should be aware of is that they usually have lots of mosquitoes. I like to visit riads, but have no desire to live in one!! But this is very much a matter of taste.

Houses in Fez, at least in the medina, don't generally have a title per se, but rather a scroll written by an "adoul", an official scribe, documenting the ownership, sometimes going back several hundred years. There have been cases of falsification, so it's very important to be dealing with a reputable and knowledgeable agent. If possible, it's better to buy from one or two owners, and the longer they've owned the house, the better. It's very common for there to be a number of owners who have inherited a house, but this means everyone needs to be in agreement regarding selling and the price. My first house had sixteen owners, which resulted in a long and difficult process, but it also meant that it was very cheap because most people didn't want to deal with the ordeal.

It is possible to get an official title by paying about 2% after buying a house, and some people do this via a "notaire" during the buying process. The advantage of this is that banks are willing to give loan if the title process has been begun and paid for. It's likely too that a house with a title will bring a higher price in the future.

The cost of restoration is difficult to determine exactly, but normally it will be between 50% to 200% of the purchase price. It all depends on how much wood needs to be replaced, whether or not the plumbing and electric needs to be redone, how fancy you want your kitchen and bathrooms to be, how many times you need to redo things twice (or thrice!!), and the quality of new zellij and carved plaster you want. My approach has been to buy a house I can live in as is and then restore in gradually as I have the funds, but you may want to restore the house before moving in. If you have a very limited budget, I suggest getting a house that needs a lot of work, but is inexpensive, and then restore it gradually. If you have more money to spend, I would try to get a place that's in better condition, since serious restoration is expensive, time-consuming, and stressful. I would also try to find a place where the artistic aspects of the house, such as zellij, carved plaster, and wood, are more or less there and in good shape, since these things are very expensive to redo, and it's virtually impossible to find someone to do them as well as the original.  Another factor that affects the cost of restoration is whether you hire the craftsmen, supervise the work, and buy the materials yourself, or hire a professional to do all the work for you.  The latter will of course be more expensive, but is the only choice for many.  If you want to do everything very formally with invoices, this will be even more expensive, since the architect or contractor will need to pay more taxes and TVA, and these expenses are passed on to you.

It is important for you to prioritize these various considerations and know what factors are most important to you. Every house will have problems or shortcomings, and you need to figure out where you're willing to compromise and where not. It's also good to be flexible and open-minded. I know people who've started out thinking they want a riad on the edge of the medina, and end up very happy with a large dar in the heart of the medina for a quarter the price.

What expenses are there apart from the purchase price? If you buy through an agent, or simsaar, you pay the agent 2.5% and approximately another 4.5% to the adoul/scribe and for taxes to register the house. It's best to budget about 7% total. If you want to begin the process of getting a title, this is an additional 1% to 2%, and you need to see a "notaire". If you buy through a notaire, you don't need to pay the adoul but will still have taxes.  Here's a very helpful article about financial aspects of buying a house in Morocco. It's in French, but may soon be available in English.  There are also very helpful links and information on the new site "Buying Property in Morocco".

What do you do once you've decided on a house to buy? After you've agreed on a price, you need to give a deposit or "arbon", and agree on how much time the owners need to find another place and move.  Any deposit should be done with an adoul or notaire, not only with the simsaar/agent.  If you give a deposit to the simsaar or owner without it being properly documented you may have a very difficult time getting your deposit back if things fall through.  It's normal for the seller to ask for two to three months (I once waited seven months!) to find a new house, but sometimes one month is possible. It is also possible to actually close the deal and buy the house at this point, paying 20-30% at first and the balance when the house is empty and you get the key. The advantage here is that if you only give a deposit, the owners can still sell to someone else who offers more and return your deposit. If you buy the house now and pay the balance and taxes later, there is an extra fee/tax you have to pay. Your simsaar or adoul can tell you exactly how much this will be. You can avoid paying this penalty by paying the taxes within 30 days, even if you haven't yet paid the balance to the owners.  I would strongly advise you to pay the balance only when the house is empty and you've inspected it. This may be a problem because people often need your money to pay for their new house, and the owner of the new house doesn't want them to move in until they've paid. The legal problem, however, is that if you pay them and then they decide not to move for some reason, it will take you five years to get them out, rent or no rent. This happened to a Moroccan friend of mine who bought a house, and he warned me to learn from his foolish kindness.

