The demand from wealthy South Africans for offshore property investments for a variety of reasons, from holiday and retirement homes to investing in Citizenship by Investment programmes, has boosted demand for Malta property.
Lance Cohen, luxury market specialist for Seeff Atlantic Seaboard says that since launching this locally early this year, there has been steady growth in the demand as awareness grows for the affordability that Malta property offers. Prices start at around R3m-R4m for a property (note, this does not give residency/citizenship as prices for these are considerably higher).
Malta property has emerged as excellent investments, he says. Malta is one of the most popular European holiday destinations and attracts around 2 million tourists annually, most of whom need visitor accommodation. It also has a large expat population which further adds to the rental demand.
According to the Global Property Guide (www.globalpropertyguide.com), annual rental yields in Malta are climbing steadily. It notes that larger investment apartments in the favourite expatriate areas such as Sliema, St. Julians and Swieqi have average prices per square metre of around €3,200 to €3,500 and yielded returns of around 4.4% last year.
Malta is a fabulous offshore property investment destination for South Africans, says Cohen. Its Citizenship by Investment programme is very attractive because Malta is an EU country with a Euro-zone/Schengen visa. A successful applicant and his/her family gain the right to live, work and study throughout any of the 28 EU Member States as well as enjoying visa-free travel to over 160 countries including the US and Canada.
Cohen, who already owns property in Malta, says that there is very little risk when it comes to buying property in Malta. The main language is English and the process is fairly straight forward. Expats have been purchasing there since the 1960s.
The country offers political and economic stability and tax advantages. It is currently going through a period of rapid economic growth with excellent investment opportunities. The economic growth rate is around 7% per annum while property prices are appreciating at rates of 6%-7%.
Aside from a favourable tax climate, there are no property or council taxes, nor any other costs usually associated with owning property. There are also no inheritance taxes. The property side of a citizenship or residence application is safe and straight forward.
There are several property hotspots, says Cohen. These include Sliema and St Julian’s, both for purchase and rental investments as well as the adjacent areas of San Gwann, Swieqi and even towards Naxxar. There is a wide mix of property options for buyers and investors, ranging from older historic apartments and villas to renovated and modern complexes with luxury apartments.