Market value properties 'selling fast'

Joanna Ripard
Date: 20th November 2008

Market value properties are "selling fast" and the higher end sector is "extremely vibrant" in the current climate, but industry must be competitive enough to grasp present opportunities, according to the president of the Federation of Estate Agents.

"When looking at the market, it is very important to segment it," Trafford Busuttil told The Times Business. "The upper end of the market is extremely vibrant and a leading development launched a new phase recently, selling €27 million-plus in a few weeks. That is far from a downturn."

Mr Busuttil, who has also just been re-elected chairman of the Real Estate Trade Section of the Malta Chamber of Commerce and Enterprise, admits that supply outweighs demand at the lower end of the market, "but market value properties are selling, and selling fast - in today's market, and it is even more important to seek professional advice as this might save a client thousands."

Despite discouraging prospects for Europe and arguably for Malta, Mr Busuttil believes there is an opportunity ripe for the taking if the market is competitive enough.

"What is happening in Europe is an opportunity for us, if we introduce the necessary incentives to attract investors towards the local property market," he points out.

"This industry must be made competitive if it is to succeed and thrive. Some three million British nationals are likely to be tempted to invest in property overseas within the next two years as economic conditions in the UK make strong returns from domestic investments less plausible, according to research by Carter Allen Private Bank, a Banco Santander subsidiary.

"If the necessary measures are not taken, then, yes, we will see a drop in foreign buyers."

Mr Busuttil, who says lower interest rates are "definitely a breath of fresh air", is unconvinced that there will be up to 50,000 vacant properties in five years as has been rumoured. Not all vacant properties are up for sale as some may be tied up in court or family disputes or rented to foreign clients.

"One must agree that no matter the figure, vacant property is a resource that is not being used," Mr Busuttil says. "The Real Estate Trade Section of the Chamber of Commerce is totally against taxing vacant property but in favour of fiscal incentives to entice property owners to place their property on the market."

As the outlook on the financial markets over the next few months is bleak, property remains a sound investment. Unlike investments on the stock exchange which require a 100 per cent upfront payment and a prayer, only 10 per cent was necessary outright when investing in the property market with the remainder financed by a mortgage.

"There is no other investment that offers the leverage that the property market offers," Mr Busuttil says

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