Malta Real Estate Report – September 2014

Introduction

Malta Real Estate Report is an endeavour that RE/MAX Malta has produced to further keep the Maltese population informed. As part of their corporate ideology the company pledges to be “above the crowd” in providing the community with up-to-date information so they may take more knowledgeable buying and selling decisions.

In this edition we provide you with interesting researched facts and trends about the real estate market. We speak to the population through a quantitative study commissioned to an independent firm, which provides a sample of the publics’ opinion. Our endeavour has also taken us to getting unpublished up-to-date information from the Ministry of Home affairs and we also hereunder provide you with recent fluctuations in property prices based on our state of the art property database.

Quantitative Study

Sampling

For the purpose of this survey, a sample of 500 net respondents was targeted. Any refusals and incomplete surveys are re-allocated to achieve a net sample of 500 interviews. A two-step process was adopted to obtain a stratified sampling procedure. This took place as follows:

  • A targeted population was stratified according to the various areas in Malta & Gozo;
  • Following this, systematic sampling was adopted to obtain the required sample. Not more than one person per household was interviewed;
  • Each interviewer was given a quota of people to interview throughout the data collection phase. The quota specified the age brackets and gender required. This presented a representative sample of the Maltese households in terms of geographic location, age, and gender respectively.

Confidence in Real Estate Agents

“Do you agree that a real estate agent could assist you in making the right choices about the type of home you want?”

In the first question the respondents were asked whether they felt that a real estate agent could assist them in making the right choices about the type of home they want. Out of the 500 respondents, 7.8% answered that they “did not know” whereas 59.2% answered that they “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that an estate agent could assist them with making the right choices.

When asked the same question last March, this resulted in 51% agreeing to this statement, this marking a clear indication of an increase in the confidence of the competence of an estate agent by 8.2%. For clarification see graph below:

“Do you agree that a real estate agent could professionally guide you and negotiate a better deal than when purchasing directly through an owner?”

Out of the 500 respondents, 8.8% stated that they “do not know” whereas 40.8 % agreed with this statement, another marked increase in confidence of the real estate agent when compared to the 8.6% from the March 2014 study, where only 32.2% agreed with the statement. 22.4% stated that the “neither agreed or disagreed” whereas only 29.8% “disagreed” or “strongly disagreed”. For clarification see graph below:

Opinions of Gouvernment Schemes

In order to gauge the general feeling of how the Maltese felt about the recent Government Schemes introduced by the Maltese Government, namely the First Time Buyer Subsidies and The Residence Schemes, we asked the respondents whether they “Agreed” or “Disagreed” with the introductions and whether they felt First Time Buyers Subsidies was a very good incentive and whether the Residence Programme created a positive effect on the real estate market.

According to the Maltese Population, 93% agreed that the First Time Buyer Subsidies was a very good incentive and 71% agreed that the Residence Programmes had positive effects on the real estate market.

See graph below for visual presentation:

We further delved into the matter to understand how many people had subscribed to the First Time Buyer Subsidy Scheme. According to credible sources within the Ministry of Home Affairs the First Time Buyer Subsidies Scheme was a major hit, recording a total 2100 promise of sale agreements from the introduction of the scheme in July 2013 to September 2nd 2014.

Considering that the recorded total amount of promise of sale agreements in Malta and Gozo as at 2nd September 2014 was 6628, the first time buyer market accounted for 31.68% of the total “konvenji” in Malta. We also confirmed from the same source that the amounts are of promise of sale agreements and thus within one agreement more that one property may have been purchased.

Properties Purchased 2014 vs 2013

According to our source we also received a breakdown of the properties sold in Malta & Gozo together with a comparison of last years (2013) data of total properties sold. The actual number of sold properties in 2013 was that of 9875 whereas up to September 2nd the actual amount of properties sold was that of 6989. According to these figures if the market continues to sell homes at the same pace as it did up to the 2nd September 2014 by the end of December 2014 the total sales will reach over 10,400 properties sold in Malta. This would signify an increase of promise of sales over the previous year (2013) of circa 5%.

See the Graph below for visual presentation:

Home Purchases over the next three years

We asked the respondents whether they have any of their immediate family looking to purchase a property within the next three years.

67.8% and 13.8 % responded “No” and that they “Did Not Know” respectively whereas 18.4% said “Yes” and that they either were looking to purchase a property themselves or they had immediate family member that would be looking for a home within the next three years.

Of the respondents that confirmed that they were buying or had an immediate family member interested in buying, we further asked the respondents whether they would be downsizing, upsizing, purchasing as an investment or if they were first time buyers. 79% of the respondents said that that either they were or they knew someone in their immediate family that were First time Buyers, whereas 1% said they the person looking for something would be looking for something of the same size, 3% said they would be downsizing, 9% said they would be upsizing whereas 4% said they that they themselves or an immediate family member would be purchasing a property as an investment.

See graph below for Visual Presentation:

Perception of Property Investment

Our team wanted to further understand if the Maltese population felt that buying a home was the safest investment a foreigner or local citizen can make in Malta.

The results were positive in that 77% stated that they felt that buying a home was the safest investment a foreigner or local can make in Malta whereas only 8% said that they did not feel the same. 14.8% said they did not know.

Of the 8% of respondents that did not feel buying a home in Malta was the safest investment we asked them what types of other investments they felt were safe. Of these, respondents rated the following as safe investments: Financial investments 26.8% (in the forms of stocks, shares and funds), Government Bonds 12.2%, Deposit Accounts 9.8%, and other investments 4.9%. 48% said they did not believe in investing.

See graph below for Visual Presentation:

Value and Attributes of Real Estate Agencies

In order to understand the buyers further, and what they expect to be important factors when dealing with a real estate agent, we asked how they valued a number of different attributes on a scale of 1 to 5, where one meant “Not important at all” and five meant ”Very important”:

Out of the attributes, the highest rated was that they felt the personnel should be professionally trained, with a high mean score of 4.63. Specialization in the area and type of property as well as the ability to follow up and offer alternative solutions both registered a high mean score of 4.58 whereas having a large database of properties followed closely with a mean score of 4.56. The respondents felt that it was important that the agents are dressed smart with a high mean score of 4.10. Respondents placed less importance on the their preference of agents having a clean car with a mean score of 3.89.

During the study, the respondents were asked whether there was any other attribute that they felt were of significant importance. Of the other attributes the ones most mentioned were efficiency, politeness and having a professional approach. Others mentioned honesty and transparency, a good reputation and the ability of an agent to offer properties within their budget. Finally they mentioned the competence of the agent with regards to the knowledge of the costs of purchasing was also important.

Conclusion

RE/MAX Malta feels that this report provides an overall encouraging perception of the real estate market in that over a period of six months from March 2014 to September 2014 we have seen an increase in the confidence of real estate agents, the various schemes rolled out by the Maltese Government have been seen to provide not only positive impact on the perception of the public but the figures release in this report show that there will be an increase circa 6% on 2013 of properties sold in Malta.

Furthermore, the perception that purchasing a home is the safest investment on the Islands is at a high whilst, according to our study, 18.4% of the respondents said that they were going to purchase a property or they knew someone within their immediate family that would be purchasing a property within the next three years.