by Dr. Paul Felice LL.D
Are You Buying Property In Malta On Plan? Here Are Our Top 10 Pro-Tips To Help You Make A Flawless Purchase
By far, the most adventurous immovable property purchase you can make, is buying property in Malta on plan. What does this entail? Essentially, you’re buying into something that doesn’t quite exist yet. What’s behind the curtains is usually a developer who has identified a site and has planned its construction and development. Since it doesn’t exist yet, a purchaser is usually afforded a reduced price to buy the property before it is developed. But buying property on plan attracts different challenges. Many considerations will need to be made, from evaluating plans to understanding the dynamic contractual obligations of the developer and purchaser. Read my 10 featured pro-tips to buying property on plan.
1. Site Plans
Site plans are those schematics which usually outline the perimeter of a development in general terms. For example, a site plan for a complex of apartments might outline the boundaries on which it lies, together with a clear depiction of the outdoor common areas, the entrances and exits. It will also include an outline with other details of the main structures of the building.
Pro-tip:try to get your hands on this as soon as you become interested in the property.
2. Floor Plans
Floor plans usually refer to the residential unit itself; for example, an apartment within the general development. The floor plan should depict the footprint of the unit, with lengths, breadths, heights and areas in square metres. Provision is also usually made for wall thickness, elevation of floors and all other architectural features of relevance.
Pro-tip: make sure you get to see a plan of the actual unit you will be buying, not a random example.
3. Common Floor Plans
Common floor plans might also exist when larger developments include common parts which grant access and exit to the residential units. These plans are important because in general terms these can be referred to in the preliminary agreements and contracts of sale so that any rights are clearly laid out and referenced.
Pro-tip: get your hands on these as well. They will be very useful so that you can get a good idea of the future interaction with your neighbours.
4. Calculating & Visualizing Area
Calculating area is simple, but for those who are not familiar with it, the area of any space can be calculated by multiplying (x) its length by its breadth (width). For example, if a square room is five by four (5m x 4m) metres, then it has a floor area of twenty square metres (20m2). This can be a very important piece of information when buying property on plan, particularly when you need to visualise how much usable area will be left once you get all your furniture in it. With a simple subtraction, measuring your furniture and subtracting it from the floor area will give you your net living area. Of course, the calculation can sometimes be a little more complicated when the spaces are not uniform, but it can still be worked out.
Pro-tip: if at all possible, try to lay the dimensions of each room in an open space so that you can get a better feel of the spaces you’re going to have.
Where applicable, developers will list the finishes to be made to the property and development. It is important to examine this list in detail at the preliminary agreement stage. If this is made available only after, you risk being unhappy with what the end result will look like, and you might not necessarily have a right to refuse it.
Pro-tip: get the developer to show you lists of finishes and bills of quantities early on.
6. Visuals in 2D vs 3D
Plans are in the vast majority of cases presented in two dimensions (2D). However, in some cases plans are made available in three dimensions (3D), which can be really useful in helping you see the property from a more realistic angle. The next frontier, which is already available in some cases is the 3D virtual reality tour. This is incredible. You can go through the property as if you’re right there, exploring and seeing every room and feature.
Pro-tip: ask us about this service, we might be able to help.
7. Other Considerations - Location / Size / Position Of Development
Location - It is important to visit the site where the development will take place. Go there physically, and explore the immediate surroundings. If possible, with the help of a drone, try to get a view of what will surround the development and what will be visible from the floor you are contemplating purchasing. Imagine having to look at an eye-sore because you didn’t know what you would see from your future windows. Are the surrounding streets finished? If not, when will they be completed with asphalt? Do the site’s surroundings have what you need on a daily basis? Market? Pharmacy? School? Stationary? Hairdresser?
Size - Visit the site also to see the size and scale of the development. There are some beautiful developments in Malta, and some are just monstrosities. Try to imagine the scale of the complex by envisaging height in the context of the surroundings.
Position - Also relevant is not only where it is, but where the development sits. Typically, properties which are south facing (meaning that they point towards the south of the island), will be full of natural light, but this is not always the case. Of course, other considerations and effect will have a bearing on this feature.
Pro-tip: visit the site, go there during the day, the afternoon, and the night, spend at least 30 minutes per occasion and get a feel of the area.
8. Access & Parking Facilities
Make sure that access to the development is going to be straightforward. You don’t want to be forced to use uncomfortable entrances and exits when you’re coming and going home. See the site plans and all other plans from the very beginning. Do not let the property blind you with emotion before you’ve see all the plans. And when it comes to parking, if the area generally looks like it’s going to be a problem to park, buy a garage or a car space. This will not only be a lifesaver when you come to park your vehicle, but even when you come to sell - a property with parking facilities is always a winner.
Pro-tip: Malta is changing. Get a car space or garage wherever possible - think long term.
9. Contractual Obligations
In another publication we will be discussing the differences and characteristics of the promise of sale and the final deed of sale. For the purposes of this feature we also need to take note of the contractual obligations which exist at the preliminary agreement stage and the contract of sale stage. Seek professional advice when buying on plan. Make sure that you’re promising to buy exactly what is being promised to be sold. Anything which is not promised means that the developer/seller is under no obligation to deliver it unless it has been listed in the promise of sale. In general terms, the plans, bills of quantities/lists of finishes, time of completion, and all the relevant guarantees will have to be scrutinised if you want to make a healthy purchase.
Pro-tip: if you’re spending possibly hundreds of thousands of euros, spend a little more and get yourself professional advice - it will be worth it.
10. Snags & Checks
Depending on a range of circumstances, you will probably want to check the whole development before you sign a final deed of sale. And depending on the scale of the development and the immovable property you’ve decided to purchase, making the necessary checks might be anything from really simple to really complex.
Pro-tip: take stock of anything which is not quite complete, make an inventory of anything which is missing in the development or your unit, and put together a good snag-list which you can use to make sure that everything that was promised is delivered.
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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.