Finally, you should expect that things often don't go as planned, and so you need to be patient, keep a sense of humor, and persevere. Sometimes it's painfully difficult to buy a house; sometimes people find and buy a house in a day!  Note too that it's shamefully common for people to agree to sell a house for a price, and then decide that they want a higher price.  Sadly, this phenomenon is becoming more and more of a problem:  you are shown a house for one price, you fall in love and make a decision, and then the price is changed.  If this happens, I suggest looking for another house; then if after looking around, the price for your beloved house still seems fair compared to other places you've seen, I'd swallow my pride and buy it.  For me, with the first four houses I wanted, things just didn't work out, but then when I gave up, a wonderful house appeared.

The first thing to do after you've bought your house is to change the lock, as it's likely that a number of people have the key. It's also strongly recommended to have someone staying in the house at night. If you don't want to sleep there, you can hire a guardian for about 1000 DH per month, but be certain this is someone you can trust. Three people I know left their house empty for a few days; two lost a wooden ceiling and one lost four doors! Unfortunately there's a very active market in such things, so it's better not to risk having bits of your house stolen.  I must say that I've never had a guardian at Dar Bennis, and haven't had a problem--knock on zellij--but in the house I live in, where there's more stuff, I do have someone there when I go away.

Restoration of a Fez Medina House

I should say, first of all, that I'm not at all an expert on restoration, but am happy to share of the lessons I've learned from restoring several houses in Fez over the past nine years.

The first matter to clarify is your approach to restoration, since this will affect how you proceed and which people you choose to work with. The traditional approach to restoration in Fez has generally been that if something is old and worn it's better to remove it and replace it with something new. Thus old doors and old zellij are often removed and replaced. Another approach is that it's ok for an old house to look old, and that generally original architectural elements should be kept if at all possible. The latter approach is the one I try to follow, but it's not easy to find craftsmen in Fez who understand this. Carpenters and zellijis insist that they can do new work just as well as the old, but I'm sorry to say that this has not been my experience. And even if they could, there's a certain quality and beauty to old surfaces that can't be reproduced in new work.

The next question to consider is who is going to be in charge of the restoration and how involved you want to be. Generally there is a team, consisting of the owner, the architect or "expert" in charge, the foreman, and the craftsmen and their assistants. Sometimes the owner is present during most of the restoration, but if this isn't possible then the choice of architect becomes critical. The architect/expert/general contractor is in charge of overseeing the restoration and deciding, together with the owner, on how the restoration will proceed. The architect meets with the owner, foreman, and craftsmen to discuss each step, and checks on the work regularly to make sure it's being done correctly. The job of the foreman is to be present all the time and to make sure the craftsman do what the owner and architect have decided. He also buys building supplies and pays the workers, so it's critical to have someone you trust in this role. In choosing which architect and craftsman to work with, it's imperative to see work they've done and for them to be recommended by people you trust. Never hire someone to be in charge of the restoration of your house based only on what they say they can do, or because they have a charming personality. You need to see examples of what they've actually done to know if they are able to do the kind of restoration you're looking for. And you need to know from others how easy or difficult the person is to work with.  Ideally speak with at least two references.  You also want to choose an architect and foreman who is reasonably fluent in a language you speak, which is sometimes not all that easy. Depending on your experience, linguistic skills, and courage, it may be possible to do part of the restoration without the help of an architect. I am comfortable with zellij and restoring and cleaning wood, so I supervise that on my own. But with plumbing, electricity, replacing the roof, etc., I bring in an architect to supervise.

I should also comment on how to choose the craftsman to do the restoration of your house. When I started doing restoration, I wanted to pay the "Moroccan" price and not the "foreigner" price for work and materials, and I found that with some research I was able to do so. But what I learned is that when I paid what seemed like a reasonable price I often got results that were acceptable to many people, but was not at all the quality I was looking for. This resulted in having to do the work over, sometimes more than twice (and you have to pay again each time you redo the work). I've learned the hard way that it's much smarter to try to find the best craftsman available, based on recommendations and seeing examples of their work. Of course the best craftsman charge more and are usually very busy, which sometimes means waiting for them to be free, but it's well worth the extra time and money. In the courtyard of Dar Bennis I was applying my frugal method, and ended up redoing the zellij four times! In the kitchen and terrace I used a better and more expensive zelliji, but the work was great the first time. You should also know that there are craftsman who charge by the day, and those who charge by the meter or by project. There are problems with both methods: those who work by the day tend to take forever to complete the work; those who work by the meter or job tend to work very quickly and less carefully. My current approach is that with new work, such as new windows, doors, or zellij, I pay by the meter or job, and the quality is usually good because I choose the craftsmen very carefully. With restoration, however, such as removing paint from old wood, I want the craftsmen to work slowly and carefully, so I pay by the day, and, indeed, it sometimes takes forever.

