Remax Malta, the estate agents group, has sold over €106 million worth of property so far this year and is pushing to reach the €120 million mark by the end of the month, managing director Kevin Buttigieg told The Sunday Times last week.
The “exceptional” year sees Remax Malta up 35 per cent on 2010, continuing the group’s year-on-year revenue growth record since it established here in 2004, Mr Buttigieg added.
“Who says the real estate market is in a downturn?” he asked. “Some decisions we took this year have made it Remax Malta’s seventh consecutive year of growth. It is our best so far. The €120 million by the end of the year is ‘doable’. Our target next year is €200 million.
“The €106 million represent sales of properly priced properties in all brackets and sectors: Properties are priced to sell. At the moment, 60 per cent of our sales occur after agents review, with owners, the prices of property which has been on the market for some time. Once it is properly priced, property then sells within an average 80 or 90 days. Malta is different to other markets: there is wealth across the board, from Gozo to the south.”
The ex-pat community and residents in affluent areas mean a proportion of wealth was concentrated in one region, Mr Buttigieg added, but wealth was otherwise spread across the country.
Malta had been affected by the international crisis, but prices had remained fairly steady in most areas. Mr Buttigieg said Remax had seen decreases outside seafront areas, especially for apartments and maisonettes, as there was abundant supply in areas like Swieqi, Attard, Buġibba, and St Paul’s Bay.
“We have trained agents to speak realistic prices to sellers,” he added. “One of the worst things an agent can do is value a property 20 to 30 per cent higher than it would ever fetch. This misleads sellers into dreaming that they can go on to afford a property in a higher bracket. It is important that valuations are realistic.”
Considerable sales to first-time buyers were seen mostly by the Remax offices in Fgura, Attard and St Paul’s Bay. Offices in other areas were seeing sales to buyers seeking to trade up with significant budgets at hand.
Premium property, including condominium development, like Fort Cambridge, Tigne Point, Portomaso, Pendergardens, and Madliena Ridge were all keeping their prices.
Eleven of the 20 villas at Madliena Ridge which have just been launched on the market have been sold. Just under half of the 22 newest apartments at Tigne Point overlooking the piazza have found buyers.
Mr Buttigieg said demand for office space remained healthy and the rental market was “very strong” – buoyed by the financial sector, igaming, and shipping sectors and the diplomatic corps. In turn, the demand for high quality rentable property fuelled sales from investors seeking alternative options.
Remax Malta general manager Josie Theuma stressed that 2012 will continue to see a buyers’ market, thriving in an environment that encouraged property purchases as banks sustained lending and investors continued to prefer property.
Mr Buttigieg attributed the success registered this year to the group’s investment in training and education for agents, the coaching of local Remax trainers, and the adaptation of programmes to the culture of the Maltese market. Remax has 120 sales associates.
“Today, we are finally seeing the real fruit and the dominant market share we were targeting,” he added. “This has allowed Remax Malta to evolve and to allow some of our best agents realise their potential by taking ownership of their office or partnering the group or another office.”
Remax Malta now has a close-knit network with so-called ‘partners’ – successful real estate agents in their own right working with Remax – including well-known names in the local sector to whom offices have been franchised. Under this policy, a new franchise is to open in Attard soon.
Meanwhile, Remax Malta is working on the realisation of a collection of concepts designed by members of the wider Remax team which will determine how the business will be run in the future.
Johanna Ripard – Sunday Times of Malta 18th December 2011