With first-time buyers taking up a good solid chunk of the real-estate market, and with the year 2014 coming to an end, estate agents take stock of how sales in this segment have fared and why. Fact is that all first-time buyers have enjoyed making property purchases all through the year, thanks to the November 2013 budget proposal which was further extended into 2015 as announced during the recent November 2014 budget. This proposal has seen would-be property owners enjoying an exemption from duty payments on the first Euros 150,000 spent on the purchase of a first property. This tangibly translates in a saving of some Euro 5250 for each buyer, whether the buyer is a Maltese national, a foreigner or a non-resident. RE/MAX estate agent Patrick Spiteri of Re-max South confirms, “Whether single or whether as a couple, first-time buyers are usually hampered by a number of punishing elements mainly their limited budgets.
A typical first-time buyer is usually young, and even if in a professional status, he/she finds limited funds with which to start off property shopping. However, this tax concession has helped a lot of people to invest in their first property with further ease. The extra saving is used to fund furnishings or to purchase a garage or perhaps invest in a slightly larger property. First-time buyers normally seek two-bedroom apartments with properties in the south generally starting in the region of Euro 100,000 – Euro 110,000 , going slightly higher in central and northern Malta at Euro 130,000 – Euro 150,000.
These price brackets are determined by location, finish of property, number of bedrooms, whether the property is furnished or not…. ” Mr Spiteri explains that young and inexperienced property buyers often come up with very strange requests, expecting to purchase something which is very attractive, but not realising that they are going completely out of budget. “At RE/MAX Malta we help our clients contact banks and other professionals such as notaries or lawyers so that they start their experience in the world of property search on the right foot and well-informed with full awareness of their monetary limitations. We are very aware of property laws, which I for one have learned over my seven years of experience with RE/MAX. Yes indeed, some do strike lucky landing exceptional price reductions on properties which are being sold by owners who need to cash in quickly or want to get sell a property fast. But striking lucky does not happen often.”
From a totally different part of Malta, Dirk Debono an estate agent based at RE/MAX in St Julian’s, says, “It is very fortunate that the tax concession on stamp duty has been extended since we have experienced a huge boom in first-time property sales this past year. First-time property buyers are not just single people or new couples, but sometimes we get clients who seek to purchase a property as a rental investment, especially since rentals are very strong at the moment. We have a lot of people who come to Malta to purchase property, especially people who work in i-gaming, or people who come from the Middle East. ”
Mr Debono points out that some unexpected locations are becoming increasingly in demand as rental investments, such as the location of Gzira since it is close proximity to the University of Malta and to the Sliema/St Julian’s area. “People who intend to purchase a first property as an investment are careful to purchase where there is high renting potential. Obviously, a three-bedroom apartment in Mosta or Naxxar may be bigger in size but not necessarily enjoy renting potential as would property in key locations such as Msida, Floriana, Valletta or Sliema.”