Building your property portfolio
Mauritius beckons22nd Jun 2022
You’re fresh back from a magnificent holiday, and now the bug won’t stop biting: You’ve simply got to invest in Mauritius… if not relocating for good. But is this a sensible move, especially if deals may have to be clinched over a fair stretch of Indian Ocean?
Good advice from island experts
Jan and Erica Minnie boast decades of experience in the property industry, being based alternately in Plettenberg Bay and in Grand Baie on the north coast of Mauritius.
Erika explains that Covid necessitate their return to South Africa after having lived on the island for two years; at the time of this interview, they had returned to Mauritius – to stay – just three weeks earlier.
‘We are elated to be back,’ she says, adding that it truly is an island paradise with all the bounty, beauty and business opportunities that form the base of many a marketing brochure and webpage. But there are tried and tested ways for potential buyers to go about investing in this particular environment.
Local agents and agendas
Where do buyers begin to search for properties on the island? After an initial check on the internet, is it best to contact locally-based agents?
According to Jan Minnie, this course of action is not advisable: ‘People can and they do, but the market is extremely buoyant and the local agents are mostly interested in taking your money.
‘Erika and I have been extremely successful because we don’t push any particular development. We listen to our clients and then try finding what they are looking for. Naturally, we take them around and show them what’s on offer. There are innumerable options, many of these looking fantastic to newcomers. But that is often not the case.’
He says Mauritian legislation makes it easy for people to buy property on the island, with a government that actively invites foreign investment.
Different permits for different pockets
‘With the average South African buyer, budgets always dictate. But there is something for everyone,’ says Jan. ‘If you can’t afford to buy your residency, you can apply for an occupation permit, an investor’s permit, or even a retiree permit. Those all give you the right to live on the island, with different criteria dictating each permit.’
According to Mauritian law, there is a minimum price tag of MUR6-million (R2.12m) and for vacant land, a minimum of MUR3-million (R1.06m). Erika adds that transactions are most generally done in Euros or US Dollars, which is an attractive alternative for many investors.
When not an islander…
The Afrikaans saying ‘ver van jou goed, naby jou skade’ refers to losses incurred when not geographically close to your possessions. It’s one thing to rent out an investment property in another town or province, but is it sensible to buy an apartment as far away as Mauritius?
Jan says this should not deter those interested in building their property portfolio in Mauritius while not permanent residents. ‘And yes, apartments or homes of absent owners can be rented out for holiday stays, as most estate agencies have a rental portfolio.’
Only for the old?
Looking at a profile of clients over the years, the Minnies provide some insight to the average potential Mauritian investor.
‘In the past, our clients were mostly aged upwards from 50, but now we have the whole spectrum knocking at our door: young families with little kids, middle-aged parents with university-going children, and older retired couples.’
Where do we begin?
When it comes to the first step in climbing the Mauritius property portfolio ladder, it is interesting to learn that many South Africans follow the same modus operandi.
‘A case in point is a two-bed, two-bathroom sectional title unit in a block full of South Africans. This particular property was the first of many IRS developments aimed at foreigners.
‘It has become a first stop for many new arrivals, because it’s a soft landing with plenty people around to help you get things right in your new country.’
* The Integrated Resort Scheme (IRS) is an initiative of the Mauritian Government in collaboration with the Board of Investment of Mauritius, designed to facilitate the acquisition of resort and residential property by non-citizens.