Before you begin any work on your house, you need to get a building permit, or "roksa" from the Baladia, or government office that gives such permits. This costs 250 dirhams and usually takes a few days. You first go to the office and fill out a form telling what you want to do, and then a small team of engineers comes to see your house. You should take a copy of the title for your house, and a letter from the architect supervising the work, if you're doing major work, such as repairing walls, ceilings, or beams.  If you're making major modifications to the house, it will also be necessary to have a plan made showing the proposed changes.  In recent days it's becoming harder and more expensive to get a rokhsa, alas.

Here's a website that has good info about how to get a rokhsa: Getting a building permit in Fes

Some people work without a permit, but I wouldn't recommend this. When I began work on my first house we started repairing the roof before the roksa was given, and next thing I knew all my workers had been arrested!  If you want work to be done when you're not in Fes, make sure you've given power of attorney, or "procuration", to the person who needs to get a roksa on your behalf.

In restoring your house, it's important to plan the order of the work, to avoid one craftsman damaging the work of another. Generally you should deal with structural matters first, then plumbing and electricity, then decoration and finishing. And generally you want to start at the top of the house and work down. The first thing to do to protect the house is to make sure the roof isn't leaking. It's quite normal that some of the beams or planks of the roof are rotten and need to be replaced, so you want to excavate in a few places to see if the wood is ok. If you don't have time or funds to repair the roof, at least make sure the cracks are sealed to prevent further damage.

There are many more specific details about restoring a house, but I'll pause for now....hopefully I'll add more later. I'm happy to discuss any specific questions you might have, either via email or here in Fes.  I'll copy below my current list of houses for sale and those that have sold recently to give you an idea of what's possible.  Note that prices are subject to change!

There are two new websites that have great information and photos about restoring houses: Fez Restoration and Restoration Blog

Also check out the new book by Abby Aron, Buying a House in Morocco.  Lots of very useful information...LOTS taken from my site! :)

Useful Contacts in Fez (all speak French & Arabic, * = English-speaking):

Nota Bene: these are meant as helpful contacts, not necessarily unqualified recommendations.  Please let me know if you have good or bad experience with these people...

Aziz Benkirane, real estate agent: 035-63-71-09, 069-70-28-22; has English-speaking assistant.  Aziz is pleasant and has a good eye, but some have found that he can inflate prices if you don't know the market well.  2.5% fee.

Aziz Soaff, real estate agent: 079-69-35-21, 19 Kattanine, good at finding nice small houses; doesn't seem to have much French.  2.5% fee.

Mohamed Ezzaanta, real estate agent,  062-05-81-87.  2.5% fee.

Fred Sola, real estate agency with good photos and info about houses, Fez Real Estate, 065-23-14-04 *  fees start at 42,000 dh (incl. VAT)

David Kellar, Fes Properties, real estate agency: 061-350-548, *  fees ??

Carre d'Azur, French-Moroccan agency with very good website and photos of many houses *  I've been told that they charge 8% for a small house and that the percentage goes down for more expensive houses.

Mad About Fes, British agency with lovely houses, many of which are very reasonably priced.  The two agents that went with us spoke only French and Arabic, but Mark Willenbrock speaks English. *  10% fee.

Immobilier-Maroc, a French agency with a superb selection of houses in Fes, about 20 in the 10,000 to 30,000 euro range.  A very good site to get a sense of what's out there.  Here's their page of Fes houses... take a look at 6205, 6246, 6239, 6218, 6118.  Pretty amazing!!  Please note that most of the Fes houses on this site are the same as on Carre d'Azure, and that the site doesn't seem to get updated and that they don't answer their email.


Adil Ait Hamd, of Fez Medina Consulting; someone who can help with the process of buying a house and represent your interests when you're not in Fez:  075-36-40-04, *  1.8% fee (incl. VAT).  Adil has just added a new service for restoring houses: "Tarmeemat Fez". 

Jenny Barnard & Jon Green, house restoration and house-hunting consultants, or Also take a look at their blogs mentioned above:  067-35-55-39 *

Rachid Haloui, architect: 035-62-00-25, 061-13-56-70, *

Youssef Berrahou, architect: 063-08-08-32 *

Aycha Benmakhlouf, architect:  061-13-48-17, *

Khalid Bennani, structural engineer: 035-62-53-73, 061-13-49-38*

Abdelali Qarqabi, structural engineer:  060-37-53-74, *

Fouad Lajaj, contractor: 061-43-74-01

Hafid El Amrani and Abdelhaq Figuigi, have started a new restoration company:, 064-48-64-41*

Mohamed El Karoti, contractor: 066-58-86-12; Nabil, Si Mohamed's son, speaks English: 068-07-27-75

