Foreign buyers looking for permanent homes, holiday properties or investors seeking a good return on their capital have increasingly been choosing Malta over more high-profile destinations. International expatriates and retirees are attracted by the ease with which permanent residency can be achieved and the attractive nature of the island’s residency benefits. Fast becoming one of the most popular locations in Europe, Malta’s position in the centre of the Mediterranean, with most European capitals no more than three hours flight away, means foreigners owning property on the island are able to travel to and from their home with ease and minimum loss of time.
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Malta offers a treasure trove of attractive locations and places to live. Sliema and St Julian’s are perhaps the most popular places to live. Waterfront and marina developments such as Tigné Point, Portomaso and Pendergardens have proven to be very desirable locations for foreign buyers. Apartments in these prestigious developments range in price from €200,000 to €1.6 million. In addition to the large-scale developments listed above, a number of developers offer a mix of properties to suit all tastes including up-market apartment blocks, innovatively designed villas, expertly renovated farmhouses and houses of character. Other areas include St Paul’s Bay, Bugibba and Qawra. Gozo, Malta’s sister island, has proven popular with retired buyers – most of whom are seeking traditional farmhouses complete with pool. Farmhouses range in price from €198,000 to over €1 million. Waterfront apartments are the most sought after properties and naturally offer the ideal investment for those seeking to buy for the purpose of letting.
The legal system in Malta is one of the safest in Europe. Property transfers are deemed to be unbreakable, and security of title is guaranteed. Once a property has been chosen and price and conditions have been agreed, a promise of sale agreement is signed between the vendor and the purchaser. At this point, an amount equivalent to 1 per cent stamp duty and a 10 per cent deposit on the total purchasing price are paid by the buyer. This deposit will be forfeited in favour of the vendor should the purchaser fail to complete the final deed of transfer for no valid reason at law. The agreement is usually valid for three months or as agreed by the parties. During this period, a notary will carry out the necessary research into the property to confirm good title. Once clear title to the property has been established, the final contract of sale may be entered into. The deed of sale being drawn by the notary will be registered in the Public Registry. The balance of the purchase price and a further 4 per cent stamp duty on the sale is to be paid on the publication of the contract.
Non-EU citizens can acquire real estate in Malta only after obtaining a permit for the acquisition of immovable property (AIP permit), unless they purchase property in Special Designated Areas (SDA). All major lifestyle complexes are Special Designated Areas. EU citizens, who have not resided in Malta for at least five years, but have the intention of purchasing their primary residence i.e. take up residence in Malta, do not require a permit. EU citizens, who have resided in Malta continuously for a minimum period of five years before the date of acquisition, can acquire more than one immovable property without the necessity of obtaining a permit. There are also occasional government-sponsored incentive schemes available to help first time buyers.
As an investment, property in Malta does offer some excellent opportunities. The limited size of the island and strong demand from both the local and international buyers ensure investors will enjoy good returns for the foreseeable future. Malta has many real estate companies able to help with your search and advise on notarial and architectural services.