Property Market - Sense of Direction

Sense of Direction

RE/MAX Malta General Manager, Mr. Joseph P. Theuma, takes a look at what’s happening on the real estate front in Malta

Owning a home in Malta is considered a fine, long-standing tradition. Much like an Englishman, for the Maltese man (or woman!) his home is his castle and actually owning real estate is a sign of maturity and responsibility. Moving to a new house is undeniably a major milestone and this is reflected in the way the property market on the island has developed through the years.

This development, of course, spells out good news. Given the nation’s love for buying (or selling) property, it is hardly surprising to learn that the real estate market in Malta is at an all-time high. The buying of immovable property has always been considered a safe investment and this holds even truer today, when the market is enjoying massive interest both from the local and from the international front. Never has the “Property For Sale” column on newspapers been so sought-after – the question being, of course, what is it exactly that said buyers are after?

Much like every other sector, the property market is subject to the trends of the moment. There was a time when the craze was about converted farmhouses. Then it changed and became unconverted farmhouses, so that all the fun of renovating would be yours. Today there are even newer trends – as the lifestyle in Malta gradually becomes more modern, the public’s choice when it comes to buying property reflects these changes.

Moving Ahead

A good percentage of people buying property in Malta is naturally made up of first-time buyers. It used to be that young couples would refuse to even consider a house or apartment unless it had the all-important three bedrooms. Today, families are getting smaller by the minute and space is getting more and more limited by the second. Moreover it has become accepted as the norm that the first house a young couple buys will not be their home forever. The trend for first-time buyers these days is to look for a decent, two-bedroomed apartment in a good area and then move to a bigger place some years down the line.

One thing that hasn’t changed is that young couples still prefer to buy property outright rather than rent. Renting remains more popular mostly with foreigners who are after a holiday home or a retirement apartment on the island.

Location, location, location

Buying real estate is always a good investment – that much is true. However there are factors which can spell the difference between a good investment and a fantastic one. Not all real estate is created equal and when buying property in Malta it would be a good idea to bear in mind certain “extraneous” considerations.

Starting with the location of the property. This refers not to the actual town or village but rather to the street or square where the property is located. Factors that are guaranteed to raise the value of a property include the following:

  • Amenities such as grocer, pharmacy and bus-stop are in close vicinity,
  • The house is located in, or in close proximity of, the village/town, square, which means that there will be ample parking space even for guests,
  • There is a church close by,
  • The road itself is wide,
  • The property boasts a view or a garden, or both.
  • As you can see, common sense plays a strong part (or should) when you’re house-hunting. It is also good to bear in mind if you’re thinking about buying property that in the same way that certain factors can raise the market value, some others can lower it. These include things such as being on a busy main road (traffic, noise and fumes), being on the ground-floor, having more than four apartments in a block etci

The Foreign Perspective

The properties that go on the market today – especially the newly-built ones – are of a better standard than some years ago. More and more luxury developments are being put on the market and projects such as Manoel Island, Tigne Point, Verdala Mansions and Portomaso have created a particular niche in the Maltese property market. Such properties have attracted a good deal of foreign investment – experience has shown us that Malta is especially attractive to the English, Germans, South Africans and most Northern Europeans. These investors tend to be people with high profile careers who want to invest in a pension plan or who are attracted by the fiscal advantages offered by Malta.

Having said this, the majority of investors in the property market remain Maltese.

The Way Forward

So where is the property market taking us? The coming years will most likely see bigger condominiums being built. This need not necessarily be a bad thing, provided that these are built sensibly. With families shrinking even more and land becoming more expensive, homes will also become smaller but – ironically – more spacious. A contradiction in terms? Not really, as more importance should be given to the way rooms are structured and furnished rather than to the actual area size.

People have become more demanding in everything, including in buying property. Workers have become more professional and architects more creative so that the end result should be more beautiful and functional homes for Malta. Necessities are also different from what they were ten years ago – developers nowadays include air-conditioning preparation when building apartments, as well as double-glazing and gypsum plastering.

What about old houses? Critics often target the fact that there are a good number of old and dilapidated houses that are not being taken advantage of and that are simply left to rot. Is this wise, given the fact that space is such a problem in Malta? Wise or not, there is one sure thing that the market has shown us time and time again. People are more willing to invest in property that has been newly built in compliance with today’s high standards, rather than waste time, energy and money to try and rehabilitate old property.