Fouad Serghini, director of ADER: 035-65-34-78*

Rajae Maghraoui, Inspectrice des Monuments Historiques: 035-63-56-26*

Abdellatif El Quortobi, accountant, business consultant: 022-26-36-70; 061-16-54-85;*

Fouad Bensouda, notaire: 035-64-33-75, Ave des FAR, Immeuble Ettajmouti

Fouad Ouzzine, director, Regional Center for Investment in Fez: 035 65 20 57*

Abdelhay Bahhad, banker to see about opening a convertible currency account, SGMB: Societe Generale Marocaine de Banques, 1 Ave. Lalla Meriyeme, 035-94-94-50, *


Houses in the Medina  as of March 13, 2007

  • Dar Ben Zian, 13 Derb ben Zian, 180,000 dh, small house, 5 rooms, original painted wood, zellij, fountain, nice view; go alone.
  • Dar Oued Rchacha, 700,000 dh (was 450,000 dh), beautiful old house with much original zellij, wood, and plaster; six rooms, four columns, balcony, fountain, date in plaster 1228 (now it's 1427), great view from terrace, very good location; see Aziz
  • Dar Alaoui-Idrissi, 12 Derb M'Hirou, Talaa Sghira, 400,000 dh; medium-large house with 6 salons and nice view, good condition.
  • Fundoq Bou Inania, next to main entrance of Medersa, Talaa Kibeera, 500,000 dh; very old fundoq with great arches, amazing location, needs lots of work; go directly to fundoq to see and get contact number
  • Dar Serghini, L'Ayoun, 150,000 euros; beautiful restored 17th century house with outstanding original features, published in vol. 2 of Palais et Demeures de Fes; 5 salons, 3 bathrooms; location a bit "challenging"; contact Abdellatif Ait BenAbdallah, owner, 061-16-36-30 (speaks French and Arabic).
  • Dar Al Ghazaoui, Oued Rchacha, 1,800,000 dh; large fantastic house with amazing decoration in excellent condition; once the house of the Pacha of Fes; structural work needed.

Sold recently:

  • Dar Idrissi, Batha, 1,500,000 dh? (was 750,000, then 900,000); beautiful large house in great location, all original zellij and wood, simple decoration, good view.
  • Dar ibn Mokri, Derb Mokri, 400,000 dh (was 260,000); beautiful medium-sized house, 5 rooms, menzeh, all original zellij and wood, nice fountain, good view
  • Dar Cheraga, Zkak al Bghal, across from Zaouia, next to Dar Mentras, 200,000 dh; small 18th c. house, 3 salons, all original wood, zellij, ironwork, nice view from terrace, published in Palais et Demeures de Fes, by Revault
  • Dar "Sidi Ahmed Shawi", next to Dar al Shabaab, 60,000 euros; amazing house with 5 large rooms, incl. menzeh w/ good view; very good original zellij and painted wood.
  • Riad Derb al Horra, 19 Derb al Horra, 540,000 dh! (was 340,000 dh), nice miniriad with two trees, 3 salons two large ones, ok view, good location.
  • Dar Nabih, Derb Kettana, beautiful medium-sized house, outstanding wood and zellij, six big salons, great view, 500,000 dh (sold for 695,000 dh!)
  • Dar Emmanuel, Derb Bennani, Talaa Kibeera, Cherablyeen, 450,000 dh (sold for asking price); beautiful medium-sized house, mostly restored, very good wood and plaster, great view
  • Dar il Hajj, next to Dar Adiyel, 360,000 dh (was 300,000); 6 rooms, zellij and wood in outstanding condition, redone 50-60 years ago, wonderful view; will be an art center.
  • Dar Hajja Neftaha, Talaa Sghira near Bank Populaire, 270,000 dh; nice medium-sized house in good location, five big rooms, neo-traditional
  • Dar Hel Tadla, at the end of Derb Hel Tadla, off Talaa Sghira; amazing medium-sized house with beautiful wood and zellij; 600,000 dh (sold for 550,000)
  • Dar Kohen, 5 Derb Siour, near entrance to Rcif Mosque, asking 500,000 dh (sold for 400,000); superb large house, very good zellij and plaster, fountain, wonderful view
  • 16 Derb Moulay Ismail, off Talaa Sghira, 400,000 dh (sold for 350,000); beautiful medium-sized house in good condition, many rooms
  • Dwira Sidi Ahmed Shawi, on a side street near the zaouia, 160,000 dh; simple but beautiful small house with wonderful view from terrace, 4 salons, all original zellij and wood

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2010 David Amster