US-Based Real Estate Management Firm, JLL Says Casablanca’s Commercial Property Market is Showing Signs of Recovery

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Casablanca’s commercial property sector is showing signs of improvement, a new analysis from JLL, a US-based leading professional services firm that specializes in real estate and investment management, has found.

JLL, which is based in Chicago, Illinois, is a Fortune 500 company with nearly 300 corporate offices and operations in over 80 countries. It has a global workforce of 86,000 as of June 30, 2018, and is the registered trademark of company, Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated.

Across the Middle East and Africa (MEA), JLL is a leading player in the real estate and hospitality services markets. The firm has worked on projects in 35 countries across the region and has offices in Johannesburg (South Africa), Lagos (Nigeria), Nairobi (Kenya), Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Jeddah, Al Khobar, Cairo and Casablanca (Morocco).

In its latest analysis, dubbed the ‘Casablanca H1 Real Estate Overview Report’, JLL stated that the positive sentiment in the market was strengthened by the successful capital raising by Immorente Invest, which is the first and unique investment company established in the form of a real estate investment Trust (REIT).

A real estate investment trust is a company that owns, and in most cases operates, income-producing real estate. REITs own many types of commercial real estate, ranging from office and apartment buildings to warehouses, hospitals, and shopping centers.

Immorente raised 400 Million Moroccan Dirhams (over$42 million) to fund further investments.

According to the report, a few commercial buildings were completed in the first half of 2018, increasing the total office supply to about 1.74 million square meters of Gross Leasable Area (GLA). The average rents have slightly increased over the first half of the year, while vacancies in prime office buildings and integrated office parks have remained low. The report also predicts sales and transactions to grow in the commercial sector with a particular focus on income generating assets.

“Tenants from the commercial sector continue to report a shortage of quality office space, resulting in an increase in demand for high-quality office space in Casablanca. This trend becomes evident as employees increasingly seek to improve the welfare and performance of their employees” said Craig Plumb, Head of Research for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region at JLL.

“Additional office premises are expected to enter the market before the end of 2018, bringing the total stock to 1.76 million square meter. Notable projects currently under construction include Horizon Business Centre, CCF Office Building and Green works Centre. If construction remains in line with the projected time of delivery, total office GLA will reach 1.86 million square meters by the end of 2020,” he added.

Casablanca’s retail sector witnessed a slight increase in supply with the completion of a commercial gallery of 5,000 square meters of GLA. The average rent for new leases in the prime malls have remained stable over the first half of 2018 while rents across street retail stores increased by 9% compared to the same period last year.

JLL’s research indicates that the overall performance of Casablanca’s hotel market improved slightly over the first half of 2018 compared to the same period last year. The positive performance of the market in 2018 reflects a number of new promotion programs for both leisure and business travelers, increasing the number of visitors to the city.

With the Moroccan National Tourism Board setting up a new office in China, there has been an increase in Chinese tourists. The Board now plans to replicate this success by setting up shop in India.

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