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Finding that perfect property, whether you are a first time buyer in Malta or are looking to upgrade, can be an emotional journey fraught with difficulties and compromises. However, there is a right way and a wrong way to view properties and a little planning with a few pointers in the right direction can give you a good head start.
Make an Ideal Property Plan
Sit down and work out what your requirements are. Do you need an office space? Or, a downstairs loo? Would you require a guest bedroom for grandchildren or visitors? Remember that this is not about what you would like but about what you need, as you can always compromise on ideals.
Your lifestyle also needs to be taken into consideration. If you are after a retirement property then somewhere quiet, perhaps with a close knit community, might be more suitable. Whereas a growing family on-the-other-hand, might want somewhere more convenient with good schools on their doorstep.
Research the Areas
You might already have an area in mind. One where you can see yourselves settling down. Often it's an area you will already be familiar with, but chances are that if it appeals to you it also appeals to others for the very same reasons, so don't be afraid to look further afield. New developments in Malta are being built all the time, so it pays to check what developments are being planned and look at properties in that area.
Never discount a location before you've done your research on it as you could be missing out on a bargain. Some older couples might think that properties in Sliema are more suitable for young families or singletons, but there are still a few quiet areas of Sliema tucked away such as the streets around Qui-si-Sana seafront. Use your Property Agent as your guide.
Find a Great Property Agent
Don't make the mistake of calling into every single property agency in Malta and registering your details with them. Many will simply inundate you with properties that aren't suitable or which you've already seen. Instead choose one or two reputable companies which are recommended and take the time to discuss your options with them.
One of the main secrets of property viewings is all down to the agency you choose and your relationship with them. Take your property plan with you and let them get to know you as well as your requirements. Once they have a good idea of what you are looking for they can make suggestions and tailor viewings to suit your needs.
New properties in Malta come onto the market all the time and if you have forged a good relationship with a property agency, you could be first to get to hear about potential properties even before they are advertised.
Turn House Detective
Your first viewing of a property is one where your heart pretty much rules your head and this is where your first impression might just bias you one way or another. For the second viewing, you need to have your critical head firmly planted on your shoulders.
Approach the property as if it was a crime scene and be prepared to do a little detective work.
The main issues to watch out for are:Fresh Paint
If there are any problems then these will hopefully come out during the survey. However, you can prevent any nasty surprises being thrown up by the survey with a little snooping around of your own and remember that any issues can give you a good scope for negotiation.
Don't forget to check the neighbourhood too. Visit at the weekends and during rush hour to discover any parking issues and have a good scout around. You don't want to buy a property only to find that a major development is planned just around the corner.
Questions to Ask the Seller
Don't be afraid to ask direct questions about the property and sale. After all, this may be the biggest purchase you will ever make!
Some example questions could be:Why are you selling the house? Do you have a property to move into? Are there any planning or development restrictions? Issues with neighbours? Has the wiring been checked? How long have you lived there? What was the previous price of the property and how long was it on the market for? Are the fixtures and fittings included in the price?
You might not get all the answers to these questions, but they are worth asking either the owner, the estate agent or both.
Can You Get a Mortgage?
Non-residents may be restricted as to where they can buy. If you are buying a property in Malta as a holiday home then there is a minimum price you must pay. Plus, if you have not lived in Malta for the past 5 years then you may have to apply for a permit. Some non-nationals may also be restricted to buying in specially designated areas, so find out if you can legally buy the property you want in Malta before you put that offer in.
One last piece of advice to prevent saturation and meltdown is to spread your viewings out. Don't try to cram lots of viewings over a short period or else every property will merge into one and you won't be able to think clearly about any of them. Take your time and don't rush into anything.