by Ian Casolani
2020 has obviously been a surreal and challenging year for everyone, no matter what sector one works in, or walk of life they come from. Yet, when considering what Malta, as well as the rest of the world is passing through, the Maltese property market has surprisingly still fared relatively well, although buyers’ attitude and the overall trend has changed and is more reflective of what we have been going through.
Whereas until mid-2019, buyers in general were picking up pretty much any property they could get their hands onto, often rushing into a purchase just to feel that they are playing the property game, this year that has changed significantly. The Maltese property market has been witnessing increased activity from end users and “real” home buyers. Those looking for a residence, have been taking advantage of the price corrections taking place, as well as the incentives and measures put in place by government earlier this year. Houses with outdoor space, as well as penthouses due to their large terraces, have probably witnessed more demand and activity than the rest of the market and this is primarily down to the fact that many have come to appreciate the value of outdoor space, after having lived through recent Covid restrictions and restricted lifestyle.
Furthermore, buyers are now thankfully more attentive and diligent in their property search and purchase, which is unfortunately something you see much less of, when the market is booming. This indicates that buyers are monitoring the market more, they are aware of price corrections on property that fit within their search criteria and ensuring that they buy at the right price. The more experienced buyers will not rush into a decision if they are not convinced of the property value, while on the contrary they will typically be quicker to react, if they sense they have found the right buy.
The recent fiscal measures introduced by government, whereby one pays a lower stamp duty when purchasing and a lower tax rate when selling (on the first €400k), have seemed to achieve the desired effect. Those buyers waiting around or procrastinating on their property move, have now been encouraged to make things happen faster and likewise sellers who might have been sticking to their price or waiting for better times, have in some cases been encouraged to bite the bullet and take advantage of the lower tax rate on their sale.
This pandemic has put many things into perspective and has opened people’s eyes to many realities that might have been taken for granted before. No matter what though, property will always remain the solid investment it is known to be, more so in Malta than anywhere else. Saying that, in an ideal world buyers will continue to be diligent and do their homework properly before buying, rather than rush into a deal simply to feel that they are also playing the game…..as sometimes happens!
Likewise, keen vendors need to acknowledge and often accept the reality of the market and more importantly the real value of their property, if they are really serious about selling. Those who do so and who price their property correctly, are the ones who ultimately sell their property within an acceptable time frame. On the other hand, those vendors who keep living in denial of this reality, are those that waste time and energy hoping for a sale, while anyway having to eventually succumb to the real value of their property.
The year or two ahead will be challenging across the board and this will ultimately also end up affecting the property market in one way or another. This does not simply boil down to Covid-19, but also down to other socio, political and economic issues. Like in anything else, this will differentiate the serious/professional players from those overnight, pop-up developers or agents. Unfortunately, those who possibly over-extended themselves in one way or other over recent years, are likely to be the worst hit, which in turn, however, will possibly provide opportunity to those who have forecasted this scenario a while back. That’s the way the world spins, it won’t be the first time and definitely not the last!