Wednesday, 17 January 2007

Response to Skierans #3

We have had a couple of dozen responses to the email from Skierans about foreign property agents and, as promised, we are publishing the best of them. You will find Skierans original post here. SKIERANS.

Today we hear from Mike.
I must admit some confusion about Skieirans comments regarding foreign property agents. Skieirans states that "nearly all the intermediaries are English or French or American" but then Skieirans "easily finds a great Moroccan intermediary". If it is that easy to find a Moroccan, is there really a problem with having foreign property agents available for those who want them? The foreign agents still have to rely on local notaires, simsars, and adouls, so they are still contributing to the local economy. What they do provide is a bridge between cultures allowing those unfamiliar with the culture an easier entrance.

That there would be some disconnect between the existance foreign property agents and their desire to help save the medina, is similarly confusing. Is this because the medina can only be saved at the exclusion of foreign settlement? In the absence of more Moroccans returning to and investing in the medina are we to suggest that no foreigners might work toward saving the medina?

In a perfect world it might seem ideal that only Moroccans benefit from selling houses in the Fes medina. To suggest, however, that it is unethical for foreigners living in Fes to benefit from doing so in and of itself defies logic. What is it exactly that is unethical about making money for providing a service? Surely one's nationality alone can't be considered unethical. Skieirans seems merely to discriminate against foreigners based on their nationality.

Even those foreign intermediaries who charge higher fees for services than local ones are not necessarily being unethical. The ethics of those higher fees are open to discussion. Some agencies argue that their additional services, including consultancy and ongoing support and the additional commitment involved therein, warrant the higher fees. It is up to individual prospectives buyers to determine if they want to pay the higher fees to gain additional support and an intermediary they can more readily relate to, or whether they want to go local either to save on fees and to support the indigenous intermediaries.

To suggest that there is something inherently unethical about expatriate property agents operating in Fes strikes me as unnecessarily prejudicial. I wonder if Skieirans has the same feelings about expatriate property agents in other countries as diverse as France, Spain, and Canada?

Mike L.