Houses of Character in Malta – Growing in Popularity

The growing allure of houses of character in Malta.

Holding a special place in Malta’s architectural and cultural tapestry, houses of character are more than just homes. Their charm is rooted in their detailed histories, echoing the lives of past owners and significant visitors. Many of these individuals have, in fact, steered the course of Malta’s rich history.


The Covid-19’s Silver Lining

Over the recent years, the essence of home has been reinterpreted, reappreciated, and redefined. In this context, houses of character in Malta have gained unprecedented admiration. They stand as symbols of a bygone era characterized by a more relaxed lifestyle, peppered with distinctive quirks reflecting their historical lineage.

The surge in passion for heritage isn’t exclusive to Malta; it’s a global movement, evidenced by the repatriation of antiquities and affluent enthusiasts procuring unique heritage items at prominent worldwide auction venues. Like ageless masterpieces of art, houses of character maintain their value, driven by their exclusivity, spaciousness, historical significance, and an inescapable allure.

Classifying Malta’s Historical Residences

In Malta, where many residences stand tall with historical significance and might even appear similar in design, the question arises: “How do we differentiate between a house of character, a farm house, a town house, and a palazzino?”


  • Houses of character were primarily constructed for living. However, their design catered to both humans and livestock, with animals often housed on the ground floor and humans above. Central courtyards are a common feature, with exterior stairs leading upwards. This architectural style explains the presence of elements like wells, mangers, storage areas, cellars, and expansive barn doors. Their design was seldom pre-determined, allowing for organic expansions over the centuries. Such houses evolved over generations, based on immediate needs. Explore Houses of Character
  • Farm houses: Primarily located on the fringes of towns or immersed in the countryside, these houses recall a time when they were isolated before urban growth encroached upon them. Explore Farmhouses
  • Town houses: These are nestled within the heart of towns, bearing a consistent design pattern with neighboring properties. Discover Townhouses
  • Palazzinos: Although some might be as old as houses of character, they were customarily crafted for the elite. Designed by prominent architects and constructed at considerable expense, these dwellings symbolized the opulence, power, and status of influential families, merchants, and leaders. Explore Palazzinos.

Most Popular Houses of Character Features


Houses of character usually feature ceilings made from stone slabs, known as ‘xorok’. The arches that extend from both sides of spacious room walls, converging in the center to support the roof, are termed ‘kileb’. These age-old construction techniques, prominent in many houses of character, captivate buyers. They offer a connection to the bygone era of innovative master stonemasons and skilled craftsmen.

Converted or Unconverted Houses of character?

Nowadays, numerous house of character owners have adeptly converted these ancient residences to align with 21st-century standards. While these homes originally lacked essential utilities like plumbing and electricity, any untouched homes will necessitate comprehensive updates by new investors. Nonetheless, the allure of acquiring a home in its pristine, unaltered form is something many buyers deeply value.


Acquiring a house of character in its original state is not a task for those lacking courage. It demands both a generous budget and immense patience. However, it offers the unique pleasure of customizing much of the home to one’s personal desires. Some buyers, on the other hand, opt for residences already meticulously restored, understanding that such a choice often comes at a higher price. Yet, the allure of owning a pristine fragment of Malta’s history is unparalleled. Many of these splendidly renovated homes have been showcased in renowned global interior design journals. To own a house of character is to join an exclusive circle, with truly limited membership.

Property Grants from the Government

Understanding the need to conserve these special residences for the benefit of future generations, the government has put forth multiple incentives to encourage their refurbishment. This is particularly crucial for those homes teetering on the edge of deterioration, necessitating immediate action for their continued existence.


New homeowners and first-time buyers can receive a grant of €15,000 when acquiring a property located in Malta’s urban conservation area (UCA). However, if the property is in Gozo, the grant is increased to €30,000. This grant also applies to properties that have been unoccupied for over seven years, those constructed more than two decades ago, or those that showcase traditional Maltese architectural designs. These initiatives aim to highlight and preserve Malta’s rich cultural legacy, particularly with regards to houses of character, as most of them fit these criteria.

To further motivate investments in such traditional dwellings, homeowners undertaking restorations can claim grants equivalent to the VAT value, capped at €54,000 for the initial €300,000 spent on refurbishments.

Buying a House of Character in Malta: The how-to

The allure of houses of character continues to grow, a trend any realtor can confirm. While prices have seen a notable surge, their almost iconic status means that cost rarely deters a plethora of enthusiastic buyers. Without a doubt, these houses stand as Malta’s most coveted properties, and they’re on everyone’s wishlist.


However, the availability of “turnkey” options is dwindling as current owners become increasingly reluctant to let go of these cherished dwellings. The future may soon compel buyers to consider unconverted options. Our suggestion? Dive into this venture sooner than later, as the days of these remaining unrefined treasures are numbered!

If you’re considering buying a house of character in Malta, here are some guidelines to help you streamline your selection process:

  • Schedule a meeting with a local agent to explore both converted and unconverted homes.
  • Take note: some homes are secluded while others are centrally located in towns or villages.
  • Reflect on the lifestyle you envision for yourself and your family.
  • Be aware that while many homes are updated, some remain in their original state, which can significantly affect the price.
  • Decide if you’re prepared for the challenges of renovating or if you have the funds to take on unrenovated properties, considering the costs and time associated with updates.
  • Delve into the property’s ownership history; a straightforward lineage is preferable.
  • If leaning towards an unrenovated property, engage a professional—like a surveyor, structural engineer, or architect—to assess the home and its boundaries comprehensively.
  • Once you’ve pinpointed the ideal house of character, make a bid, ensuring to outline any terms associated with the offer’s approval.

Interested in acquiring a unique house of character in Malta? Browse the many options currently available on our website at