Malta's Real Estate Sector still booming
By Maria Thermann

Malta's Real Estate Sector still booming

Malta's Real Estate Sector still booming

Both Malta's residential and commercial real estate markets are seeing unprecedented demand in 2017. According to The Malta Times, over 500 participants are expected at Malta-based Start-up Gathering this September, a clear sign that Malta is not just a hot tip among holiday home hunters, but also of increasing interest to entrepreneurs looking for a base in the EU.

This year's edition of "ZEST", the predominant gathering for Malta-based start-ups, will take place on 19th and 20th September. A brain-child of the Malta Communications Authority, the innovation event will be hosted by the Radisson Blu Golden Sands Resort & Spa. The 500 plus participants will include CEOs and start-up founders, influencers, investors, support professionals and entrepreneurial talent in a cosmopolitan gathering. Some of these participants are already local residents (expats and Maltese-born), but quite a few people are expected to fly in specially for the event.

ZEST is regarded as a great networking opportunity, where participants can discover Malta-based opportunities as well as build business relationships. Over the past few years, Malta's government has worked hard to create an entrepreneur-friendly habitat, aiming to turn Malta into one of the first countries to embrace certain disruptive technologies such as block-chain, one of several initiatives pursued by tech start-ups.

Attracting cutting edge technology start-ups to Malta brings not only many economic advantages in terms of new jobs and corporate investment, but also private investment, as entrepreneurs need offices, housing ect. Malta's residential and commercial real estate sector has been booming as a result.

ZEST gatherings are held in a very informal format, where discussions and talks are short, but to the point. Topics under review include investment and business foresight, organisational culture, scaling strategies and the impact emerging technologies have on established verticals such as content, finance and hospitality for example.

Some of the speakers already confirmed for this year include Dr Ulrich Bez, credited with turning around the fortunes of luxury car manufacturer Aston Martin; Paul Teng, who is the co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer at SIXCAP; Jenn Hirsch, who is Global Technology Tend Scout for accountancy firm Ernst & Young; and Samer Karam, who is Creator and Organiser of BDL Accelerate in Lebanon. SIXCAP is one of this year's sponsors of the ZEST event, as are Sherpa and Go Beyond Investing.

There are still a limited number of early bird tickets available until 13th August – please contact organisers MCA for more information via e-mail info@zest.org.mt.

Malta's Economy is expected to grow by 3.7% in 2017

Such a growth rate would mean Malta would see the third-highest expansion of economy within the EU, after Romania and Luxembourg. Favourable labour market conditions and continued positive development, coupled with increased private consumption, are cited as driving factors.

Malta also saw the third lowest unemployment rate in Europe at around 4.1% in 2016, that's next only to Germany and the Czech Republic, and just half the Euro-zones (EA19) average unemployment rate of 9.5%. All of the above makes Malta one of the EU's fastest growing economies, and that attracts many entrepreneurs and house hunters to the islands.

Unlike Spain, Malta has very few empty properties, according to Malta's Developer Association. In 2016, the association's president Sandro Chetcuti said at a conference organised by audit firm EY that only half of the 55,000 residential properties on the market were listed as vacant, and these were second homes or holiday homes.

The Maltese government had encouraged use of vacant properties by cutting stamp duty on transfers of properties within urban conservation areas from 5% to 2.5% for contracts that were dated between 1st January and 31st December 2016, and this meant many vacant properties were snapped up by buyers keen to take advantage of the lower stamp duty.

At the same time, rents rose drastically between 2012 and 2015, according to the Maltese National Statistics Office (NSO). The average rent for a single-bedroom apartment rose from 437.00 euros in 2012 to 605.00 euros in 2015, a staggering increase of 38% - and rents are still on the up. This reason for this is a growing number of foreign workers arriving in Malta, who are renting rather than buying, when they first arrive.

As a result, selling prices are continuing to rise, both for commercial and residential property, and 2017 has seen an increase in permits for developers to construct new properties.

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