In this guide, you will discover what you need to consider when buying a property in Malta, how to find your dream home and the legal process involved in buying your future home.
Finding the right property
Choosing your new home is no easy task, so it’s important that you find a property that will suit your current needs. Make sure you are clear with your agent about your budget and your requirements. Based on this information, your agent will be able to find the right property for you.
Below are some additional things to consider that will help your agent find a suitable property for you.
- Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
- Parking requirements
- Outdoor space/balcony/terrace
- If you are ready to renovate?
- Condition of property – brand new, used or furnished
Working out your budget
Buying any property is usually a long term investment which will require an equally lengthy financial commitment and is one step most of us will have to take in our lives. You will have to work out your income and expenses to see what you have left at the end of each month.
It’s important that you are realistic about what you can afford so you don’t go over budget leaving yourself short every month. There is no point in living in a house that you can’t afford to enjoy.
The following expenses should be included when you are planning to purchase a property:
- Minimum deposit of 10% of the value of the property
- 1% towards the stamp duty with remaining % to be paid on day of contract
- Architect fee to inspect property
- Notary fee
- Home Insurance
- Life Insurance
Once you have worked out these approximate costs, the next step would be to go to your local bank and discuss taking out a Home Loan (if required).
Buying a new build property or on plan
As new developments are frequently being built, you may wish to consider buying a new build or on plan. The advantages of buying a newly built property are; that they can be finished to suit your tastes and needs, it’s brand new and no one has lived there before you and it will be built to your specifications.
Buying on plan can give you better savings of up to 10% with pre-construction prices and projects are usually ready within 18 months.
You will most likely already know which location you would like to live in but still it is always good to do some research in to the area to see if this will fit in with your current lifestyle. A few of the factors you should consider are:
- Public transport links
- Shops and restaurants
- Medical services
Once you have found a property that catches your eye, you can request any extra information that you may require directly from the listing agent. Although we work hard to keep our website up to date with descriptions, pictures and plans where possible, we still recommend speaking to the agent to have a chat about the property and book a viewing if it meets your criteria. You never know, the agent may know of a good deal which you haven’t come across yet and be able to give you further recommendations.
When actually viewing the property, we recommend taking a notepad and pen, a tape measure and a camera. By taking these few things with you, you can write notes, take pictures (with the owner’s and agent’s consent) and measure places to see if your furniture will fit. Looking back at your notes and pictures will usually help you when you’re back home trying to make decisions.
Things to consider:
- Visit the property at different times of the day to see if the area gets busy or noisy.
- Check if parking spacing is adequate at different hours of the day (in case of street parking)
- Ask neighbors for their opinion about the property.
- Check if the furniture you already own fits in the house. You can take measurements of your furniture and then check them against the measurements of the property.
- Find out how much you have to pay as communal fee in case the property is part of a community block.
- Look for any damp patches or damage.
Negotiating and making an offer
Now that you have found your dream property, it’s important to step back and think clearly before putting in an offer. Make sure it has ticked most, if not all of your boxes and that it will satisfy your future needs. With the help of your agent, you will want to find out how long the property has been on the market, how much similar properties have sold for in the area and if there are any other interested potential buyers.
When viewing the property, look for any works or repairs that require attention and use this to justify a lower offer. We always recommend taking an architect for a second opinion about the property, they will know what to look for i.e. structural damage, damp, water damage or not built to plan and could save you a lot of time and money.
When the property market is going through hard times, sellers are more likely ready to negotiate but when the market is strong and there are plenty of buyers you have to act faster and expect less room to negotiate.
It’s crucial to know your maximum budget when putting in an offer and then to stand firm on this as going over budget will usually lead to some kind of financial stresses later on.
Once your offer has been accepted, we strongly recommend doing a promise of sale (konvenju) at your chosen notary as early as possible so the property will be taken off the market and no one will be able to come in with a higher offer. It’s important to use a recommended notary who will advise you on what terms the contract should be. Most commonly, the contract is signed subject to bank loan and the seller will expect you to start processing your loan application as soon as possible.
The legal process
When you sign the promise of sale, a couple of standard clauses will be included; to indicate how long you require the term of the contract to be and if it will be subject to bank loan.
Here is a guide to understanding what your chosen notary shall do for you:
- Obtain sellers’ responses to questions; such as who owns the area of land and their boundaries, whether there are any legal proceedings to do with the property or land, to see what type of ground rent there is and what fixtures and fittings are included.
- Responsible for searches on the property and to check copies of any guarantees on the property, details of planning permissions and building regulation certificates.
- Check the seller really is the owner of the property and prepare to transfer the title in to your name.
- Pay stamp duty tax on the property.
The notary will put an approximate timeframe for the contract to be complete, usually taking approximately 12 weeks.