Buying property in Malta

Hi all,

Has anyone ever bought property in Malta? What are the laws surrounding this? Do you have any tips?

Thanks!

Most estate agents cover this at length on their website. Even the most basic google query willl find those.

Let us know when you have more specific questions though.

I heard something that you need to live for 5 years if you want to take a loan for a property. Is it true?

no, you do need a big deposit (20 to 30%) and solid income to avoid that. I got mine on around 10 months here

http://postahomeloan.maltapost.com/

Hi Marty,

If you are EU, then it is straight forward as was pointed out, and if you are taking a mortgage then you need a large downpayment plus good income.  You can rent out the property if need be at any time.  If you are non EU, you must buy under an AIP permit (Acquisition of Immovable Property).  You cannot rent out your AIP property; you must live in it yourself.

To purchase a property you must go through a notary.  I'd also hire a lawyer to look out for your best interests.  Make sure you clarify with the notary upfront that his/her fees include a thorough title search, etc. and that he/she accepts responsibility for any issues with title, etc. down the road. The notary will tell you that of course this is part of their job and it is included in the set percentage fee they charge based on the property value.   But be cautious.  We had our notary try to slip in a clause exempting her from any responsibility for issues with the title, etc..  We refused to sign the deed until the clause was removed. 

Hope this helps.

Kind regards,
Danette

Please be careful with the language used here.  TITLE searches are what are commonplace in UK, USA, Australia and many parts of Europe where there is a Lands Title Register on which all properties are registered. That's not the case in Malta. Government properties, Church properties and about 6% of residential properties are registered at the Lands Titles Registry. The vast majority of private residences do NOT have a title deed (and are not even allowed to have a title deed), and therefore there are often no title searches possible.

The "searches" that the notary will undertake are searches of prior contracts, wills and deeds that might show who the owners are and how the property may have been sold / divided in years past. But there are no guarantees here. Some long forgotten cousin can always jump out of the shadows, even 20 years down the track, and claim to have a part ownership in the property. That's why the searches take so long and are so very important - because the notary has to try to uncover every possible link and trace it back to its source.   

The most important part of this is not to assume that land titles searches in Malta are the same as elsewhere. Fore-warned is fore-armed.

Yes, that's true.  That's why I included an 'etc.'  The process is explained once one meets with the notary and the lawyer.  The most important thing is to make sure the notary does not insert a clause that exempts him/her from any issues that arise if the buyer ends up with a problem down the road regarding ownership.  We had that clause removed and had the notary put in writing that she accepts responsibility.  We paid a sizable amount to the notary (based on the legal percentage that is allocated) and expect some guarantees with such a large amount of money.  You'll find a lot of things are very different in Malta.  That's also why it's good to hire a lawyer specializing in property law in addition to a notary.

Also, once you buy a property in Malta I strongly recommend you prepare an International will since you are not a Maltese citizen.   The notary will explain your options. You might be able to choose your nationality based on EU law and your home EU country but you'll need to confirm all of that (it can make a difference in terms of inheritance taxes).   The Law of Succession in Malta is well defined and there is a reserved portion for descendants.  Depending on your situation (married, kids, citizenship of your spouse if you're married, location of your assets, etc.) it can be very complicated without a will.

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