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The benefits of Malta, and its neighbouring island of Gozo, are plentiful. Great weather, a low crime rate, political stability, a favourable tax regime and good healthcare have attracted tourists for decades – the fact that it is easy for Brits to buy property here just seems to be the icing on a very rich cake. This is thanks to the years of British rule which came to an end in 1969, leaving behind English as the island’s main language. Friendly locals complete the picture, promising a laid-back lifestyle.
Malta is slightly smaller the Isle of Wight, a fact that results in short journey times no matter where in the island you are travelling to – or from. Such limited land mass is also promising for property prices, as developers cannot simply keep retreating further inland.
Gozo, just 6 kilometres away, tends to be quieter than its more commercial neighbour, and as a result attracts those looking to buy somewhere relatively undeveloped.
Properties with sea views command premium price tags in both Malta and Gozo. Due to the size of the islands however, there is really no such thing as an area to avoid, although there is, of course, the usual choice between the tourist resorts and traditional villages.
The capital of Valletta offers a wealth of history, but may perhaps be classed as a little too business-like for many buyers, as it has a reputation of becoming somewhat subdued at the end of the working day. If you are after something a bit more lively try Sliema or St Julian’s. These coastal destinations are Malta’s main resort towns and have a wide choice of both bars and restaurants. They are also home to some of the island’s newest development – namely Portomaso in St Julian’s.
Away from the resorts, you will find there are numerous sandy beaches dotted around the coast, and the opportunity to get away from the crowds in the high season. Many of these beaches are near small villages of just a few hundred friendly inhabitants.
If, however, you are looking to get away from it all consider Gozo – or even tiny Comino. Both of these islands are greener and more tranquil than Malta itself, especially Comino, as it is home to only one resort hotel and is completely car free.
When you have found a property that suits your needs, you will sign a preliminary contract, known as a convenium, and pay a ten per cent deposit to the notary. From this stage on you are committed to the purchase – as is the vendor. The convenium is valid for three months, during which time all necessary searches are carried out, including title and credit checks.
It is during this period that the notary will apply to the Ministry of Finance on your behalf for permission to buy. Permission is needed if the property isn’t your primary residence and if you already own a property on Malta or Gozo. When permission has been granted, all permits have been issued and the title has been declared clean, both parties sign a final contract and the balance is paid – along with the relevant fees and taxes – thereby completing the transaction. The entire process should take no more than three months in total, and all contracts are in English.
If you are considering buying a property in Malta, there are some legal restrictions that you should be aware of. Firstly, you will have to pay over a certain price in order to get on to the property ladder. This restriction was introduced by the government in order to protect locals from being priced out of the market, and the thresholds currently stand at €99,000 (£79,100) in case of apartments and €165,024 (£131,900) for a house or villa. However, if the property you have your eye on is a renovation project, you may be able to secure the deal for under these price brackets, providing that you spend the difference on the renovation works.
As a foreign buyer you are also restricted to the purchase of just one property, unless they are purchased in the Special Designated Areas (SDAs), in which case you may own a selection. If your property is located outside of a SDA then you must sell it before you are able to buy another on Malta or Gozo.
There are restrictions on the letting of property as a holiday home. Unlike many other European countries, you will need to obtain a permit in order to let your property as a tourist residence, as well as declaring the earnings to the tax authorities.
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