Multi million dollar mega projects are set to catapult Tunisia onto the property investment radar with prices that are lower than other North African real estate markets such as Morocco, it is claimed.
Not only has the government relaxed the laws on overseas ownership of property but it is investing in major infrastructure improvements including new airports, roads and harbours as well as actively encouraging tourism.
Tunisia has some of the cheapest property in the Mediterranean region. Coastal apartments can be picked up for less than €50,000 and city centre investment property starts at €100,000, while historic dars, the equivalent of Moroccan riads, are available from as little as €10,000.
Then there are a number of international development projects including Century City, an 830 hectare mixed-use community in the suburbs of the capital, Tunis, a financial services hub in the Raoued area of northern Tunisia and the Dubai-style International Riviera project that will create a vast tourist complex in the beach resort of Monastir.
According to officials the buying process has been simplified. Buyers need permission to purchase from local authorities, which can take anything from six months to a year to gain, but this is now usually a formality and the purchase can go ahead in the meantime. Because of its French connections the process is similar to France and contracts are in French or Arabic.
Many international buyers are regular visitors and seek holiday homes on the Tunisian coast, particularly in the tourist resorts of Hammamet, Sousse and Monastir. There is now an emphasis on quality and that will be reflected in the kind of properties being built according to the Minister of Tourism, Khelil Laajimi.
Indeed government and tourism officials are targeting visitors in many countries. They have recently been in Japan for the Tokyo International Tourism Fair and the travel market trade fair in Paris. Indeed, Tunisia is one of the top five most attractive destinations for French tourists according to a recent poll.
A new open skies agreement means that new airlines are operating routes into the country. It has also been voted the second best place in the world after France for thalasso therapy and a number of eco tourism projects have been launched.
The new airport at Enfidha, near Sousse in the north-east, is also creating a flurry of property and land purchases near cheaper resorts such as Hergla and Nabeul. According to estate agent Adel Benna, of The Tunisian House in Nabeul, prices are rising because of increased interest from international buyers but local interest is high as well.
Foreign buyers are particularly interested in older properties in the fishing villages on the country’s north coast. Bizerte is considered a prime investment spot where property costs a fraction of what it does elsewhere. ‘In less well known towns you can buy dars in need of renovation from about €9,000,’ he said. These kinds of properties are not popular with Tunisians who prefer new homes.
He reports an increase on the number of buy-to-let investors who are keen to cash in on cheap prices and avoid the real estate crisis in European and Middle East Markets. He reckons that prices in Tunis have been rising an average of 10% per annum for the past three years.
Tunis estate agent Salma Jedidi also says she is getting more enquiries from overseas, predominantly from France, Italy and the United Arab Emirates. ‘You can easily compare Tunisia with many European countries in terms of the quality of facilities and lifestyle. But at the moment it’s still very cheap to invest,’ he explained.