by Dr. Paul Felice LL.D
Are you a first time home buyer? Here are our top 10 tips when hunting for your first property in Malta.
That special time you’ve been waiting for is here. You’re looking to buy the perfect space to start a brand new life. Almost instinctively, you know which areas of Malta you like, the ones you love, and the ones you don’t. You know the type of property you want, and you can see it decorated to your specific taste. But like everything in life, it’s never that simple. If you’re new to house hunting read on, and discover the ins-and-outs of buying like a pro.
1. ‘Location, Location, Location.’ Cliché Or Mantra?
We’ve all heard this before, and we all know what it means. And for the most part, I think it’s true. Some locations are just worlds better than others, and Malta has some absolutely magnificent spots. But when it comes to buying that first property, not everyone can afford the best location. But hang on. The urban and sub-urban landscapes are not quite what they used to be. There are some areas which are now much better developed than they once were. You might even prefer the peace and quiet of the more remote parts of Malta, as opposed to the bustling, now congested zones. Pro-tip: explore the brave new developments in localities like Zurrieq, Zebbiegh, Imgarr and Qrendi. They’re not mainstream, but it might be time to think outside of the box. Check out our listings and do get in touch if you’d like to have a look: https://77greatestates.com
2. Finding The Right Dwelling Type
By far, the most popular entry-level property is the apartment/flat. It is no secret that several new developments are currently in progress, all over the islands. The vast majority of present construction consists of flats, which is no surprise if developers want to maximise their investment and get the most out of their project. But a word of caution. Brand new, large complexes, might not be your best choice. Don’t exclude the smaller buildings. Even if they’re a little older, a smaller block can mean better privacy, less neighbours to deal with, and probably cheaper annual costs when it comes to common parts and services. Of course, the maisonettes, villas and bungalows have their own characteristics. They’re usually on the higher-end in terms of price, but they have a key advantage: privacy - which doesn’t come cheap. Pro-tip: try to think long-term. Make privacy a priority over creature-comforts which you can add later. Where possible choose a property with its own entrance.
3. Find An Agent Who Knows The Market
The property market is full of estate agents, private realtors and real estate agencies. Some have been around since the Stone Age. Others are new and inexperienced. Finding the right people to help you source the home of your dreams is probably the single most important thing you will need to do before you really set out to start viewing the properties available. Any agent wants to sell - so find someone who doesn’t need to sell at all costs. Find someone who is ready to listen to you, to take note of your requirements, and to go the extra mile to find you the best properties on the market. Pro-tip: Go with a professional. Ask questions. Ask for honest advice. Get your agent to understand that you’re going to make the biggest investment of your life, and that you can’t afford to make the wrong choice.
4. Property Alterations - Do You Need Them?
You’ve found it. It’s going to be your new home. There’s just a couple of things that aren’t quite right. Making alterations to a new property is not uncommon. In many cases it is advisable to engage an architect to see the property before you commit to buy. Your architect will give you the advice you need, and if the alterations you want aren’t possible or feasible, you’ll have the freedom to withdraw from the purchase. Pro-tip: if you’re getting your prospective property financed by the Bank, let them know what alterations you have in mind before you buy. Your architect should give you a precise estimate of costs, and you might be able to pay for the works through the loan.
5. Home Financing - Bank Loan Basics
If you’re getting your home financed by a Bank, spend some time learning the conditions of the loan. This is where you need to read the fine print. You should also be asking lots of questions - seek legal advice if you have to. Interest rates may be variable. See how long it will take to repay the loan. Know that the Bank will probably secure general and special hypothecs on your property present and future. Make sure you understand what this means. And shop around - all leading banks are competing to sell their service. Pro-tip: Good deals are made through good relationships. You will know which bank you want depending on how you’re treated. A good representative will be patient and help you through the process.
6. Government Support & Incentives
Did you know that the Government regularly stimulates the property market with incentives and support? It has offered part-funding of apertures, photovoltaic panels and solar water heaters; more recently, it is offering financing of the deposit (10%) due on the purchase of the property in view of the bank loan, together with a part-funding of the monthly repayment due to the bank (available for properties up to €120,000). Pro-tip: do some research and find out exactly what you’re entitled to before you buy. You might be pleasantly surprised how much support there is out there.
7. The Promise Of Sale - What Does It Mean?
We’ve all heard the word ‘konvenju’. This is the Maltese adaptation of the latin term ‘convenium’, meaning to convene. For the purposes of this explanation it is a promise to sell/buy, a preliminary agreement where a vendor promises to sell, and a purchaser promises to buy. It is binding, must be registered with the Department Of Inland Revenue, and the purchaser usually pays a deposit on the price in the amount of ten per cent (10%) pending the conclusion of the sale by public deed. Once the promise of sale is signed, the sale is still pending. Pro-tip: get professionals to explain what you’re getting into. As a purchaser, you have the right to choose the notary who will draft and publish the sale.
8. Engaging A Notary Of Your Choice
In the purchase of immovable property, the notary is a warranted professional engaged by the purchaser to draw up the preliminary agreement of sale, carry out searches if required, and publish the deed of sale/purchase. Although engaged by the purchaser, the notary must be impartial to both the purchaser and vendor. Pro-tip: if you feel you need advice, get a legal advisor. An advisor will be able to give you all the legal advice you need, before, during, and on completion of the transaction.
9. The Final Deed - Congratulations! You’re Now A Home Owner
The deposit has been paid, the searches have been carried out, the bank has approved your request for a loan, and a date has been set to sign the contract of sale. The property is yours and you’ve been delivered the keys. Congratulations, you’re a homeowner! Pro-tip: first things first. Open a bottle of champagne - you deserve it! :-)
10. Interior Design & Furnishings
Your next fun step is making the property your own, in your own taste and in your own style. A relatively recent and popular trend is to engage an interior designer to guide homeowners as to current styles of decor. The internet is a vast resource of information and inspiration, and some local publications can be very useful in the completion of your new home. Pro-tip: don’t act in haste. Take your time, spend as much time as possible in the property, visualise, imagine, draw, sketch, and most of all have fun with your ideas. And if you can afford it, get a good designer. It will be worth it.
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For more information please contact Dr. Paul Felice LL.D. on (00356) 99617777 or by email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
While every effort has been made to reproduce precise information, any error or omission is regretted. All information contained herein shall not be construed as advice, legal or otherwise, and is subject to change without notice. Copyright Dr. Paul Felice 2018.