A Guide to Buying a Property in Malta
There are some restrictions on what types of real estate a foreign national can own in Malta. Generally speaking, a foreign national is able to buy one piece of residential property that will be used as that personís primary residence or that will be used by that person as a holiday residence during part of the year.
With this in mind, an individual foreign national is not able as a general rule to buy commercial or industrial real estate in Malta. There are some instances in which a foreign national will join with citizens of Malta to form a joint legal venture -- usually in the form of a limited liability company -- to by non-residential real estate. It is important to keep in mind that this type of arrangement does require approval from different governmental agencies in Malta.
Even for EU member state nationals (Malta is now a part of the European Union) the ability to own real estate in the country is limited at this point in time. There is some natural and necessary movement to relax different real estate laws in regard to foreign nationals in the future to bring Malta more inline with the open market concept that is the centerpiece of EU membership.
Investment Real Estate
As has been set forth previously, there are some pretty stark limitations on what type of real estate a foreign national can purchase in Malta. With this in mind, the opportunities for investment in real estate -- beyond the ownership of a primary residence or a holiday home -- by a foreign national are limited.
Again, and as was discussed, there are some instances in which a foreign national will join together with citizens of Malta, to develop a legal entity that will take possession of real estate in that country for investment purposes. Even with this noted, the number of foreign nationals who are involved in such a venture is not significant due to the hurdles that must be surmounted in order to win governmental approval and authorization to purchase real estate beyond a residence.
There may be some relaxation in the laws governing investing in real estate by foreign nationals who are from European Union nations in the future. Of course, the concept behind the EU is to allow for a free economic flow between member nations. Thus, with Malta now a part of the EU, it is likely that there will be changes in its real estate laws as they same pertain to investment in different types of real estate in the country by citizens from other European Union nations.
Residential Real Estate - Single Family Dwellings
Generally speaking, it is only residential real estate that can be purchased at this time by foreign nationals in Malta. Although Malta has joined the European Union, where there can be found a broader ability of foreign nationals who are from EU member countries to by real estate within the EU, this barrier has not been fully surmounted in Malta.
The primary reason that there is a heavier restriction on foreign investment in real estate arises from the fact that there is, indeed, only a limited amount of real property available to sale within the borders of that country. Unlike many other nations, that still have undeveloped frontiers and a significant amount of space still available for development, such is not the case with Malta.
A foreign national, with relative ease, can make the purchase of one piece of residential real estate -- either to be used as a private and personal residence or as a holiday home. This will be discussed in greater detail shortly.
Many Europeans have purchased larger homes in Malta that have become favored second residences, holiday homes. A foreign national can stay within Malta for a period of up to three months at a stretch with no tax consequences or special filing requirements. A foreign national can spend between three to six months in consecutive succession in Malta with permission of the government. Generally, there will be no additional tax consequences on a foreign national in Malta until that person remains in country for a period beyond six months.
Residential Real Estate - Apartments
Upscale apartments remain attractive choices for foreign nationals looking to purchase real estate in Malta. As will be discussed shortly, a foreign national can make the purchase of residential real estate in Malta provided the property is valued at $50,000 MLT (the Maltese national currency) as is to be used only as private primary residence or as a holiday home by the purchaser.
These apartments -- high end apartments -- are in significant demand by foreign nationals at this point in time. These people, who enjoy spending part of the year in Malta (with its idyllic climate and easy lifestyle) are attracted to these apartments.
Vacation Real Estate
With its nearly perfect climate the entire year around, Malta has long been a favored travel destination for men and women from different countries around the world. The trend has continued unabated into the present day and age.
As a consequence, there is a growing number of foreign nationals who are interested in finding real estate to purchase in that country for holiday or vacation purposes. Indeed, as will be discussed shortly, there are general limitations on the ability of a foreign national to purchase real estate in Malta, generally restricting these men and women to being able to purchase one piece of residential property that can be used as a holiday home or as a permanent residence.
Successfully Purchasing Real Estate in Malta:
Specific Steps to Buying Real Property in Malta
Despite the fact that the real estate purchase process in Malta is a relatively easy process, there are some definite restrictions that apply to foreign nationals who are interested in purchasing real estate in Malta.
Generally speaking, a foreign national can purchase a residence in Malta that is going to be used either as a holiday home or a that purchaserís primary residence into the future. In addition to this general restriction, there are some more specific requirements when it comes to a foreign national investing in real estate in Malta.
First of all, the value of the real estate that is being purchased must not be less than 50,000 MLT (the national currency in Malta). Second, all of the funds that are used to purchase this real estate must be derived from outside of the country. Third, the real estate that is purchased cannot be rented out to anyone else. This includes property that is purchased for occupancy as a holiday home during only part of the year. Unlike in many other countries around the world, a foreign national buying such a residence in Malta cannot lease out the property to someone else when it is not in use by the purchaser and owner. There is one interesting exception to this prohibition. The owner of a residence with a pool can, in fact, lease or rent out the property to someone else when he or she is not utilizing the property for his or her personal benefit.
Finally, on resale, a foreign national can repatriate the funds generated from the sale to his or her own country of origin.
Once these restrictions are appreciated and understood, the actual process of buying and selling real estate in Latvia is simple. The initial phase involves the execution of a contract for sale. At this time, the buyer is obliged to post a deposit that normally is in the amount of 10% of the overall purchase price of the real estate.
The preliminary agreement normally is valid for a period of three months. During this time period, the purchaser will obtain financing and the seller will make sure that there are no defects associated with the title that will prevent a clear conveyance of the property to the purchaser when the sale is concluded.
The final contract ultimately is entered into between the parties. It is at this time that the buyer pays the remaining balance due and owing on the property. Additionally, it is at this juncture that the buyer will take physical possession of the real estate.
There is some effort in Malta at the present time to relax at least to some degree (and most likely for residents of other EU member nations) the real estate laws in that country. Most of the proposals that are being considered center on allowing foreign nationals a bit broader usage with their residential property. For example, there are proposed laws being considered that would allow a person who owns a holiday home or residence in Malta the ability to rent or lease that property to someone else during those times of the year when the owner is not personally utilizing the real estate in question. Again, any such changes more than likely will be targeted towards citizens from EU member nations.
About The Author
Les Calvert - an authority on overseas property and the Director of www.property-abroad.com/malta has written many articles on Malta and other popular countries reagrding purchasing overseas property.