Buying a Property in Malta as an EU and non-EU citizen

Malta is a nation of homeowners. In RE/MAX Malta research commissioned in 2017, it was calculated that an enormous 92.8% of the Maltese population own their own home. Indeed, 91.8% of people interviewed stated that home ownership was extremely important to them. The value placed in bricks and mortar has played a significant role in the growth of the Maltese economy in recent history. Buying one’s own home is an important tradition on our island and has stood us in good stead.

Malta is an island that makes the process of buying property both easy and safe for foreign buyers, and this is reflected in the explosion in the housing market here in the last few years, as foreign nationals have come to the island with burgeoning industries such as finance and gaming.

Citizens of all EU member states who have resided in Malta continually for a minimum period of five years at any time preceding the date of acquisition may freely acquire more than one immovable property without necessity of obtaining a permit. EU Citizens who have not resided in Malta for at least five years, but have the intention of purchasing their primary residence (take up residence in Malta), do not require a permit, under chapter 246, nor do they require a permit to purchase immovable property required for their business activities or supply of services.

Even those who originate from outside the EU are not shut out of the Maltese property market. If you are a foreigner to the EU or if you are a Citizen of a EU, however the property you are purchasing is not for a prime residence, there is a minimum price that one must pay for an immovable property to obtain an AIP (Acquisition of Immovable Property) permit in order to purchase a property in Malta. These are granted by the Ministry of Finance and usually take some 6-8 weeks to be issued. These minimum prices vary according to the type of property: prices are €169,205 for a house or villa and €101,551 for flats or maisonettes.

Different Types of Property in Malta

There are a number of different types of property in Malta. These include apartments, townhouses, villas and houses of character. Each has unique qualities and features.

Apartments: widely available across Malta, the building of apartment blocks on the island became common during British rule (1814-1964). A convenient use of space – one block can house several families – apartments in Malta are available in a wide range of configurations and price points.

Maisonettes: although maisonettes are part of a larger building, they differ from apartments as they have their own access from the outside. Prevalent across Malta, they account for 11% of RE/MAX’s property database and remain popular due to the combination of convenient apartment living and independent access to the property.

Townhouses: generally built pre- and post-war and most prevalent in Sliema and Valletta, townhouses are an extremely popular option for prospective home buyers due to their convenient locations and range of original features. These may include wooden apertures (including the traditional Maltese balcony), wrought iron gates and a depiction of a Saint by the front door. They also often enjoy a small garden at the back of the property.

Houses of Character: very special properties, Maltese houses of character are adorned with traditional architecture and original features such as old stone, arches, troughs, courtyards and patterned tiles. These give it that elusive quality that makes it a special house. Some houses of character in Malta date back more than 500 years and can boast of skilful craftsmanship and attention to detail.

Farmhouses: Maltese farmhouses are highly sought-after properties in Malta. The English definition of a farmhouse is ‘a house of a farmer’ or ‘a property that lies on the land of an agricultural farm’ however, in Malta, more often than not, farmhouses were once part of a farm years ago. Today, though, they are simply located in a populated local village or just on the outskirts of a local village – and they often have wonderful local features that in turn make them lovely homes once renovated.

Villas: A villa is considered, by definition, to be a large luxurious house sitting in its own grounds. Although a Roman architectural creation, we most typically refer to villas as properties that were built from the 1960s onwards. They are found across the island but notable enclaves are in San Pawl tat-Targa, Madliena, Mellieha, and High Ridge.

Learn More about the different property types in Malta

Reasons to Buy a Property

So why buy property in Malta? First and foremost, there is no doubt that it is a solid investment. The Malta real estate market avoided the ill-fated real estate crash that hit Europe by storm a few years ago. While other country’s real estate markets are still recovering, the Maltese real estate market corrected its pricing during that period by 5% to 10% (depending on the geographical area) and today it is one of the only European countries experiencing a consistent capital growth. With an extremely low rate of unemployment, large influx of skilled workers and conservative lending behaviour from Maltese banks, it is unlikely that the property market will see any major drops.

Furthermore, Maltese property ownership offers you the benefit of residency should you wish to move to Malta on a more permanent basis. The introduction of the Global Residence Programme has fiscally beneficial advantages that may be considered if one is thinking of relocating to Malta. As part of the criteria to become a Maltese resident, the applicant must either invest in real estate in Malta or Gozo while they can also rent a property on the Maltese Islands.

And lastly, and probably most importantly, property ownership on Malta allows you to enjoy all the benefits of life in the Mediterranean. Whether it is the climate, food, history or just the extremely warm welcome, Malta is a delightful place to live for people of all nationalities and ages.

Latest Trends and New Developments

With an increase in demand, the property market in Malta is a rapidly changing landscape. More than ever, space is at a premium and, consequently, the trend is to build up (with apartment blocks) rather than out such as with townhouses and villas. The Planning Authority is encouraging the construction of smaller one and two-bedroom apartment blocks to be built in Malta as small family homes to cater for the affordability factor of first-time buyers.

As such, purpose-built developments such as Tigne Point, Fort Cambridge and Pender Gardens have revolutionised the Maltese property market, offering state-of-the-art living with a range of luxurious residential features such as onsite swimming pools and gyms. The appetite for these properties in Specially Designated Areas, particularly among new arrivals from the finance industry, remains very strong.

The finishing of properties has improved drastically over the years and today one can say that the standard of building and finishing is above European levels. New construction in Malta goes through rigorous processes today, both for safety standards but mainly to ensure quality control.